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African Archbishop Lays Down “Daring” Challenge for Synod on the Family


Diane Montagna - published on 02/25/15

You see, trying to think for him [Obama] is always the problem. All he said is: “If you are in that position, how would you like us to treat you?”

When it comes to the boat people at Lampedusa, look at the attitude here in Europe. What I think the Pope is trying to bring home to all of us, especially with regard to divorced and remarried people in the Church, is that he didn’t say “yes” or “no." He said “think."  

Holy Communion is medicine for the sick. It is not a reward for the perfect. 

But according to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, whatever your sin may be, one must be in a state of grace in order to receive the Holy Eucharist (CCC 1415).

I would have to admit that, over the centuries, we have made a very tough line in that context. I met a Protestant pastor once. We had a big discussion. He said that, in Matthew 16, Jesus gave the power of the keys to Peter, saying: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

According to this Protestant pastor friend of mine, he said that, because of this, in some of the Protestant churches they believe that Christ gave them power to unbind those who have bound themselves in some marriages that are irregular, that are difficult, that are counter-productive, and to allow them to go within another context. 

So, you see, it’s an interpretation. We have interpreted it to mean that, yes, the Church has the power of the keys, but not in this particular context of marriages. Therefore, the marriage must go through the whole channel and be annulled before [the couple] are allowed to go further. I think we are going to look at what “the power of the keys” could mean in this context.

How would that be reconciled with the Lord’s words: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

That is true. What God has joined together. In fact, it is not “let no man put asunder,” but “what God has joined, no man can put asunder. No man can put asunder what God has joined together, and it is true. But then the same Jesus says: “Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.” So what did he mean by that? Are they two statements that contradict one another?

Well, Your Excellency, they can’t contradict one another if the Lord said them, because He is Truth.

They cannot contradict one another, so we are going to have to find out through prayer what to do. I believe that every institution like the Church must have rules and regulations. But the rules and regulations are ideals, points of arrival. They are the perfection to which we aspire. However, we are walking on, and when we fall we should be able to rise and to go ahead. And that is why the Pope is asking us: How do we help people whose marriages are broken down beyond repair to rise up, get the medicine they need, and continue walking?

Are we going to keep them perpetually feeling guilty about themselves and about the children they’ve had thereafter, and so on. Do we help them that way? Is God not all mercy? It’s only in God that justice and mercy meet and embrace. We are only his instruments, so I believe very strongly that we should be able to say: “Lord, this is the situation but we lift it up to you in your great mercy, and allow them.” It’s going to be tough, but we may have to do that. 

It’s daring to say what I’m saying.

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

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Pope FrancisSynod on the Family
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