Pope Francis has done it again! He has some people cheering and others rolling their eyes and doing a head-slap. In his Amoris Laetitia, he encourages bishops and parish priests to engage in conversation with those whose lifestyle has traditionally prevented them from receiving Communion at Mass. The confusion arises over the debate between personal conscience and institutional clarity. You can explore some of the debate in this NY Times article.
At our Monday Evening Bible Conversation we discussed the scripture from I Timothy 3:1-13 – a text that offers guidance for individuals and the church as a whole regarding those who would be leaders (“bishops”, that is, “overseers”, and servants or “deacons”). The text reads, in part, that such people “must be above reproach, married only once (husband of one wife), temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money.”
How do we put together rules that insure these various traits are in play? And who decides what “temperate” or “sensible” really look like? My definition of those terms has been nuanced by age, experience and context.
With regard to marriage, divorce and reception of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, does it make sense to establish a rule and enforce that rule across centuries, throughout the various and changing cultures of the world? How dependable is the human conscience? As one commentator puts it, “is sin a sin? – Period?
We will pick this conversation up in our Thursday Reflection … In the meantime, how “sensible” are you? And who is currently shut out that you might risk inviting in?
A blessed Tuesday.