March 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal from the Netherlands has stated that the question of divorced-and-civilly ‘remarried’ Catholics receiving Holy Communion is “fracturing” the Church. The source of the confusion, he says, is Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia, specifically Paragraph 305.
Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk recently gave an interview to the Italian monthly magazine Il Timone in which he defended traditional Church doctrine. He remarked on the damage Pope Francis’ lack of clarity on the issue has done to the Church.
“The question of whether it is possible to consent to the so-called divorced and civilly remarried receiving sacramental absolution and thus the Eucharist is fracturing the Church,” he said.
“The source of confusion is the Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” he continued. “This confusion concerns above all paragraph 305 of the exhortation.”
Eijk noted that some bishops’ conferences have introduced pastoral regulations that imply that divorced-and-civilly-remarried couples may be admitted to Holy Communion, while others “exclude this as a possibility.”
This creates a problem in itself, one that the Cardinal hopes Francis will resolve.
“That which is true in place A cannot be false in place B,” Eijk said.
“These differing interpretations of the exhortation, which regard doctrinal questions, are causing confusion among the faithful. Therefore, I would be happy if the Pope would create clarity on this matter, preferably in the form of some sort of a magisterial document.”
The Cardinal said that there can be no such thing as remarriage in the Catholic Church if a valid union already exists.
“The relationship between Christ and the Church is a total mutual gift,” Eijk explained.
“The total gift of Christ to the Church is realized in the gift of His life on the Cross. This total gift is made present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Whoever participates in the Eucharist ought to be ready to make a total gift of himself, which shares in the total gift of Christ to the Church. Whoever divorces and remarries in a civil ceremony, while the first marriage has not been declared null, violates the total mutual gift which the first marriage implies. The second marriage in a civil ceremony is not a true and proper marriage,” he said.
The cardinal said that violating the “total gift” of the valid first marriage renders the person involved in the second marriage “unworthy” of receiving the Blessed Sacrament, although of course the person may still participate in the liturgical celebration and receive pastoral care.
In the situation in which the cohabiting couple cannot separate for some serious reason, like their obligations to their mutual children, they may be admitted to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and Holy Communion only if they meet the conditions mentioned in paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio and in paragraph 29 of Sacramentum Caritatis, Eijk affirmed.
“One of these conditions is that they must commit themselves to living as brother and sister, that is, to stop having sexual relations.”
He also explained during the interview how the Netherlands has slid down the “slippery slope” of unintended moral consequences towards mass abortion and euthanasia-on-demand. Eijk blamed the UN, other international institutions and individual nations for spreading dehumanizing “gender theory.”
The entire interview, translated into English by Giuseppe Pellegrino, has been published by the OnePeterFive blog.
An extraordinarily well-educated man, Eijk, 65, is a doctor several times over. He took a degree in medicine from the University of Amsterdam before he was ordained a priest. He later completed a PhD in medicine with a dissertation about euthanasia. The thesis of his next doctorate, in philosophy, was titled “The ethical problems of genetic engineering of human beings.” His final doctorate, in theology, was awarded by the Lateran in Rome.
In 2007 Eijk was appointed the Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht by Benedict XVI, and in 2017 Benedict made him a Cardinal. Eijk was present at both the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Synods on the Family, where he argued against admitting unrepentant adulterers to the sacraments.
Eijk again argued against the novelty in Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint, which was published in 2015 by Ignatius Press. He was one of the thirteen cardinals who wrote to Pope Francis asking him not to let the Ordinary Synod be hijacked by the question of the divorced-and-remarried.