Sandro Magister has a piece by Msgr. Nicola Bux which explains that the Orthodox “solution” is (pace Card. Kasper) not a solution at all for the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.
Pat attention to what Bux says about who may receive Communion. It is really good! Moreover, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist DOES NOT REQUIRE RECEPTION OF COMMUNION. Can we pleeeeeze get away from that mania?
ROME, May 30, 2014 – On the return flight from the Holy Land, Pope Francis was asked if “the Catholic Church can learn something from the Orthodox Churches” concerning married priests and the acceptance of second marriages for the divorced.
On both of these points the pope gave an elusive response. But everyone remembers what he said with regard to second marriages in a previous interview on the flight back from Rio de Janeiro:
“But also – a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance, they allow it. But I believe that this problem – and here I close the parenthesis – must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage.”
Cardinal Walter Kasper also referred to this practice of the Eastern Churches in his introductory remarks to the consistory last February, in which he focused the discussion on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried in view of the synod on the family.
[NB] The current idea is that in the Orthodox Churches there is a sacramental celebration of second and even third marriages and that communion is given to the divorced and remarried. [No.]
When in reality this is not the case at all. Orthodoxy has always differentiated first and second marriages not only in ceremony but also in substance, as is clearly demonstrated by the strongly penitential tone of the prayers for second marriages.
It is enough to read, in this regard, the historical overview that Basilio Petrà – a Catholic priest of the Latin rite, but of Greek origin and a scholar in this field, a professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute – published two months ago:
B. Petrà, “Divorzio e seconde nozze nella tradizione greca. Un’altra via”, Cittadella Editrice, Assisi, 2014, pp. 212, euro 15,90.
The following is a clarification of what second marriages really are in the theology and practice of the Orthodox Churches.
The author, Nicola Bux, an expert on the liturgy and a professor at the theological faculty of Bari, is a consultant for the congregation for the divine worship and for the causes of saints, and took part in the 2005 synod on the Eucharist, an interesting episode of which he relates here.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND SECOND MARRIAGES
by Nicola Bux
Cardinal Walter Kasper recently referred to the Orthodox practice of second marriages to maintain that divorced and remarried Catholics should also be admitted to communion.
Perhaps, however, he has not paid attention to the fact that the Orthodox do not receive communion in the rite of second marriages, since the Byzantine rite of marriage does not include communion but only the exchange of a shared cup of wine, which is not consecrated.
Moreover, among Catholics it is generally said that the Orthodox permit second marriages, and therefore tolerate divorce from the first spouse.
In reality this is not strictly the case, because this is not a matter of the modern legal institution. The Orthodox Church is willing to tolerate the second marriages of persons whose marriage bond has been dissolved by the Church, not by the state, on the basis of the power Jesus has given the Church to “bind and loose,” granting a second opportunity in some particular cases (typically cases of ongoing adultery, but also by extension certain cases in which the marriage bond has become a pretense). A third marriage is also possible, although it is highly discouraged. Moreover, the possibility of entering a second marriage in the case of dissolution is granted only to the innocent spouse.
Second and third marriages, unlike the first marriage, are celebrated among the Orthodox with a special rite, referred to as “penitential.” Since in ancient times the rite of second marriages omitted the crowning of the spouses – which Orthodox theology sees as the essential moment of the wedding – second marriages are not a true sacrament, but to use the Latin terminology, a “sacramental,” which allows the new spouses to consider their union as fully accepted by the ecclesial community. The secondary wedding ceremony is also applied in the case of widowed spouses.
The non-sacramental nature of second marriages finds confirmation in the disappearance of Eucharistic communion from Byzantine marriage ceremonies, being replaced by a cup understood as a symbol of life together. This appears to be an attempt to “de-sacramentalize” the marriage, perhaps on account of the growing embarrassment that second and third marriages induced because of the exemption from the principle of the indissolubility of the bond, which is directly proportional to the sacrament of unity: the Eucharist.
In this regard, the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote that it is precisely the cup, elevated to a symbol of shared life, that “demonstrates the desacramentalization of the marriage, which is reduced to a natural form of happiness. In the past, this was reached with communion, the sharing of the Eucharist, the ultimate seal of the fulfillment of marriage in Christ. Christ must be the true essence of life together.” How could this “essence” remain standing?
[NB] So this is a matter of a “mix-up” in the Catholic camp that can be attributed to a scarce or nonexistent consideration for doctrine, according to which there has grown up the opinion, or better the heresy, that Mass without communion is not valid. [OORAH! YES! Thank you, Msgr. Bux.] The whole preoccupation with communion for the divorced and remarried, which has little to do with the Eastern vision and practice, is a consequence of this. [Participation in the Eucharist DOES NOT REQUIRE RECEPTION OF COMMUNION. Get that? Repeat it to yourself several times.]
About ten years ago, while collaborating in the preparation for the synod on the Eucharist, at which I later participated as an expert in 2005, this “opinion” was advanced by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, a member of the council of the secretariat of the synod. At the invitation of Cardinal Jan Peter Schotte, the secretary general at the time, I had to remind Hummes that catechumens and penitents – including the dìgami – in the different penitential degrees participated in the celebration of the Mass or in parts of it, without receiving communion.
The erroneous “opinion” is widespread today among clerics and faithful, for which reason, as Joseph Ratzinger has observed, “one must again become very clearly aware of the fact that the Eucharistic celebration is not devoid of value for those who do not receive communion. [. . .] Since the Eucharist is not a ritual banquet, but the communal prayer of the Church, in which the Lord prays with us and takes part with us, it remains precious and great, a true gift, even if we are unable to receive communion. [!] If we were to regain a better understanding of this fact and thus see the Eucharist itself in a more correct manner, various pastoral problems, as for example that of the position of the divorced and remarried, would automatically lose much of their oppressive weight.”
What has been described is an effect of the divergence and even the opposition between dogma and liturgy. [DEAD ON TARGET.] The apostle Paul asked those who intended to receive communion to examine themselves, in order not to eat and drink their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). This means: “Those who want Christianity to be only a joyful proclamation, in which there must be no threat of judgment, falsify it.” [EXACTLY.]
One asks oneself how it has come to this point. Various authors during the second half of the last century supported the theory – as Ratzinger recalls – that “derives the Eucharist more or less exclusively from the meals that Jesus ate with sinners. [. . .] But what follows from this is an idea of the Eucharist that has nothing in common with the custom of the primitive Church.” Although Paul protects communion from abuse under anathema (1 Corinthians 16:22), the aforementioned theory proposes “as the essence of the Eucharist that it be offered to all without any distinction or preliminary condition, [. . .] even to sinners, and indeed even to nonbelievers.” [Or even to readers of the Fishwrap!]
No, Ratzinger writes: ever since its origin the Eucharist has not been understood as a meal with sinners, but with the reconciled: ["reconciled"] “From the beginning there were very well-defined conditions of access for the Eucharist as well [. . .] and in this way it built up the Church.”
[NB] The Eucharist therefore remains “the banquet of the reconciled,” something that is remembered in the Byzantine liturgy, at the moment of communion, with the invitation “Sancta sanctis,” holy things for the holy.
But in spite of this the theory of the invalidity of Mass without communion continues to influence the present-day liturgy.
This text by Nicola Bux is taken from the afterword that he wrote for the latest book by Antonio Livi, a theologian and philosopher at the Pontifical Lateran University, soon to be published and dedicated to the writings and discourses of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri (1906-1989):
A. Livi, “Dogma e liturgia. Istruzioni dottrinali e norme pastorali sul culto eucaristico e sulla riforma liturgica promossa dal Vaticano II”, Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, Roma, 2014.
Here is what will happen.
The catholic Left will say that Bux… like Müller and others who uphold Catholic teaching… are waging a war on mercy.
They won’t have a theological response. They will have an emotional response, namely: You are mean!
It’ll be one ad hominem after another.
Mark my words.
They will toss around words like “inquisition” and “narrow-minded” and “rigid” and “unchristian”.