On The “Brother And Sister Thingy” Again
I have already published a blog post about the talk given by Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the 5th of December.
Bishop Schneider states the following:
A pastoral accompaniment and discernment that does not communicate to the adulterous person, the so-called divorced and remarried, the divinely-established obligation to live in continence as a sine qua non condition for admission to the sacraments, exposes itself in reality as an arrogant clericalism, as there does not exist any clericalism so pharisaical as that which arrogates to itself rights reserved to God.
We see here a theme mentioned very often: that what is clearly a scandalous adulterous relationship is fine if continence is given (and, I add, necessarily made public).
I always found such affirmations “off”, and – perhaps because of the times we live in – more than a tad stinking of Vatican II. According to this thinking, it appears that two old people could live together in what appears to be, for all the world, an adulterous relationship, with the addition of the obvious fact that they have no sex and they, duh, admit it. But you see, I though the adultery consists in the way of life, not in the accidental circumstance than one or both the adulterers happen to be impotent, or not interested in sex. This, leaving aside what must be, in very many cases, the obvious provocation of the couple who is in an age where sexual activity is to be assumed but tell you the “brother and sister thingy” because hey, we don’t want to give scandal, do we now?
I have asked before, and ask again, help from my readers in finding statements supporting this “brother and sister thingy” before the age of Vatican II. I never could find any, hence my detecting the pungent smell of V II.
Interestingly, in the already linked interview Bishop Schneider also states the following:
One of the most ancient and unequivocal testimonies of the immutable practice of the Roman Church of rejecting adulterous unions by way of the sacramental discipline–unions of members of the faithful who are still linked to a legitimate spouse in a matrimonial bond—is the author of a penitential catechesis known by the pseudonymous title of the Shepherd of Hermas. The catechesis was written, in all probability, by a Roman priest at the beginning of the second century, as indicated by the literary form of an “apocalypse” or account of a vision.
The second dialogue between Hermas and the angel of penance who appears to him in the form of a shepherd, demonstrates with admirable clarity the immutable doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this area: “What, O lord, will the husband do if his wife persists in this lust of adultery?” “Separate from her and the husband remains on his own. If after having left his wife he marries another woman, he also commits adultery.” “If, O lord, the wife, after she has been abandoned, repents and wishes to return to her husband, will she not be restored?” “Yes, he says, and if the husband does not receive her he sins and becomes guilty of a great fault. He should, instead, receive the one who has sinned and has repented. . . . Because of the possibility of such repentance, the husband should not remarry. This directive applies both to the wife and to the husband. Not only is there adultery if one corrupts one’s own flesh, but also the one who acts similarly to the pagans is an adulterer. . . . For that reason it was ordained that one remain alone, for both the woman and the man. One can repent . . . but he who has sinned must not sin again” (Shepherd of Hermas, Fourth Commandment, 1).
See? Second century, and no brother and sister thingy to be seen absolutely anywhere. “Remain alone” cannot mean anything else than “remain alone”. The point is also forcefully made that every spouse must be ready to readmit the other in the family life. It seems difficult to reconcile this with what we hear today: the children would be oh so horribly traumatised, and the like. Did they not have children in the Second Century?
It seems clear to me that what is required is that no alternative family is created, period. No “brother and sister” thingy, and no “let’s think of the children” thingy. It is not clear to me what part of
For that reason it was ordained that one remain alone, for both the woman and the man
I have not understood.
Once again, I am grateful for every authoritative statement in this regard from pre-Vatican II times. As it stands now, it seems to me that the matter is not being appropriately dealt with, and that it was exactly this “brother and sister thingy”, together with the bringing of children into the equation, that created the slippery slope that ends up with…
Kasper and Francis.