With the announcement that Pope Francis intends to marry couples who are publicly living in sin by cohabiting, some Catholics have sunk to a depth of denial and contradiction that I did not think possible. The scandal took place today, according to sources (here
This is not some kind of hype pushed by the secular media. The fact that cohabiting couples will be among those receiving the sacrament comes straight from the press release issued by the Vicariate of Rome, which stated that among those being married by Francis “there are those who are already cohabiting”, as reported by CNS
. The ceremony will also include couples with children born out of wedlock.
The marriage of people cohabiting is a destructive scandal and offensive to those brave parish priests who over the years have steadfastly refused to marry couples who are living together outside of marriage. These faithful priests – who are usually in the minority and receive very little support from their bishops – understand that a couple cohabiting prior to marriage have no real understanding of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings and even less knowledge of the purpose of the sacrament. They also know that marriages where couples cohabit first are much more likely to fail, inasmuch cohabiting couples demonstrate a lack of willingness to sacrifice and engender a disposition towards selfish behavior. Many of us traditional Catholics, or even just conservative Catholics who uphold Christian morality, have applauded these heroic pastors who have the guts to buck the trend and refuse matrimony to cohabiting couples.
But now that Pope Francis is doing this very thing, many of these folks don’t know what to do. As is usually the case when this pope scandalizes the faithful, they have generally responded with “I don’t see a problem here”, “what’s the big deal?”, “this is really nothing new”, and the like. Typical Franciscan-pontificate spin.
“Boniface, the Church has always married people who have previously been living in sin. This is nothing new.“
The Church has always married people who had previously been living in sin; she has no custom of marrying people who are currently living in sin. And some of these couples are currently living in unrepentant sin, as the press release says they are “already cohabiting”; i.e., they are living together right now. Obviously, nobody has a problem with the Church offering sacraments to single mothers living chastely or people who were once notorious sinners but have repented; to offer them the sacrament while they are persisting in unrepentant sin is another matter entirely.
“But Boniface, you are being judgmental. How do you know they are unrepentant? You don’t know their hearts.“
In the Catholic Faith, what we do is extremely important. When the people came to St. John the Baptist asking how they could be saved, he told them “Bear fruits that befit repentance” (Luke 3:8). We demonstrate our repentance by our actions. A true conversion, a metanoia, means actively turning away from a sinful lifestyle and embracing holiness. Hence St. John Vianney withheld absolution from a man who had refused to stop dancing in the local saloon and St. Cyprian withheld distribution of alms from certain people unless they gave up attending the Roman spectacles. Can you imagine the scandal today if a priest refused to absolve somebody unless they stopped going to the bar on Fridays or if he refused to feed the poor if they didn’t stop going to see R-rated movies? How Pharisaic!
Yet these saints knew that a sincere change of heart would invariably be coupled with a change of lifestyle, and if they did not see the “fruits that befit repentance”, they presumed there was no repentance and withheld their ministrations. A person who persists in their sin is not repentant; rather, they are like a fool, according to Proverbs: “A dog that returns to its vomit is like a fool who reverts to his folly” (Prov. 26:11).
Continue reading – http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.ca/2014/09/cohabitation-maintaining-sanity.html