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Pope OK’s Return to Communion for Woman Married to a Divorce Man?

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Phone call leaves Church officials scrambling. What did the Pope mean? Latest developments.

The world has been in uproar over the past day about a supposed phone call from the Pope to a woman in Argentina who is married to a divorced man, telling her that it is fine for her to receive communion. 

The Telegraph’s headline for example was “Pope Francis ‘tells sinner she should be allowed Communion.’"  More of the story has recently come to light.  

Here are more precise details:

The Interview:

On 23 April Gustavo Sylvestre interviewed Jaqueline Lisbona on Radio Del Plata, the Argentine Radio. During this interview she described how the Holy Father had called her up personally the day before.

Lisbona from the city of San Lorenzo, Santa Fe, said how she is in "a civil marriage with a divorced man, who was married before in the Church.”

She said that for the past 10 years her priest hasn’t allowed her to take communion.

When asked if she was Christian, she replied that she was not currently practicing, that she used to when she was younger, but with time she “moved away” from the faith, and that she was “angry” with what the priest had said to her.

Lisbona then explained that she had “sent him [the Pope] a mail” last September, in which she left her phone number, saying that she “felt like a second-class Catholic.”

Then, she said, Pope Francis responded to her on Wednesday with a private phone call.

Sylvestre then asked her what Pope Francis had to say about her taking communion, to which she replied: “that I could return, he said to me, that I should come back, that I could come back and, well, that’s what I’ll do in a little while…”

She also affirmed that Pope Francis said the Church was “dealing with this topic.”

In another interview with radio La Red AM910 of Buenos Aires, she also said more exlplicitly that the Pope told her she could take communion "without problems."  She said that the Holy Father had told her to "go and take communion in another parish:"

Parish Priest’s reaction:

José Ceschi her parish priest at the Church of San Lorenzo, has stated that Jaqueline Lisbona must have misunderstood the Pope.

He said “If a priest decided to give absolution in these cases, it is like giving a cheque and going to the bank and them telling you that there is no money in the account. The Pope would never do this.”

He continued: “I believe that Francis called her, because he surprises people like this, however the other, no, it is all made up or she has misunderstood, it is absurd, it is very much against what is already established.”

How Father Ceschi can read the mind of Pope Francis better than the woman to whom the pope actually spoke is unclear.  

Vatican’s reaction:

Spokesperson for the Vatican Father Lombardi made the following statement on Thursday morning:

Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral relationships.

“Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope’s public activities, no information or comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office.

“That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.

“Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences."

Pope Francis has not chosen to clarify what he said or meant as yet.  

 

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