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Pope confirms: Amoris Laetitia allows divorced/remarried to receive Communion in some cases

September 12, 2016

Pope Francis has strongly endorsed a document in which the Catholic bishops of Argentina say that Amoris Laetitia allows for Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive Communion under some circumstances.

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In a letter to the Argentine bishops, the Pontiff praised a guide which they had prepared for their priests, explaining the Pope's apostolic exhortation. He said specifically that the document "fully captures the meaning" of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia, which addresses the controversial question of Communion for divorced/remarried Catholics. "There are no other interpretations," the Pope wrote.

The Argentine bishops' document states that it is improper to speak about giving "permission" for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Instead, the document emphasizes a "pastoral accompaniment" in which the priest recognized a couple's desire to live in accordance with God's law. This process "does not necessarily lead to the sacraments," the bishops' document says.

The bishops' guide recognizes the possibility that Catholics who are divorced and remarried may choose to live as brother and sister: the only circumstance under which Catholics in such irregular unions have traditionally been allowed to receive the Eucharist. However, the Argentine bishops say that there may be "other more complex circumstances" when that option "may not be viable." In such cases "a path of discernment is still possible," the bishops write. The document suggests that this further "discernment" could be appropriate if refraining from sexual intercourse would imperil a second union, "particularly when a person believes they would commit another mistake that could harm any children born into the new union." 


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  • Posted by: FredC - Sep. 13, 2016 1:25 PM ET USA

    We need clarification, first by checking the translation, of "if refraining from sexual intercourse would imperil a second union, 'particularly when a person believes they would commit another mistake that could harm any children born into the new union.'" A reasonable interpretation of this statement is that a person who THINKS he is unable to refrain from sexual intercourse is excused from the obligation in the second marriage. Might this same principle be applied to other sins as well?

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Sep. 13, 2016 12:52 PM ET USA

    Brenda22890 cited the relevant commandment against adultery. "...this further 'discernment' could be appropriate if refraining from sexual intercourse would imperil a second [adulterous?] union, 'particularly when a person believes they would commit another mistake that could harm any children born into the new union.'" Shrink said about the legitimate children: "they were abandoned, after all." Would that other mistake involve a third "union" that could harm the illegitimate 2nd-union children?

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Sep. 13, 2016 9:24 AM ET USA

    Obviously, Jesus was wrong. He didn't accompany those who committed adultery. I'm very glad this has now been corrected by Pope Francis and the Argentine Bishops.

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Sep. 13, 2016 9:19 AM ET USA

    In his Angelus address the very day before this, Francis compared the prodigal son's return to his father's embrace to the forgiveness we can receive at Confession. Would be interesting to know Francis's take on what the father might have done had his son said Now that I'm back I'd again like my 1/3 share of ur estate, so I can do it all over again. And then how would Francis reconcile that to Confession and to divorced/remarried Catholics who want to receive the Sacraments?

  • Posted by: k_cusick1963 - Sep. 13, 2016 8:37 AM ET USA

    This is all extremely confusing and about as clear as mud. Meaning no disrespect to the Holy Father, I really wish there never was a document called "Amoris Laetitia". Seems to me that 2,000 years of Catholic teaching is very clear and needs nothing more added to it. The only problem I see is 21st century relativism creeping into sound doctrine.

  • Posted by: shrink - Sep. 13, 2016 6:02 AM ET USA

    Ah yes, the "may not be viable" option that must be avoided to preserve the safety of the children. Like property tax rate hikes, it is after all, about the children. To be more precise, the children of "the new union." No solution yet on the children of the "old union." Silly me, I thought all along children of the "old union" might be given some standing in AL; they were abandoned, after all.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 13, 2016 2:57 AM ET USA

    We already know that no Pope, Bishop or priest can "change" the Catholic Doctrine of Faith. More clarity and less confusion, please!

  • Posted by: Travelling - Sep. 13, 2016 2:19 AM ET USA

    Surely any process of pastoral discernment should always lead to the sacrament of confession/reconciliation? We should stop all talk of "the sacraments" as if all seven are available to everyone. Confession is always available to all. As a married person, I cannot access the sacrament of Holy Orders even if I were a man! Let's untangle this confusion. There are more than two sacraments.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Sep. 13, 2016 12:48 AM ET USA

    "...Amoris Laetitia allows for Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive Communion under some circumstances." That will inevitably mean that soon Catholics who are divorced and remarried can receive Communion under all circumstances. This is the way heresy enters the Church, by deceit and manipulation. St. Robert Bellarmine wrote, "(A) Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases in himself to be Pope." (St. Robert Bellarmine, On the Roman Pontiff, Vol. 1, Book II, Chapter 30, pp. 304-310)

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Sep. 12, 2016 8:19 PM ET USA

    What discernment? Is there a use of verbiage here to attempt to smoke-screen the "desired result?" We're speaking about divine law here on the indissolubility of marriage. Neither the Pope or any bishop or priest can overrule divine law. So Holy Father what are you doing?

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 12, 2016 7:56 PM ET USA

    We have for too long failed to look to the root of things and have done so to our detriment. We have condemned those who cling inflexibly to traditional writings and expositions. We have shaken our heads from side to side at their obdurance and at their lack of sophistication. But St. Paul had a phrase- a two word phrase- he often employed in the face of things not desirable. Today, this phrase comes to mind. Moving forward, the moderates will have difficulty staying there.

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Sep. 12, 2016 7:45 PM ET USA

    Son of a gun! All this time I've been a Protestant and didn't even know it.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Sep. 12, 2016 6:59 PM ET USA

    As reported, surely the path of discernment involves casuistry--in the best sense. Moreover, a number of cases, i. e., situations which people have brought about through their own free actions, will be alike in morally relevant respects. Noting this gives rise to standard responses, that is, ongoing measures. Such measures are rules. The work of interpretation is to bring clarity. Yet interpretation becomes arbitrary if language is used in a fanciful manner.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Sep. 12, 2016 6:47 PM ET USA

    Beginning to sound a bit Pharisaic me thinks.