Father Denis Puga, a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, comments on the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia released on April 8, 2016.
By way of two major decisions in the course of one year—the reform of the process for handling marriage nullity cases last September and the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the post-synodal exhortation on the family this month—Pope Francis has caused a significant breach in the dogmas of the sacraments of marriage and of the Holy Eucharist.
The media has rushed into this breach, and no official statement has come from Rome to correct their false interpretations. Their headlines clearly point out the source of the trouble: a door has been opened to Communion for the divorced and remarried (Le Figaro, April 8, 2016).
In this impressively long document (260 pages!) which claims to be pastoral and not doctrinal, it is towards the end (in cauda venenum; the sting is in the tail), especially starting from ¶296 in Chapter 8, Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness, where an entire assemblage of statements and guidelines are set forth, which, if put into practice, will destroy the unchanging teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage.
The Catholic Church has always taught that the Sacrament of Matrimony is indissoluble, that persons who have been divorced and consequently have attempted to contract a new union are public sinners, and, because of this are living publicly in a near and deliberately chosen occasion of sin and thus cannot be in a state of grace. For this reason they may not approach the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament of the love of God. Persons in this situation indeed cannot truthfully tell God they love Him above all things, since publicly, officially, and through a supposedly stable contractual bond, they are refusing Him fidelity to a promise they made to Him before His Church on the day of their religious marriage, a promise to be faithful to their spouse for life.
Chapter Eight of Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation presents a graduated morality. There is the ideal: Christian marriage, reaffirmed as indissoluble, a magnificent ideal to be sure, but difficult to achieve in the concrete situations of the contemporary world. (Here we recognize the threadbare liberal theory of distinction between thesis and hypothesis.) But, specifically, there are also all the stable situations that do not conform to the Christian ideal (meaning: cohabiting couples, civil marriages, etc.) In these situations, the document says, “Respect also can be shown for those signs of love which in some way reflect God’s own love” (¶294). "When such unions attain a particular stability, legally recognized, are characterized by deep affection and responsibility for their offspring, and demonstrate an ability to overcome trials, they can provide occasions for pastoral care with a view to the eventual celebration of the sacrament of marriage.” (¶293)
In summary, the conclusion drawn from these words would necessarily be that a couple’s sinful lifestyle is a step towards the holiness of Christian marriage. Here we find the conciliar principle of “semen veritatis,” a seed of the truth, a principle already applied in false ecumenism: the membership of non-Catholic communities is a path towards adherence to the true Church of Christ! Did not Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, praise the attitude of one of his friends, a homosexual, who had entered into a stable union after several temporary and fleeting relationships! (Cardinal Schönborn: “A stable homosexual union is preferable to an affair.” La Vie, September 16, 2015.)
Ultimately, for these people access to the Eucharist would remain a matter of personal discernment. This is what ¶300 of the exhortation implies when it says, "What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since ‘the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases,’ the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same,” and especially as footnote 336 specifies, “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists.”
Indeed, (¶301) states, “hence it is can [sic] no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”
In truth it must be recognized: this last sentence contains the whole moral revolution of the exhortation. In the end, everything is a matter of individual conscience; this is pure subjectivism. This exhortation is the ruin of Catholic moral teaching on sin.
Let us not be lulled into being calmed by those who will rush to emphasize that the document specifically states it is not magisterial on this issue, but merely intends to provide pastoral guidelines on points that can legitimately be discussed (see ¶3) concerning Church discipline. That is merely window dressing, because it is through practice that doctrine takes root. For example, one can recall that Paul VI contented himself with granting a very limited indult for Communion in the hand for pastoral reasons, all the while asking that the traditional manner of receiving be retained. Everyone knows what happened: the practice of Communion in the hand is now practically universal. This is what will happen with the opening made by this document, an opening that is much more serious than Communion in the hand! Allowing some divorced and remarried persons to receive Communion and leaving the discernment to their consciences is a public declaration that Christian marriage is not intrinsically indissoluble, and it opens the road to sacramental remarriage and therefore to heresy.
One does not expect that the successor of Peter will, in pontifical documents, express a purely personal and extremely subversive concept of pastoral mercy.
This is the second time in less than a year that Pope Francis has caused a breach that weakens the sacrament of marriage. From the one whose duty it is to be the guardian of the Deposit of Faith, this is a terrible disaster for the salvation of souls and the future of the Church. But Christ promised us the gates of hell will not prevail against her.