Cardinal O’Malley: ‘The Church Will Not Change Her Teaching on Marriage’

Cardinal O’Malley: ‘The Church Will Not Change Her Teaching on Marriage’

The archbishop of Boston discusses Pope Francis’ first year, the work of the council of cardinals and the pastoral challenge of assisting divorced-remarried Catholics.


Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has had a cardinal’s-eye view — shared by only a very select few — of the key events of the first year of Pope Francis’ papacy.
Cardinal O’Malley has devoted much of his vocation to ministering to Hispanic immigrants and working with the Church in Latin America, and he participated in the March 2013 conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. Appointed subsequently to the eight-member council of cardinals formed to advise the Holy Father, the Boston archbishop has now taken on a more visible role in the global Church, working closely with Pope Francis on Church reforms and announcing the formation of a new Vatican commission to address pastoral issues related to clergy sexual abuse and the protection of children.
On March 18, Cardinal O’Malley headlined “The Francis Factor,” an event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that allowed the cardinal to share the rich and compelling insights about Pope Francis he has garnered during the past year. Before an audience of 3,000 people, Cardinal O’Malley spoke about Pope Francis as a “quintessential Ignatian Jesuit,” who is now sharing the fruits of his long practice of spiritual discernment, anchored in the discipline of the daily examan. Indeed, the Pope’s Jesuit formation has made it possible for him to engage his flock in unexpected ways, like his washing of the feet of prisoners at a Rome detention center during his first Holy Thursday as pope. The strong reaction to the Pope’s surprising action, said Cardinal O’Malley, recalled the 12 Apostles’ own “shock” as Jesus washed their feet.
Before the event, which was hosted at Loyola University in Baltimore, Cardinal O’Malley briefly spoke with Register senior editor Joan Frawley Desmond about his experience on the council of cardinals, his efforts to keep the clergy-abuse issue before Pope Francis and the Pope’s concerns about finding pastoral solutions for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Pope Francis has expressed sympathy for Catholics who cannot receive the Eucharist because they have divorced and remarried, and some German bishops say that Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage should be modified. Can you give us any information on this issue, which will be addressed at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family?

The Church will not change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
There will be an effort to help those people who have had a failed marriage and try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done. The Holy Father is anxious to discuss that, but I think it is premature to make any forecast for how it will play out.
The simplification of the annulment process would be a wonderful first step for addressing a very crucial pastoral problem for the Church.

Read the rest there.

That’s something ppl have to like about the Catholic Church, that it doesn’t change it’s position. We stick to God’s teaching, and were not like most Protestants who change positions to please society.


Although this is only an announcement from one cardinal, we appreciate your close watch over this as it is one issue in which I am personally prone to worry about! Teaching regarding marriage is from Divine Law and it cannot be changed, however, we pray protection, given certain past historical precedents, that doctrinal purity and sacramental integrity not be compromised nor muddied with the agenda of a certain few.

Although making the annulment process too easy is basically changing teaching without offficially stating it. It appears to me, that it is a loophole.

Why don’t you leave ‘the Protestants’ out of this? Yes, the Church’s long-standing traditions and theology are what allow us to maintain confidence in the truth, but to make a blanket statement that ‘most Protestants … change positions to please society’ is ignorant and unkind.

They’re not making it easier as in loosening the restrictions and requirements for obtaining an annulment; they’re making it easier by removing some of the red tape and bureaucracy the process currently has. An annulment will still only be granted if the Church determines that there was never a valid marriage to begin with.

Actually, it’s historically accurate. The Protestant churches have an abysmal track record of sticking to their guns on moral issues. Heck, the whole lot of them are the result of a rejection of different aspects of basic moral theology.

This can be easily seen in our time by their reversal of position on issues such as contraception and abortion, as well as divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation. Now you’ve got the nonsensical non-denominationals who basically don’t even bother teaching any sort of moral theology to begin with.

No, I’d say Chero’s post was pretty accurate.

(Note: This is not directed towards individual protestants, many of whom I’m sure are quite willing and able to stick to moral theology, but rather is an observation on Protestantism as a whole.)

And who is the ‘they’ you are talking about?

I came into the Church a year ago, and it was the best thing that happened to me. But I will tell you that I am getting really sick of what I perceive to be an attitude of Catholic elitism. I hear and see a lot of criticism of Protestantism, but very little effort to try to understand, evangelize, or pray for conversions.

I think Pope Francis is exactly what this Church needs. Hopefully he can inspire a bit of humility in his flock.



And just to be clear - I was attracted to the Church precisely because of its teaching on marriage, but I wouldn’t have even gotten to the notion that marriage is indissoluble if it weren’t for stumbling across some ‘Protestants’ who assert this and have a ministry aimed at reconciling broken marriages.

To make such a blanket statement about how all Protestantism is based upon making moral concessions is just plain ignorant - ignorant of history, of theology, and of how Protestant churches are governed. Are there errors in theology? Yes, of course, that is clear - but the nature of the problem is the disconnect from the tradition and truths of the Church - it’s not because Protestants are out there saying, ‘Hey we need to attract more congregants - let’s figure out how we can change our theology to accept gay couples.’

Finally, those non-denominationals - well I know a few of them, and I can tell you that they live more Christ-centered, service-oriented lives than most Catholics I know. In fact, I can say that also about a lot of main-stream Protestants I know - including many of my own family members.

We have a lot to learn from you guys. I respect the zeal and dedication I observe, and sometimes I feel more comfortable talking about God with Protestants than Catholics. Though, I honestly admit that sometimes the frustration between Catholic and Protestant is a legitimate, two-way street. I’m so glad you’re in the Church! May God continue to bless you richly and continue to strengthen you for your trials!

You tell me where my info is ignorant. Protestants were unanimous about contraception at mid 20th century, as time went along they started to change on that and started to accept it, using the Clause, the Church does not tell pple what to do in their bedrooms.

How about abortion? Should I get detailed. Oh btw, the Catholic Church, has not changed on contraception.

The bolded above has some truth to it. I can cite you poll after poll of Catholic individuals, who by majority are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to Church teachings. However, chero23’s point still stands. As an i***nstitution***, the Catholic Church is alone and unwavering in her teachings. And for good reason. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the Church’s teaching office established by Jesus Christ to “guard what has been entrusted,” is infallible, and protected by the Holy Spirit from ever teaching error. Most other religious institutions have let the secular world influence them one way or another. Allowing women priests and bishops, openly and practicing gay clergy, allowing abortion, contraception, divorce, so-called gay marriage just to name a few.

Peace, Mark

The Church has not changed it’s stance on most things but the individual catholics have. America seems rampant in going against the teachings of the Church. I think it is unfair to group Protestants into some certain “group” as it is to group catholics into some certin groups. I am a cradle Catholic and I can see my own decisions to fall away from moral teachings and where that lead me. People are flawed, all of us.

The protestant churches in general, beginning with the Anglican church, which is the first I’m aware of changing its doctrine on contraception. Once it did that, it began changing other things. Now they have women bishops :shrug:

I came into the Church a year ago, and it was the best thing that happened to me. But I will tell you that I am getting really sick of what I perceive to be an attitude of Catholic elitism. I hear and see a lot of criticism of Protestantism, but very little effort to try to understand, evangelize, or pray for conversions.

I am perfectly capable of doing all four things at once. There is nothing elitist or wrong about pointing out errors or problems with a particular group. Recognizing the historically-verifiable dissolution of the notion of moral truth in Protestantism as a whole is not speaking ill of those people who genuinely seek God (I am well aware that most Protestants fall into that category, and I applaud them for it), it is simply being aware of a flaw in construction of the system, a foundation of sand, if you well. Knowing all of this does not prevent me from understanding, evangelizing, or praying for conversion, in fact, it aides me in these endeavors because it gives me a good point from which to discuss the nature of God as infinite and unchanging.

I think Pope Francis is exactly what this Church needs. Hopefully he can inspire a bit of humility in his flock.

I have not shown a lack of humility. Know history doesn’t make me arrogant or prideful, neither does pointing out problems. You speak of Catholic elitism, but I have noticed a similar trend in converts of being too defensive of their past faiths. The Truth of the Church drew you to Her, so why do you take offense when I point out where other churches have abandoned that Truth? If anything, I’d think it would bolster your belief in Christs one, holy and Apostolic Catholic Church. I mean no disrespect, I just don’t like being called arrogant or elitist when it isn’t called for.

Well I agree, this is one of two or three issues that I have worries about, and I think it’s the most important and immanent issue facing the Church right now.

I’m not sure what your perceptions are based upon???

Catholicism is the one true faith. Catholicism contains the complete truth because it was created by God. Anything that is not contained in Catholicism is a lie. Does that make me an elitist?

Protestantism is a heresy. Protestants deny important truths and do not live according to the doctrine established by His Church. Is that unfair criticism?

I don’t know how someone can ascertain the effort others put into prayer, understanding, and evangelization???

I too know many Protestants who have a great love for Christ–there is no doubt about that, and they truly do try to follow Christ in the way that THEY know Him. However, to lift them up as being more Christ-centered is a bridge too far imo.

Protestants have rejected the very Church that Jesus founded; they have rejected the Magisterium and the Priesthood that Jesus gave the Church and the world; they have rejected Jesus’ own Vicar on earth; they have rejected critical sacraments such as the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and normative confession to a Priest, anointing of the sick, and confirmation; they have rejected seven books of Sacred Scripture and they mis-interpret many passages in the books they do accept; they have rejected Sacred Tradition; they have rejected Mary in many ways; they have rejected the fullness of the Communion with the Saints…there are many other basic teachings of the one truth faith that Protestants have rejected. I am not sure how anyone can say that makes them more Christ-centered than people who do accept and follow the fullness of the faith as Jesus gave the world.

I have a great love for many Protestants and I DO pray for their conversions–and may God bless them with a Grace that opens their eyes to his true Church–and I do consider Protestants to be separated brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, in no way would I ever say they are more Christ-centered considering the vast amount of teachings they outright reject. IMO, one cannot outright reject so much that Jesus gave, and then still call themselves Christ-centered (that point applies to Protestants and Catholics alike). Christ loving? Yes of course. Christ centered? Not so much, imo.

Help? :slight_smile:

Perhaps a more pastoral approach would be to say that there are truths in other faiths, however, the Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth. thoughts?

The first clause of your statement, “There are truths in other faiths”, is trivial. No faith can be completely lies. If someone said that to me, I would be insulted.

The truths in Protestantism came from Catholicism.

But look at your previous statement

makes my comment NOT trivial. I agree with you that Catholicism is true, but stating that all of their (Protestant) beliefs are not true will push people away from your message.

If you are trying to lead people to Catholicism, then my brother, in my humble opinion, you are doing it in an insulting way. I would suggest softening your tone. There is a book by Mark Brumley (CEO of Ignatius Press) called “How Not to Share Your Faith: The Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization”. Its a great book for those involved in Catholic apologetics, I would suggest you read it. In the chapter entitled “Pride” he says:

Being Catholic does not mean we have nothing to learn from non-Catholics, or that non-Catholics are, by definition, unintelligent for not having seen the truth in Catholicism.

It took your reply to my last post for you to put more context around your first post, that I commented on. All I am saying is that we are called by St. Peter to defend our faith, but we do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)


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