Catholic teaching says no to infidelity
Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo
Following the steps of the Holy Father in his exhortation Amoris Laetitia, these are the criteria given by the Bishops of Malta for the application of Chapter 9 of the document:
We now address our ministry with persons who are either separated or divorced, who have entered in a new union. If during the discernment process with these people, a reasonable doubt arises concerning the validity of consummation of their canonical marriage we should propose that these people make a request for the declaration of the nullity or dissolution of their marriage bond.
One thing, is a second union consolidated over time with new children, proven fidelity, generous self-giving, Christian commitment and consciousness of its irregularity and the parties are not unaware that one can fall into new sins? The Church acknowledges instances “where for serious reasons such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate.”
From A.L. n.298: There are also the cases of those who made every effort to save their first marriage and were unjustly abandoned, or those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and are sometimes subjectively certain in consciousness that their previous marriage was irreparably broken. But another thing is a new union arising from a recent divorce with all the sufferings and confusion this entails for children and entire families, or the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligation to the family. It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and the family.
As a result of these conditions and attenuating circumstances, the Pope teaches, “It can no longer simply be said that all those in any irregular situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace,”(A.L.n.301).
“It is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end,” (A.L.n.305).
“Throughout the discernment process, we should also examine the possibility of conjugal continence, despite the fact that this ideal is not at all easy. There may be couples who, with the help of grace, practice this virtue without putting at risk other aspects of their life together. On the other hand, there are complex situations where the choice of living “as brother and sister” becomes humanly impossible and gives rise to greater harm.
If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (A.L.n.300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
But such a declaration by the Maltese bishops is contrary and opposed to the traditional Catholic teaching that living in adultery is to be in mortal sin, that five elements are necessary to make a good confession, and to receive Communion one must be in a state of grace.
The cases the Maltese bishops mention are rare, perhaps one in a million – for example, “ignorance, inadvertence, fear, duress, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors,” and are easy to resolve by a sound and well-founded instruction, without abolishing the ways the Church used to remedy these rare factors. We should propose these people make a request for a declaration of nullity or dissolution of their marriage bond and not propose a new process that destroys the way of a “good confession” and replace it with a “bad confession” by which the person keeps his adulterous companion and receives Communion.
Jesus defined with all clarity the dignity of marriage, and adultery refers to marital infidelity. He condemned even adultery of mere desire (Mt.5:27-28). The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.
Even practically, it is easier for the parish priest and for people living in this mortal sin to undergo the traditional course, because one cannot go to confession and maintain “the occasion of sin” – in this case, keeping the adulterous relationship with somebody who is not the legal spouse.
Jesus emphatically said: “You must not commit adultery and anyone who divorces his wife makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”