Church: on Constant Faith and Morals?

One thing I have heard a lot, is that in spite of the great sins and crimes of some members of the Catholic Church (from kings to monks, bishops and even Popes) the Catholic Church has never taught or been in error, merely been entagled with sin and temptation, like all of humanity.

However, I have noticed three stances or “issues” on which the Church, if it has not changed it’s teachings, has at least significantly evolved. Please give me your feedback and your perspectives.

  1. **Divorce. **The Church used to teach that divorce itself was a mortal sin. I recall my grandmother saying that when she was growing up her mother would tell her that she should never divorce not even if her husband threatens to kill her. Before (very recently) It seems most priests and bishops would agree that divorce in all circumstances was sinful, and that if a woman experienced domestic abuse or exploitation for herself or her children, “tough luck and offer it up:blush:.” In very Catholic countries (Italy, Ireland, Poland, Latin America etc.) Civil divorce was extraordinarly difficult to achieve if not illegal.

Now it is different. While there can be no “divorce” in a Church setting, the Church is fine with civil divorce if it is for the protection of the woman or children. I also get the sense that “annulments” are quite common and easy to obtain. I understand the difference between divorce and annulment, but for the vast majority of annullments, can one honestly say the marriage “never happened?”

I might agree if there was some coercian or lack of capacity from one party, but I think in all honesty those marriages “happened” but just one spouse or the other had problems, and wasn’t able to sort them out. Sometimes marriages fail, and the Church grants annulment even if they “occured” to most third party observers.

  1. Suicide The Church used to teach that Suicide was a mortal sin, the worst sin a person could commit and would most likely damn you to hell. Suicides were refused Catholic burials up until the 1970s I believe, when science discovered the psychological element of it. I suppose the Church teaches that it is a grave sin too, but it seems there is far more compassion and sympathy for victims of it, than say 50 years ago, when the main sense was that the person was “weak and selfish.” I think most protestant churches had the same view unfortunately :blush:

  2. The Jews The Churche’s attitude, if not official teaching on the Jews seemed to have changed dramatically since World War II. While I don’t think the Church ever taught that “the Jews killed Jesus” I sense a great antipathy/contempt for them as a people from various Popes and saints that the Jews were uniquely “blinded” as a people, worse than the average pagan for being in a “dead covenent” with God, refusing to accept the son he generously gave them. If I am not mistaken the Churche’s present, cordial attitude on Jews and Judaism is a signifact grievance/sticking point of SSPX/sedevecantists.

Any thoughts?

Good question…subscribed.

I do not think that the Church has significantly changed its’ teaching on those three issues.

The Church has always taught that separation is permissible in dangerous situations. Civil action/divorce in order to secure necessary financial support was always permissible. It is true that some Catholic countries did not have divorce, per se, but they had annulments and legal separations. “Tough luck and offer it up” was never Catholic teaching.

If you think that the Church often annuls valid marriages, you have a right to your opinion. However, I think that the problem lies elsewhere. A large percentage of the civil marriages in the modern world are actually invalid from a Christian point of view because the parties do not intend and exclusive lifetime commitment open to life.

The Church’s teaching on suicide has not changed. Suicide is still, objectively speaking, a murder. However, we can never know when a particular suicide meets the three conditions for mortal sin. Certainly, we know much more about mental illness than we did in the past, and we should thank God for that.

If there was a “a great antipathy/contempt” for the Jews in the past, why did Pope Pius and the future Pope John XXIII risk Catholic lives to save Jews?

It still does teach that divorce is grave matter. Right there in the sixth commandment under “offenses against marriage.”.

That may be what your great grandmother told your grandmother, but that isn’t actually what the Catholic Church taught on the matter. Certainly separation while the bond remained was rare, more due to cultural and economic realities than anything.

You’ve gotten bad information.

The evidence demonstrates an impediment or defect prevented a valid marriage from occurring, yes that is what a decree of nullity means.

I can recommend the book Annulment: The Weding That Was by Michael Smith Foster ton help you get a better understanding than what you articulate above (which is not correct).

And it still does teach that suicide is grave matter, right there in the fifth commandment.

I don’t think you have any documentation for that,

Any mortal sin, if unconfessed, send you to hell.

Generally speaking, yes. But this is not a doctrinal matter.

Well there is the important part.

“Tough luck and offer it up” might not have been official Catholic teaching, but the truth is, nobody passed that bit on to a lot of priests. My own mother, in the 1950’s, when she approached her priest about the fact that she was being abused by a violent alcoholic husband, was told to “Go home and be a better wife” Of course, my mother, being a sensible woman, threw the husband out and got a divorce. She had children, besides herself ,to protect. It was very common for women to be told things like this, and it should not be denied or covered up.

My take on the whole thing : why question the fact that things are far better for us now and the Church is more compassionate now than previously? Be glad about it. Maybe we are listening to the Spirit a bit better.

Sure, some women might have been told that, by their own families or by a priest. That does not make it Church teaching.

The divortium imperfectum, what we would call separation with the bond remaining, is nothing new in the Church.

From the Council of Trent: “If anyone shall say that the Church errs when she, for many causes, decrees a separation of husband and wife in respect to bed and dwelling-place for a definite or an indefinite period; let him be anathema.”

Trent was hardly last week, or last year, or last century even.

If you read what I wrote, I said it was not Church teaching. I don’t know why you are responding to me like this. Oh well, it’s the internet.

This is helpful.

I don’t deny Pius XII and John XXIII did heroic things for the Jews, as did many other Catholics, and indeed protestants, communists and non-believers. Many people saw Jews as fellow human beings and were sickened at what they saw happening to them. And then again, many were not:(.

I also know that the Nazis did have sort of a tempered hatred/hostility to the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, did not the Church have sort of a “frosty” view of the Jews and Jewish people, while not advocating their murder?

I know one could not become a Jesuit priest if one had a trace of Jewish ancestry, up until around 1945.

As to the domestic abuse issue… part of it was the Catholic Church was part of the culture of the time. And unfortunately 50 years ago or so, domestic abuse was not considered a “crime” and generally was not something a husband could go to jail for. It was viewed as wrong or even evil, but was viewed as a “private matter”, and possibly one which could b:blush::blush:e solved by the couple just trying to be more “loving?!”

Look. I like the Catholic faith and think it’s important. It is just difficult at times to accept or understand some of the teachings/history. At times being a “true Catholic” i.e accepting everything the church teaches as 100% true, seems like a near impossible task :blush:

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