African cardinal asks: What about Communion for polygamists?

Polygamy is a serious pastoral issue in Africa

Every now and then someone says something interesting on Twitter. Just yesterday Cardinal Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, reminded us all of something we ought not to forget.

Cardinal Napier describes a real and pressing question: polygamy is widespread in Africa, and Catholics in the West cannot ignore this. Catholic teaching and practice must be such that they are able to be inculturated in a wide variety of settings. An initiative might go down well in Berlin or Vienna, but how will it play in Peoria, or Nairobi, or Durban, or Delhi or Manila? No one particular local Church has a monopoly on truth, and no one particular local culture can claim to have absolute insights that other cultures have to take on board. Cultural imperialism cannot be Catholic. When the missionaries came to Africa, they aimed – at their best – to introduce the Gospel of Christ, not Western culture.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban at the Catholic University of America in Washington last year (CNS)

We all know of famous polygamists such as the King of Swaziland who currently has 13 wives, and President Zuma of South Africa, who has six. The Church condemns this practice. Not only is it a form of institutionalized adultery, it is also deeply detrimental to the dignity of women. Polygamists may not receive Holy Communion, and polygamists who wish to be baptised have to abandon the practice first.

For the African Church, this is a pressing issue. For example, in 2004 it was reported that nearly half of marriages in Senegal are polygamous. I know from my own former ministry in Kenya that polygamy is not at all unknown among Catholics. People in that sort of situation might well think that the admission of those in irregular second unions throws them some sort of lifeline.

Four Cardinals, as we know, have submitted five dubia to the Pope on the matter of the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. Virtually every priest who has ever worked in Africa could submit a dubium on this matter too, namely, to quote Cardinal Napier: “If Westerners in irregular [marital] situations can receive Communion, are we to tell our polygamists and other ‘misfits’ that they too are allowed?”

Full story at Catholic Herald.

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  1. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    Gosh, I always thought that by the Father sending his Son to earth to suffer, die, and rise he was “throwing some sort of lifeline”.

    • Ann Malley says:

      ….and the lifeline is still there. The problem is that while people are subsequently drowning in the filth they insist on generating, they same they ingeniously spew at the One who died in order to aid them, they’re demanding that a golden pontoon be sent specially for them as they refuse to dirty their hands on the lifeline of mercy that is right in front of them.

      Word is, “…go and sin no more.” Not sin as I sin and it’s all good because mercy now means purposefully putting God to the test while insisting, “I’ll do it my way.”

      But, much like one learns while raising children, providing the golden pontoon only leads to crippling the children by not allowing them the lesson of learning that it is possible, with God’s…

      • Ann Malley says:

        … help (or a parents in the case of children), to change your ways and give up living in one’s own mess.

        Facilitating debilitating error is no mercy.

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          There is no debilitating error, Ann. You accuse the Church of heresy while you yourself sit in it.

          • Ann Malley says:

            Pretending there isn’t mercy and hasn’t been mercy until now is debilitating error, YFC. I accuse you.

            As for heresy, define it before you toss it out. You can’t. But that may be why you enjoy ambiguity.

      • Anonymous says:

        So the Father sent the Son to suffer and die on the cross? How sick if “God is Love” (Pope Benedict XVI).

    • Anonymous says:

      So the Father sent the Son to suffer and die on the cross? How sick if God is Love (Pope Benedict XVI).

  2. And yet another question for Francis to answer, to which he won’t.

  3. St. Christopher says:

    Outstanding question. And, there are many variations, such as: (1) what about someone married three times, all with others they loved and with whom they had children; can they all take communion? (2) what about a man with a mistress, and the mistress, who love each other and with whom they have children? and, (3) what about someone like Hugh Hefner, with a true love and appreciation for their pulchritudinous babes, with whom they have had children that they love, and blah and blah and blah.

    Francis, and his interpreter C. Kasper, are fast becoming like Henry VIII and his pal Bishop Thomas Cranmer. Creating a NewChurch is not easy. Happily, Francis is 80, and he and his cronies can’t last too much longer. Who knows what the Holy…

    • St. Christopher says:

      (Part Deux) ” . . . Ghost is expecting from us? Likely, more than we are presenting showing.

      • Ann S. Nash-Smalling says:

        Perhaps Pope Francis is not commenting now as he is in deep prayerful discernment over this entire matter. Prayers need to be said to the Holy Spirit to guide His church in this entire matter. Politics and opinions need to be held off until there is more clarity about this subject on hand. Patience and prayer for enlightenment and direction are needed more than ever now!

  4. Ann Malley says:

    With all due respect, +Napier, such questions as you pose are part and parcel of the slippery slope you yourself endorsed by pretending that it is “mercy” to the children of adulterous second marriages to not call such unions adulterous.

    Once you’ve opened the door to covering up the truth out of a supposed mercy, you encourage disinformation, disunity, lying, and the perpetuation of faulty catechism which, in the end, is no mercy. Why? Because the truth shall set you free. And Catholics need to know the Truth, not be coddled by those afraid to brooch the difficult subjects. Because children reared on euphemisms and double-talk engaged to assuage feelings will expect the same when they are grown. This is precisely why such vast…

    • Ann Malley says:

      … amounts of so-called Catholics do not know the Catholic Faith, reject the Truth, and expect the Truth to accommodate them. Adult Catholics, according to His Holiness, don’t even grasp the concept of ’til death do us part. And why is that? NO TEACHING. Lying. Not wanting to offend even though Our Lord spoke the hard truths, allowing those who had followed Him thus far to go their way. That was a mercy. The mercy of being firm in the truth. Not pandering.

      Wake up everybody!!

      • Catherine says:

        Cardinal Napier writes, “If Westerners in irregular situations can receive Communion, are we to tell our polygamists & other “misfits” that they too are allowed?”

        “Wake up everybody!”

        THANK YOU, Ann Malley! The eroding evidence of diabolical disorientation is there for those who have eyes to see. Next, there will be “merciful requests” for Holy Communion for Catholic men who divorce their wives because they too want so-called sex change surgery and then end up remarrying another man. Or vice versa. Oh, what a giant, tangled, mess we make, when we sidestep Christ’s Church’s teachings and SEARCH for dangerous novelties to create!

        • Catherine says:

          Cardinal Carlo Caffari: “What Sister Lucia told me: Final Confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over Family and Marriage.”

          http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/06/cardinal-what-sister-lucia-told-me.html

          Q. There is a prophecy by Sister Lucia dos Santos, of Fatima, which concerns “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan”. The battlefield is the family. Life and the family. We know that you were given charge by John Paul II to plan and establish the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family.

          continued…..

          • Catherine says:

            continued…

            Yes, I was. At the start of this work entrusted to me by the Servant of God John Paul II, I wrote to Sister Lucia of Fatima through her Bishop as I couldn’t do so directly. Unexplainably however, since I didn’t expect an answer, seeing that I had only asked for prayers, I received a very long letter with her signature – now in the Institute’s archives. In it we find written: the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.

          • Catherine says:

            continued…

            Cardinal Carlo Caffari: “What Sister Lucia told me: Final Confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over Family and Marriage.”

            Don’t be afraid, she added, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed its head.

            http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/06/cardinal-what-sister-lucia-told-me.html

      • Catherine says:

        The Remnant Interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke
        Michael Matt | Editor

        I want to address the 900-pound gorilla in the room—the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’s post-Synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (AL). The document, especially Paragraph 305, has been described by various priests and theologians, you know on EWTN and elsewhere, as “dangerous,” “very disturbing,” “very problematic,” “a big mistake,” “a direct contradiction of Pope John Paul’s Familiaris Consortio,” and so forth. First of all, Your Eminence, how authoritative is AL, and are we talking merely about scandal here, or do these problematic paragraphs savor of heresy?

        http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index

        • Catherine says:

          The Remnant Interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke
          Michael Matt | Editor

          “Your Eminence, how authoritative is AL, and are we talking merely about scandal here, or do these problematic paragraphs savor of heresy?”

          http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2980-the-remnant-interview-of-cardinal-raymond-burke

          • Catherine says:

            The Remnant Interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke – continued

            Cardinal Burke: It would be very devastating. Recently I read a column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, commenting on an application of AL in the Diocese of San Diego. He said, correctly, that if this interpretation of AL should be correct and acceptable then the Church’s teaching on marriage is finished. And we can’t have that, of course, because it’s the law which God wrote on the human heart from the very creation; it’s the order, the law, which Christ confirmed in His teaching in a most clear way, as is recounted in Matthew Chapter 19 in which He confers the grace of a Christian sacrament. So the dubia must be answered. – ……. continued

          • Catherine says:

            The Remnant Interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke – continued

            Cardinal Burke: The questions have to be answered in accord with the Church’s tradition in order that the Church carry out her mission for the salvation of the world. If the Church were simply to accept the way of our culture, with regard to marriage, then she will have betrayed herself and betrayed her Lord and Master, and that we just simply can’t permit.

            http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2980-the-remnant-interview-of-cardinal-raymond-burke

  5. Divorce and polygamy are two completely different conditions. The good Cardinal is equivocating; perhaps he is attempting to line up votes for the next conclave.

    • Steve Seitz says:

      George,
      They appear to be different from a secular perspective, but from an ecclesiastical perspective, they are nearly the same. From the perspective of Jesus Christ, how are they different?

  6. Can’t face the Truth eh YFC…

  7. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    What are you talking about, Bohemond? You don’t think you need the lifeline that Christ offers to all of us?

  8. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    It should be noted here that Cardinal Mueller, Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, has said that the actions of the 4 Bishops by discussing their dubia in public, are harming the Church. I’m sure that he has similar feeling about Cardinal Napier.

    https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/cardinal-muller-four-cardinals-challenging-pope-are-harming-church

    • Teaching Quotes from St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

      “When one does not love prayer, it is morally impossible for him to resist his passions.”

      “When the devil again tempts you to sin, telling you that God is merciful, remember that the Lord showeth mercy to them that fear Him, but not to them who despise Him.”

      “He who suffers in patience, suffers less and saves his soul. He who suffers impatiently, suffers more and loses his soul.”

      • Catherine says:

        Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible – Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Galatians Chapter 1

        He blames the Galatians for suffering themselves to be imposed upon by new teachers. The apostle’s calling.

        continued…

        • Catherine says:

          St. Paul 1:6-10 I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. [7] Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [9] As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think the admission of the remarried to communion is supposed to be for rare cases. When someone cannot get an annulment but they should be able to because the marriage was not valid. I hope the post Vatican II Church is not like this, but before Vatican II, I was told by someone who got an annulment that is was a matter of whose palms you greased.

  10. The pagan religion Islam flaunts polygamy, divorce, beheadings, chopping off limbs and rape (for men). It is devil worship. Surprisingly Islam publicly kills homosexuals; however, there are those who do get away with it when it is all for Allah. Roman Catholicism by tradition is the true and only valid religion. Is it any wonder that Roman Catholicism practicing tradition is totally abhorrant of all these offenses against God, when Islam is not? However, under the V2 Church unlike Roman Catholicism man is at its center all in the spirit of mercy and God is love, where nobody has to worry about going to hell because God would never send anyone there. it if exists to them. Be mindful that God is just and offended by these sins and will…

  11. Some African cardinals (e.g., Cardinal Turkson, Cardinal Njue) have been pushing for acceptance of polygamy (or as they refer to it “communitarian marriage”) for a long time. Like communion for the divorced and remarried here in the U.S., it’s often simply “overlooked” by clergy in the parish.

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