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San Diego’s Bishop McElroy strongly encourages Communion for divorced/remarried

November 29, 2016

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California, has asked his priests to encourage Catholics who are divorced and remarried to consider whether “God is calling them to return to the Eucharist.”

Following up on recommendations from a diocesan Synod held in October, Bishop McElroy instructed his pastors to post notices in parish bulletins, inviting divorced and remarried Catholics to “utilize the internal forum of conscience” in making their decisions whether they should receive Communion.

Citing the deliberations of the diocesan Synod, the bishop also said that parishes should welcome gay and lesbian couples, and couples cohabitating before marriage. “The Synod pointed to the need to invite young couples lovingly, non-judgmentally and energetically into Catholic marriage and to provide mentors for them,” he said.

The Synod, in its final statement, had said that cohabitating couples should be “welcomed and guided patiently and discretely (sic).” The Synod suggested that parishes provide a supportive environment for these couples, and said that this attitude might require reconsideration of “practices which, while they have a certain legitimacy, alienate young couples and leave them feeling that they are unwanted in the life of the Church.”

Regarding couples who are divorced and remarried, the San Diego Synod adopted liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, concluding that these Catholics should decide for themselves, after consultation with a priest, whether to approach the Eucharist. The Synod document states:

Pope Francis widens the focus for this internal reflection of conscience for a Catholic who is divorced and remarried by underscoring that the central question for conscience is “What is my situation before God?” In conversation with a priest, the believer with humility, discretion, and love for the Church and its teachings seeks to reflect upon their level of responsibility for the failure of the first marriage, their care and love for the children of that marriage, the moral obligations which have arisen in their new marriage, and possible harm which their returning to the sacraments might have by undermining the indissolubility of marriage. It is important to underscore that the role of the priest is one of accompaniment, meant to inform the conscience of the discerner on principles of Catholic faith. The priest is not to make decisions for the believer, for as Pope Francis emphasizes in The Joy of Love, the Church is “called to form consciences, not replace them.”

Many Catholics engaging in this process of discernment will conclude that God is calling them to return to full participation in the life of the Church and the Eucharist. Many others will conclude that they should wait, or that their return would hurt others.


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  • Posted by: deery4323 - Nov. 29, 2016 10:12 PM ET USA

    Wow! Not sure what else to say, except pray for this Bishop and his flock.

  • Posted by: Faustina01 - Nov. 29, 2016 10:01 PM ET USA

    Before we receive the holy Eucharist, let us have first confessed our sins before we commit a sacrilege! REMEMBER: JESUS DIED FOR EVERY SIN WE CONFESS. WE DIE FOR EVERY SIN NOT CONFESSED....aptly said by Fr. Larry Richards.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Nov. 29, 2016 7:43 PM ET USA

    I like this! After all, what's so special about this situation? Or, alternatively, consider it a special situation. In either case, it's enough to allow expansion to any other arena since it is obviously possible to draw up a sheet from the above and simply fill in the blanks. Conscience, get ready! ;)

  • Posted by: Biscjim - Nov. 29, 2016 7:35 PM ET USA

    As a Catholic father, I'm in a quandary over what to think or do. I have spent my life trying to create an informed conscience in myself and my children, based heavily on scripture, the writings of St John Paul II and the Catechism. And now It seems that Pope Francis has done more damage in a few short years to the work that I have done with my family, than a lifetime of living in a secular society and attending liberal universities. I see this not only in my own family, but in my parish.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Nov. 29, 2016 7:15 PM ET USA

    How could this happen? Pope Francis tells us that Amoris Laetitia is perfectly clear and unambiguous on this and all other issues, and promulgates no new doctrine. How could the Bishop of San Diego think it did? Fallacy somewhere, I fancy! (as Gilbert and Sullivan put it).

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Nov. 29, 2016 7:13 PM ET USA

    Wow! This is return to early 60s when you find liberal priests who tell you rules are finite and changeable so do not worry. Let your conscience be your guide. Naturally these folks who practicing gays and lesbians will join the club of forming their own conscience. Divorced and remarried will do the same. Those living together will join the club since they are in love. Forget 10 Cmdments, forget Church teaching, forget sin. This Pope has created scandal for the whole Church. Jesus help.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Nov. 29, 2016 5:08 PM ET USA

    It seems to me that there has been a 500 year recognizable reenactment by His Church of the passion of Christ. It is precisely on time. He was on trial for 50 years since the Council; He has since been beaten by insane Germany Bishops; He is now crowned with thorns by their seemingly impossibly ignorant American counterparts; The Pope himself is poised to nail Him to the Cross. But He will not die, now or ever again. He has risen and will die no more. Believe and pray. We live on the edge.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 29, 2016 2:26 PM ET USA

    To all: Hang on. I suspect that God will have something to say on this one.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 29, 2016 11:42 AM ET USA

    On reading this, one might hope that the excommunicable offense of schism might once and for all be officially removed from the CIC. One could also recommend throwing out the 10 Commandments, the 613 Commandments of Moses, and all of Catholic theology. Who needs them? Let your conscience be your guide. Have an "adult" faith. The old religion had a "certain legitimacy," but the new religion is much more inviting, less judgmental (unless you are an EF Catholic), less psychotic, more "with it."

  • Posted by: Eric - Nov. 29, 2016 11:17 AM ET USA

    And so it begins. In 10 years the Church's teaching on divorce will be nothing more than a foot note in dusty theological texts.

  • Posted by: adamwd - Nov. 29, 2016 11:12 AM ET USA

    The church certainly guides sinners out of the wilderness, away from sin and towards virtue, to a life of holiness. There appears to be an intentional ambiguity, however, in this "accompanying" guidance for priests, especially when "helping" those persistent in in sin. There appears to be almost a promotion of ignorance, promulgated from a false sense of charity, that "if we don't tell them that it's sinful, then maybe God will wink." Where is the "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15)? There is no shortage of a sense of belonging for those of us that want to feel a part of a social club that accepts our sins, and even promotes and celebrates them. But the Church is a source of Grace, and Grace overcomes all sin. I'm concerned that some have lost hope in the power of Grace from the Holy Spirit. We must pray for our Bishops and priests!