Pope Francis: “The Divorced and Remarried Are Not Excommunicated”
© Sabrina Fusco / ALETEIA
Diane Montagna - published on 08/06/15
He added: “This attitude is also a model for the Church, who welcomes her children like a mother who gives her life for them. “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open.” No closed doors! No closed doors! “Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community … The Church … is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.”
But interestingly, he omits the part in no. 47 that says: “Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason.”
This, observers say, show that he wishes to take a neutral stance ahead of the synod, neither supporting those who would like some remarried divorcees to receive Holy Communion after a period of penance, nor giving his full backing to those who wish the Church’s current approach to remain the same.
Moreover, in calling priests to heed Pope John Paul II’s words to pastors to “exercise careful discernment,” between “those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave falut have destroyed a canonically valid marriage,” Pope Francis is saying he doesn’t want the divorced and remarried to be lumped into one category and cast aside.
But the spiritual welfare of the children of these second unions seems the Pope’s paramount concern.
“They are the ones who suffer most in these situations, he said. “How can we recommend to these parents to do their utmost to bring up their children in the Christian life, giving them the example of a convinced and practiced faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the life of the community, as if they were excommunicated?”
Quoting Benedict XVI, Pope Francis acknowledged there are no “simple solutions” to accompanying divorced and remarried Catholics, but with his predecessors he called on pastors, and especially Christian families, to imitate the Good Shepherd and “collaborate with Him in taking care of wounded families, by accompanying them in the faith life of the community.”
For his predecessors, one of great challenges is helping divorced and remarried Catholics — for their benefit and that of their children — to feel loved and accepted by the Church, and to see that even the Church’s inability to grant them access to Holy Communion comes from a maternal heart that above all seeks their eternal salvation.
As Benedict XVI also said the 2012 World Meeting of Families: “Even without ‘corporal’ reception of the sacrament, they can be spiritually united to Christ in his Body. Bringing them to understand this is important: so that they find a way to live the life of faith based upon the Word of God and the communion of the Church, and that they come to see their suffering as a gift to the Church, because it helps others by defending the stability of love and marriage.”
Here below we publish a full translation of the Pope’s catechesis.
Dear brothers and sisters,
With this catechesis we resume our reflection on the family. Having spoken the last time about families wounded by a lack of understanding between spouses, today I would like to focus our attention on another reality: how to take care of those who have entered a new union following the irreversible failure of their marital bond.
The Church knows well that such a situation contradicts the Christian Sacrament. But her gaze as teacher always comes from the heart of a mother; a heart that, animated by the Holy Spirit, always seeks the good and salvation of persons. That is why she feels the duty, “for the sake of truth,” to “exercise careful discernment of situations.” St. John Paul II expressed himself thus in the Apostolic Exhortation
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