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Cardinal Blase Cupich

CHICAGO, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — American Cardinal Blase Cupich has written a glowing introduction to the English translation of a high-ranking Vatican prelate’s new book that calls for Holy Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery as well as to cohabiting Catholics. 

Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, states that Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s new book titled A Commentary on Chapter Eight of Amoris Laetitia “fully complies with traditional Church teaching on marriage but is also in conformity with accepted standards of a pastoral approach that is positive and constructive.”

“His exegesis of the document’s treatment of the subjective conditions of conscience and the role of pastoral discernment highlights the real-life circumstances people face, and the mitigating factors which must be taken into consideration,” Cupich said. 

“He wisely counsels us that instead of being fearful when controversies about the faith arise, the teaching Church should rather embrace them as opportunities to be the good scribe of the Kingdom who, Jesus tells us, is 'like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,'” he added.

The book was published in English last month by Paulist Press. It was originally published in Italian by the Vatican's own publishing house in February. ​

Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts, argues in his book that Amoris Laetitia “could allow access to Penance and the Eucharist for the faithful who find themselves in an irregular union.” He explains “irregular union” applies to “all those who are married only civilly or living with a de facto union or tied to a previous canonical marriage.”

He argues that Amoris Laetitia allows for Catholic couples regularly committing acts of adultery to only have a “desire to change and the inability to do so” in order to receive Holy Communion. 

“When the faithful who live in irregular situations are allowed access to the Eucharistic table, this means that the faithful themselves, in the judgment of the Church which knows their situation, confirms that the two conditions, which must always be considered essential, have been satisfied: the desire to change and the inability to do so,” he states.

Cupich told Salt and Light’s Fr. Thomas Rosica in a recent interview that Coccopalmerio’s book “puts to rest the fact that the pope has in any way changed [the] teaching of the Church.”

“He [Coccopalmerio] says the Pope clearly has the teaching of the Church in mind, and so on. But what the Pope does — and he goes into it at some length — help us understand, is that the moral culpability of individuals with regard to particular aspects of the moral life is not always the same. That’s why discernment has to take place. And so, he unpacks that in a very beautiful way and offers, I think, some wonderful insights,” Cupich said. 

But critics say that if Amoris Laetitia is interpreted as allowing civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, then it can only be seen as a break from previous Catholic teaching. 

Indeed, Saint John Paul II in his 1981 post-synodal Exhortation Familiaris Consortio 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 taught. 

“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. 

Earlier in the interview, Cupich defended Amoris Laetitia as “in sync and faithful to” John Paul II’s teaching. 

“I think it [Amoris Laetitia] is totally in sync and faithful to not just Familiaris Consortio but the tradition of the Church in terms of how we look at various issues in the lives of people,” he said. 

Earlier this week, the Conference of Polish Bishops decided to follow John Paul II’s teaching on not admitting divorced Catholics who have civilly remarried to Holy Communion. 

The Catholic Church teaches that Catholics must be in the state of grace (free from mortal sin) to receive Holy Communion. This teaching comes from St. Paul, who warns that the one who “eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” and “eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 

Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter praised Coccopalmerio’s book for its clarity in explaining the real purpose of Amoris Laetitia. 

“This book makes me want to join a book club with Cardinal Raymond Burke and the staff at EWTN and read through this text together. It could not be more clear. … In dealing with the complexities of life, it could not be more simple, just as Pope Francis regularly reaches into the simplicity of the Gospel in his words and, even more, his gestures,” he said.