Church teaching on divorce and remarriage cannot be changed
by Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo
After my last article concerning Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love, I decided not to write anymore about the controversial question of Communion for the divorced and remarried who live in mortal sin.
But two important things happened that made me change my mind: the interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke with The Catholic World Report, and the statement of Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Cardinal Müller said, “Nobody, not even a Pope, could change the teaching reaffirmed by St. John Paul II” and “Communion for the remarried is against God’s law.”
Also, I have received so many letters asking for clarification and these people have the right to be instructed.
Cardinal Burke was questioned as to why he thought Amoris Laetitia was so ambiguous. Here is the a snapshot of the exchange courtesy of catholicworldreport.com:
Cardinal Raymond Burke: The reason for its ambiguity, it seems to me, is because it gives latitude to the practice which has never been admitted in the Church, namely the practice of permitting people who are living publicly in grave sin to receive the sacraments. For those who are divorced and living in an irregular matrimonial union, if they truly understand the Catholic faith, the solution to that is a confused approach; the only solution is to know that marriage is indissoluble.
Catholic World Report: One prelate has accused you and your three fellow cardinals of being in heresy, how do you respond to that?
CRB: How can you be in heresy by asking honest questions? It’s just irrational to accuse us of heresy. We are asking fundamental questions based upon constant tradition of the Church’s moral teaching.
CWR: Some critics say you are implicitly accusing the Pope of heresy.
CRB: No, that’s not what we have implied at all. We have simply asked him, as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, to clarify these five points.”
CWR: Bishop Schneider, ORC, Auxiliary Bishop of Saint Mary Astana, Kazakhstan, wrote an open letter of support for the four cardinals and also said that the Church is in a de facto schism. Do you agree with that?”
CRB: There is a very serious division in the Church, which has to be mended, because it has to do with fundamental dogmatic and moral teaching. And if it’s not clarified soon, it could develop into a formal schism.
CWR: Some people are saying that the Pope could separate himself from communion with the Church. Can the Pope legitimately be declared in schism or heresy?”
CRB: If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease to be the Pope. It’s automatic.
CWR: That could happen?
CWR: Some consider you to be an enemy of Pope Francis. How do you see your relations with him?
CRB: I am a cardinal of the Church, and one of the Pope’s principal co-workers. I have absolute respect for the Petrine office. But because, in conscience, I believe he has an obligation to clarify these matters of the Church, I made it known to him, not just on this occasion, but on other occasions. The publication of the dubia was done with complete respect for his office. I am not the enemy of the Pope.
The interview goes on and you can read it all online.
I must repeat Francis has not, until now, proclaimed people in irregular unions can receive Communion. No, the Pope is not a heretic, but as our universal pastor, he is looking for ways to bring even those in irregular situations back to God. This is why his most faithful prelate, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, clearly wanting to defend the orthodoxy of this matter, made one of his strongest statements on this matter – a matter that is in conflict, but still not in crisis.
He was asked whether the teaching of the last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is still valid. St. John Paul said the divorced and remarried couldn’t receive Communion, except possibly when they try to live “in complete continence.”
Cardinal Müller said: “Of course it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology of the sacraments.”
In his encyclical Familiaris Consortio St. John Paul II said the prohibition was based on Scripture and the intrinsic link between the Eucharist and marriage. To live in a sexual relationship outside marriage “objectively contradicts that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.”
Cardinal Müller said this made Communion for the remarried impossible. “For us, marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel nor the Pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.”