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Maltese bishop: remove ‘barriers’ to those who have remarried outside the Church

August 21, 2015

Four years after the legalization of divorce in Malta, the head of one of the nation’s two dioceses has issued a pastoral letter on mercy for those who have divorced and entered into a civil marriage outside the Church.

“It is no secret that there is expectancy about the conclusions of the Synod regarding the pastoral situation of those who are divorced and are in a second relationship,” Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo said in his August 15 letter. “Those who propose that certain barriers between those who are in an ‘irregular relationship’ but who believe in Christ as Savior, and the rest of the community, should be removed, are in no way putting at risk the teaching about the indissolubility of marriage, but they are eager to make possible the experience of the balm of God’s mercy, particularly that kind of mercy which according to the Tradition of the Church, the penitent accedes to it when he is on the road of conversion, known as the via poenitentialis [penitential way].”

“God’s mercy is not only a doctrine alongside the doctrine of marriage and the family, but is at the heart of Christian doctrine,” he continued. “The promoters of ‘God’s justice’ may feel uneasy when confronted with this pastoral view.”

He added:

One is hopeful that in the coming Synod, our Mother the Church, while remaining faithful to the Gospel of the Family, and sustains those families who are “steady” on their feet, seeks to be faithful to the Gospel of God’s Mercy, and as she acted in the remote forgotten past, today succeeds to find the pathways which would enable those who, in spite of the fact that they did not succeed in their first marriage/relationship, and hope in God’s mercy, to savor the delicacies of God love. We should not keep back from releasing the therapeutic energy which Jesus entrusted to us, His Church, to help the penitent sinner who yearns to break free from his past prison and reconcile himself with God and with the Church without expecting him to shoulder burdens which he morally cannot do.


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  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Aug. 22, 2015 7:42 AM ET USA

    So does this mean that in exchange for God's mercy, the Church - after 2000 years - now feels that confession and a firm purpose of amendment are "burdens" that the sinner is no longer expected to "shoulder"? How in the world did we come to this?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 21, 2015 7:58 PM ET USA

    The problem is that the new relationship is adulterous, and every marital act within it is an adulterous act.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Aug. 21, 2015 3:09 PM ET USA

    In all seriousness I ask, does anyone know what the bishop means? Because I read it as "While being faithful to the Gospel, the Church should help the civilly remarried reconcile to God without demanding they seperate or live as brother and sister." Which to me seems quite impossible. So perhaps I am missing something?

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 21, 2015 12:06 PM ET USA

    I can't believe a bishop would have such a warped understanding of God's mercy. God forgives the sin and leads the sinner to leave the sin behind (repent). Section 1650 of the CCC already outlines such repentance, but that is not what Bishop Grech wants. He wants a Mulligan.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 21, 2015 11:15 AM ET USA

    "...expecting him to shoulder burdens which he morally cannot do." St. JPII in Veritatis Splendor makes clear that every Catholic is called to heroic virtue. He wrote in n. 94: "The voice of conscience has always clearly recalled that there are truths and moral values for which one must be prepared to give up one's life." These moral values include the 1st and 6th Commandments which bear directly on putting one's own interests ahead of God. The annulment process is a process of mercy.

  • Posted by: feedback - Aug. 21, 2015 8:57 AM ET USA

    Bp. Grech is quoting Card. Kasper word for word. However, in his most recent interview with Raymond Arroyo (EWTN) Card. Kasper practically backpedaled from his proposal. A few intelligent questions from the interviewer showed gaping logical inconsistencies in it. The problem here is not the alleged conflict of "mercy" vs. "justice" but rather: basic logic vs. inconsequence. That is why majority of Bishops don't accept Kasper's proposal. Bp. Grech should patiently wait for the Synod's decision.