U.S. bishop refuses to say if Amoris Laetitia allows adulterers to receive Communion
Update at 2:13 p.m. on November 14: The U.S. bishops voted 223 to 12 to develop a “formal statement” of a Renewed Pastoral Plan for Marriage and Family Life Ministry and Advocacy in light of Amoris Laetitia. Three bishops abstained from voting.
BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Representing the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, refused to say this afternoon whether Amoris Laetitia allows Catholics living in adultery to receive Holy Communion.
“That’s not an answer I’m going to provide for you,” Malone said.
He’d been asked point-blank by a representative of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property: “Does Amoris Laetitia allow permanent Catholics living in adultery to receive Communion?”
“The whole point of my presence here and the presence earlier in the assembly ... was to advance the pastoral plan on marriage, the hope of which is to help people enter into and live happier, holier, healthier, deeper marriages and to form consciences about what marriage is,” Malone continued. “So, hopefully going forward, we’ll have – this is a hope and a prayer and a goal – we’ll have fewer broken marriages and divorces.”
“It’s not in my provenance to respond to that question right here,” he concluded.
This morning, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) discussed the creation of a new “pastoral plan” on marriage and family in light of Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia. They voted on whether to begin creating such a pastoral statement. The vote was done by paper; its results are expected to be announced this afternoon.
Malone told his fellow bishops a USCCB statement of this nature would be “an important” way to respond to Amoris Laetitia.
“A pastoral plan would encourage a broader reading of Amoris Laetitia and seek to advance more conversation and engagement around strengthening marriage and family life,” said Malone.
“It would be a framework and resource” on marriage and family, he said. Its four proposed pillars would be “prayer and faithful witness,” “pastoral ministry and accompaniment,” “education on marriage and family life,” and “public policy and advocacy.”
“I just think it’s really been a tragedy that the reception of this document has been so poor,” Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said during the discussion. A guidance like this would be an opportunity for bishops to “seize control” of the debate over the exhortation, which Barron noted has been largely focused on chapter 8.
Chapter 8 is the infamous chapter in which Pope Francis seemingly suggested those living unrepentantly in a state of adultery may receive Holy Communion. The Catholic Church has always taught that doing so would be sacrilege. The pope hasn’t clarified if this is what he meant, despite receiving a dubia, or formal request, from four cardinals asking him about it.
Chapter 8 “got all of the headlines, so to speak,” former USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said. “I fully support our moving forward” in the creation of this plan.
Barron called Amoris Laetitia an “extraordinarily rich document.” His comments were met with light applause.
Malone spoke about creating a pastoral plan because Archbishop Charles Chaput, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, is in Rome preparing for the next synod, which is on youth.
Other bishops weighed in on the need to address the economic disparity between married couples and unmarried couples and the need to emphasize young adults.
At their November 2016 meeting, the bishops first began discussing their response to Amoris Laetitia. Kurtz wouldn’t say exactly where the document stands on Communion for the divorced and remarried.
Pope Francis “very clearly” said he has no desire to “make any canonical changes or any new doctrine” related to Amoris Laetitia, Kurtz told LifeSiteNews, but “we do need to school ourselves a little more in the rightful use of the internal forum.”