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Friday, September 25, 2009

Catholic vs Orthodox Positions on Remarriage

Here is an interesting blog - Eirenikon - which addresses some of the finer points of theology, church practice, tradition and church-state relations. I found this comment very interesting and informative:

The penitential rite for 2nd and 3rd marriages is very different from the normal rite, but it is still obviously a blessing from the Church. I have heard Orthodox state that it is not and cannot be an "eternal marriage" like a first marriage, but I have never heard an Orthodox state that there is no sacramental grace in the blessing of 2nd and 3rd marriages - it is inconceivable from an Orthodox point of view to have such a ritual and not to have it understood as a Mystery. Take this for instance, if it were not deemed a Mystery then non-Orthodox should be able to have it done, as non-Orthodox can be anointed with certain non-sacramental oils, such as at vigil services, etc., but non Orthodox cannot receive Holy Unction. Obviously, from a ritual point of view, Orthodox approach the penitential marriage rituals as a Mystery.

It seems to me that from the Catholic understanding, if we deem these penitential marriages as non-sacramental, and yet acceptable, it opens up a precedent for other non-sacramental yet acceptable blessings of sexual relationships. If we can have a non-sacramental penitential rite for 2nd marriages, why not allow a non-sacramental penitential rite for homosexuals? The logic remains the same - one could argue that though homosexual relationships are not what the Church wants of her children, the Church will make allowances, etc., and grant a blessing though only via a penitential rite to such persons, that they can still receive the sacraments. I don't see how one could avoid this reasoning if one accepts any type of blessing of sexual activity that is not sacramental.

Hence, as I see it, the Orthodox penitential rites only work in a theological ordo in which they are deemed sacramental. Thus it would seem that Orthodox and Catholic theologies of marriage are simply incompatible. And since the Orthodox oeconomiac blessing of 2nd and 3rd marriages predates the schism, one cannot ask them to change that praxis if one is saying that they only have to return to the relationship they had with Rome prior to the schism, etc.

From here.

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