The book's structure takes the form of 100 questions and answers. The topics include: sexuality, the indissolubility of the marriage bond, divorce, homosexuality, declaration of nullity of canonical marriages, Communion for the divorced and remarried, mercy, and pastoral policy.
Authored by Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, California, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, and Archbishop Aldo de Cillo Pagotto of Paraiba, Brazil, there's absolutely nothing new in this volume. But, the answers are presented in a direct way that reitereates not just what the Church teaches but why She teaches it.
For example, concerning any bishop who would suggest that homosexual unions, while they should not be marriages, should be blessed:
A homosexual union is not merely affective coexistence among friends
but erotic cohabitation between lovers which involves the use of unnatural
sexuality. Therefore, homosexual unions are gravely sinful and cannot be
compared to marriage, nor can they be blessed by the Church. Instead,
we must oppose recent attempts to legalize such unions in any form
What about admitting those who are divorced and remarried to Holy Communion?
Adultery is objectively a grave sin and as such can be forgiven if the sinner
has manifested not only a sincere repentance but also a purpose of
amendment, that is, of ending the adulterous behavior.
Then, there's this gem:
The historical transformation of society is a result of cultural and moral
errors. The Church should not adapt to these errors or their consequences
but rather identify, denounce, and remedy them. Therein lies a real "update"
of her ministry.
Directly responding to those who believe the Church and Her teaching are "out of touch" with the modern world, the bishops reply:
If the faithful no longer understand a moral doctrine, the blame does not
fall on the doctrine but above all on those who should teach it in a clear
and convincing way.
Isn't that the truth? Unfortunately, the authors don't also include in this answer those curial officials who have appointed those bishops who haven't taught doctrine in a clear and convincing way for more than 5 decades.
Yes, there will be many who will cry out "This is hurtful" and "This is divisive." There will also be those who opine "This isn't welcoming or inclusive."
The Motley Monk can't disagree with the naysayers. After all, the Church's teaching is all of that...to those whose intention is to remake the Church in their image and likeness, commensurate with the Zeitgeist of these days. Rather than appreciate the truth the Church strives to teach in every era, imperfect as Her teachers may be, reformers in every era politicize their doctrinal disagreements in hopes of ginning up opposition in their effort to "reform" the Church.
There's one other charge those who oppose Church make: "People will leave the Church."
That's nothing other than the "bigger is better" argument.
If the naysayers really don't believe that what the Church teaches is the truth, why ever wouldn't they and shouldn't they leave the Church? After all, there are lots of other Christian denominations out there that teach exactly what those who want the Church to adapt Herself to this era want to believe: divorce/remarriage, so-called homosexual "marriage," and women priests...to name just a few of their much-desired "reforms." Just as there were in Corinth, today there are many who crowd around and uncritically listen to those who appear wise and "tickle their ears," telling them exactly what they want to hear and it isn't the truth they need to hear.
In The Shape of the Church to Come, the influential Jesuit theologian, Karl Rahner, predicted back in the late-1970s that the Church would be much smaller in the 21st century than it had been in previous centuries. Far from a bad thing, Rahner argued, a smaller Church would be a blessing. Why? Those who remained would be more authentically Catholic, presenting the world a counterpoint to its shallow, if not empty Zeitgeist.
The Church exists not to adapt to the au courrant Zeitgeist but to preach the Truth of Christ and to remain in it. Jesus understood the crowd's response of the crowd well:
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, "This is a
hard saying; who can hear it?" (John 6:60)
Many of those who were listening, we are told, turned away. But, note well: Jesus didn't change his teaching--the Truth he was sent to proclaim--to create a big, inclusive and diverse tent of a Church representing a multiplicity of truths. Instead, he suffered and died for for the Truth, entrusting it to a small group of imperfect apostles to bring to the ends of the world.
Let the discussion begin...
A copy of "Preferential Option for the Family" can be requested by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org