“The doctrinal dispute over Amoris Laetitia is in the air again this Advent, as one Italian bishop is inviting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to begin an ‘ecclesial journey’ that he says will lead, in some cases, to access to the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.
In an Advent letter to the faithful of his diocese, Bishop Gianmarco Busca of the northern Italian diocese of Mantua has said ‘the faithful who are divorced and remarried, or who live stably in a second relationship, can embark on an ecclesial journey of reconciliation which, in some cases, can lead to the possibility of gaining access to the sacrament of Penance and Eucharistic Communion.’
Photo of Bishop Busca’s Advent letter
Appointed by Francis in June 2016, Busca says the Pope ‘takes a broad view of family pastoral ministry’ and ‘envisages a variety of paths’ in Amoris Laetitia. He adds that ‘the doctrine and tradition on marriage’ in AL are ‘re-read through a ‘pastoral’ lens, that is, with a view to their organic development along the Church’s journey.’…
In keeping with Amoris, Bishop Busca tells the faithful of his diocese that the new directives ought to be read in light of the two ‘key criteria’ of ‘discernment and mercy.’
Discernment, he said, means considering the experiences of people and couples ‘on a case-by-case basis.’
‘No immediate and general rule is given, which is valid for any cultural context and applicable to every situation, that can relieve us of the duty of carrying out, under the guidance of the Spirit, a prudent and personalized discernment,’ he explains.
The Mantuan bishop tells the faithful of his diocese:
Amoris Laetitia implements the proposal of the 2015 Synod in which the [synod] fathers gave their consent to the assessment, on a case by case basis, by the priest ‘in the internal forum’ (i.e. in dialogue with the conscience of each individual person) about the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic Communion, after Confession, remarried divorcees who are rightly disposed.
Quoting Pope Francis, and relying on AL’s controversial footnote 351, Busca says:
The Pope agrees, in fact, that ‘it is 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’ (n. 301). The criterion of discernment leads us to understand what help the Church can give these faithful to ‘grow in the life of grace and charity’ (n. 305). ‘In certain cases’ — footnote n. 351 specifies — the help could also include ‘the Sacraments.’…
The Mantuan directives make no mention of the fact that extra-marital relations are adulterous according to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Nor is there any mention of the need to repent of or refrain from sexual relations before being absolved in sacramental Confession and receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.”