Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Father Embraced Prodigal Son Only When He Returned Home

by Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino

Descriptive Title

Cardinal Urosa's Synod Intervention 2015


The text of the intervention at the Synod on the Family of Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, given on October 15, 2015. The session was devoted to the third, and most contentious, part of the Instrumentum Laboris. In his intervention, Cardinal Urosa firmly upholds the Church's teaching on access to the Eucharist, drawing on the Gospels, the catechism, the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the final document of the 5th Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops written by then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  "Mercy invites the sinner and it becomes forgiveness when one repents and changes one’s life," Cardinal Urosa said. "The prodigal son was greeted with an embrace from his father only when he returned home."

Larger Work

National Catholic Register

Publisher & Date

EWTN, October 16, 2015


I refer to the no. 121,122 and 123 of the Instrumentum Laboris in which is considered the proposal for the acceptance to the table of the Eucharist - counting on certain conditions been met, among them a penitential journey -for the divorced and remarried, but keeping the conjugal life .

We are all driven by the desire to find a better solution to this painful situation. We must do it with the spirit of the Good Shepherd and the truth that sets us free. In evangelical spirit of mercy, I think the penitential journey should conclude in the conversion and the purpose of amendment and to live in continence, as taught in other words by Saint John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio 84.

I wonder: Can we forget the words of the Lord in the Gospel, Matthew, 19, and the teaching of Saint Paul (Rm 7.2 to 3; 1 Cor 7.10; Eph 5:31) and of the Church over the centuries? Can we dismiss the teachings of John Paul II in his Exhortation Familiaris Consortio , 1981? This document, published a year after the Synod on the Family, 1980, seriously considered and consulted by the Pope over many months of study and reflection, in communication with experts from various theological disciplines, clearly rule out this possibility (FC 84) .

We also have the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992 with the traditional doctrine on the conditions for access to holy communion and the Church's teachings on sexual morality.* We also have the Charter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of September 14, 1994, written specifically on this issue? Can we forget the Doc. by the V Conf. of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops in Aparecida, which asks us: "Serve with care , prudence and compassionate love, under the guidelines of the magisterium, couples living in an irregular situation, bearing in mind that the divorced and remarried, are not allowed to receive communion "(N. 437 j ).

Can we contradict those teachings? Can we forget the very recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in 2007 on the Eucharist, reiterating the practice of the Church, rooted in Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10: 2-12) of not admitting to the sacraments divorced and remarried, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and made present in the Eucharist. (N. 29).

United to Christ, who has overcome the world (cf. Jn 16:33), the Church is called to maintain the splendor of truth even in difficult situations. Mercy invites the sinner and it becomes forgiveness when one repents and changes one’s life. The prodigal son was greeted with an embrace from his father only when he returned home …

This Synod, without a doubt in the light of the revealed truth and with eyes of mercy, is called to reflect very clearly the teaching of the Gospel and of the Church through the centuries about the nature and dignity of Christian marriage, on the greatness of the Eucharist and on the need of having the necessary dispositions to be in union with God to be able to receive Holy Communion; on the need for penance, repentance and the firm purpose of amendment for the repentant sinner to be able to receive Divine forgiveness; and the strength and continuity of both dogmatic and moral truth of the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. It provides as well lights inspired by mercy to assist more effectively those in irregular situations to alleviate their moral suffering and to better live their Catholic faith.

Furthermore, the Synod must indicate lines of action that strengthen marriage, making it more attractive to young people, and keeping it alive in the hearts of the spouses over time. In this matter it will provide Pope Francis with very important elements to promote an intense evangelization of the family, and a re-appreciation of the sacrament of marriage.


* "If the divorced are remarried civilly, they put themselves in a situation that objectively contradicts God's law . Therefore they can not receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists and for that same reason they can not exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of penance can only be granted to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and fidelity to Christ and furthermore commit themselves to living in complete continence” (CCC 1650) .

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