On December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family, three bishops from Kazakhstan — Tomash Peta, Metropolitan Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda, and Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana — issued a statement saying any change in sacramental discipline that would allow Catholic divorcees in new sexual unions to receive Holy Communion is “alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith”. The statement was made public on January 2nd.
In the intervening three days, three additional prelates have added their voices to the bishops of Kazakhstan.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who formerly served as apostolic Nuncio to the United States, along with Archbishop Luigi Negri, endorsed the Kazakhstani bishops’ statement on the day of its release. In a January 4 interview with La Nuova bussola (translated here by LifeSiteNews), Archbishop Negri explained why he signed the document: “There is confusion. It exists, and it’s serious. No reasonable person can deny this.”
The Italian prelate took the matter further:
Faced with the grave confusion in the Church regarding the issue of marriage, I believe it is necessary to put forward again the clarity of the traditional position. It seemed right to me to sign because the content of the [document’s] position is what I have widely presented over the past years — not only in recent months – at every step of the efforts I dedicated to the theme of the family, life, procreation, and the responsibility to educate and form young people. These are issues of absolute importance which the Catholic world as a whole does not seem to be very aware of.
Today, news broke that Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop Metropolitan of Riga, Latvia, has also placed his support behind the statement.
The number of episcopal signatories of the statement now stands at six names, and it remains an open question whether more will join them in the coming days.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.