What Amoris Laetitia Really Says About Marriage

Like many of us, I have been pretty confused about what has been said of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, regarding divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and Holy Eucharist. There has been a lot of back and forth and wailing and gnashing of teeth among cardinals, bishops, priests, journalists and laity.

I happened upon this article by Susan Fox which actually clears up some of the confusion concerning Chapter 8 of the document.

Jesus didn’t lie. Amoris Laetitia is a magisterial document binding on Catholics. And thankfully it upholds the indissolubility of marriage between one man and woman open to new life and prepared to share their whole lives together exclusively and in faithfulness until death. 
Tragically, one year later, some bishops still doubt. They believe the document says the Church can give Holy Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, who  are not living as brother and sister and have not obtained a declaration of nullity of their first marriage from the Church. Conservative Catholic bloggers and new services very rudely call this “giving communion to adulterers.”
But in fact Catholics, who are divorced and remarried may not receive Holy Communion, and Amoris Laetitia makes that clear.


The article goes on to show how the document actually reinforces Catholic teaching on the subject of marriage. 

You can read it here…

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8 Responses to What Amoris Laetitia Really Says About Marriage

  1. Rick P says:

    Multiple bishops have now allowed divorced couples to receive communion because of AL.


    • In reading your posts, a thought occurs to me…

      Could it be said that, while Sarah has started on the road to reconciliation and has sincerely taken steps toward that end, and Mohammed has become an obstruction to full reconciliation, there are also further steps she could take to clear the way back to full communion? Essentially, she has gone as far as she has, but is not quite committed enough to go any further? And would that “not quite committed” level of repentance indicate, at some level, a lack of true repentance?

      Christ was completely committed, even to the point of death. Are we not called to take up our crosses and follow in his footsteps.

      I’m not saying that it’s easy, or that I don’t sympathize with the situation, simply that it’s something to consider.

      God Bless you…


      • jn says:

        ¨…there are also further steps she could take to clear the way back to full communion?…¨
        Such as what, for example?…
        (Given her general disposition and by-and-large filial attitude toward Holy Mother Church, it is possible that she would be open to considering them within the constraints of her situation.)

        ¨Essentially, she has gone as far as she has, but is not quite committed enough to go any further?¨
        She fears being divorced and is anxious that her children would have to grow up without one parent at home (which could be either Sarah or Mohammed – depending on how a civil court would rule, in the event of a messy divorce. But either way, there is a risk of the children losing out on the presence of one parent.)

        ¨And would that “not quite committed” level of repentance indicate, at some level, a lack of true repentance?…¨
        This is sort of addressed in the second post, viz.:
        What if the pastor does discern a communion of desire in Sarah, repentance for the failings of the past, a desire to not mortally sin anymore and a desire to live as sister and brother with Mohammed? What hinders her from being granted absolution followed by sacramental communion? Is she to be quarantined as long as she reluctantly submits to Mohammed’s sexual advances, and thus placed – (from a sacramental discipline perspective) – on the same footing as one who deliberately engages in adulterous acts?

        Some may point to the exemplary St. Maria Goretti or ‘death-but-not-sin’ St. Dominic Savio, and hold that in contrast, Sarah doesn’t quite ‘make the cut’. In that view, she ought to show the genuine / ´acceptable´ fruit of her conversion only through a manifest break with the sinful situation [viz., divorce / separation in the firm hope that God would provide for the needs (including psychological / emotional needs) of the children.]

        But would that be a case of either ´putting-the-cart-before-the-horse´ or restricting personal growth to a ´one-size-fits-all´?

        Amoris Laetitia (AL) 308:
        ´…from our awareness of the weight of mitigating circumstances – psychological, historical and even biological – it follows that “without detracting from the evangelical ideal, there is a need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively appear”, making room for “the Lord’s mercy, which spurs us on to do our best”…´

        NB: If Sarah´s fears and anxieties are indicative of a lack of firm trust in the Providence of God, wouldn´t a pastor who wishes to accompany with mercy and patience the stages of her personal growth find footnote 351 of AL to be just what the Physician ordered?:
        ´…the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”…´ (cf. Lk. 10:9a, 16?)
        But before that, is Sarah ineligible even to be ‘washed’ in absolution by the Physician [cf. CCC 1481, 1484] because although she wants to, she is not in a position to give an undertaking to live as sister and brother with Mohammed due to his non-cooperation?


      • Hi JN, I completely agree that Sarah’s situation is difficult and there are no easy solutions, especially given Mohammed’s reluctance to live as brother and sister. I also understand that there is a hard price to pay if the union is dissolved by another divorce.

        I have a good friend who has cancer. He is going to die. The reason he is going to die is that he refuses to go through the un-pleasantries of chemotherapy. He could have another 10 years of life but, again, he didn’t want to go through the discomfort of the required treatment.

        If a patient has cancer, and is willing to accept any treatment to try to cure the disease up to, but not including, chemotherapy, he is not going to receive the positive benefits of full treatment and he is going to die.

        If Sarah is in a “marriage” that the Church recognizes as an adulterous union and she is willing to do anything and everything short of leaving the “marriage” but not leave it, she cannot receive Holy Communion. Even if she “just lies there”. That is Church teaching and it always has been. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/divorce-and-remarriage

        It is Church doctrine, not discipline. In order for that to change, well, it would have to change. And the Church does not change doctrine.


        God Bless You


  2. jn says:

    With respect, I disagree.

    The example you cited presumes that chemotherapy is the only way to cure the disease, which presumption need not be right. There are other systems of medicine which may be effective. The 10 year figure is at best a human estimate with no room for Divine Providence. Besides, the patient´s spiritual life and prayer are other factors…all of that is personal and need not be discussed here. The point is, that example is not apposite to the matter under discussion.

    The links you provided do not address the specific issue here. W.r.t. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/divorce-remarriage-and-communion

    There is no question that ¨those who engage in unrepented adultery are not eligible to receive Communion.¨
    But is Sarah ´unrepentant´?
    Is she ¨engaging in¨ adultery?
    Does she want/choose to engage in adultery?

    ´In essence, Cardinal Kasper is proposing to allow people to receive absolution in confession and Communion while continuing to have sex with each other, even though they are not validly married to each other and are therefore committing ongoing adultery.´

    The above does not apply to the Sarah case. We are not saying that it is ok for her ¨to continue to have sex¨ with Mohammed. For one, *she* is not ´having sex´ (she ´just lies there´ while he forces himself on her.) And that is the crux of the matter – i.e., does she deliberately choose to have sex?

    It looks like you have made a (wrong) jump in logic. You hold that because ¨she is willing to do anything and everything short of leaving the “marriage” but not leave it, she cannot receive Holy Communion¨ – but this presumes she has chosen to have sex. By that logic, why can´t it be argued that she has chosen to be raped?
    In reality, she has chosen neither.
    Does reluctant submission equate to deliberate choice?

    So again, does she deliberately choose to commit mortal sin (adultery)?
    She doesn´t, and hence the possibility of absolution is opened up.
    In order to avoid scandal, the Eucharist may be given only privately.

    Remembering your friend in prayer.


    • Good morning JN! Re: my sick friend. Chemo is actually the only solution per his doctors. I agree that their 10 year estimate is just that.

      You raise some good points, and I will have to take some time to investigate further and absorb what you are saying.

      Thanks for the engagement!

      BTW – the youtube link goes everywhere (just goes to a page listing a lot of unrelated videos).

      God Bless…



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