Bridget Mary's Response:
These guidelines affirm thee primacy of conscience and is a positive step forward. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
VATICAN CITY — "The Vatican is making clear Pope Francis supports letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion under certain conditions by publishing a set of new guidelines in the pope’s own newspaper that go beyond even what he has said.
The Catholic Church in Malta issued the guidelines Friday on applying the divisive Chapter VIII of Francis’ document on family life that concerns ministering to Catholics in “irregular” family situations.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the guidelines in full.
The Maltese church said that if a Catholic in a new civil union believes, after a path of spiritual discernment searching for God’s will that he or she can be at peace with God, “he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”
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Church teaching holds that unless divorced Catholics receive an annulment — or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid — they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion.
For a variety of reasons such annulments often cannot be obtained. Citing Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, some conservatives have insisted the rules are fixed and that the only way these Catholics can receive Communion is to abstain from sex.
Progressives have sought wiggle room to balance doctrine with mercy and look at each couple on a case-by-case basis. In his 2016 document “The Joy of Love,” Francis said pastors should help individual Catholics ascertain what God is asking of them. Using vague language and footnotes, he linked such discussions of conscience with access to the sacraments.
The Maltese bishops go further and say flat out that if certain conditions are met, these Catholics cannot be excluded from the sacraments."