October 26, 2015

The Synod and the Internal Forum

Well, the Synod is over and maybe we can all relax a little bit. The whole business brings to mind something from my early days in the Church. When I was taking 'convert instructions' one of the books I was given for my catechesis was called The Question Box, or something like that, by a Fr. John Dietzen. It was a kind of question-and-answer book, like a compilation of questions addressed to a newspaper column.

I remember that two of the big issues in the book were whether the Eucharist was a meal or a sacrifice (both of course, with each transforming the other and the result being more than the sum of its parts) and the internal forum solution for the divorced and civilly remarried. That was over twenty years ago when I read the book, and it must have been published before that. So what the Synod has said on this is hardly new.

Is such an internal forum solution subject to abuse? Certainly. But so is the whole of the sacramental economy. How many Masses are offered each day by priests in mortal sin? On the other hand, are there folks out there who could surely benefit from such an internal forum solution but do not receive it because they never approach a pastor or because their pastor is unapproachable, because the Church has not given them with the 'accompaniment' and 'discernment' of which the Synod speaks? Also certainly yes.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Just some thoughts on "internal forum" solution for consideration.

The problem is that internal forum cannot be substituted for any reason for matters in which the competent forum is external. In short, the consent between the two persons was exchanged in the external forum, and marriage cases are resolved in the external forum.

"The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive Holy Communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one's own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. . . . [T]he consent that is the foundation of marriage is not simply a private decision, since it creates a specifically ecclesial and social situation for the spouses, both individually and as a couple." (Cardinal Ratzinger, Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF], Reception of Communion: Divorced-and-Remarried Catholics; Origins, Oct. 27, 1994, nos. 7-8).