Update October 20, 2017: Spokesman of The Polish Bishops' Conference Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik reached out to LifeSiteNews to clarify that the guidelines have “not been finalised nor even published as work on it is still ongoing.” He suggested that the excerpts published by Marco Tosatti in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, which were used in our report, may not be accurate. Our report has been updated to relect this.
LUBLIN, Poland, October 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Conference of Polish Bishops is gearing to finalize guidelines for implementing Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia that allegedly adhere to perennial Catholic teaching of refusing Holy Communion to remarried Catholics living in adultery.
The guidelines, examined at the bishops’ General Assembly that met last week in Lublin, make it clear that Pope Francis’ teaching on ‘accompaniment’ must be interpreted according to previous Catholic teaching. The guidelines have not yet been publicly released, but Marco Tosatti Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana has published excerpts from what appears to be an unfinalized leaked copy.
The guidelines allegedly state that Catholics who are sacramentally married and who have entered into a new relationship, either informally or civilly, are in a situation that “prevents them from receiving absolution and receiving Holy Communion.”
“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,” the guidelines state according to Tosatti in a translation by Catholic Herald.
“To remain in the sin of adultery prevents them from receiving absolution and receiving Holy Communion,” the guidelines add.
The guidelines come four months after the bishops stated in a declaration that Catholics in adulterous relationships should be led to “true conversion and reconciliation with children born in this union and the sacramental spouse.”
The bishops’ guidelines stress what form authentic accompaniment must take for Catholics living in “irregular” situations.
Priests are encouraged to accompany cohabiting couples who have no canonical impediments to the “full acceptance of the Gospel, preparation for marriage, and if possible, until then, the practice of chastity and separation.”
Catholic couples who are joined civilly, but not sacramentally, and who have no impediments to being joined sacramentally in marriage must be accompanied with “patience, but without access to the sacraments.”
Remarried Catholics for whom it is not possible to separate, for instance, because of children, and who “sincerely repent and decide before the confessor to live in full continence, that is to abstain from intercourse, can receive sacramental absolution and receive Communion” when scandal is avoided.
The bishops back their teaching with citations from Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1994 Letter to Bishops.
The Polish bishops have maintained a strong front in defense of Catholic teaching during Francis’ pontificate.
The bishops' work on the guidelines comes a year and a half after the release of Amoris Laetitia. The exhortation 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.
It was over this issue of Communion for the remarried that four Cardinals issued five formal questions (dubia) to Pope Francis, asking him if his teaching conformed to perennial Catholic teaching. They specifically asked him if Amoris Laetitia allows habitual adulterous couples to be granted absolution and to receive Holy Communion. So far, the Pope has refused to answer their questions. In the meantime, two of the Cardinals have died.
Last month, more than 60 Catholic clergy and lay scholars issued a “filial correction” to Pope Francis for “propagating heresy.” Listed among the “words, deeds and omissions” of Pope Francis that they say promote heresy are the Pope’s endorsements of interpretations of his Exhortation that allow Communion to be given to adulterers.
The signers explicitly call it a heresy that “Our Lord Jesus Christ wills that the Church abandon her perennial discipline of refusing the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried … who do not express contrition for their state of life and a firm purpose of amendment with regard to it.”