Amoris laetitia 351 Unrepentant, active prostitutes, absolution,Communion?

Update: There is some pretty heavy interest in high places right now over some of the more controversial posts I’ve put up about the past couple of Synods. If I had to write an apologia about this, I would just say that my opinions are on behalf of those who suffer much in this world, who are marginalized and kept suffering it seems to me on purpose. That unnecessary suffering really just needs to stop, and stop now.

peep show

It seems that paragraph 49 refers to prostitution to avoid poverty. Communion for active prostitutes has been part of pastoral praxis by some for decades and a continuous side debate for some of the liberation theology / arm-chair moral theology crowd. So:

49. Here I would also like to mention the situation of families living in dire poverty and great limitations. The problems faced by poor households are often all the more trying.36 For example, if a single mother has to raise a child by herself and needs to leave the child alone at home while she goes to work, the child can grow up exposed to all kind of risks and obstacles to personal growth. In such difficult situations of need, the Church must be particularly concerned to offer understanding, comfort and acceptance, rather than imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God’s mercy. Rather than offering the healing power of grace and the light of the Gospel message, some would “indoctrinate” that message, turning it into “dead stones to be hurled at others”.37

36 Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 15.
37 Concluding Address of the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13.

I mean, what does that mean in light of footnote 351 other than to provide, say, Communion for active prostitutes? The solution, it seems to me, isn’t to argue for decades about Prostitutes going to Communion, but rather to open safe houses which can immediately set about finding jobs and shelter and education.

Who throws dead stones of doctrine at anyone? Is the reference to priests like me?

Does this throwing stones reference (coming not long after paragraph 27 in which the adulterous woman of the Gospel of John is mentioned) mean that Jesus was a fool damned by our Heavenly Father for telling the adulterous woman to “sin no more,” Himself stoning this woman into marginalization from the faith by His damnable indoctrinated doctrine-stone of “sin no more”? That’s not what the document says about Jesus, instead reporting in paragraph 27 that, “alone with Jesus, she meets not condemnation but the admonition to lead a more worthy life (cf. Jn 8:1-11).” In other words, the Gospel lies that Jesus told her to “sin no more,” which would inescapably imply that she knew she had in fact sinned (both objectively and subjectively), and that the condemnation is only avoided by taking in the forgiveness with repentance and a firm purpose of amendment. All that, for the document, is simply a heap of indoctrinated stones to throw. So, instead, the document insists that Jesus said that she is to live a more worthy life, inescapably implying that her life was already worthy, but just needed to be, you know, more worthy.

And that leads us back to paragraph 49, where the worthiness of adultery by prostitution, while not as worthy as a life which doesn’t include prostitution, is nevertheless so worthy that it is to be rewarded by such casuistry with, say, Holy Communion.

Look: Just open a safe house. I’ve worked in such places, offered confessions and Holy Mass in such places, given Holy Communion to prostitutes galore in such places. I’ve even ended up in a wheelchair and crutches because of such places. Really, I’ve been there, done that. Just get them the help they need. Don’t just say have a nice day with Holy Communion at a street Mass in the red-light district and not provide for them. Do provide for them both physically and spiritually.

Just call me the dumpster priest. But don’t try to make me take up a program that will keep prostitutes in prostitution. To hell with that.

And, by the way, you know all those people steeped in Tradition, that is, those Legion of Mary people? You have to know that I’m one of them, and you have to know that they started out by evangelizing at brothels.

Or is this really about thinking that prostitutes can’t repent? A prostitute once told me that a clergy guy (Episcopalian I think) would walk into her room for quick sex, first taking his clergy collar off, then unzipping himself, as if the collar in the back pocket would make what he was doing out front somehow moral. When she asked him about his visits to herself later (after she was converted from prostitution), he said that he didn’t think that people like her could possibly ever convert. Is that the message that we have here?

I would like to ask someone, but it seems that speaking with parrhesia isn’t to be met with answers of parrhesia. But if I’m wrong on that, I sure would appreciate an answer.

And, oh, by the way, this paragraph 49 cannot refer to something like thievery either for the mom or the boy, can it? We have better theology of private property than that.

I mean, I just can’t believe that this paragraph was written or published. Prostitutes are always in grave danger of disease, damage, dismemberment, and death by physical force or despair along. Get them out of the situation immediately. Don’t argue about their subjective guilt. If you want a lack of mercy and hurling stones, THAT kind of sophistry that keeps them in their prostitution is example number one.


Filed under Adulterous woman, Amoris laetitia, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family

15 responses to “Amoris laetitia 351 Unrepentant, active prostitutes, absolution,Communion?

  1. elizdelphi

    Dear Fr George, be a good priest yourself–a good and kind one. Some people may want to interpret it unfaithfully but you don’t have to.

    I have far less worries about the document (which I don’t believe forbids you from good pastoral care) than I have for some of the excellent priests and others who are eaten up with worry about it. And if they have bishops coercing them then I really am concerned for them, but I don’t think the document requires bishops to coerce their priests.

    I had a discussion with a priest today about a book I was reading, Dr Ralph Martin’s _Will Many Be Saved?_ I mentioned also the comments of Benedict XVI recently about the relationship between the Church’s understanding of this today and evangelization. The priest was a little uncomfortable with the topic and said somewhat recently some priests had really had a fight about the “optimistic” vs “pessimistic” view of soteriology and the pastoral approach that followed from the one or the other. To him, whether one swayed the one way or the other seemed to be a matter of the “gut”, some people felt deep down the one way or the other way. And I both see his point and also don’t agree with it too strongly since it just seems like Our Lord in the Gospels is not conveying “optimism” about whether many will find the narrow way that leads to life. This priest said his approach was to act as if few will be saved, and yet hope that many will be. Which I don’t disagree with.

    Anyway I kind of feel like there is a struggle throughout the Church that is really about that. I am kind of feeling like the answers can only be contemplated in Christ darkly because He is not telling us who is saved, other than the canonized saints.

    • Father George David Byers

      To me, it’s all about being taken up into Jesus’ love, come what may. It’s not about casuistry. It’s about JESUS!

  2. elizdelphi

    Amen, who would dare argue with that. :-)

  3. Monica Harris

    “he said that he didn’t think that people like her could possibly ever convert. Is that the message that we have here?”
    Talk about condescension!

  4. Nan

    It’s a good thing you’re not opinionated, Father.

    Crazy that clergy would think someone beyond redemption. If his tradition venerated saints whose examples have gone before us, he’d realize that many repent of their sinful ways. I hope he has.

  5. elizdelphi

    Isn’t the disturbing thing that the anglican fellow who thought she was the kind of person who would never be converted, was the kind of person who would “join the body of Christ to the body of a prostitute”? Doesn’t seem like he had much fear of anyone going to hell.

    Does anyone today still think of our situation as being a necessity of clinging to the ark of Christ in the midst of the deadly floodwaters of destruction? I know some do but even among the best local clergy there is a hesitation about being, i don’t know, too dramatic. Yet I am in a mood to think that a live and real mission to save souls as an extension of the very manly as well as divine mission of Christ, is proper to priests. Of course the Anglican guy is not a priest, but he was purporting to be one by the collar.

  6. Nan

    The Anglican guy thinks he’s a priest but he also thinks he has apostolic succession. He’s following in the footsteps of Henry VIII, who would’ve had trouble with zippers, had they been invented in his era. How much better to follow in Christ’s footsteps.

    I once heard a priest address porn in his homily. He referred to his computer, which was full of beautiful people. He had difficulty avoiding them. I’m thankful that my computer is full of faithful priests.

  7. Cathy

    Fr. Byers, not just any prostitute, a prostitute with a child. Has the child been born, does the prostitute worry about conceiving a child? I only ask because the paragraph reads like a feminista argument as to why poor women should have contraception and abortion and all that.

  8. elizdelphi

    I actually think it’s the weirdest thing that anyone thinks that the ecclesial community started by Henry VIII so he could be free to commit adultery and even murder his wives was a legitimate development in Christendom.

  9. Nan

    Keep in mind that they claim the reason the pope wouldn’t grant the annulment was political because the wife’s uncle or brother was at the Vatican pressuring him…but never any commentary on his disposal of the next four.

  10. Nan

    OH! And how on earth was it a problem then for a king to marry a divorcee? total double standard on that one; and there are those who claim Charles can never be king because of his divorce.

  11. Somewhere recently I saw the term “the heresy of pastoralism.” That is starting to appear to be the root of many of our problems in the Church today, and I suspect that we are going to need a papal encyclical on the topic so that we can begin to root it out. I am hoping that the next pope will tackle that thorny issue. What has happened meanwhile is that “being nice” has been raised to the point where it trumps everything else, including basic logic. The result is nonsense such as Fr. Byers justly attacks here. Sometimes serving the poor and disadvantaged and oppressed means getting our hands dirty, not just looking the other way and pretending that there is no problem.

  12. elizdelphi

    Caring about people does need to mean wanting deeply to help them to truly get free from sins like these that cause so much harm. Being enablers of such sins harms people. It is upsetting to me now looking back on my past sins and seeing myself someone who really needed to be rescued asap from a deeply harmful situation, and others thought that what was kind was to be accepting of the sin and my entrapment in it, this is many people’s idea of “not judging”.

    Judging in the sense of “judge not, lest ye be judged” is to me the attitude of the episcopalian minister in the story, who assumed the prostitute could not be helped and would never repent. It is as much as a judgment of the soul’s finality, regardless of whether the episcopalian believes in hell or not.

  13. Monica Harris

    Father Byers, I am glad and hope that your posts on Amores Laetitia are getting some attention. This one highlights a “straw man” argument about “throwing stones”, which is nonsense. Every single one of your AL posts should be getting some attention; as I recall, you tried to do this another way, wonder what took so long?

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