Divorced demand absolution following Pope’s document

Early reaction to Pope Francis’s recent document on family life has seen some divorced and remarried Catholics demanding absolution at an Italian cathedral.

This was stated in an article by major penitentiary at Milan Cathedral, Msgr Fausto Gilardi, a translation of which was published on the Crux website.

In the article, he mentioned the reaction to a chapter titled “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness” in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

“In some cases, linked to partial information in the press, there’s been a ‘demand’ for absolution, and thus confession is seen as a sort of passport towards the Eucharist,” Msgr Gilardi wrote.

“The phenomenon has a certain urgency, since the time of First Communion and Confirmation is drawing near, and parents want to participate fully in the sacraments of Christian initiation for their children.”

Among priests themselves, the question immediately came up: “What do we say? How do we act?”

“The questions clearly show the need for a common discernment within the presbyterate,” Msgr Gilardi continued.

“Some priests, perhaps in a slightly rushed and efficiency-oriented way, have opened a ‘teller’s window’ for consultation, giving the idea that “any priest can quickly grant ‘exceptions’.”

But the Monsignor quickly noted that “this is certainly not the model proposed by the apostolic exhortation”.

“On the contrary, the Pope’s text says that with ‘a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard.” (AL300)

Msgr Gilardi noted the document’s repeated use of the phrase “path of discernment”.

“The phrase immediately gets across the idea that there’s a journey to undertake, and the timing and modes of that journey will vary from situation to situation.”

Among other points the article discussed was the importance of a correctly formed conscience.

Msgr Gilardi concluded by stating: “The faithful have experienced the eagerness of pastors who aren’t called to impose a norm, but to lift up the value expressed through that norm, carrying in a real sense the ‘smell of the sheep’.”


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