Pope's letter to Argentine bishops 'authentic magisterium'

Amoris Laetitia (CNS)

Describing them as “authentic magisterium,” Pope Francis ordered the official publication of his letter to Argentine bishops on their guidelines for the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, CNS reports.

According to a brief note by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Pope Francis wanted his letter and the bishops’ document relating to his apostolic exhortation on the family to be published on the Vatican website and in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official record of Vatican documents and acts.

The papal letter, dated September 5, 2016, was written in response to guidelines published by the bishops in the Church’s Buenos Aires region. Pope Francis said the bishops’ document “explains precisely the meaning of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. There are no other interpretations.”

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, told CNS yesterday, “The fact that the Pope requested that his letter and the interpretations of the Buenos Aires bishops be published in the AAS means that His Holiness has given these documents a particular qualification that elevates them to the level of being official teachings of the Church.

“While the content of the Pope’s letter itself does not contain teachings on faith and morals, it does point toward the interpretations of the Argentine bishops and confirms them as authentically reflecting his own mind,” the Cardinal said. “Thus together the two documents became the Holy Father’s authentic magisterium for the whole Church.”

The eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia, is titled, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness,” and is the most debated chapter of the document. It urges pastors to assist those whose marriages have faltered and help them feel part of the Church community. It also outlines a process that could lead divorced and civilly remarried Catholics back to the sacraments.

Some Church leaders and theologians have insisted reception of the sacraments is impossible for such couples unless they receive an annulment of their sacramental marriage or abstain from sexual relations with their new partner.

The Buenos Aires document said the path of discernment proposed by Pope Francis “does not necessarily end in the sacraments,” but should, first of all, help the couple recognise their situation, understand Church teaching on the permanence of marriage and take steps toward living a more Christian life.

“When feasible,” the guidelines said, divorced and civilly remarried couples should be encouraged to abstain from sexual relations, which would allow them to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist.

While there is no such thing as “unrestricted access to the sacraments,” the Bishops said, in some situations, after a thorough process of discernment and examination of the culpability of the individual in the failure of the sacramental marriage, the Pope’s exhortation “opens the possibility” to reception of the sacraments.


Pope’s letter to Argentine bishops on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ part of official record (CNS)


Analysis: The Pope’s dramatic – and confusing – move on Communion (Catholic Herald)

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