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One point we may wonder about, another we shouldn’t have to

July 6, 2015

I sorta get that keeping personal notes helps some people work through their feelings, but what does publishing personal stuff add to the process? Except to make private feelings public and thus liable to response from others? I don’t journal, if I did I would not publish it, and if others do and publish it, I usually skip to the next item. But when that personal-and-published stuff (a) involves the Catholic Faith and (b) gets picked up by Catholic websites, as did Rita Davis’ remarks on being a pastor’s wife, I feel free to respond. Davis’ essay—and I know about her only what’s in her essay—occasions two points on matters that might cause confusion among Catholics.

1. Everything about Davis’ column tends toward “I grew up Catholic, but …”. It’s become a tired refrain. But the fact that something is common does not make it trivial. Part of the New Evangelization is, I think, going to be a more direct affirmation that membership in the Church is important. Yes, we’ll trip over ourselves immediately adding that membership in the Church is not everything; but we can’t continue to be shy about stating, plainly and firmly, that membership in the Church is a something, and that it’s a pretty important something. Here’s hoping that Davis has, all along, maintained her communion with the Church (Canon 209, Lumen gentium 14) or that she will quickly repair it.

2. Nothing in Davis’ column indicates that she married in the Catholic Church. Now, Canon Law Blog readers will know that this point really bugs me, because I hold that it shouldn’t matter how a Catholic marries (provided only that some provable exchange of consent between eligible parties took place). But the requirement of canonical form, which binds Catholics to marry in accord with form (or be dispensed from it) does not let me conclude that a Catholic is married when, as seems likely here, they observed a non-Catholic rite. Here’s hoping that Davis married according to form, or was dispensed from it, or will take the few steps necessary to convalidate what seems like a happy marriage—and that the outdated requirement of canonical form be dropped at the earliest practicable time.

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