THE confusion these days stemming from the Synod on the Family, and the subsequent Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, is reaching a bit of a feverish pitch as theologians, pundits, and bloggers go back and forth. But the bottom line is this: Amoris Laetitia can only be interpreted in one way: through the lens of Sacred Tradition.
Enter: the Alberta Bishops of Canada.
In a new document that cuts through the sophistries and mental gymnastics of those who wish to use Amoris Laetitia as an instrument to undermine Church teaching, the Alberta and Northwest Territory Bishops issued Guidelines For the Pastoral Accompaniment of Christ’s Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried Without a Decree of Nullity. It’s a brilliant and simple stroke of clarity. It embraces both the important vision of Pope Francis to become vessels of God’s mercy to our broken generation, while showing them the only path forward: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Below, I link to the entire document, which is brief. However, I will quote the most lucid and critical passages, which should form a working document for colleges of bishops throughout the world.
It may happen that, through media, friends, or family, couples have been led to understand that there has been a change in practice by the Church, such that now the reception of Holy Communion at Mass by persons who are divorced and civilly remarried is possible if they simply have a conversation with a priest. This view is erroneous. Couples who express it should be welcomed to meet with a priest so that they hear proposed anew “God’s plan [pertaining to marriage] in all its grandeur” (Amoris Laetitia, 307) and thus be helped to understand the correct path to follow toward full reconciliation with the Church.
…The gentle and clear guidance of the pastor as he helps the couple to form a right conscience will assist them greatly to live in accordance with their objective situation. Should the tribunal process result in a declaration of nullity, they will understand the need to proceed toward the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the case where the tribunal upholds the validity of the first union, obedience in faith to the indissolubility of marriage as revealed by Christ will make clear to them the actions that must follow. They are bound to live with the consequences of that truth as part of their witness to Christ and his teaching on marriage. This may be difficult. If, for example, they are unable to separate for the sake of the care of children, they will need to refrain from sexual intimacy and live in chastity “as brother and sister” (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 84). Such a firm resolution to live in accordance with the teaching of Christ, relying always on the help of his grace, opens to them the possibility of celebrating the sacrament of Penance, which in turn may lead to the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. —from Guidelines For the Pastoral Accompaniment of Christ’s Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried Without a Decree of Nullity, September 14, 2016, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
To read the entire document, click here: Guidelines For the Pastoral Accompaniment of Christ’s Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried Without a Decree of Nullity
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