When archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia issued pastoral guidelines on Amoris Laetitia last July, not everyone was pleased. Critics didn’t like Archbishop Chaput’s reading of the exhortation, and suggested there should have been more consultation among the American bishops.
But in an interview, the archbishop explained that he was only doing what the Pope had requested in the document. “Why would a bishop delay interpreting and applying Amoris Laetitia for the benefit of his people?” he asked.
Since then several bishops around the world have followed his example, as well as two episcopal conferences: Germany and, explosively, Malta.
The Maltese bishops said in January that for some couples avoiding sex might be “humanly impossible”, and that divorced and remarried people could receive Communion providing they discerned that they were “at peace” with God.
As the row about Communion for the divorced and remarried breeds more and more acrimony, the faithful at home might be wondering if the bishops of England and Wales are drafting any pastoral pointers for confused Catholics.
Some individual bishops have attempted to clarify the Church’s teaching. Following the release of Amoris Laetitia last April, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth released a pastoral letter praising the “magnificent” document, before getting straight to the point: “Does the Pope say the divorced and civilly remarried may now be readmitted to Holy Communion? No.”
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