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‘Hard teaching’: Philadelphia’s new guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/05/16

Details:

Conceding that it may come off as a “hard teaching,” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has decreed that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in the archdiocese may receive Communion only if they refrain from sex, and that they cannot hold positions of responsibility in a parish or perform liturgical functions. That latter prohibition, according to a new set of pastoral guidelines issued by Chaput, is designed to avoid “the unintended appearance of an endorsement of divorce and civil remarriage.” “Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist,” the guidelines state, which took effect July 1. “This is a hard teaching for many, but anything less misleads people about the nature of the Eucharist and the Church,” the document says. The guidelines, addressed to anyone in the Philadelphia archdiocese who works in the area of family life and human sexuality, are designed to govern implementation of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, issued in April and intended to draw conclusions from the pontiff’s two Synods of Bishops on the family in 2014 and 2015.

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From the document:

Can the divorced and civilly-remarried receive the sacraments? As a general matter, baptized members of the Church are always in principle invited to the sacraments. The confessional’s doors are always open to the repentant and contrite of heart. What of Communion? Every Catholic, not only the divorced and civilly-remarried, must sacramentally confess all serious sins of which he or she is aware, with a firm purpose to change, before receiving the Eucharist. In some cases, the subjective responsibility of the person for a past action may be diminished. But the person must still repent and renounce the sin, with a firm purpose of amendment. With divorced and civilly-remarried persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly-remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist. Such individuals are encouraged to approach the Sacrament of Penance regularly, having recourse to God’s great mercy in that sacrament if they fail in chastity. …When two persons of the same sex present themselves openly in a parish as a same-sex couple (including those who may have entered into a same-sex union under civil law), pastors must judge prudently how best to address the situation, both for the sake of the authentic spiritual good of the persons involved, and the common good of the believing community. It’s important to remember that some same-sex couples do live together in chaste friendship and without sexual intimacy, and many pastors have had the experience of counseling such couples. The Church welcomes all men and women who honestly seek to encounter the Lord, whatever their circumstances. But two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community. Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children.  Finally, those living openly same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry or function.

And you can read the complete text of the guidelines here.

Photo: Pixabay

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