Those of the bishops of Malta are only the latest of the instructions that some bishops have given in their respective dioceses, on how to interpret and put into practice “Amoris Laetitia.”
Instructions that often contradict each other, so that in one diocese communion for the divorced and remarried who live “more uxorio” is allowed, while in another diocese, perhaps even a neighboring one, it is not.
But there’s more. It even happens that in some dioceses both the “yes” and “no” are officially allowed, the two together.
This is the case, for example, with the archdiocese of Florence.
Here the archbishop, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, has initiated a “diocesan course of formation” to instruct priests and faithful on the correct interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia.”
In the first part of the course, last October 8, for a general introduction to the document of Pope Francis Betori brought in Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, his predecessor as archbishop of Florence and then president from 2008 to 2012 of the pontifical council for the family, an authority on the subject.
Antonelli laid down instructions in perfect continuity with the magisterium of the preceding popes, and therefore ruled out communion for the divorced and remarried who live “more uxorio.” And he kept this ban in place despite the fact that a few days before, in the diocese of Rome, cardinal vicar Agostino Vallini had given the go-ahead for communion with the approval of Francis:
After which, once a month, Betori has been bringing in other speakers, to illustrate one after the other the various chapters of “Amoris Laetitia.”
But to whom should be entrusted, on March 25, the task of laying down the guidelines for interpreting the eighth chapter, the most controversial one?
To Monsignor Basilio Petrà, president of the Italian moral theologians, who is one of the most fervent supporters of the go-ahead on communion for the divorced and remarried.
In an extensive commentary on the synodal exhortation published last April in the magazine “Il Regno,” Petrà even declared it “unnecessary” to consult a priest and the sacramental internal forum, meaning confession, in order to “discern” if a divorced and remarried person may receive communion.
“The enlightened faithful could reach the decision that in his case there is no need for confession.”
And he explained:
“It is [in fact] entirely possible that a person may not have the adequate moral awareness and/or may not have the freedom to act differently, and that, in spite of doing something considered objectively grave, may not be committing a grave sin in the moral sense and therefore may not have the duty to confess in order to receive the Eucharist. ‘Amoris Laetitia’ at no. 301 clearly alludes to this doctrine.”
As if to say: everyone free to do it himself, whether he be “enlightened” or unaware.
March 25 is a couple of months away. And from now until then, for the clergy and faithful what should continue to apply is the “no” dictated and substantiated by Cardinal Antonelli.
But after March 25 the “yes” will also have official status. In the same diocese. And it comes as a surprise that “dubia” should then emerge over the clarity of “Amoris Laetitia”?
(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)