"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Friday, March 16, 2018

Are Polish Bishops Leaning Towards Allowing Some Remarried Divorcees Holy Communion?

Are Polish Bishops Leaning Towards Allowing Some Remarried Divorcees Holy Communion?

Ahead of the publication of pastoral guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, the bishops have stressed the importance of discernment and accompaniment for some divorced and remarried Catholics although it is not clear if that means they can receive Holy Communion.

In a statement issued after a two-day plenary meeting, the bishops stressed the importance of “discernment, accompaniment and inclusion” in dealing with such cases, according to the Polish website Polonia Christiana Pch24.
The Polish bishops' conference, the statement reads, “continues an in-depth reflection on the forms of caring for marriage and family in the light of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
It adds that “while preserving the teaching of the Church, the bishops draw attention to the necessity of accompanying marriages, both on the path of their sacramental fidelity and in the discernment of their irregular situations.”
“Emphasizing the irreplaceable role of the sacrament of marriage, they thank spouses for their testimony of lasting love and commitment in the life of the Church,” the statement ends.
Polish Church observers say the statement gives an important indication ahead of pastoral guidelines the bishops are expected to issue on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. That document has been in the works for nearly two years. 
Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warszawa-Praga said the reason for the delay is because Amoris Laetitia is a “multifaceted” and “very extensive” document and “much more capacious” than previous ones, although some insiders say it is because of divisions within the Polish hierarchy over whether or not to strictly adhere to John Paul II's teaching on Holy Communion and remarried divorcees, or to follow a more liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.
Archbishop Hoser said that although Amoris Laetitia is not a dogmatic document, it “shows the confirmation of the Church’s teaching, also in the previous pontificates.”
The archbishop said the document “introduces a completely new format into our pastoral care” based on the words  “‘accompaniment’ and ‘discernment.’”
Pch24 asked the archbishop how the other bishops addressed the concerns about giving Holy Communion to those living in an objective state of adultery.
In response, Archbishop Hoser said “the doctrine is clear, but the situations vary.” He added that although the conditions for the admission of the Eucharist must be clear, “we are aware of the fact that human situations are very different and complex.” On this issue, he said, “this process of discernment must lead to a clear diagnosis of the situation and a clear decision.”
But some are expressing clear disappointment with this week’s meeting and Archbishop Hoser's comments, as they believe they show the Polish bishops could be leaning towards allowing Holy Communion for some remarried divorcees not living in a state of sexual continence, after a period of discernment and accompaniment and in accordance with their conscience. They are also concerned about words from Bishop Jana Wątroby who reportedly said the adjudication of the invalidity of a marriage should rest with confessors.
The news of this week’s plenary meeting follows two ongoing lay initiatives in Poland that urge the bishops to defend and uphold the Church’s teaching. The first is a petition, called Polonia Semper Fidelis (Poland Always Faithful), which has so far raised over 145,000 signatures and calls on the bishops to defend and uphold the traditional teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage in their forthcoming document.
The signatories are concerned that any weakening of Pope John Paul II’s teaching, which they say is clearly stated in Familiaris Consortio, would strongly affect laypersons living in sacramental marriages.
They are therefore asking Polish bishops not to “yield to the modernist fashion” and to “refuse to accept the admission of divorced persons living in new relationships to Holy Communion in spite of their persistence in sin.”
The second initiative is called Families’ Doubts, a letter to Pope Francis, cardinals and bishops which, while “highlighting the beauty of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia,” also expresses “concerns about the liberal interpretation of this document.”
The Polish bishops are expected to release their pastoral guidelines on Amoris Laetitia in the coming weeks.