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Philadelphia (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is debunking the notion that it's somehow merciful to leave civilly remarried divorcees in ignorance and sin.
Ironically, a pastoral strategy that minimizes sin in the name of mercy cannot be merciful, because it's dishonest. ... Nor does God's mercy license us to continue in sin. ... A sincere movement toward God always entails a movement away from sin and error.
The archbishop affirms the Church always welcomes the divorced and civilly remarried, clarifying, "But neither can the Church ignore the Word of God on the permanence of marriage, nor mitigate the consequences of the choices that grown people freely make."
Chaput denies that the Church is punishing those who are sexually active in irregular unions by not giving them the sacraments, declaring the Church "cannot confirm human beings in patterns of behavior that separate them from God and remain faithful to Her own mission at the same time."
This echoed Chaput's words at last month's ordinary synod in Rome, where he urged:
The work of this Synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. ... We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors.
He continued, "But the Church cannot be merciful without being truthful. ... A pastoral approach that ignores this truth out of a thinly veiled pastoral despair and accommodationism will result in less faith, not more."
This harkens back to Chaput's call at the Synod for precise language: "Just as our thoughts shape the language we use, so too the language we use shapes our thinking and the content of our discussions. Imprecise language leads to confused thinking."
The archbishop went on to decry this "therapeutic age" that seeks to affirm people "indiscriminately as they are":
[It] would be the opposite of mercy to say "come" and then imply that we need not move, need not step out of our present romance with sin and toward obedience to God's life-giving righteousness, the law of Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Chaput is one of 15 prelates selected to prepare the next synod scheduled for 2018.
To learn more about false vs. authentic charity, watch Kasper's Broken Mercy from our program Remaining in the Truth: