Pope must clarify Church’s position

Dear Editor, I was amazed to read your front page story last week, declaring that ‘Divorced/remarried Catholics can now receive Communion’ (IC 15/09/2016). The story below the headline was scarcely less amazing.

I appreciate that the circumstances under which the Argentine bishops envisage allowing some Catholics who have civilly remarried followed civil divorces to receive Communion are very strict, but even so, is this not a breach with the historic teaching of the Church?

For Pope Francis to support this Argentine interpretation of the post-synodal exhortation Amores Laetitia is hardly less surprising than the bishops’ own actions, but what does he mean when he writes, as he reportedly does, “there are no other interpretations”? This is clearly incorrect, as many other bishops, including ones in the US, in England and in Canada, have read Amores Laetitia in a very different sense. Does the Pope simply mean that the Argentine bishops have correctly understood his intent in that document?

If so, ought he not to issue an explicit public statement to this effect? Is it prudent for Church teaching to be illuminated and developed in this semi-official manner, by newspaper leaks of private letters responding to draft documents?

If Church teaching is not being changed in this matter – if it is simply a case that the Pope is granting a permission to help people who have found themselves caught up by life, and in doing so exercising his biblical power to loose as much as to bind – then it would surely help if this could be clearly and publicly stated.

Yours etc.,

Maurice Connolly,

Clondalkin, Dublin 22.