Two more Canadian dioceses have joined the Alberta and Northwest Territories Bishops in issuing guidelines on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.
Like their western Canadian counterparts, the Archdiocese of Ottawa and the Military Ordinariate of Canada have responded to the controversial chapter eight of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia by interpreting it in light of the Church’s constant teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and her discipline on the reception of the sacraments.
This is far from being true. The document itself On the Implementation of Chapter Eight of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia in the Military Ordinariate of Canada is full of Amoris Laetitia‘s poison. Read on:
|For Those Unable to Separate: Continence
Those divorced and civilly remarried couples who for serious reasons cannot separate, in order to receive absolution in confession which would open the way to receiving Communion, must take on the duty to live in complete continence:
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, Cardinal Müller, recently stated that this requirement, “is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments.”xii
The Apostolic Exhortation recognizes the difficulties inherent in couples living together in continence (cf. AL note 329) and insists that human frailty must be taken into account:
Although this practice has been formally recognized as a valid pastoral solution since the time of the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, it is still an example of an extraordinary circumstance which will be examined in greater detail in the next section.
IV. Extraordinary Circumstances
Required Having established the ordinary discipline of the Church, it is now possible to examine extraordinary pastoral situations with much greater precision. These require special consideration precisely because, for one reason or another, the pastoral situation differs in important respects from those envisioned by the ordinary discipline of the Church. As Pope Francis stated, “While upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions and decisions is not the same in all cases” (AL 302).
The Help of the Sacraments
In very specific situations the Church’s help for those in irregular situations can include the help of the sacraments (AL, note 351). The conditions indicated in Amoris Laetitia for such a pastoral exception to the ordinary discipline of the Church (as declared in Can. 915, CCEO, Can. 855) are as follows: 8
The Law of Gradualness
1. First, the “law of gradualness” must be applied. With this moral principle we have the recognition that the fullness of God’s life-giving law must always be our aim, but also that moral conversion is often a slow and gradual process:
From a ministerial point of view this moral principle requires that when facing difficult and irregular situations we must be “merciful and helpful”, patiently guiding and assisting people to advance, at whatever pace they require, toward the fullness of God’s law and loving design:
What is critical to note is that “this is not a gradualness of the law” (AL 295). We are not speaking of accepting an irregular situation as normative:
Practically this means that there must be a firm purpose of amendment; the intention on the part of the recipient of Penance or Holy Communion to bring their lives into full conformity with the Gospel, even though there may be grave circumstances that presently prevent this.
Absence of Mortal Sin
2. Secondly, the person in this objectively irregular situation must not be in the state of mortal sin. Amoris Laetitia, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church (articles 1735 & 2352), insists that “a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved” (AL 302). Due to serious mitigating factors it is possible that someone be in an objectively sinful situation and yet not be in the subjective state of mortal sin:
The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace (AL 301).
Once again it is incumbent upon the minister to accompany the person in question to gain a true picture of the full pastoral situation:
Consequently, there is a need “to avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations” and “to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition” (AL 296).
Danger of Further Harm
3. Finally, there must be a grave pastoral reason why embracing the ordinary discipline of the Church would only cause further harm. Several examples of such grave situations are specifically mentioned in the exhortation:
One thing is a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self-giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins. The Church acknowledges situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate.” There are also the cases of those who made every effort to save their first marriage and were unjustly abandoned, or of “those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably broken marriage had never been valid”. Another thing is a new union arising from a recent divorce, with all the suffering and confusion which this entails for children and entire families, or the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligations to the family (AL 298).
When Continence is not Feasible
Ordinarily, receiving the sacraments for those in an irregular situation requires continence, but there are extreme situations wherein abstaining from conjugal relations is not feasible. Below is a succinct explanation of just such a situation and the underlying moral principles involved:
As noted, these were already accepted foundational principles of moral theology and confessional practice. The application of these principles explicitly to the divorced and civilly remarried in a magisterial document is seen by some as an example of the authentic development of doctrine.
The Need for Pastoral Discernment
Considering the nature of these criteria it is unlikely to encounter a large number of these cases. It is possible, however, to imagine other circumstances in which they could apply. This only emphasizes the need for careful attention to, and discernment of, each individual situation.
To illustrate, the section “When Continence is not Feasible” ought to stand out. How is it that a divorced and civilly remarried couple [with one or both parties having valid prior marriage] can be said to engage in conjugal relations?
One also ought to see
Kasper’s Pope Francis’ Proposal.
It is evident that Bishop McCaig is engaging in the now tried and tested modernists’ M.O. which is, state Catholic Doctrine/Teaching saying it is not changing, yet place a contrary doctrine or teaching alongside it.
[UPDATE: March 1, 2017]
LifeSiteNews article Canada’s military bishop reaffirms Catholic teaching on marriage in Amoris Laetitia guidelines by Lianne Laurence fails to uncover the insidious nature of Bp McCaig’s guidelines.