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Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario

VICTORIA, Malta, August 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — One of Malta’s two bishops recently criticized individuals opposed to the bishops’ guidelines giving tacit approval of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, calling them “prophets of doom.”

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said these doomsters want to affirm God’s justice by controlling his mercy, the Times of Malta reported.

And he said they negatively affect the Church, stating, “Attitudes of this type annihilate all hope in people and make the Church what it is not, and what it should never be.”

The article said his “prophets of doom” comments were in reference to the new way of dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics proposed by the bishops earlier this year in line with Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

The comments came in a pastoral letter on hope that was read in Gozitan churches and was also to be delivered to every household in the diocese.

The Times said the lengthy reflection, titled “For Hope to Blossom,” was composed for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

Bishop Grech also wrote about naysayers’ “religious zeal” in his letter and said such forecasters of doom were more concerned in defending the letter of the law than the people who are trying to rise up from their mistakes.

“Unfortunately, there exist prophets of doom,” he stated, “who in their religious zeal are more prone to focus on the defect rather than the much good there is in man.”

“They get stuck in considering the mistake rather than appreciating the efforts, however small but sincere, that a person tries to make to rise up on his feet,” Bishop Grech went on. “They are more interested in defending the letter of the law than the person.”

The Maltese bishops released “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia” in January.

The guidelines are viewed among the most liberal interpretation of the controversial apostolic exhortation and presumably opened the door for other dioceses to follow suit in officially relaxing their approach for granting Catholics living in objective sin admission to the sacraments.

According to the Maltese bishops’ guidelines, “divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in their dioceses may receive Communion if they manage(s), with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God.”

The bishops also say it might be “humanly impossible” to adhere to Church teaching and live chastely while civilly remarried, a prerequisite for receiving the Eucharist in this scenario.

Malta’s bishops have also said their guidelines are “in line with the directions given by Pope Francis.” The guidelines had also been read at Sunday Mass in parishes across Malta at the bishops’ direction.

Subsequently after they were published, Vatican Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri sent the Maltese bishops a letter on behalf of Pope Francis thanking them for the guidelines.

Upon their release, the guidelines were called varying things such as a lowering of the bar and the sinking of a ship, and one prominent Canon lawyer said the Maltese guidelines “can only be called disastrous.”

The month after the guidelines’ release, Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna told seminarians in Malta that “the seminary gate is open” and they are free to leave if they do not agree with the bishops.

Priests in Malta have reported intimidation and threats of suspension against those who decline to give Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, an allegation Bishop Grech has denied.

Pope Francis has remained silent despite numerous requests from cardinals, theologians, scholars and Catholics in the pews for clarification on ambiguous passages of his exhortation.