As the result of yet another brazen act of judicial fiat, Florida has become the 36th state where same-sex “marriage” is now the law of the land. The bishop of St. Petersburg, Robert Lynch, reacted to this judicial overreach on his blog and in a January 6th op-ed piece he penned for the Tampa Bay Times.
Bishop Lynch’s view on how the Church should respond to the civil redefinition of marriage provides perhaps the most forceful argument to date for maintaining the Church’s teaching on a different, but interrelated issue: namely, denying communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
Most bishops sympathetic to the same-sex “marriage” agenda are too intelligent to make a case for de jure acceptance of it in the Catholic Church. I would suggest, however, along with Cardinal Pell, that the issue of permitting communion for the divorced and remarried can be used effectively as a stalking horse to gain de facto acceptance of same-sex “marriage” in the Church. During last October’s Synod in Rome, Cardinal Pell stated:
Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some — very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers — it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions…
Therefore, if the Church wishes to be a consistent and effective witness for the true definition of both sacramental and civil marriage—an impossible task without, at the same time, rejecting even de facto acceptance of same-sex “marriage”—the bishops and cardinals at the upcoming Ordinary Synod of the Family must not change the practice of denying communion to the divorced and civilly remarried.
It’s not my place or desire to speculate about Bishop Lynch’s intentions. Whether intentionally or not, however, Lynch’s view on how the Church should respond to the civil redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples—combined with his view on permitting communion to the divorced and remarried, and his focus on looking to the positive aspects of other similarly objective grave sinful situations (same-sex unions and cohabiting heterosexual couples) in the “spirit of Pope Francis and the Extraordinary Synod”—does lay the perfect groundwork for de facto acceptance of same-sex “marriage” in the Church.
While he does not touch on it explicitly, Bishop Lynch’s views nevertheless bring out into the open an issue that was not faced squarely at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family: The Church cannot permit communion for divorced and civilly (re)married heterosexual couples yet, at the same time, deny communion to civilly married same-sex couples.
This is especially true if Bishop Lynch is correct when he says—in terms strikingly similar to the Extraordinary Synod’s midterm relatio—that same-sex couples, like divorced and remarried couples, are capable of “sharing relationships marked by love and holiness” and are, thus, capable of “contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.”
In other words, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or, to formulate the issue in more properly theological terms: The Church cannot permit communion for one category of people in a state of objective grave sin, but deny communion to a different category of people in a state of objective grave sin. This is particularly true when both states are determined to be objective grave sins for a similar reason: i.e., when both states are so designated precisely because both are cases of Catholics entering civil marriages that gravely violate the Church’s teaching on marriage….