Theological Thinking about Marriage: Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP in First Things

October 3, 2014

The world waits in prayerful anticipation for the opening of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod of Bishops will run from October 5—19, on the theme: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The upcoming synod’s reflection on marriage in the context of modern challenges has generated much speculation and debate. Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, has recently taken up this issue from a properly theological perspective in First Things. His essay, published on October 1, is titled: “Difficult Marriage in a Modern Age.” In it he reflects on the relationship between nature and grace in the human person, bringing old theological debates into the modern controversy to shed light on a heated conversation. His conclusion is both theologically informed and pastorally sensitive: “There is no question that those who suffer the pain of divorce typically consider it the most serious failure of their life. The human anguish and pastoral difficulties of those who suffer the pain of divorce should be addressed in expeditious and humane ways. It is another matter to re-elaborate the very nature of marriage in its natural dimension, or reconceive radically the character of the marital union in its relationship to grace. For here we come up against the primal principles that come not from us, but from God and from Christ. They are beautiful principles, teaching us the truth and giving us hope. Christ himself has descended into the very fabric of human marriage. This too is a truth that saves us, and it is one we should joyfully be committed to, a truth both in nature and in grace.” For the entire essay, see First Things, which also contains links to Fr. Thomas Joseph’s other essays published on the site. Related to the upcoming synod, Fr. Thomas Joseph also joined a number of theologians in writing “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment,” published recently in Nova et Vetera.

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