Bishop Pedro Daniel Martínez Perea of San Luis, Argentina has issued a letter, on June 29 and sent to the priests of his diocese, entitled “Marriage, new unions, and the Eucharist in chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia.” The document is laudable for its clarity and notable in comparison to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, the Argentine Bishop Angel José Macin, and that of the Argentine Pope Francis himself.
Bishop Martinez Perea’s predecessor, Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, O.F.M. was one of the first signatories of the 2016 “Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline“.
Here are relevant excerpts of the letter in English translation:
If the judgment [of the tribunal] determines that there is no nullity of the Marriage bond, the marriage is and remains valid… Before this judgement, the faithful who cohabitate will be invited to take path of separation. For they would be living contrary to the teachings of the Gospel. And, therefore, if they continue in that state of cohabitation (more uxorio) while the sacramental bond with another person remains, they would be in an objective state of sin. This reality of life precludes the reception of Holy Communion, except in danger of death, because it contradicts “the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis (“SC”), February 22 2007, n. 29, AAS 99 (2007)).
3. Amoris laetitia, Eucharist, new unions and pastoral conversion
A serene and harmonious reading of Amoris laetitia implies considering it within the framework of the ecclesial and hermeneutical criterion of Lumen Gentium n. 25a. In this sense and context, it can be concluded that the Apostolic Exhortation at no point affirms that it is morally lawful for the faithful united in a new union to live more uxorio, while a valid previous marriage bond remains, or that they can receive Holy Communion while remaining in that state of life.
In addition, if it is hypothetically understood, to a greater extent (because they do not have a previous bond), it would follow that those young Christians who simply cohabitate in intimacy in a stable way could also receive Holy Communion, remaining in that state. In other words, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris laetitia, has changed in this respect neither the doctrine nor the ecclesiastical discipline, which is based on it. That is to say, the faithful united in a new union, while a valid previous marriage bond remains with another person, would be able to receive the Holy Communion, outside of danger of death, only if the conditions foreseen by the Church are fulfilled for those particular cases (cf. Supra, II.3.4 (b) [ie. living as brother and sister].
Pastoral mercy that expresses the harmony between justice and truth, since these are sometimes used as synonyms (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., II-II, 58, article 4, ad 1m: “Since the will is the rational appetite, when the rectitude of the reason which is called truth is imprinted on the will on account of its nighness to the reason, this imprint retains the name of truth.” .). Although mercy will always be “the fullness of justice and the most luminous manifestation of the truth of God” (AL # 311).
The best service of charity to the faithful is concretized in making known the Christian truth that leads them to God himself. In this sense, it would be immoral for us to confuse the faithful about the nature of Christian marriage and the mystery of the Eucharist. In addition, it would be a cause of scandal, since it would move others towards evil or it could be understood that marriage was not indissoluble. It would especially cause scandal for the broken family, the community of the faithful and the young.
4.2. Misrepresentation of Public Divine Revelation
Some interpretations insinuate a conception of public revelation that is still being made in history and was not completed with the death of the last Apostle. It gives the impression underlying an immanent-historicist statement, in which ‘God is self-revealing or self-unfolding in history and this is the self-revelation or self-unfolding of God’ (Schelling). By showing how the two concepts of this statement are univocal, the historical is given a revealing character. So Revelation and history / history and Revelation could be interpreted as equals.
If this were so, it would mean that God of ‘today’ would also be revealed through new proposals of life (even contrary to the natural order) and that the Church should in no way reject them, but only have to accept and orient them.
In this regard, some understand that as the Church discerns new realities, it finds itself in the same situation described in its beginnings when the Apostles, illumined by the Holy Spirit, made a decision about whether or not to continue the practice of circumcision as a necessity, prescribed by the Law of Moses (Acts 15), by imposing it on the Gentiles.
In the same way, some maintain that, in the face of the so-called “new situations” of life, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles also moved by the same Spirit, could affirm doctrines or even make decisions contrary in their essential aspects to those of the past, both dogmatic and moral.
All of which leads us to conclude that today the Bishops would have the charism of “constructing” the Deposit of Faith and not that of only transmitting it faithfully, preserving it, defending it from errors and explaining it within the homogeneous evolution of dogma. This kind of reflection and its consequences are contrary to the understanding that the Catholic Church has and teaches about public divine revelation (see above, I.1.1).
4.3. Possible dualistic conception of the Church
In other interpretations, two common concepts emerge as a common denominator. First of all, dogma (speculative truth) and morality (practical truth) are presented as two opposing realities in the hic et nunc.
It would also seem to insinuate an understanding of the Church as divided in two: an institutional, visible, of the letter, of the law, of dogma (the text of Amoris laetitia) and the other so-called charismatic, invisible, spirit, charity, and pastoral (some interpretations of Amoris laetitia). This is a division that was held by several thinkers throughout the history of the Church, from Tertullian to G. Tyrrel, for example. To understand the Church in this dualistic way is “simply anti-Catholic” (Pius XII). For the Church “is a complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. [… and that] by no weak analogy, is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word “(Lumen Gentium 8a). […]
Andrew Guernsey is a graduate student in governmental studies at Johns Hopkins University, where he recently received his undergraduate degree in classics and political science. He worked as an accredited journalist in Rome in 2015 during the Ordinary Synod on the Family. Andrew currently works in Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist advocating for pro-life public policy.