Warning against consorting with divorced non-Catholics
warning to Catholics against consorting with divorced non-Catholics was given this week by Fr. John F. McDonald, ecclesiastical adviser to the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council. 'DAYS OF GREAT ANXIETY'
Pray 'daily for peace
DAILY prayers for peace during Passiontide throughout the Southwark diocese were called for by Bishop Cowderoy in a pastoral letter read on Sunday.
The Bishop asks all his people to pray for "peace in the family circle : for peace among all classes in the nation: for peace between all peoples throughout the world: a peace which includes not only the absence of armed conflict but also the relief of cruel persecution which is being waged against God's faithful servants in so many parts of the earth."
"We are living through days of great anxiety," says the Bishop. "Widespread is an uneasy apprehension that the generation which has already watched the world drift into two most calamitous wars may yet be exposed to a third ordeal of even greater horror and destruction. . . .
"Worst of the evils brought by war is the hatred and discord that can exist between peoples and nations. This dreadful hatred is a great offence before God.
"When we pray that wars may cease on the face of the earth, we should think not so much of the fact that war might bring hardship or sorrow or suffering to us, but rather that it would foster and revive the hatred, anger and ill-will among men that is an affront to the fatherhood of God." This is a growing problem of our times, Fr. McDonald told the Strand branch of the Civil Service Catholic Guild on Wednesday, and it is tending to become more acute in proportion to the annual increase in the number of civil divorces.
"Hardly a week passes without my being confronted with one or more such cases in the course of my work," he said.
"Catholics are not always alive to the dangers attaching to such associations, which indeed may start innocently and harmlessly enough.
"They fail to find out discreetly, before the friendship develops, if in the event of their contemplating marriage, their partner can be declared canonically free to contract marriage in the Catholic Church: or, when they do find out that the nonCatholic is a divorcee, they hope vaguely that something may be done to allow them to marry in the Catholic Church.
"They are often encouraged in this attitude by the advice of wellmeaning but ill-informed friends.
"They do not realise that nonCatholics may not act as plaintiffs in the courts of the Church, and that were they allowed so to act. even then in most cases it would he impossible to prove the alleged nullity of their marriage to the satisfaction of an ecclesiastical court "One must admire the perseverance of such people in using all the means at their disposal in the hope of getting a hearing. They consult the local parish priest. They are not satisfied. They insist on getting a ruling from some higher authority and when they receive that, not even then will they take 'No' for an answer.
"They seek out some organisation with episcopal sanction to deal with such questions, only to receive the same reply.
"If the faith of the Catholic is weak, he or she will be prepared to contract a sinful union outside the Church rather than accept the Church's ruling. When all attempts have failed, I have known Catholics threaten to go to a register office hoping that they will thus force the band of the Church.
'Break it off'
"This h a problem which is brought to presbyteries, before diocesan tribunals and marriage guidance councils, but its solution lies in the hands of Catholic young men and women, who should not hesitate to break off a friendship before things go too far, once they realise that their non-Catholic partner cannot be declared free to marry in the Catholic Church."
Fr. McDonald was speaking on "Canon Law and the Layman." Other points he made were :
BAPTISM t The canon makes no distinction between persons baptised in the Catholic Church and those validly baptised in a non-Catholic sect Every validly baptised person is, strictly speaking, baptised into the Catholic Church, the one true Church of Christ and is thereby constituted subject to it.
Severance from the Church which takes place after baptism is not complete-haptism imprints an indelible mark on the soul and, once baptised, a person can never completely sever himself from the Church nor be completely severed from it.
TIME OF BAPTISM : The Code of Canon Law states that infants should be baptiscd as soon as possible after birth.
It is generally held that those parents who, without sufficient cause, defer baptism longer than a month after birth are committing grave wrong. They may he excused by an erroneous conscience on the matter but the mind of the legislator is that children should be baptised within a month after their birth.
GODPARENTS : The sponsor should be chosen by the parents and failing that the parish priest may, with the consent of the parents, appoint one or two sponsors.
The law provides for one sponsor even though of a different sex from the person being baptised. At most, two sponsors, a godfather and a godmother, should be employed. A mul
tiplicity of godparents is not envisaged.
From the very nature of the obligations assumed, non-Catholics are not allowed in any sense to be godparents at the baptism of a Catholic.
BURIAL: If a wife has not chosen her place of burial, she is to be buried in the grave of her husband. If she has been married more than once, she is to be buried in the grave of the last husband who predeceased her.
CREMATION: Ecclesiastical burial is to be refused to those who have directed that their bodies should be cremated, unless before dying they had given some sign of repentance. The serious consideration in this matter is that those who are denied ecclesiastical burial are also deprived of the funeral Mass and are not allOwed an anniversary Mass or any other public funeral service.
SACItAMENTALS: Non-Catholics may receive sacramentals provided there is no local law to prevent them from doing so and that no scandal will result to the faithful.
Sacramentals are things or actions which the Church, imitating the sacraments, is accustomed to use in order to obtain by the prayer of the Church, especially spiritual effects.
It is laid down that blessings ordained primarily for Catholics can be given to catechumens and, if there is no ecclesiastical prohibition, even to non-Catholics, that they may receive the light of faith and, together with it, bodily help.