In its continuing attempt to stem the hemorrhage of people out of Catholicism, the church, under Pope Francis’s guidance, is trying to be more “Catholic friendly,” pretending to make its doctrines more liberal. But often that just makes the Church look dumber, as in a list of guidelines published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to try to retain those Catholics who divorce civilly and who haven’t gotten the required annulment. These guidelines, reports the Guardian, are supposed to help Catholics interpret the Pope’s recent document Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love“) . There are three invidious exhortations (quotes from the document are indented).
You can take communion (prohibited to those without annulments, I think), so long as you don’t have sex. From the Philadelphia Guidelines:
In light of this, priests must help the divorced and civilly-remarried to form their consciences according to the truth. This is a true work of mercy. It should be undertaken with patience, compassion and a genuine desire for the good of all concerned, sensitive to the wounds of each person, and gently leading each toward the Lord. Its purpose is not condemnation, but the opposite: a full reconciliation of the person with God and neighbor, and restoration to the fullness of visible communion with Jesus Christ and the Church.
. . . With divorced and civilly-remarried persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly-remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist. Such individuals are encouraged to approach the Sacrament of Penance regularly, having recourse to God’s great mercy in that sacrament if they fail in chastity.
Homosexual acts are still a big no-no (a “grave sin”), but if you’re married and find out you’re gay, keep living out that good Christian marriage (my emphasis):
Those who work in pastoral ministry often encounter persons with diverse forms of same-sex attraction. Many such persons have found it possible to live out a vocation to Christian marriage with children, notwithstanding experiencing some degree of same-sex attraction. Others have found it difficult to do so. Because Christian marriage with children is a great good, those who find themselves unable to embrace this good may suffer from a sense of loss or loneliness. And, as with those who are attracted to the opposite sex, some can find chastity very difficult. Pastoral care of such persons must never lose sight of their individual calling to holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and that the power of God’s grace can make this a real possibility for their lives.
Catholic belief, rooted in Scripture, reserves all expressions of sexual intimacy to a man and a woman covenanted to each other in a valid marriage. We hold this teaching to be true and unchangeable, tied as it is to our nature and purpose as children of a loving God who desires our happiness. Those with predominant same-sex attractions are therefore called to struggle to live chastely for the kingdom of God. In this endeavor they have need of support, friendship and understanding if they fail. They should be counseled, like everyone else, to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, where they should be treated with gentleness and compassion. In fact, more than a few such persons, with the help of grace and the sacraments, do live exemplary and even heroic Christian lives.
Unmarried Catholic couples should either tie the knot or, with pastoral encouragement, break up. Isn’t that compassionate?
Often cohabiting couples refrain from making final commitments because one or both persons is seriously lacking in maturity or has other significant obstacles to entering a valid union. Here, prudence plays a vital role. Where one or another person is not capable of, or is not willing to commit to, a marriage, the pastor should urge them to separate.
Of course the vast majority of liberal Catholics will completely ignore this advice, and the Church knows that full well. The Vatican is clearly in a real bind, for how can it accommodate itself to modernity when it’s tied to unchanging doctrine? Unless somehow the Pope decides, ex cathedra*, that being gay and having sex is okay, or that getting civilly divorced is okay, they’re going to bleed followers. This is one example where there’s no good rationale for Catholic “morality,” and its collision with changing secular morality will ultimately make the Church irrelevant.
*That’s when the Pope is, as Archie Bunker put it, “inflammable.”