Pope Francis opens door to Communion for ‘remarried’ Catholics in landmark exhortation
ROME, April 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The most controversial moment of Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation – Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) – might be confined to a humble footnote, but the implication is clear: the pope has opened the door to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal that in some circumstances divorced and remarried Catholics could be readmitted to the sacraments, including the Eucharist.
In so doing the pope appears to have taken up a position contrary to that of his predecessors, most notably Pope Saint John Paul II, who had flatly rejected the idea of admitting the divorced and remarried to Communion in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio. Pope Benedict XVI, during his time as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had also addressed the controversy, coming down definitively against liberalizing the Church’s practice.
It isn’t until Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ historically lengthy apostolic exhortation that he deals directly with the question that has embroiled the Church in debate for the past two years – ever since Cardinal Kasper, at Pope Francis’ personal invitation, outlined his controversial proposal in a keynote address to a consistory of Cardinals at the Vatican.
The text of the final document (or relatio) of last year’s Synod on the Family had caused concern among some synod fathers by referencing the idea of the “internal forum” in relation to the debate over the divorced and remarried. This idea has been used by some theologians to argue that a penitent who persists in an objectively sinful state could discern, in private discussion with his confessor, that his subjective culpability is limited, and he could therefore return to the sacraments.
In the exhortation released today, Pope Francis has adopted and expanded that reasoning.
Though the entire thrust of Chapter 8 is making the case for a deeper “integration” of those in “irregular unions” into the life of the Church, in the main body of the text the pope leaves the meaning of the phrase more or less ambiguous. However, he provides a clear answer at the end of a footnote to paragraph 305, where he states that this “integration” can, “in certain cases,” involve admittance to the sacraments, including the Eucharist. He does not explicitly elucidate what those “certain cases” might be, though broad principles for discernment are given elsewhere in the text.
In paragraph 305, the pope warns that “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.” Quoting a well-known section of his own speech at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family last October, Francis says that such a pastor would be “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.”
Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.
At the end of that sentence, he includes a footnote (351), which clarifies: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments,” and then refers to both Confession and the Eucharist. He writes: “I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”
Speaking of the problem of integrating people in irregular unions, the pope says it would be impossible to establish “general rules,” such as through canon law. Rather, he encourages individuals to discern their individual circumstances in the “internal forum” – i.e. in private consultation with their priest – and following guidelines established by the bishop.
He writes: “What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since ‘the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases’, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.”
This applies even to “sacramental discipline,” he writes in a footnote to that text, because “discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists.”
Quoting the Synod on the Family’s final text, he says the discernment “can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church.” Still quoting the Synod text, he says the discernment must involve several conditions: “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it.”
He then writes: “These attitudes are essential for avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant ‘exceptions’, or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours.”
The pope bases his argument on a radical interpretation of the role of conscience – which he suggests could, in some cases, actually reveal to a person that God may in fact be “asking” them to continue in a situation that does not achieve the “objective ideal” of the Gospel.
The pope writes that “individual conscience needs to be incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage.” He continues:
Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the exhortation’s treatment of irregular unions is the pope’s apparent dismissal of the idea that couples in such unions who find themselves unable to separate for legitimate reason should be required or even encouraged to live together as “brother and sister” – i.e. to forego engaging in sexual relations.
Pope John Paul II had, in Familiaris Consortio, proposed sexual continence as the only moral solution for couples who, repenting of their irregular union, find that “for serious reasons” – such as the need to raise their children – they “cannot satisfy the obligation to separate.” In such cases, wrote John Paul II, the couple must “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”
Pope Francis, however, while citing this sentence of Familiaris Consortio to show that the Church does acknowledge cases where separation may be impossible, leaves out the latter half of the sentence, which references the obligation to continence. In a footnote, Pope Francis then casts into doubt the wisdom of living in continence for such couples, suggesting that doing so could harm the couple’s relationship and children.
“In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.’” This footnote in turn cites the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes – in particular a section that acknowledges the strain married couples face during periods of abstinence in the practice of natural family planning. However, Pope Francis’ usage of the quote applies it to those in irregular unions.
Pope Francis acknowledges that the pastoral approach he has outlined may be viewed by some as causing confusion, but suggests that this is a risk he is willing to take. “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” he writes. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, ‘always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street’.”
The pope’s decision today follows decades of pressure on the issue from progressives in the aftermath of Vatican II. In particular, it was a major point of discussion at the Synod on the Family that Pope John Paul II convened in 1980. It was in his exhortation following that Synod, Familiaris Consortio, that he firmly shut the door on the question, citing Scripture and the Church’s doctrine. His short paragraph on the issue still offers the most cogent and concise explanation for why the proposal is impossible. He wrote:
However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Source : lifesitenews.com
My Comment : Regarding the so anticipated Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation, I have read many comments since yesterday but not the full document yet (more than 200 Pages), the so called ‘Joy of Love” but feedback from People I trust should be enough for giving my opinion today in the Garabandal context which is the main goal of this blog, as :
………..”Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist. You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with sincere hearts, He will pardon you. I, your mother, through the intercession of Saint Michael the archangel, ask you to amend your lives. You are now receiving the last warnings. I love you very much and do not want your condemnation”……….
Garabandal Second message, June 18, 1965.
It is done as anticipated last year when informed that next Spring, it will be clearer, so after a Synod about the Family probably a next Synod might be on the way (the 18th and to me probably the last one so de facto the Garabandal one), maybe for 2016-2017, the main subject of this new Synod should be about Priesthood, if confirmed then the full circle but time will tell only.
As a reminder, Garabandal follows Fatima (and the apostolate of Father Gruner who became the Fatima Priest from Garabandal after his first travel in the village in 1965), in other words the Lady of Carmel was sent to reveal to us in a maternal way, the hidden part of the Fatima 3rd Secret (the futur Apostasy followed by a last and terrible Warning from God), in short nothing else, the Mother of God never said to obey heresies, on the contrary and especially in her second message, she had already condamned many of them : “ Many cardinals, many bishops, and many priests are on the road to perdition and are taking many souls with them” these strong words from the Mother of God are given just before the “less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist”, read the full Garabandal Messages on the home page, 12 years later in Akita, she told us, again in a Maternal way what would be the Chastisement prophesied in Garabandal as well, since then our Lady no longer speaks because everything has been said, so to me, get ready to leave the so called “Garabandal Prophecies”, probably soon and as indicated on this blog, in my opinion within 2 Years now (but to me not in 2016 as in 2017), giving you a possible timing that’s given you my honor as well, mistake is always possible and especially in the context of Garabandal, a great puzzle, but my honor is also very important to me , thank you.
Hello my name is Brandon and me and my family live in NY State and have been looking for a place in rural areas that are traditional Catholic homestead family communities but haven’t had any luck, were the only ones that Neal and receive Eucharist on our tongues we truly believe that were in the presence of the Lord the blessed sacraments are very important but they’re being cut off very fast these days they moved the Tabernacle from behind the altar to the corner behind this large pillar so you can’t even see it some of the priest don’t even Neal nor do they during blessings of the Holly communion nobody prays in front of the Tabernacle let alone stays after Mass too pray for our Lord’s Church it’s scary times to myself The Church symbolizes Jesus Christ and everything our Lord willingly went through I’m scared for all who love and live for the Lord Jesus Christ and pray for all for what’s coming from God and the scary times there after most of all I am scared and pray for you and me and all the countless souls that have important jobs we were assigned our agreed to that we including me don’t disappoint or fail our Loving Queen mother of heaven and Earth the Virgin Mary and the son of God the Lord Jesus Christ so please pray for me and my family that he fills us with the Holly spirit to Unite our Holly family with are weapon of choice The Holly rosary and the love of the Holly Trinity’s might
Thank you Brandon for your post, your story is all too familiar for many of us here in Europe, it is heartbreaking. The shepherds have put themselves at the highest place on the alter, and to do so they have removed Our Lord and King to the side, in corners and in some cases such as our Cathedral in Middlesbrough out of the chapel completely so only the Bishop’s throne now occupies the space where our Lord once was seated and Our Lord is now no where to be seen.
With you we pray for the restitution of the place of honour due to our Lord in His House and the restitution of due respect, devotion and piety owing to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and how He is received by His Disciples. I discussed this very topic with my confessor recently, and he is hoping one day those in authority will make the restorations we discuss, in the meantime he does give Holy Communion on the tongue and if one wishes whilst kneeling. My wife and I don’t go to the Church of our Parish, we have to travel to another Parish to attend a more traditional mass and where the Tabernacle is where it should be, it is this Parish where I also go to confession. I hope you and your wife will find such a Parish one day soon.
Dear Brandon, I’m exactly in the same situation as you and I live in the UK. After leaving a crazy steiner school, my daughter is now going to a local Catholic primary school. Although I’m quite happy about it, I’m really concerned about her future in this society and I don’t really know where and how to escape! As suggested by a good traditional priest, I’m doing my best to educate her and give a good catechesis at home. Today, while looking for some ideas regarding that, I came across this wonderful lady, Mrs Daphne McLeod, You can find part of her catechesis on line http://fsspx.asia/en/cat-ex
Click to access 488142_532d71d540c046e38f236e4e153d73c1.pdf
here is the latest issue of The flock, the newsletter form Pro ecclesia et pontefice that she funded. I’m sure you will find plenty of interesting suggestions! Meanwhile, just let us pray that these dark times may be over ASAP. May our Lady of mount Carmel protect us and our children
Hi Aviso, I had a quick question about a post you had on your old blog, concerning garabandal. I remember vaguely that you mentioned that an individual that you knew that had contacted the Vatican, and asked them about the date. I believe that responded to her saying it was in 2016. I didn’t quite remember the whole article but just was thinking about that and wondering if you could refresh my memory. Thank you so much for these posts. They are enlightening and very thoughtful.
Yes someone from the curia replied and said that the Garabandal Great Miracle date was May 12, 2016 but no chance, probably someone read it at the Ron Conte web site, who is not a Garabandalist and has no clue about Garabandal, please avoid this Conte’s web site at all cost, listen my advice, thank you.
very complicated…it is getting more complicated…
All right.I wish he spoke out but I doubt that he´ll do it because of the “puppets”.If you can, will you look up Tridentine Canon 10 De sacramento matrimoni ( Denz.981, editio duodecima ).Anyway, what do you mean by sede vacantists? I hope you don´t mean FSSPX.I think they were right in refusing Nostra Aetate where it reads that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God!!!On the other hand, I´ve noticed a strange spiritual difference between a Tridentine Mass celebrated by a FSSPX priest and one celebrated by a diocesan priest.
All right.I wish cardinal Mueller spoke out but I have my doubts, you know why…..Anyway, what do you exactly mean by Sedevacantists? My friend and his family have been attending the SSPX Masses only since the things got worse.I hope they aren´t the same as Sedevacantists.I hope they´ve done the right thing by not accepting lies in Nostra Aetate about our having the common God with Muslims.However, I´ve noticed a weird spiritual difference between a Tridentine Mass celebrated by the Catholic priest and one celebrated by FSSPX priest.
SSPX as FSSPX Masses are both good and Holy, the Tridentine Mass was also the Mass during the Apparitions of Garabandal, I am attending the novus ordo Mass (rue du Bac Paris) as the Tridentine Mass (SSPX), in no way your friends are sedevacantist by attending the Tridentine Mass, on the contrary.
Cardinal Muller will probably talk.
Cardinal Muller represents Pope Benedict voice to me, this explain why I am waiting for the Cardinal’s comment, head of the Congregation of the Doctrin of the Faith, as all of you know, a single word from me without obedience to authority and this could have a direct impact on Garabandal as my blog is followed by thousands of you, be sure that I will not serve the modernist forces as sede vacante forces, both are heretics, let’s wait and Pray for Cardinal Muller’s comment, God is in charge, don’t worry, it is not the moment yet, thank you.
I feel so sad, as I have all this week. I do think that the Voice of the Family article teases out the implications, inferences and omissions of the exhortation well; especially as an initial response. Personally I think not enough has been made of the irregular unions being accepted into the Life of the Church and made also possible- the Sacraments. This is not just the divorced and re-married but the unmarried partnerships of all sorts; those co-habiting and not chastely! Just because he does not equate or claim the Sacrament of Marriage belongs to homosexuals for example or those who re-cohabit with others after broken marriages, or to mistresses, does not mean that he excludes them from anything. Really I’d like to see them excluded from perdition! By correct teaching, help and encouragement including good examples set by families; not by allowing invalid confessions and sacrireligious communions. And all this paraded before my children each Mass and now spoken of and somewhat accepted freely rather than regarded as a sin of public scandal. Without Our Heavenly Father’s Intervention, the future generations would be lost indeed. And right now I fear for bishops and priests who may facilitate the rapid loss of more souls by adopting these means.
Hi Frank, I read the link sent to me yesterday, I am with the Lord and with his Mother, waiting for Cardinal Muller’s comment about the “Joy of Love” then I will notify online my position as I already done since the begginning of this Pontificate when it was necessary, thank you.
Laudetur Jesus Christus!You can´t serve two masters, Aviso.You can´t serve Antichrist and Christ simultaneously.”May your answers be yes, yes or no, no, the rest is from the Devil.You and I can´t walk on two paths.God is the same forever and if we accept this, we´re making a mock of the Council of Trent!
“WE MUST RESIST!
Will you read the comment on
http://www.voiceofthefamily.com, please?That should do!!
Thank you Frank. I did not see when I posted my comment that you had already referred to the article by Voice of the Family as I didn’t see any comments other than Aviso’s initial one. Your comment is far more to the point than mine and all that needs to be said. I agree wholeheartedly!