March 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki to mark the second anniversary of his election, Pope Francis appeared to suggest that those who expect the Church to allow Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics are being unrealistic.
The interview was published both in audio and transcript on the Vatican news website on March 13.
Confusion over the issue has been widespread, with high-ranking cardinals and bishops openly expressing opposing views on the matter and with no clarifications forthcoming from the pope. Even the current interview, while it suggests that Pope Francis is opposed to the proposal, which has been championed by the pope's close friend and confidante Cardinal Walter Kasper, leaves many questions.
In posing the question about the issue to Pope Francis, the reporter assumes that divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion, but then asks further about openness to homosexuals. Pope Francis begins his response saying, “I think you have unrealistic expectations.”
The Spanish spoken by the pope in the interview is conversational, making it difficult to determine his precise meaning. He frequently interjects with a negative as an affirmative – the Spanish equivalent of ‘would it not’ or ‘does it not’?
The pope spoke of “how to integrate into the life of the Church these families, ‘re-play’ families.”
“There are second unions,” he said, “which are sometimes phenomenal … can we say that this was a failure?” But he then returned to the issue of “how to reintegrate them.”
Francis called it a simplification to give people in such unions Communion because with that “we are not fixing anything.” He added, “What the church wants is for you to integrate your life into the life of the Church.”
“There are some who say: ‘No, I wish to take communion and that's that.’” But the pope characterized this as making Communion a symbol or an honorific. To which he retorts, “No. Reintegrate.”
That being said, however, Pope Francis noted that there are “seven things that divorced people can't do according to the present legislation.” He suggested strongly that he disagreed with at least one of those restrictions.
Repeating what he said in a December interview, the pope suggested that the rule forbidding divorced and remarried Catholics from being godparents should be changed.
Why shouldn’t they be godparents, asked the pope. “What testimony will this give the godchild? The testimony of saying, ‘Look dear, I was mistaken in my life, now I'm in this situation. I am Catholic. The principles are these. I do this and I'll accompany you.’”
The pope called this a “testimony of truth,” suggesting that there is a great contradiction in the Church in that while divorced and remarried Catholics cannot be godparents, a mobster, criminal or murderer could be chosen as godfather without trouble.
Catholic guidance on the selection of godparents typically forbids all those living in a continuous state of mortal sin from being godparents, not restricting the exclusion to those divorced and remarried. As one such guide explains, the godparent is to be “a Christian model role who abides by the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Thus excluded from eligibility would be those involved in same-sex relationships, “someone who is living common-law, and/or someone who favours abortions, and/or someone who has not stepped inside a Catholic Church for years, therefore not practicing his/her faith, and/or a person living in a continuous state of mortal sin due to immorality.”