“Some” among the followers of the Way, raised the question and claimed to answer definitively: Who is welcome into community and communion? The church is still asking that question today when it comes to the divorced and remarried, the people of various Eastern rites, Episcopalian/Anglicans, LBGTQ folk, and others. We set up rigorous steps for them to climb, hurdles to jump, hoops, and fences.

The question comes down to who is with us and who is against us. It seems that the church then finds itself boxed into a very tight corner when it tries to please everyone or take the most conservative course. Some would say that there should be no benchmarks or qualifications at all. In a time when diversity is the goal, there’s much confusion out there.

I appreciate the wording of the letter: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities . . .” There are only four measures listed, and the first three are foreign to our culture. So today it would come down to “unlawful marriage”, and we all know from the annulment process, that that is a wide open question.

What is the Holy Spirit telling us today? What principles arise in our hearts and consciences? What is the goal if not communion and community? Do we live in a world where we can still afford to be exclusive? What a dance we do around these questions!

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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