Like I've been saying all along...
Little by little, this bishop, that cardinal; that priest, this spiritual director; this parish, or that religious community... will make pastoral decisions, allow dispensations, give the benefit of the doubt, to those sincere Catholics whose lifestyle may not quite fit the RCIA program. Divorced and remarried, without possibility of annulment, but you feel called to serve the Church, receive the Eucharist? A pastoral provision may be possible. Obviously, the same goes for the gay couple, in a civil union or not; or a gay man, who is only looking for love, for someone to share his life with. Perhaps the gay couple desires to adopt and they want to raise their child Catholic and send him or her to Catholic school? Who can deny these sincere, good people access to the Deposit of Faith? Who can judge them and bar them from following their conscience, even if it may be in conflict with Church teaching?
Certainly not a prince of the Church...
Cardinal Schönborn said that he had initially intended to uphold the priest’s decision--but then, he said, “I ask myself in these situations: How did Jesus act? He first saw the human being.”Aren't there rules we are supposed to abide by?
Calling his decision “a decision for human beings,” the cardinal recounted that he invited Stangl and his partner to lunch and understood “why the community had given him the most votes, because he is really impressive.”
“This man is at the right place,” the cardinal said of Stangl, the homosexual in a registered domestic partnership elected to serve on a parish council. - Source
Does a Catholic now need a canonist to understand what the Church teaches? Do we need someone to not only instruct what exactly the prayers we recite really say, but do we now need a canon lawyer to tell us that our instincts about right and wrong are at best misguided? I'm not even talking about canon law here.
That said, Dr. Peters does makes a good point about the Vienna controversy on his blog, In the Light of the Law:
Now, canon law has been around a long time, but not every institute in canon law has a long tradition of interpretation behind it, nor are the social conditions under which canon law functions always well anticipated in the law. Parish councils, for example, are very new in canon law, and the theoretical bases on which they rest (such as, degrees of lay participation in ecclesiastical governance) are but recent objects of increased doctrinal and juridic study. Meanwhile, militant homosexual activism in general, and the civil recognition of various forms of homosexual unions in particular, are entirely new in Western law and society. How these (and other) factors come together in Church life need careful sorting out. To some degree this sorting out can come about only on a case-by-case basis, and mistakes will inevitably be made, even by people of good will. Mistakes need to be fixed, of course, but, in the meantime, I suggest that, when they occur in novel cases (or seem to have occurred), corrections be offered (c. 212 § 3), not hyperbolic condemnations.In neither the case of the cardinal and the gay man, nor in Fr. Guarnizo's case, have I been issuing any cries of anything. Indeed I personally believe that Guarnizo did the right thing, what Cardinal Wuerl does is his business. What canonists debate outside an ecclesial court is up to them.
In the present case, cries of Götterdämmerung from the Right (and for that matter, triumphalist shouts from the Left) are premature. + + + - Dr. Peters
We recognize, of course, that in great measure the clear and successful communication of the Church's teaching to all the faithful, and to society at large, depends on the correct instruction and fidelity of her pastoral ministers. The Bishops have the particularly grave responsibility to see to it that their assistants in the ministry, above all the priests, are rightly informed and personally disposed to bring the teaching of the Church in its integrity to everyone. - CDF, Letter to Bishops
I am not against pastoral considerations in private circumstances - such as between a person and his confessor. Yet when such matters become public information, I have personal opinions just like the next man, and I'm apt to express them. Personally, I do my best striving to keep the commandments and follow Church teaching: I'm not judging the souls of others, nor trying to control what others do or what they may condone. I can only account for myself. Admittedly, I am confused sometimes by inconsistencies within the Church - in fact, one never gets used to it. Frequently I return to what the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger warned about in the often ignored Letter to the Bishops On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:
Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual.
The Church's ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church's position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage.
There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups' concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.
The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society's understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy. - Holy See
This document has little, if anything to do with canon law, yet it is an important instruction frequently ignored by bishops, priests and laity.
Which is why I am more or less convinced that, little by little, accommodations have been, and will be made on these issues... just as pastoral accomodations and considerations were made to give the benefit of the doubt to Catholics who practice contraception... albeit on a case by case basis, but sometimes as a 'general absolution'. Wink, wink.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." As always, on the margins.
Photo: My favorite of the cardinal - he looks like such a kid.