Posted by: maboulette | February 5, 2017

Outreach to Divorced and Civil Remarried Catholics


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Pope Francis’ outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics opens the door to letting them receive Communion, Germany’s bishops declared Wednesday.

STATEMENT

In a statement, the German bishops’ conference said a document by Francis entitled “The Joy of Love” sets out how pastors can provide “differentiated solutions” to individual cases through a process of accompaniment. That process “opens the possibility of receiving the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist,” the bishops’ statement said.

2016 DOCUMENT

Argentine and Maltese bishops already have issued similar guidelines based on Francis’ divisive 2016 document, which was the fruit of a two-year canvassing of church leaders during two Vatican meetings, or synods, of bishops.

MALTESE BISHOPS

The Maltese bishops have gone even further than the pope, saying the Eucharist cannot be denied to civilly remarried or divorced Catholics if, after a path of spiritual discernment, they are at peace with God.

GERMAN BISHOPS

The German bishops’ statement isn’t surprising given that they led the progressive wing during the synods, pushing for a case-by-case allowance for these Catholics. However, not all German leaders back the conference interpretation.

DOCTRINAL CZAR

Francis’ own doctrinal czar, German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, said church doctrine stops Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the church from receiving Communion unless they abstain from sex.

“It cannot be said that there are circumstances according to which an act of adultery does not constitute a mortal sin,” Mueller said in an interview with Italian publication “Il Timone.” ”For Catholic doctrine it is impossible for mortal sin to co-exist with “sanctifying grace” necessary to receive Communion.

ADMONISHMENT

He further admonished bishops for trying to interpret the pope, saying they should first know their doctrine.

“The bishop, as teacher of the word, must himself be the first to be well-formed so as not to fall into the risk of the blind leading the blind,” Mueller said.

TEACHING ON DIVORCED CATHOLIC

Church teaching holds that unless divorced Catholics receive an annulment, or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid, they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion. For a variety of reasons, such annulments often cannot be obtained.

JESUS’ TEACHING

Citing Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, some conservatives have insisted the rules are fixed and that the only way these Catholics can receive Communion is to abstain from sex. Progressives sought wiggle room to balance doctrine with mercy by looking at couples on a case-by-case basis.

FRANCIS

In his document, Francis said pastors should help individual Catholics ascertain what God is asking of them. Using vague language and footnotes, he linked such discussions of conscience with access to the sacraments. He has said the Argentine interpretation of his document is the only one, while the Vatican newspaper published the Maltese guidelines in a sign of endorsement.

ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

Backing Mueller is the archbishop of Philadelphia, who issued guidelines for his archdioceses saying civilly remarried Catholics can only receive Communion if they live as brother and sister.

 

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