PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, July 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – It’s become clear that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia is “marked by ambiguity,” and that seemed to be the Holy Father’s intention, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin wrote on Thursday.
In a Facebook post, the Providence, Rhode Island bishop wrote that the document allows for a wide range of interpretations and that is why so many prelates and commentators have different takes on it.
Upon reflection, it’s become pretty clear that Pope Francis’ document on marriage and the family, ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is marked by ambiguity, and that’s intentional on the Holy Father’s part I think.
That explains why, in just the last couple of days, we’ve had very different interpretations of the document from two prominent leaders of the Church – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna. And from many other commentators as well.
The good news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want. The bad news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want.
This week, Chaput issued diocesan guidelines for the implementation of Amoris Laetitia that instructed pastors to uphold the Church’s longstanding practice of not admitting to Holy Communion the divorced and civilly remarried who are sexually active with their second partner. Chaput also wrote that the divorced and civilly remarried and those in active and open same-sex relationships should not hold positions of parish responsibility or participate in liturgical ministries because of the potential for scandal.
“As with all magisterial documents, Amoris Laetitia is best understood when read within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life,” Chaput wrote.
In an interview with La Civilta Cattolica, Schönborn said that there has been an “evolution” in the Church’s view of those in situations it labels objectively sinful. Amoris Laetitia allows Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried in some instances, he said.
“It is…possible that, in some cases, one who is in an objective situation of sin can receive the help of the sacraments,” said Schönborn, based on the discernment of “individual cases both in the internal forum and in the external forum.”
This is not the first time Schönborn, who Pope Francis picked to present the exhortation upon its release, has declared that Amoris Laetitia allows a significant change in sacramental discipline.
Since Amoris Laetitia’s publication nearly three months ago, it has been met with diverse reactions from Catholic leaders. Some claim it changes nothing; others have called it a “breach” with Catholic tradition and “dangerous” because of its seeming embrace of situational ethics.