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A Stubborn Givenness

The Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, brings into the open a disturbing trend in this pontificate. Ironically, Pope Francis’s pastoral vision seems to entail the same use-oriented individualism that he so forcefully criticizes in social and economic life.Francis doesn’t . . . . Continue Reading »

What Comes After the Synod

Whatever Pope Francis does in the wake of the Synod on the Family, we have a new Humanae Vitae moment on our hands. Decades of relentless infighting over what exactly the Church teaches is on the horizon and will negatively affect the priesthood, religious life, religious institutions, parishes, . . . . Continue Reading »

Divorce and Communion

There were only two occasions in my life as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that required disciplinary ministry with a church member. One was gossip; the other was sex. The first didn’t get beyond private admonition by the pastor, me. That’s what the pastor does in . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Gay Marriage is not like Divorce

Thomas Reese, writing about gay marriage in the National Catholic Reporter, argues that the Catholic bishops of the United States should “admit defeat and move on.” They’ve done this before, he claims: Think of “their predecessors who opposed legalizing divorce but lost,” and who then . . . . Continue Reading »

Dear Pope Francis: Remember the Standers

Pope Francis has spoken often about the problem of family breakdown. “The family is the fundamental cell of society,”the Holy Father told bishops, clergy and laypersons during the first year of his tenure. “Marriage and the family are in crisis,” he said shortly after bishops gathered in Rome last fall for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. No-fault divorce has done more to fuel this crisis than any other factor. Although divorce rates initially skyrocketed after adoption of no-fault in the United States, they remain high. Meanwhile, single motherhood and cohabitation continue to rise, while marriage rates nosedive. And Pope Francis has acknowledged the link between marriage breakdown and society’s ills, including increased poverty, noting that it is children who usually bear the brunt. Continue Reading »

Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce

High in the catalogue of social pathologies afflicting marriage and the family in America stands our system of family law, the central purpose of which is to enforce no-fault divorce. In a letter to the Holy Father and the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family, almost fifty international scholars and religious leaders joined us in urging the Church to consider the effects of no-fault divorce, along with other barriers to faithful, lifelong marriage. Continue Reading »

A Biblical Vision of Marriage

Too often, we Evangelical Protestants have harmed our public witness and failed in fidelity by proclaiming the sanctity and permanence of marriage in one sentence before highlighting the “biblical” justifications for divorce in the next. Our current moment indeed requires us to testify to the male-female nature of marriage, but it also affords an opportunity. As we commend the biblical vision of marriage to our neighbors, we must not shy from aspects of it we have been loath to behold. It’s time we Evangelicals abandon our defense of divorce and embrace a biblical defense of marriage’s permanence. Continue Reading »

My Plea

The day my soul became Catholic was the day I found out that as a divorced and remarried woman I could not receive Communion. Tears of sorrow and joy flowed. Sorrow because I had by then grasped the truth of transubstantiation, only to find I couldn’t consume, and joy because at last we found the ground of real authority—His Church, the one He founded, the one tasked to keep all He taught Her Apostles. Continue Reading »

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