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March 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The sparring between so-called progressive and traditional cardinals and bishops that has died down since the Synod on the Family is about to be sparked again. Many have asked about the relative silence even in the face of significant papal faux pas such as the contraception remarks on the return flight from Mexico and the praise for Italy’s leading abortion promoter.

Timing is a key to understanding the current state of affairs. As was hinted at earlier, Pope Francis’ post-synod Apostolic Exhortation is to be released this month. According to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, the signature date – not the release date – is March 19

Given the controversy from the Synods and its final document, the contentious issues due to erupt soon are a decentralization of doctrinal authority to national bishops conferences, the matter of the supremacy of conscience as applied to contraception and other aspects of human sexuality, homosexual civil unions and indissolubility of marriage, not to mention Holy Communion for remarried divorcees.

While the matter of Holy Communion for remarried divorcees was the focal point of much of the struggle seen in the media, the exhortation will not be granting an immediate blanket permission for such reception. On that fateful return flight from Mexico that sparked the contraception crisis, Pope Francis stated plainly that while he is all for “integrating” remarried divorcees into the Church, that “doesn’t mean receiving communion.” He added:

I know married Catholics in a second union who go to church, who go to church once or twice a year and say I want communion, as if joining in Communion were an award. It’s a work towards integration, all doors are open, but we cannot say, ‘from here on they can have communion.’ This would be an injury also to marriage, to the couple, because it wouldn’t allow them to proceed on this path of integration. And those two were happy. They used a very beautiful expression: we don’t receive Eucharistic communion, but we receive communion when we visit hospitals and in this and this and this. Their integration is that. If there is something more, the Lord will tell them, but it’s a path, a road.

That things are about to get heated again among the hierarchy can be seen by the first shot across the bow in an interview published today in the largest daily newspaper of Cologne, Germany.  Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said that with the clear words of Christ concerning marriage, one “cannot make a compromise, with which we men would turn the clear Word of God into something vague.”

When the newspaper, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, asked about the possibility of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried couples, Cardinal Muller quoted Pope Saint John Paul II, noting that such could be permitted if the couple “live together as brother and sister.” The reporter retorted with the idea of German Bishops Conference President Cardinal Reinhard Marx that such a practice – living as brother and sister – would not be possible.

Mueller replied: “That is also what the Apostles were thinking when Jesus explained to them the indissolubility of marriage (see Matthew 19:10). But what seems to us humans to be impossible, is possible with the Grace of God.”

Translations from the German by Maike Hickson for Rorate Caeli.


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