Blogger's response: What Pope Francis is maneuvering to alter is not the melody but the key it has been played in. What was b flat before Vatican II is now to be played in f sharp after Vatican II. The melody is the same. What was pagan object in b flat is now Christian subject in f sharp.
Comment by Blogger: Douthat fine tunes the tension between doctrine and mercy. The tension will helps to expose what was at the heart of Vatican II: that "man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself" (Gaudium et Spes #24). That is, objectified conceptualization of the received anthroplogy from the Greek Stoics - the meaning of man - is a dumbed down rationalization of the human person. And, therefore, the human person can be understood to enter into matrimony not by a contract dealng with the "rights" of an individual "rational animal" to the use of the body of another, but rather by a covenant that is a mutual gift of self to the other whereby two form a communion of self-gift that is an unum, which is the image of the Trinity of God. If this is not in place, there is no marriage. So marriage is a covenant of persons giving the whole self rather than a contract between two individuals.
The short version of the story: if marriage has not been entered into as a covenant of self-giving persons but as a contract of individuals (which immediately implies the possibility of a homosexual union), there never was a marriage.
The reason for this is that marriage is a sacrament of faith, and faith is the giving of self to the revealing Christ. Absent that, one is left with a mere civil contract but not a covenant of faith. This lies at the core of it all. What is at stake is the meaning of the Church as a communio of fait hful rather than a community of individuals interconnected only accidentally. Everything rides on that. And the question of communion for the divorced-remarried depends on that question. There would beno ontological obstacle to receiving the Eucharist after due confession of serious sin.
What this implies, nevertheless, is that the Church would have to change its pastoral praxis which is inadequate for preparation of the sacrament. Rather, the entire formation by the Church of those baptized into the experience - living - of Christ (Faith) would have to be aimed at its true goal which is becoming Christ Himself so that he/she would be able to make such a gift, and therefore to truly enter into an unannulable sacrament. This would be very different from the short and necessarily superficial "Pre-Cana" nowin force
In a word, the question before the Synod of 2015 is a revamping of the entire pastoral formation of the Church, not to make marriage easily annulable, but rather to form the faithful to enter it as a high way of holiness - Love to death. It cannot be dumbed down to a few practices and moral issues but the demanding high road to sanctity.
The difficulty with this development would be the practical side of who decides that a marriage was superficial and not entered into as self-gift. And the answer, of course, is that only the interest ed parties themselves in their respective consciences could know if they had given it all. And this again, opens the door to every kind of subjective deception, which again opens the door to every kind of scandal. But this is the price that God has wished to be paid for the freedom to make the gift. Precisely because it is gift, it cannot be regimented or forced, or enforced. If it is Love that He wants, then it must be the self-determination of the person and cannot be made to happen.
Ultimately, it comes down to being formed to understand that one enters Christian marriage only with the intention of giving oneself totally, and this demands parrhesia (daring and risk). But is this not what God did in Christ becoming man, freeing him from sin, staying with us in the Eucharist, and calling us to become Himself? Are we to do less?