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Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia speaks at the Major Seminary of Queretaro, Mexico on March 17, 2018.Matthew Cullinan Hoffman / LifeSiteNews

MEXICO, March 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Vatican archbishop Vincenzo Paglia expressed his frustration at the widespread controversy caused by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia during a recent stop on a Vatican campaign to secure acceptance of the document among the clergy. 

“Enough of debating all of this!” shouted Paglia before an audience gathered in the seminary of the Mexican diocese of Queretaro. “Enough!” he repeated.

People are living in an “existential tragedy” in second marriages, and “it’s time to put an end to this discussion” and to “begin to receive people” in such situations into the Church, Paglia said.

The archbishop also told his audience that it is necessary to “change the form of the Church” to conform to Pope Francis’ doctrines on divorced and remarried Catholics contained in Amoris Laetitia’s controversial chapter 8.

Paglia, who heads the Vatican’s reconstructed Pontifical Academy for Life, was visiting the Mexican diocese of Queretaro on Friday and Saturday of last week, where he sought to answer objections to Amoris laetitia’s controversial provisions.

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Paglia’s talk in Queretaro appears to be part of a Vatican campaign to convince Catholics to accept Amoris laetitia’s novel doctrines, which contradict the traditional discipline of the Church, as well as directives laid down by Pope John Paul II. Vatican officials have been sent to other dioceses as well, including recent talks scheduled in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, and the Diocese of Austin. 

New Vatican strategy on Amoris laetitia?

Paglia’s talk seemed to be following a new strategy to divert attention from the document’s controversial teaching that divorced and invalidly remarried Catholics may receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances. The archbishop called it “lamentable” that the debate has been focused almost exclusively on that topic, and used his talk to push instead for Amoris laetitia’s doctrine that such couples should be integrated into positions of liturgical and educational involvement in parishes. 

“As President of the Pontifical Council for Life, I have spoken to many, many people who are divorced and not remarried, and many people who are divorced and remarried,” said Paglia, “and they have all told me of the lack of welcome, that they are not well-received in any parish, that they aren’t accompanied by anyone. And they don’t ask about receiving communion. They speak about being listened to, being welcomed.”

Paglia’s decision to emphasize the teaching of Amoris laetitia, which permits divorced and remarried couples to be fully integrated into parish life, follows the recent announcement that one of the pope’s closest advisors, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, is implementing such a policy in his own Italian diocese, permitting divorced and invalidly remarried couples to function as lectors, catechists, and godparents. 

Semeraro’s plan has been publicly condemned by eminent canon lawyer Edward Peters, who recently wrote that the Code of Canon Law, particularly canon 804, was being “assailed” by such policies. Canon 804 requires religious educators to be “outstanding . . . in the witness of a Christian life.” It also contradicts long-standing interpretations of Catholic doctrine by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Pope Francis is fulfilling Pope John Paul II’s own doctrines, says Paglia

Archbishop Paglia argued that Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio contains, by implication, the doctrine of Amoris laetitia that divorced and invalidly remarried couples should be permitted to read the Scriptures during the Mass, to function as catechists and teachers of the Catholic faith, and to function as godparents at baptisms. 

Paglia reminded the audience that in paragraph 84, Familiaris consortio teaches that divorced and remarried Catholics are not “separated” from the Church, and should be encouraged to participate in its life. This, he claims, leads to the conclusion that they should be allowed to carry out liturgical, educational, and sacramental sponsorship roles in the Church, and calls the doctrine the “buried talent” in Familiaris consortio, which Pope Francis has “dug up” and made to “bear fruit” in Amoris laetitia.

“I am sure that John Paul II is applauding Pope Francis” regarding Amoris laetitia, said Paglia.

“If all of the priests . . . had listened to paragraph eighty-four of Familiaris consortio thirty years ago, we would have a Church today that was completely transformed!” Paglia later added. 

However, Paglia’s characterization of Pope John Paul II’s intentions for Familiaris consortio appear to be inconsistent with the behavior of the deceased pope’s own appointed officials. 

Under the leadership of presidents appointed by Pope John Paul II, the Italian Bishops’ Conference twice condemned the notion of allowing divorced and invalidly remarried Catholics to carry out such functions. The two documents, The Pastoral Care of those who are Divorced and Remarried (1979), and the Directory of Family Pastoral Care (1990), expressly state that divorced and remarried couples cannot act as Mass lectors, catechists, or godparents. 

The first of the two documents also denies the notion that divorced and remarried Catholics are fully in union with the Church, noting that “the participation of those who are divorced and remarried in the life of the Church remains conditioned by the fact that they are not fully members of it.”

Archbishop Paglia refused to be interviewed by LifeSite following the conference, and written questions submitted to him through an associate have received no response. 


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