by Deacon Nick Donnelly, founder of the suppressed blog Protect the Pope
In three months time a couple of hundred bishops, cardinals and lay experts from around the world will convene in Rome to take part in the Extraordinary Synod on the “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. I must admit that, along with many other faithful Catholics, I view this prospect with a sense of growing concern. This is not a theoretical or academic concern, but a very personal concern that involves my life and important decisions I’ve made.
Like many other faithful Catholics I’ve been convinced by what the Church teaches about divorce and re-marriage, IVF, contraception, euthanasia, and countless other moral teachings. And with the minority of Catholics who remain faithful to the fullness of the Church’s teaching I have made life-changing decisions based on the assumption that the Church would forever stand by these categorical moral truths, because they are founded on ‘God’s message and not some human thinking’ (I Thess 2:13). I follow the Church’s moral teaching because great teachers throughout her history, and recently St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have taught me that it expresses divine truths that liberate me from sin, save me from hell, and enable me to live as a child of God.
The source of my growing concern is the persistent report that the Synod may consider changing one of the Church’s categorical moral teachings that divorced and re-married Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion. This is one of the fixed moral compass points of Catholic morality that can be traced all the way back to the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ that those who divorce and re-marry commit adultery (Mark 10:11-12). This is divine truth and not some human thinking and no synod, cardinal, bishop or theologian can change this.
What are the grounds for these concerns? Pope Francis’ interview with journalists on the flight back from Rio’s World Youth Day [WYD] in 2013 has been taken by some cardinals and bishops as the Holy Father giving permission for them to consider allowing divorced and re-married to receive Holy Communion. Here are Pope Francis’ actual words:
‘With reference to the issue of giving communion to persons in a second union (because those who are divorced can receive communion, there is no problem, but when they are in a second union, they can’t…), I believe that we need to look at this within the larger context of the entire pastoral care of marriage. And so it is a problem. But also – a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance, they allow it. But I believe that this problem – and here I close the parenthesis – must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage.’
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