A The Pope’s statement comes in response to ten questions raised by Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop Emeritus of Prague, on behalf of the Czech Episcopal Conference to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the application of the apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (2016) on the family .
In this document, Pope Francis was open to the possibility of granting the sacrament of the Eucharist to divorced and remarried people in certain cases and after completing a process of “discernment” guided by ecclesiastical authority.
Months later, the pontiff established “basic criteria” for the application of this doctrine, which has nothing to do with “permissions”, but with a “personal and pastoral” process that follows the “via caritatis”, that is, the “path of mercy”, he stated in a letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires, in September 2016.
The Vatican’s response is contained today in a document from the former Holy Office signed on September 25 by the Argentine pontiff and his new prefect, Victor Manuel “Tucho” Fernandez.
The text reminds the Czech cardinal that the doctrine of “Amoris Laetitia” is based on “the magisterium of previous pontiffs, who already recognized the possibility of divorced people in new unions having access to the Eucharist”, the consecrated host.
Specifically, in his apostolic exhortation “Familiaris consortio” (1981), John Paul II argued that this openness could be granted if the couple committed themselves “to live in full continence, that is, abstaining from acts typical of the spouses”.
Benedict XVI also argued that this possibility could be granted if the couple committed to living their relationship “as friends”, he wrote in his exhortation “Sacramentum caritatis” (2007).
Francis defends in his magisterium “the proposal of full continence for those divorced and remarried in new unions”, but “admits that it may be difficult to comply with”, says the Doctrine of Faith document.
“Therefore, it allows ‘in certain cases, after appropriate discernment’, the administration of the sacrament of Reconciliation even when it is not possible to be faithful to the continence proposed by the Church”, it reads.
Pope Francis’ response to the Czech cardinal comes one day after his response to “dubia” (doubts) raised by five other cardinals from the more conservative wing, who often question his approach.
This “barrage” of doctrinal doubts also appears on the eve of the start of the Synod or assembly of bishops which, starting on Wednesday, will debate, among other things, how to welcome homosexuals or give greater presence to women in the Church.
It is not the first time that Pope Francis has come under fire from the conservative wing, which reacted badly to “Amoris Laetitia” (2016), a text in which sixty theologians and historians claim to have found up to seven “heresies”.
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