CARDINAL WUERL JOINS ARGENTINA AND MALTA IN OPENING THE DOOR TO HOLY COMMUNION FOR THOSE LIVING IN ADULTERY

A demur on the AOW document implementing Amoris laetitia

March 5, 2018

A single sentence threatens to undercut the good presented in “Sharing in the Joy of Love”, the graphically-attractive, 55-page pastoral plan published by the Archdiocese of Washington (DC) to implement Pope Francis’ document Amoris laetitia.

The problem sentence reads as follows: “Priests are called to respect the decisions made in conscience by individuals who act in good faith since no one can enter the soul of another and make that judgment for them.” SJL, p. 52.

This admonition can, of course, be appropriately applied in innumerable situations. But, if  the sentence means that priests must “respect the decision” of divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics, living as though married to each other, to approach for holy Communion, and administer the Sacrament to them, then the admonition fails for violating Canon 915 and the Eucharistic discipline which that canon has always represented.

I say “if”, however, because whether that is  what SJL calls for is not clear. The words “canon”, “law”, and “discipline”, for example, do not appear in SJL. Canon 915 is never mentioned—not attacked, mind, just never mentioned.

What makes one fear, however, that the sentence might be intended to sway ministers of holy Communion toward administration of the Eucharist under gravely illicit conditions—besides the fact that ministers so inclined could easily invoke SJL’s phrasing here in support of precisely such administration—is that the rational offered for such a stance, namely, that “no one can enter the soul of another and make [a conscience] judgment for them”, is repeatedly put forth these days as if a would-be communicant’s conscience preempted a minister’s application of Canon 915.

But the claim that Canon 915 yields to the conclusions of personal conscience as reached by a Catholic approaching for holy Communion is, as I have pointed out many, many times, completely wrong. Canon 915, and the tradition upon which it stands, operate in the face of observable behavior and not personal conscience. Civil marriage after divorce is observable behavior, behavior that is gravely contrary to Christ’s teaching on the permanence of marriage, to the Christian’s duty to avoid giving scandal, and to the Church’s law on reception of the sacraments.

In short, if encouraging ministers to give holy Communion to divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics is indeed what SJL intends by its wording here, then SJL is wrong; even if such is the use that some ministers intend to make of this passage in SJL, they are using the ambiguous wording of this sentence to avoid the clear directives of canon law and sacramental discipline.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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3 Responses to CARDINAL WUERL JOINS ARGENTINA AND MALTA IN OPENING THE DOOR TO HOLY COMMUNION FOR THOSE LIVING IN ADULTERY

  1. Mary Anne says:

    A word is left out (as usual) in order to deceive. “Priests are called to respect the decisions made by a ‘CORRECT’ conscience….

    As far as ‘no on can enter the soul ‘ … isn’t that the job of the priest to ask questions which enter into the soul and extract and make known to himself the condition of the penitent by the answers the priest receives. And then CORRECT it? Long ago and far away we learned that we should strive for a correct conscience by examination of same while checking out the Commandments, etc.

  2. vasheepdog94 says:

    We all know what will happen given the history of that ArchDiocese! Pray that it won’t!

  3. Terri Bradley says:

    Soooo……let me get this straight. The ‘application’ of Amoris Lamentia (my renaming of this terrible encyclical) is going to be ‘interpreted’ and put into practice by each individual diocese in the U.S. and not the USCCB?? Not only will this cause even more confusion than I anticipated but it is the dismantling of ‘ONE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH’. Where I am, Cardinal Cupich will adopt Cardinal Wuerl’s practice, but Bishop Paprocki, south of us (I can assure you) will not. There is no doubt that as the Blessed Mother has told us, it will be: “Bishop against Bishop, and Cardinal against Cardinal.”…….LITERALLY. No longer will we be ONE, even within the U.S.

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