God has a gentle way of guiding each person. Forcing or being rigorous will spoil the gently plan of God, says Dominican Georges Cottier, pontifical Theologian Emeritus. He was speaking about mercy in the context of the upcoming Synod and Jubilee.
“Mercy is doctrine; it is the crux of Christian doctrine,” the Swiss cardinal said. “Only a narrow-minded person can defend legalism and imagine that mercy and doctrine are two separate things. In this sense, today’s Church has realised that no one, no matter what their position, can be left alone. We need to guide people, both righteous and sinners.
Cottier also expressed his views on marriage today. “It seems that people of today no longer feel the need for marriage, a public commitment for life. By now cohabiting seems to be a private thing that is always open to change. From a Christian point of view, marriage is “the elevation of a natural institution to the dignity of a sacrament” he said.
About remarriages, Cottier opined: “From a canonical point of view ‘remarriages are “unfortunate”: “It is too generic and is applied in fundamentally different situations. It indicates that one or more persons who have divorced from an indissoluble sacramental marriage, have entered into a civil marriage. This second marriage does not annul the first, neither does it substitute it, because the first remains the only marriage and the Church does not have the power to dissolve it. Pastoral judgement cannot ignore the origin of each of these two unions, it is purely a question of equity.”
The theologian clarifies the term remarriages by demonstrating two cases. One case is that of a person who has been abandoned by their spouse and who holds custody of their children. This person meets someone who offers them help and security and the two marry. The other case involves a married person with adolescent children who “meets a younger and brilliant individual. They are carried away by passion, abandon their family, divorce and enter into a civil marriage” and “take part in parish life”: “These are different cases. The second one involves a “scandal”, while the first is linked to solitude, a difficulty is moving on, vulnerability, need, including for companionship”. “Generally, in every situation, justice requires certain important factors to be taken into account”: “The duty one has towards the abandoned spouse, who often remains faithful to their sacramental vows,” “the rights of the children born during the first and legitimate marriage”