28 November 2010

New Directions: November 2010

A sad number, the November issue (which didn't reach me till nearly the end of the month). Because it looks like the swan song of the brilliant and witty Dr Geoffrey Kirk. He provides three characteristically elegant and forceful articles, all three of which put an exact finger on what has been wrong with Old Mother Damnable for two decades, and still is. But what a marvellous run he has had for his money. When Sara Lowe edited the mag - ah, those were the days; what a girl she is - there was his superb series of satires which so frequently provoked the Great and the Good to complain about our 'tone'. Well, what did the b*****s expect? They had stolen everything else from us; our tone was all we had left. To this day, the memory of Geoffrey's account of the doings of Archdeacon Armitage Shanks sometimes induces in me irregularities in urinary fluency. And a week I spent with Fr Geoffrey in Lewisham was just about the culinary high point of my life. Ad multos annos.

This number of ND also includes a synopsis of an article about Divorce among (American) Evangelicals. It strikes a chord with me; I've had this bee in my biretta for a long time. It puzzles me that some Evangelicals make such a fuss about homosexuality when so many of them have disregarded the plain Dominical Words about remarriage after divorce. My views on all sexual matters are precisely those of the Church and of the Tradition. But I think homosexuals get rough justice when they are paraded as the moral problem of our age. Surely, more marriages are destroyed by disordered heterosexual lust than by homosexual appetites. And, moving on from homosexuality, let's consider the Abuse of Minors. I am second to nobody in my disgust at 'filth' who abuse children sexually. But 28 years working in a boarding school provided me with very few examples of 'filth' at work and such examples as I did see were at what Mr Plod classifies as the lowest end of the spectrum. What I did see repeatedly was the damage done to adolescents by divorce. Time and time again, I would be at a meeting to hear about the disciplinary problems suddenly, unaccountably, being provided by some boy ... and after a few minutes, the House Master would intervene to say "I think you should all know that there is currently a very messy divorce going on ...".

The Divorce Culture is the principal sexual disorder of our age; and it is also the main way in which the young are horribly abused by their elders.

10 comments:

Joshua said...

It is oft forgotten than most priests and religious are faithful to their vows, so to speak, whereas perhaps half of all marriages end in divorce; Bp Anthony Fisher, O.P., opines that many people are simply unable, in this dark age, to contract a valid marriage because they cannot form the necessary intention.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I've often thought along those lines. But JP2 in an address to the Rota argued against it.

childermass said...

Hear hear, Father. At 30 I'm still dealing with the abuse dealt me by my parents' divorce when I was 5---as well as the protracted post-divorce war which still hasn't seen a truce. My Evangelical father is now four times divorced. Two of his sons are homosexual---the irony!

Flambeaux said...

Divorce...and its handmaiden contraception.

And, in fact, half of all marriages do not end in divorce. Some of that impression is how the statistics are cooked up and the rest is the fact that it has been repeated so often and so loudly that people take it as true.

At least in the United States, what you have is an estimated 70% of marriages that are stable...and 30% of those who marry and divorce with frequency. Such that, in any given year, one could have half as many divorces as marriages (thus the source of the popular factoid) but you don't actually have half of the marriages ending in divorce.

I have more thoughts on this matter, but I must read my little ones some stories, sing Compline with them, and tuck them off to bed. Buona sera!

Flambeaux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward said...

One of the three Bishops who will be in on the ground floor of the Ordinariate advised his clergy, some time ago, not to officiate at marriage where the couple had constructed a 'pre-nup'.It is, he contends, indicative of an avoidance of the vows befoe they are made and thus of defective intention. Does the RCC have a position on this?

Joshua said...

So far as I understand, to make arrangements beforehand in case one's marriage collapses is to vitiate the heartfelt vow to marry "till death do us part" - if that is true, it would seem indeed that those signing a "pre-nuptial" agreement (a euphemism for a "post-marital" divvying up of the couple's assets) would not possess the requisite intention to validly marry in the eyes of God and the Church.

Similarly, if a couple resolve not to have children, then they exclude from their supposed union one of its essential elements; this is of course different to the case of a couple unable to have children: in the latter situation, the couple would wish to have children if they could, whereas in the first case by choice they wish to be sterile.

Sir Watkin said...

I wonder, however, whether it's as clear-cut as that.

Prima facie a "pre-nuptial agreement" seems to imply a disbelief in a fundamental characteristic of Holy Matrimony (viz. that it is lifelong and indissoluble) and thus indicates a defect of intention in the contracting parties.

But the area where civil divorce operates isn't confined to (i) the (pretended) legal dissolution of valid marriages; it may also include (ii) the ending of unions that the Church would not regard as valid marriages anyway (and for which an annulment could be granted), and (iii) what one or both parties might regard as mere separation mensa et thoro (in which case the "divorce" would be for legal convenience only, the person(s) regarding their marriage as still in existence and themselves not morally free to remarry, whatever the law might say).

Planning for (i) clearly vitiates your intention, but does planning for (ii) or (iii)?

In the absence of any explicit clarification in the agreement, would one be justified in assuming that of necessity it implies (i), and therefore by its mere existence is a manifestation of a defective intention?

Joshua said...

Yes, I had wondered about the case of separation of bed and board...

Christopher said...

Sir Watkin raises interesting points. Even in the first case, what about a spouse who, while holding a correct understanding of marriage, thinks it just conceivable that his betrothed might at some time in the future take advantage of the divorce laws and in effect rob the innocent party of his property? It might even seem prudent to arrange for a pre-nup. 'Liberal' divorce laws can leave faithful spouses open to very unfair treatment.

I occasionally wonder whether, rather than ineffectively regretting the status quo, Catholics shouldn't campaign for an alterative type of marriage to be recognised in law, in which couples could expect to be held to their vows.