Browse Our Articles & Podcasts

Papal Letter Appearing to Support Communion for Divorced & Remarried Emerges

The Spanish-language Catholic journal InfoCatólica — which is based in Spain, but covers issues in Latin America as well — has published a document from the Argentine Bishops’ in response to Amoris Laetitia. They have also released a corresponding letter attributed to Pope Francis in which he praises their work, saying (according to the slightly cleaned-up machine translation we’re currently working with) “The writing is very good and fully express the meaning of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. No other interpretations.”

And yet, paragraphs 5 & 6 of the bishops’ document makes an assertion about the permissability of confession and communion for the divorced and remarried who are not living in continence that is far more concrete than what is found in the apostolic exhortation itself. See the bold sections (my emphasis) below:

1) First recall that we should not speak of “permission” to access the sacraments, but a process of discernment accompanied by a pastor. It is a “personal and pastoral” discernment (300).

2) In this way, the pastor should emphasize the fundamental announcement, the kerygma, which stimulates or renews personal encounter with the living Jesus Christ (cf. 58).

3) The pastoral care is an exercise of the ‘via caritatis “. It is an invitation to follow “the way of Jesus of mercy and integration” (296). This itinerary calls for the pastoral charity of the priest who welcomes the penitent, listens carefully and shows the maternal face of the Church, while accepting his good intention and good intention of putting entire life in the light of the Gospel and practice charity (cf. 306).

4) This way is not necessarily just in the sacraments, but may look to other ways to become more integrated into the life of the Church: a greater presence in the community, participation in prayer groups or reflection, commitment in various ecclesial services , etc. (Cf. 299).

5) If the specific circumstances of a couple making this possible, especially when both are Christians with a journey of faith, you can propose the commitment to live in continence. Amoris laetitia does not ignore the difficulties of this option (see Note 329) and leaves open the possibility to access the Sacrament of Reconciliation fails when that purpose (see footnote 364, according to the teaching of John Paul II to Cardinal W. Baum, of 22/03/1996).

6) In other more complex circumstances, and when they could not obtain a declaration of nullity, the aforementioned option may not be feasibly done. However, it is also possible a path of discernment. If you come to recognize that, in a particular case, there are limitations that lessen the responsibility and guilt (cf. 301-302), particularly when a person considers that fall in a subsequent lack damaging to the children of the new union, Amoris Laetitia opens the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (cf. notes 336 and 351). These in turn have the person to continue to mature and grow with the power of grace.

The full text of the original Spanish can bee seen here.

The full text of Pope Francis’ original letter in Spanish — written in response to this document — can be seen here.

What we do not know with certitude is whether Pope Francis did, in fact, write and sign this letter. It is being attributed to him without a scanned copy of the original. It is unlikely that this is a fake, and it has a style that seems authentic, but this will be the point of contention that will be raised by those who would prefer not to believe that a pope could endorse and promote sacrilege.

We also lack a qualified translation of the Spanish originals. (A French commentary on this has also emerged, for those who can read it.) It is unlikely that when we have one it will change much, but there are often subtle nuances and idioms that can in some way alter the meaning. The final verdict will have to wait until we can identify a translator who can nail down the text. (Unfortunately, our resources are limited in this regard.)

Nevertheless, while awaiting final confirmation, this appears to be precisely what it looks like: a direct and affirmative confirmation from the pope himself that he intended to allow those living in objective grave sin to receive the sacraments of confession and communion without the requisite repentance and alteration of life. This is sacrilege. Taken as a contradiction of the Gospels, such an assertion could arguably be considered heretical.

This is an exceedingly serious and weighty matter, and the move away from ambiguity to endorsement connects Francis even more closely to the theological censures of Amoris Laetitia to which he has a moral duty to respond.

UPDATE: LifeSiteNews has posted their own translations of the letters. Go here to see them.

Also, the bishops of the Buenos Aires region are now backtracking somewhat since their letter was made public. Infocatolica is also casting doubt on the veracity of the papal approval letter. As the old saying goes, “never believe something until it has been officially denied.” If their re-positioning becomes a story, we’ll let you know.

UPDATE 2: I failed to mention that LifeSiteNews has an actual scanned copy of the original papal letter. Unless it’s an intentional forgery, it has what appears to be the pope’s unique signature on it.

139 thoughts on “Papal Letter Appearing to Support Communion for Divorced & Remarried Emerges”

  1. I would argue the opposite of this obviously true instruction is the heresy. If you don’t accept that there are three conditions that must be met for a sin to be mortal, you are a heretic.

    • Except that literally all a pastor has to do to fix the problem is tell an adulterous couple—whom he has full knowledge is, in fact, not sacramentally married—the following:

      “You are living in objective sin. I am telling you this. You no longer have the excuse of ‘invincible ignorance’, as I have provided you with the knowledge that your situation is not acceptable according to the moral law of Christ and His Church. If you continue to persist in your situation, you are committing mortal sin, as I have informed you it is a grave matter, I have provided you with full knowledge that it is an evil act, and you have subsequently elected to persist in your objectively-sinful behavior. If you choose to continue in your adulterous union and commit the sin of fornication, you may not receive the sacraments. Period.”

      Remind me again exactly where in this instruction such a solution is stated.

      • I don’t think that would work in all cases.

        Take, for example, a couple married invalidly in an SSPX chapel. Since they are not validly married, they are objectively in a state a state of mortal sin due to their cohabitation. Even if a priest told this couple exactly what you wrote above, they may still decide that they do not want to get their “marriage” convalidated. Their refusal does not necessarily mean they commit mortal sin every time they exercise their marital duty.

          • Objectively yes. But certainly, those who have married invalidly in an SSPX chapel certainly believe themselves to be married.

          • So once they are told, then it’s a sin.
            And let’s face it, how many people in the big scheme of things are married in an SSPX chapel compared to Catholics who were married at a Justice of the Peace? That’s who we are talking about. The SSPX are a huge exception to the rule and if they are truly looking to have their marriages validated, they are most likely open to living by Christ’s rules.
            And let’s not be coy, these are Christ’s rules.

          • You’re dangerously close to a thread hijack. I’m going to cut this off at the pass if you continue to head in this direction. I don’t want discussion on this issue to become an SSPX rabbithole.

          • Ok lets put the SSPX issue aside then.

            Would it be a rabbithole to discuss the Church’s teaching on masturbation, which as you know is a greater sin that fornication because it is against the natural law. Even in this case, the Church’s teaching is clear, “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.” CCC 2352

          • Two errors here. First, fornication is also against the natural law as being contrary to reason. Masturbation is simply against it more, because it is both contrary to reason and contrary in mode.

            Second, the only plausible reason I have ever found as to why masturbation is singly given considerations related to “conditions of anxiety” et cetera is that a person — especially a person with this vice already formed — cannot physically extricate himself from himself. He is in a certain perpetual state of occasion for sin that he cannot avoid and can fall into it with unusual ease. This itself is a cause of anxiety for such a poor soul. And it is the only sexual sin of which this is true. A person in an adulterous relationship, on the other hand, however lustful he may be, is not in this state since he can physically separate from his partner and sever the relationship if he so choose. It is our Lord who told us to pluck out our eye and cast it away if it scandalized us. Interestingly, this discourse of casting off and severing what causes us to sin in Matthew is sandwiched right between condemnations of lust and the adultery of a second marriage. It’s almost as if He could see this rationalization coming in advance.

        • The SSPX matter is not what is being discussed, as the Society itself maintains that it has supplied jurisdiction under canon law; Pope Francis has not helped your argument as he has formally given the SSPX priests powers to validly absolve penitents (which they maintain they didn’t need anyway), which begs the question as to how a priest can have authority to administer some sacraments but not all.

          What is being discussed is civilly divorced and remarried couples. And there is nothing in this instruction, assuming it is authentic, that does anything to help remedy the states of their immortal souls. Rather, all I read is wishy-washy “pastoral language” that places more emphasis on the couple’s feelings than their eternal salvation. Honestly, if invincible ignorance is such a great thing (and we keep hearing how it is essentially a “get out of Hell free card” for any and all mortal sins), then the Church was wrong to have converted nations and preached the Gospel; it would have been better, rather, to simply leave the unconverted to their ignorance, and certainly far easier for them. But that’s not what Christ commanded before His Ascension.

          • Ah but now we get to the crux of the matter. Christ’s teachings through His Holy Church are good in and of themselves. It’s very similar to gluttony. Our Lord didn’t make gluttony a mortal sin because He is disgusted by fat people. He made gluttony a mortal sin because chronic overeating leads to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

          • My understanding of your post was that it would have been better to leave them unconverted in their ignorance. My answer is that is wrong.

            It is always better to know the truth.

          • You missed my point entirely.

            My point is that pastors SHOULD be point blank telling couples in adulterous relationships the truth, not keeping them in the dark about the states of their sinful actions for the sake of not hurting their feelings. But that is precisely what this sort of “pastoral approach” is doing.

            You said, “It is always better to know the truth.” And yet, that is exactly what this document doesn’t do.

          • Absolutely. Why do you think it is?

            Furthermore, as I reflect on all 7 deadly sins, they are really ALL for our own good. God loves us.

  2. “This is sacrilege. Taken as a contradiction of the Gospels, such an assertion could arguably be considered heretical.”

    I know you have to put it that way, but really! This has been his game-plan all along from the day after his election when he praised Kasper the goat’s book. Of course he is promoting sacrilege, of course he denies the gospels (virtually every time he opens his gob) of course he is a heretic.

    Don’t follow this creep, he will lead you to hell.

  3. I read the posts below. Nobody listens!! Steve said not to respond to Ganganelli and yet everybody does. Thanks Steve for your site. It is now one of the very few that I read.

  4. OK. Bishops in Buenos Aires and the region have defined themselves as non-catholics. The questions are:
    Should we the faithfull continue to attend to their Masses? Are them valid and regular? Or should we leave as the christians did in the Arian times? Should we validate their heresy and apostasy? Aren´t we validating sacrilege? What should we do? Sedevantism is not a choice.
    I just don´t know.
    By the way, I think the translations are fairly accurate.

    • I have struggled with these questions also. I am leaning, heavily, toward advocating to others not to attend a NO mass. I have not attended a NO mass in many months. I attend a TLM about 1.5 hours away. I have had enough of weird NO masses, of priests who don’t follow the rubrics, of the laity parading all over the altar as they promote Vacation Bible School or dispense Communion in Daisy Duke shorts. This is not the Catholic Faith. I did not become a Catholic in order to find myself in a protestant sect once again.

    • Even a heretic priest can offer a valid Mass if his intention is to consecrate as the Church intends and uses valid matter (bread + wine) and form (words). However, I would recommend finding a good Tridentine Mass nearby, even if it means a sacrificial drive of a hour or so.

  5. I understand Spanish, Steve, and what really strikes me about the bishops’ letter is how remarkably convoluted it is; I’ve seen Ikea instructions less tortuous than this mess. The interpretation you give it and your description of the pope’s fulsome applause for it seem pretty much on the mark.

    The letter reads like some of the duplicitous screeds once used by Protestant churchmen to justify divorce, and then much later artificial contraception. The grandiloquent strictures and hair-splitting nuances with which Protestants often peppered their initial forays into these heretical notions all quickly fell by the wayside, predictably so. Once Christ’s teachings had been “reinterpreted,” divorce rapidly became rampant across the West, and centuries later contraception decimated the populations of formerly Christian lands.

    Even if the competent authorities deny there’s any heresy here, it certainly sounds as if there is. For all the high-minded talk of “discernment” and “patience with difficult cases” in the Argentine document, the least fool knows this will turn out badly. Perhaps that was the plan all along.

  6. I’m Argentinian. The serious problem here for us is not only Pope Francis’ statements, but that there are at least eleven Argentinian bishops promoting sacrilege on a written document that it was intended to be sent to Argentinian priests to “guide” them in the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. It should be pointed out that the document is not signed by all the Argentinian bishops but just the ones in charge of diocesis close to Buenos Aires.

  7. Here I’m struck intense sadness. I have hoped beyond hope that maybe, just maybe, the Pope was simply being a buffoon and didn’t really understand the implications of what he was saying. All the evidence was to the contrary, but I was HOPING that it was simply a fool sitting on the Chair of Peter, however slim the chance. But all of our fears and all of the evidence point to the exact opposite, the thing we have been talking about for so long… If this is really what was said. If the letter really is from Pope Francis and he read the document and freely gave his approval, then the man is in fact a heretic and, as I understand it, that means he has lost the papacy as he is no longer a member of the church. It’s above my pay grade so I’ll withhold final judgement as it’s not mine to give. Lord help us. Help us all.

    • Lost the papacy…BINGO! And, Pope Paul IV (not the VI) said as much in his Papal Bull titled Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio promulgated on February 15, 1559. Paul IV proclaimed in this document- Ex Cathedra- (Infallible teaching). Funny how this document is erased from the Vatican library’s website. However, you can find it here:

      I do not espouse or support the website, but it does offer the English translation with the Latin right beside it.

  8. We are not surprised. These are the so called “good intentions” that lead to hell. It is hard for me to imagine our pastors would face such a problem in the United States where annulments are nearly automatic. The entire wayward way the Church handles the question of marriage is a travesty and a direct contradiction to Our Lord’s direction, all done so people will not have to carry their crosses and so Church membership doesn’t decline rapidly and the money keeps rolling in. Unconscionable.

    • And yet the membership in fact declines rapidly and the money (from the faithful, at least) rolls in less and less abundantly every year. The USCCB now survives mostly on blood money from the totally corrupt U.S. government, which pays them to “resettle” mostly non-Christian “refugees” all over the country.
      Our Lord never once suppressed the truth to avoid offending someone. If only our hierarchy could learn that lesson.

      • You are correct. The USCCB is an adjunct of the Democrat party. Bishops are highly political in order to get ahead in their careers and please the government and Church goers so the money keeps rolling in and controversy is minimized. All of this must be most displeasing to Our Lord.

  9. Steve, you say this is “sacrilege.” No, it is not just sacrilege, but the H-E-R-E-S-Y condemned by Pope Saint Pius X, namely, MODERNISM.

    • The sacrilege he’s referring to is the admission of the divorced and remarried to communion specifically.

      I recently read the first half of Pascend Dominici Gregis and I was a little shocked how well some of the parts described many clergy and apologists today, and our Pontiff specifically.

      • The heresy is the teaching that those in a state of unconfessed grave sin may be admitted to Holy Communion.

        The sacrilege is the actual reception of Holy Communion while in a state of grave sin.

      • I cling to the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI describing a shrinking Church that holds to the Truth and that will, someday, be a beacon to a world tired of secular lies.

        There is talk of churches (and not just Catholic ones) losing their tax exempt status for lack of cooperation with immoral government mandates. resulting in a loss of the great properties now owned by the Church. That might be a step in the right direction!

  10. It is both sacrilege in the illicit and unworthy reception of several sacraments, and heresy in disobeying and disavowing longstanding Catholic teaching on these sacraments: Holy Communion, Holy Matrimony and (by inference) valid Confession.

  11. Eternal Father, please send us a real Catholic Pope, A Shepherd of Souls and not a worldly temporal man! In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!

  12. There are no signatures attached to this letter – just signed as The Bishops of the Region, which is not apparently correct, as it has been reported that quite a few ‘Bishops of the Region’ do not concur with it. If it is genuine, & it does seem in line with PF’s Papal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, then it could be his answer to the 45 academics who wrote asking for clarification of the many heresies that Binding Document contains. If this is so, it is presumed that those Cardinals/Bishops who are sympathetic to the SSPX will now come forward & urgently request an Imperfect Council to formalise the heresies & blasphemies of this Papacy, & indeed all Papacies since VII, which now needs to be fully rescinded. Nothing less than support for these academics & the countless other petitioners to date will now suffice.

  13. Anyone who thought otherwise about the encyclical’s interpretation does not understand the Left and its tactics. (They act the same in religion as they do in politics.) Like many readers on this website, I’ve almost been more frustrated by conservative/traditional writers, Hamlet-esque, explaining away this reality, then I’ve been with the reality itself. I’m sure our opponents get a good laugh out of this gullibility and self-defeat. I would, except that the conservative/traditional side never wins or even tries to win.

  14. As Gomer Pyle would say, surprise, surprise, surprise. Actually it should be no surprise since it is merely following the Synod of Bishops in 2014-2015 as well as Amoris Laetitia. So all you need to do to receive Holy Communion as an adulterer is persist long enough in that mortal sin, then “discern” that it is just fine, and the heretical bishops will fully approve.

    • Actually although a way of penance leading to communion for the divorced and remarried was discussed at the Synod of Bishops it was dropped from the final Relatio Synodi much to the Pope’s displeasure . It is Pope Francis who reintroduced it into Amoris Laetitia. There is therefore some faint hope that sufficient Bishops will try to have it thrown out again.

      • No way of penance is acceptable until the mortal sin stops. Remaining in mortal sin cancels out any possible penance. I am not holding my breath for bishops with backbone to amend the corrupt AL.

  15. If one thinks of Humanae Vitae as sort of the modern moment declaring whether or not the Church can reverse a magisterial teaching (PP6 said “no”), then this is Humanae Vitae: The Empire Strikes Back.

    Once the current Pope demonstrates that a teaching of the Church can change (and the Church has already made a ROYAL MESS of marriage anyway—as Pope Francis has pointed out on several occasions—making this is the perfect “chink in the armor”), then the door is open to all sorts of other revisions.

  16. Be not afraid. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has assured we have nothing to fear.
    Matt:16:18 “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”

    • Amen. But what we don’t know is how many souls will be lost and how many faithful souls will suffer either white or red martyrdom before the Lord’s true Church prevails. Our Lady of Akita, pray for us!

  17. What a piece of work. I’m just waiting for a greenie mystery addition to the Rosary after the hysterically laughable addition to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

    Here’s a mystery suggestion to build on for you Roman clerical readers close to his Humbleness.

    1) Jesus straightens waterways and makes birds out of clay.
    The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic gospels) – II. 1 This little child Jesus when he was five years old was playing at the ford of a brook: and he gathered together the waters that flowed there into pools, and made them straightway clean, and commanded them by his word alone. 2 And having made soft clay, he fashioned thereof twelve sparrows.

    I look forward to seeing the new spittle-flecked, wall-eyed nutty mystery.

  18. Is this tactic more do with reunification with the Orthodox Churches rather than the triumph of modernism in the Church? Are we headed to second and third “penitential” marriages? They do have valid Eucharist which is profaned by divorcees all the time, right?

  19. Not only is the Holy Father’s comments and thoughts disturbing but also extremely sad in how he is not only undermining and profaning Our Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist but also in the Sacrament of Marriage, the Magisterium, and the words and deeds of so many saints starting with St Paul all the way through to STJPII. Obviously the martyrdom of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher mean nothing to the Holy Father or to many of the heretics like Marx and Kasper that he now takes his que from. He continues to create distrust among the faithful and further cast those already poorly catechized into further confusion and darkness thus jeopardizing their souls. The other thought that strikes me is how this undermines those faithful folks who have found themselves in situations of divorce but who have remained faithful to and obedient to the Church’s teachings by either not remarrying and remaining chaste or who have faithfully and financially gone through the annulment process? I pray for them because this is an attack on them from the shepherd who is supposed to protect and support them. I know several people who have been in these situations. Lord help them in their faith.

    I will continue to pray for him with charity but that does not mean I have to trust him or most of the cardinals, bishops and priests which in their positions no earthly shepherd should ever have to place his flock in.

    That said all I can do is trust in Our Lord that His will be done as well as pray. I know right from wrong and while I may not be a theologian (many of whom today appear mostly to be heretics) or canon lawyer I know the Truth of Christ as revealed in the Sacraments of His Church and it’s Magisterium.

  20. I said it before and I will say it again:

    There is nothing new here. The mistakenly canonized John Paul II of Unhappy Memory did things as outrageous as Francis. Except they came out more so in action rather than word, and with the absence of the internet etc. most of the Church was not aware of it.

    Come show me where Francis has done something on the level of Assisi in 1986. His worship with Jews is the closest thing I can think of, but that was before he was Pope.

    In 1986, John Paul not-a-Saint II accommodated pagans in worshiping demons on consecrated church ground, breaking the first commandment. The very accommodation of this event speaks volumes – a Pope accommodated mortal sin, he thinks that by praying to false gods the true god will listen, he does not care to preach the necessity of the Catholic Church to them, etc. This implies heresy (material) and error on a level FAR ABOVE Francis or at least equal. Scripture calls pagan gods demons, he was literally accommodating demonic worship on church ground. Francis may top this when he does his own Assisi meeting.

    “May Saint John the Baptist protect Islam” – John Paul II. Invoking a Saint to protect a religion founded on killing, rape, and false prophet most likely seeing a vision from Satan? Protect a religion that leads people to hell? What is JPII thinking? Sounds a lot like Francis’ video earlier this year making all religions seem equal, hmm?

    There is nothing new here except in how it’s expressed. Francis has not yet outdone the unfortunately canonized John Paul II the Small, but he is well on his way. Francis gives the go ahead to commit sacrilege, but John Paul II accommodated people in not even worshiping the one true God to begin with, breaking the first commandment, repeatedly communicating to the world that other religions can communicate with God coupled with his lack of explicit evangelization to the Catholic Church and her Sacraments. I am sure Francis thinks the same way, except he has yet to do something like Assisi 1986 (however, we shall see in a few weeks).

    The SAME kind of outrageous stuff has already been happening, pray that Francis never gets canonized, which he might because the current definition of canonization is meaningless.

  21. At least one writer over at Jeff Mirus’ site has finally thrown his hands up in exasperation over Francis’ bizarre behavior. People everywhere are starting to notice, and inquiring minds want to know, “What in **** is going on here!?!?!?” Regardless of what one may think of Francis’ orthodoxy or lack of same, few can doubt he is a flop as pope.

  22. Pope Francis is a heretic, quite clearly, when are the cardinals going to lay the case against him? How long will the church have to suffer under a wicked pope. O God deliver us from this evil!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popular on OnePeterFive

Share to...