Polish bishops’ conference calls civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to ‘true conversion,’ not communion
ZAKOPANE, Poland, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Conference of Polish Bishops has decided to follow John Paul II’s teaching on not admitting divorced Catholics who have civilly remarried to Holy Communion.
The bishops stated in a June 6th declaration that Catholics in adulterous relationships should be led to “true conversion and reconciliation with children born in this union and the sacramental spouse.”
Saint John Paul II’s teaching in his 1981 post-synodal Exhortation Familiaris Consortio “has not changed” with Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, stated the bishops’ spokesman Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, as reported by Katholisch.de.
In Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II firmly shut the door on the question of Holy Communion for civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics.
“However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist,” he wrote.
“Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,” he added.
The bishops announced that guidelines for pastoral care of couples living in “non-sacramental” relationships will be further discussed in their autumn General Assembly.
Pope Francis’ Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, released last year, has been used by various bishops and bishops’ groups, including those in Argentina, Malta, Germany, and Belgium, to issue pastoral guidelines that allow Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery. But other bishops, such as some in Canada, have issued guidelines based on their reading of the same document that forbids such couples to receive Communion.
The Polish bishops have maintained a strong front in defense of Catholic teaching during Francis’ pontificate. When they learned prior to the 2015 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome that a proposal existed for civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to be admitted to Holy Communion, they publicly rejected it.
“The teaching and the tradition of the Church show that people living in a non-sacramental union deprive themselves of the possibility of receiving Holy Communion,” they stated in a March 2015 press release.
“Pastoral care must be provided for those living in such unions so that they may be able to keep the faith and continue in the community of the Church,” they added.
Last July, the head of the Polish bishops conference said after a private meeting with Pope Francis that admitting civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to Holy Communion would provoke a “theological clash.” The Church in Poland would not go down that road, said Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki at that time.
“If a marriage has been validly concluded, there are no grounds for giving Holy Communion if the person is divorced and remarried,” he added.
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