1994 CDF Interpretation of Familiaris Consortio on Communion

This was written by **Pnewton **on a now closed thread on the communion topic.

[quote]Originally Posted by Ginny89 View Post
Excuse me, neither you nor anyone has the right to reject Pope John Paul II’s teaching that it is impossible to grant communion in the manner the Argentinians purport to and that Pope Francis has encouraged.

FYI - St. John Paul never commented on the Argentinians proposal, nor did he use the word “impossible” in dealing with this topic. Had he done so, he could have made an infallible proclamation, which he did not do. What he wrote was:

However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage

I wanted to clarify this because exaggeration of any kind must be avoided. Not all the Church leadership is in agreement on what can be done and cannot be done to implement Amoris Laetitia. There really should be more tolerance of disagreement here simply because there is not infallible proclamation made on this topic.

Maybe one will come out. I do not think so because of my own thoughts on the subject, but I also know I may be wrong.

I replied

Alright. I seem to be confusing FC and perhaps Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment. I shall look at where it is precisely I read “impossible” as I am sure I did. In any case, thanks for the clarification.

I have created this thread to fulfill that committment.

Yes, in fact, my hunch was right. I was referencing the CDF’s (Cardinal Ratzinger’s) own interpretation of that John Paul II quotation Pnewton has provided. It is they who read it as “impossible”. Here it is:

This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses **an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: **“They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”(7).

I think this may end up being key in understanding why there is more than one opinion. St. John Paul stood by the objective state (actual the perceived objective state) of being in mortal sin was why the practice of the Church made it impossible to receive communion. I understand that. However, if this is where the Church ends up after the dust settles, then the argument that one is not worthy to receive communion because of the stain of mortal sin is not valid. That would be a switch. Rather, it would be more like the objective state of a non-Catholic not being in communion with the Church would make it impossible to receive.

When using the objective state as determined by lack of annulment, then there will be some unable to receive who are still in a state of grace.

First of all lets note that this is an “interpretation” of FS by Card Ratzinger, not by Pope Benedict, and even if it were that still does not prove it is 100% sacrosanct, especially if contradicted by a later Pope. Its simply a Mexican standoff at best which in itself says “non infallible at the moment and still up for debate”.

But that aside I noticed a few interesting words I hadn’t averted to before.

Interesting that he calls this judgement not a doctrine but a “norm”. A norm that is “not at all a punishment.” Sounds like an ancient “practise” flowing from a doctrine to me.
We don’t usually speak of doctrines “sounding like punishments” but we very often do say such of poorly applicable rules, norms or practices.

And what is the “objective situation” being spoken of exactly.
I agree it is a “perceived one” of grave matter (I avoid the use of “objective mortal sin” as people think it implies a recognition of culpability unto the removal of sanctifying grace. Despite Card Muller’s Feb Il Timone interview I think most theologians see this as a nonsense along with Pope Francis).

But what is this grave matter exactly?
You mention “the objective state of a non-Catholic not being in communion with the Church would make it impossible to receive.”

I think this very perceptive.
A very close reading of C.R’s 1994 statement is interesting.

Certainly being in a remarried state (it matters not if it is merely civil) is a perceived objective contradiction with the first marriage when it is still considered putatively valid.

But given that the tribunal may in fact be “wrong” (ie not have the evidence it needs just yet) then the objective situation here is only perceived as you say and therefore not truly “objective” re what God sees. Especially when we deal with those unjustly abandoned and who in conscience realise there was no actual marriage from the start due to a continuously unfaithful husband.

It is interesting that the Cardinal adds another definition of “objective” when he speaks of those certain in conscience that they were never married in article 9. This case is quite different from that of the person spoken of previously (article 8) which was a reflection only on Canon 916 as to whether one (who may well be sinning objectively) believes oneself to be culpable and may approach for Communion if they feel they are not culpable.

“The Exhortation Familiaris Consortio recalls the case of those who are subjectively certain in conscience that their previous marriage, irreparably broken, had never been valid(17). It must be discerned with certainty by means of the external forum established by the Church whether there is objectively such a nullity of marriage. The discipline of the Church, while it confirms the exclusive competence of ecclesiastical tribunals with respect to the examination of the validity of the marriage of Catholics, also offers new ways to demonstrate the nullity of a previous marriage, in order to exclude as far as possible every divergence between the truth verifiable in the judicial process and the objective truth known by a correct conscience(18).

So this is a case of someone who does not believe they are committing adultery at all - but cannot prove it to a Tribunal.

Here we see the “truth” of a Tribunal vis a vis that of the “correct conscience”. Interestingly it is the correct conscience that is described as “objective” not the Tribunal.

The question of course is how do we know conscience is correct - and whose conscience is it we are talking about?

The 1994 document then goes on to provide a special reason why persons of this type may not receive:

“Receiving Eucharistic Communion contrary to ecclesial communion is therefore in itself a contradiction. Sacramental communion with Christ includes and presupposes the observance, even if at times difficult, of the order of ecclesial communion, and it cannot be right and fruitful if a member of the faithful, wishing to approach Christ directly, does not respect this order.”

It is not because of their objective state of life. It is because they must obey the Ecclesial norms od the day - ie Canon 915, which at this time prohibited Communion even for these.
To defy this Canon, as imposed by Bishops and Priests, is in itself a contradiction of Ecclesial Communion (even if their first marriage was later found to be null).

So here I see a possible “out” clause that can reconcile FS and AL for those who have never believed they are either culpable or even objectively (before God) in adultery at all.

If AL has loosened Canon 915 to allow Communion for those judged (by a PP) likely never to have had a 1st marriage (and who have always professed so) and have been let down by the Tribunal process…then these persons no longer contradict the “ecclesial communion” contradiction reason mentioned above. If communion is now possible for those in this particular situation then they are still in ecclesial communion if the PP allows it. There is no objective condition barring these persons any longer.

I don’t say this has to be a correct reading of the above, but it does seem to be a possible one.

Interesting contribution Blue.

Can you reference any paras in ALthat suggest the PP is in fact revisiting the question of the prior marriage (its validity). It’s not something reflected in the Argentinian approach.

I am not saying , I think, that PPs may now make formal pronouncements on the state of a first marriage. The 1994 doc does say “The discipline of the Church…confirms the exclusive competence of ecclesiastical tribunals with respect to the examination of the validity of the marriage of Catholics…” That still holds as far as I know.
But clearly PPs, if local Bishops approve, may apply Canon 915 more tolerantly in some “grave” situations than they could before AL. Some grave irregular situations are
now recognised as potentially less grave than others.
That is, not all situations are considered “obstinate and manifest grave sin” in the monolithic, seamless fashion they all once were.

From listening to some Cardinals speaking on these matters the reason has become clear to me. Many senior Church officials have intimate and direct experience of these irregular situations since their childhood days of the 1960s through their own parents, uncles or brothers and sisters. These are the one’s coming into power and the increasing majority of them, as is usually the case with direct experience as opposed to the rationalisms of dusty abstract manuals, have not bought into the demonization of all such irregulars as was implicit in widespread practise until more recent times. By direct experience they know that grace is still at work, and indeed in some situations active couples may not only be not culpable, they may not even be committing at all the adultery that Jesus actually condem,ed.

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