Father Gerstle continues:
The Church has up to now always had a clear attitude [Haltung] in this question [of the “remarried” divorcees], even if there has developed, already for quite a while now, a practice of receiving Holy Communion that is in opposition to the objective norms of the Church.”
Thus, says Gerstle, this current discussion is finally about receiving a “retrospective blessing” for a practice of disobedience about something that has heretofore been gravely forbidden by the Church. With regard to Amoris Laetitia, the German priest says: “In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis now gives permission to the individual priests and pastors to examine each individual case with regard to the possibility of receiving the Sacraments (Penance and Holy Communion).” Thus, Pope Francis does not anymore, “in a general way, exclude those couples who live in an irregular situation (to include cohabiting couples) from the reception of the Sacraments.” Gerstle stresses that Pope Francis does not anymore demand from these couples the binding requirement to live in continence. He adds: “This is indeed a novelty and is thus being celebrated by the representatives of the liberal direction as being revolutionary and as constituting a landmark decision.” However, in Gerstle’s eyes, those who “feel bound to the valid teaching of the Church, and who fear the watering down of the indissolubility of marriage,” see a “justified reason for the great concern that now there will follow a complete breech of the levée.”
With this new approach, Gerstle says, “the Church’s teaching – according to which the validity of the Sacrament of Confession is dependent upon a penitent’s true contrition and his firm purpose to avoid the near occasion of sin if possible – would be taken off the hinges.” [emphasis added] This would mean “a serious breech with the elementary principles of the Church’s moral teaching, as it had last been confirmed to be the irreformable teaching of the Church by St. John Paul II himself in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, as well as in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio.