Building bridges with remarried divorcees,f_auto,q_auto,w_1050/4N0CBGM_image_crop_94206

Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church to build bridges with remarried divorcees who are Catholic.

In the preface of a new Vatican document on preparing couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony, he called for new “concrete” guidelines to be drafted.

These would help those offering pastoral care to divorced and remarried Catholics, he said.

The text, called “Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life”, was released last week in Italian and Spanish, just days before Rome hosts the 10th World Meeting of Families.

He says it’s his “heartfelt desire” that the text will be followed as soon as possible by another.

The second one will “indicate concrete pastoral steps and possible pathways of accompaniment specifically dedicated to couples who have experienced the failure of their marriage and are living in a new union or are remarried civilly,” Francis wrote in the preface.

In essence, Francis promises a practical method of applying one of the most commented upon points of his apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

In this, he said divorced Catholics who are in new partnerships need to be “more fully integrated into Christian communities”.

This would require “pastoral accompaniment”, “the Church’s help” and – he specified in a footnote no. 351 – “in certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments”.

Much has been made of Francis’s comments. Some have criticised Francis for going back on the Catholic doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage.

While not responding to critics directly, Francis said the interpretation of Amoris laetitia that he offered to Argentina’s bishops had the authority of “authentic magisterium”.

In a letter to Argentina’s bishops he insisted on the importance of discernment and “discreet” access to the sacraments in certain cases for divorced couples who have remarried.

“The Church wants to be close to these couples.”

It’s not clear if Francis will address this thorny issue in the second document he has mentioned.

For the Church to build bridges with divorced and remarried Catholics is clearly important to him though.

It will be a matter of ensuring that these couples “do not feel abandoned and can find accessible and fraternal places of welcome, help in discernment and participation in communities” he says.

“The Church, in fact, wants to be close to these couples and walk the via caritas with them.”

It’s necessary to bridge the gap between the “many years” that the Church dedicates to preparing candidates for the priesthood and the “few weeks” of marriage prep it offers to couples who are committing themselves to a “mission as great as that of the family,” Francis says.


Additional reading

News category: Palmerston, World.

Tags: ,