Ross Douthat’s speculations on Pope Francis’ “marriage endgame” are interesting (as usual) and in some respects I agree with them. But in one major respect, I disagree.
Douthat writes: “Fast-tracking annulments weakens the credibility of Catholic doctrine, in both implication and effect. But it does not formally reverse the church’s teaching about the nature of marriage and communion.” Two, maybe three, times Douthat implies that Francis’ strategy (chiefly, that shown by his rewriting of annulments procedures in Mitis Iudex) is a victory (if a small one) for Church teaching on marriage, divorce-and-remarriage, and reception of Communion. I say No, Francis’ strategy is not a victory for Church teaching on these issues for the simple reason that Church teaching on these issues was never at risk.
I grant that, whether with express papal encouragement or simply in the churning wake of Francis’ governing style, some weighty ecclesiastics have argued for changes…
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