Pope irked by media fixation on divorce, Communion

Pope Francis has spoken of his annoyance at the media’s seeming fixation on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

On his flight back from the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday, the Pope was asked about a much-commented-upon footnote in his recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

In a section of the document discussing pastoral discernment for divorced and remarried persons, a footnote (351) stated that “in certain cases [the Church’s help to grow in the life of grace and charity] can include the help of the sacraments”.

A journalist asked why the Pope had put that in a footnote, and if it meant he wanted to indicate the issue was not overwhelmingly important.

“One of the last Popes, speaking about the Council, said there were two Councils,” Francis responded.

“The Second Vatican Council that met in St Peter’s Basilica and the other was the Council of the media.”

“When I convoked the first synod, the great worry of the majority of the media was will they give Communion to the divorced and remarried?” he continued.

“Not being a saint, this annoyed me a bit, but also made me a bit sad,” said Francis.

“The media that say this . . . do not see that this is not the important problem of the Church.

“They do not see that the family in all the world is in crisis. And family is the base of society.”

The Pope also lamented Europe’s declining birth rates, youth not wanting to marry and a lack of jobs.

Francis was also asked if, after the exhortation, there are new concrete possibilities regarding the Church’s pastoral practice for remarried Catholics

“I can say yes, many” responded Francis.

“But it would be an answer that is too small,” he added.

Francis referred to the presentation of Amoris Laetitia by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn earlier this month.

“In that presentation, your question will find an answer,” Francis said, noting that Cardinal Schonborn is a “great theologian”.

Cardinal Schonborn had suggested that the footnote was part of a “via caritatis” proposed by the Pope, that did not offer case studies or recipes, but stressed mercy and help for the weak.


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