Two More Faithful Prelates on Holy Communion for Adulterers
Day after day, the “dubia” submitted to the pope and then made public last November by cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner on the most controversial points of “Amoris Laetitia” seem to be shared by larger and larger segments of the Church.
Limiting the review only to the cardinals and bishops who have spoken out publicly for or against the step taken toward the pope by the four cardinals, those in favor continue to be more numerous than those against.
Joining the ranks of these latter are the Italian Bruno Forte, former special secretary of the synod of bishops on the family, and the Argentine Eduardo Horacio Garcia, former vicar of Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires and now bishop of San Justo.
While to those in favor have been added – with respect to the previous count by Settimo Cielo that already saw them in the lead – cardinals Wilfrid Fox Napier, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Mauro Piacenza, and bishops Charles Chaput, already the author of “Guidelines” that made a stir, Luigi Negri, Athanasius Schneider, Tomash Peta, Jan Pawel Lenga.
But even more attention should be given to two particularly significant recent contributions, from a cardinal and a bishop who have both sided with an interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” decidedly in line with the traditional magisterium of the Church and therefore in support of the initiative of the four cardinals.
The cardinal is John Onaiyekan (in the photo), archbishop of Abuja, in Nigeria, one of the most authoritative and influential personalities of the African continent.
In an extensive interview with John Allen for the portal Crux, when asked about “Amoris Laetitia” and communion for the divorced and remarried Onaiyekan replied:
“There’s nothing the pope has said where we weren’t already working more or less along that line. It may be that a man and a woman are in an irregular condition, but that doesn’t mean they’re excommunicated. We’ve always found a way of welcoming them. […] On the other hand, we still let them know that receiving Holy Communion is an external expression of our faith. We cannot judge what is inside your heart, so we must make rules that determine who receives Communion and who does not. Our people are aware that this is the rule. […] I like the expression of the pope that they are not, by that fact, excommunicated. Now, to say that someone is not excommunicated does not mean they can receive Communion.”
And again, with particular reference to Africa:
“Is there a big debate within the Church on this matter? It’s not really true. There may be some theologians talking about it here and there, but you definitely don’t hear much otherwise, for instance from the bishops’ conferences.”
What should be pointed out is that this position expressed by Cardinal Onaiyekan is that of almost the whole African Church, as also confirmed by the Nigerian theologian Paulinus Odozor in an interview with the “Tablet” of March 21, according to whom the controversy that divides Catholicism elsewhere “was settled long ago” in Africa.
The bishop is that of Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, Juan Antonio Reig Pla, who on March 20 published a note to instruct his priests and faithful on how to interpret and apply “Amoris Laetitia” on the burning issue of communion for the divorced and remarried.
These persons – he writes – must be accompanied in a process similar to that of the ancient catechumens: “a path that, step by step, will bring them closer to Christ, going deeply into the Gospel of marriage, established by God in the beginning as an indissoluble union of a man and a woman. […] Only when they are ready to take this step will they receive the Sacramental absolution and the Holy Eucharist.”
For communion, “therefore, the objective conditions requested by the Teaching of the Church referring to the access to the Sacraments still apply,” the same conditions already set down by John Paul II and Benedict XVI and with which the magisterium of Pope Francis “is set in continuity.”
Such conditions imply that “when a [divorced and remarried] man and a woman for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, cannot satisfy the obligation to separate,” they must “live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples,” and only then can they receive communion. “That is the objective requirement admitting no exceptions, and the fulfillment of which must be the aim of an accurate discernment in the internal forum. No priest must consider he has the authority to exempt this requirement.”
The complete text of the note in English, exemplary in its brevity and clarity, is on this other page of Settimo Cielo:
One detail not to be overlooked is the reference that Reig Pla makes, as to a template, to the “Handbook” on the interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” published by three professors of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, this too in perfect continuity with the traditional magisterium of the Church on the subject.
A “Handbook” extensively presented by Settimo Cielo as soon as it arrived in bookstores last January:
The swan song – this is the fear, however – of an institute that has been decapitated and handed over by Francis to the care of a new grand chancellor and grand bungler named Vincenzo Paglia.
Read the full article at Sandro Magister Blog