Cardinals press Pope Francis to clarify divorce-remarriage stand

Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  

Four cardinals who publicly questioned Pope Francis' opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are pressing their case and arguing that the issue is dividing the Catholic Church.

In a new letter, the cardinals ask Francis for an audience, noting he never responded to their written request for clarification in September.

Advertisement

Francis published "Joy of Love" last year, opening the door to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion. Church teaching says these Catholics must either obtain an annulment of their first marriage or abstain from sex, if they want to receive Communion.

Since then, bishops and bishops' conferences around the world have issued different interpretations of what Francis wrote. Some bishops have reaffirmed traditional church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage; others have taken Francis' opening and gone further. The bishops of Malta, for example, said sometimes it might be "humanly impossible" for the new couple to abstain from sex.

In the new letter, published by the blog of veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister, the cardinals lamented: "How painful it is to see this—that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta."

"Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an audience," said the letter, dated May 6 and signed by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, emeritus archbishop of Bologna, on behalf of the other three.

Francis hasn't responded, though he has made clear that he wants his church to show a more merciful and less rigid face for Catholics facing difficult family situations. That said, on Wednesday he made clear that marriage is forever.

In his weekly Wednesday catechism lesson, Francis noted that the nuptial Mass invokes the help of saints to help newlyweds live as a married couple forever. "Not like some say 'as long as love lasts.' No: Forever! Otherwise it's better to not get married. Either forever or nothing," he said.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018
Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, comforts a woman while distributing Communion during Mass on Oct. 15 with the Colectivo Solecito near Veracruz, Mexico. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame)
The women seeking justice for vanished loved ones in Veracruz, Mexico, won the Notre Dame award for human rights. University President John I. Jenkins co-celebrated a Mass near the unmarked graves of drug war victims.
Jan-Albert HootsenOctober 18, 2018
Salvadorans widely celebrated St. Romero as the Central American country's first saint. St. Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in March 1980 and remains a reviled figure for some on the political right.