[The heavy hand of the “Church of mercy”]
JAN 19TH 2017 BY DEACON NICK DONNELLY
Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, a Maltese island, has allegedly threatened priests that he will suspend them a divinis if they refuse Holy Communion to the divorced and civilly “remarried”. The German website Katholisches reports that Bishop Mario Grech announced his decision to impose this canonical punishment immediately on returning from Rome. Bishop Mario Grech is the co-signatory with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of the document, “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia”.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech have instructed priests to allow the divorced and civilly “remarried”, who are sexually active despite the existence of first marriage, to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist if they believe, after a period of reflection, that they are at “peace with God”:
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” (AL 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 (see AL, notes 336 and 351).
By allowing divorced and civilly “remarried” couples to be sexually active and to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and Holy Communion the bishops of Malta have abrogated binding magisterial documents of the Catholic Church, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1650, Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, section 29 and Pope St John Paul II, Familaris Consortio, section 84.
Dr.Edward Peters, the respected canon lawyer and Referendary of the Holy See’s Apostolic Signatura, wrote that in his considered opinion the Maltese bishops “have effectively invited the Catholics entrusted to them (lay faithful and clergy alike!) to commit a number of objectively gravely evil acts.” Dr Peters spelled out the serious consequences for priests of their bishops’ “disastrous” decision:
The Maltese bishops, by extending their document to the sacrament of Reconciliation, have basically instructed their priests not to withhold absolution from divorced-and-remarried Catholics who refuse to repent of their “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) even to the point of abstaining from sexual (nb: sexual not “conjugal”) relations. Incredibly, such a directive raises the specter of green-lighting sacrilegious confessions and the commission of solicitation in confession. No priest should want either on his conscience, let alone both.
Bishop Mario Grech’s alleged announcement that he will impose on priests the grave penalty of suspension a divinis for refusing to admit those in “public and permanent adultery” to Holy Communion has very serious implications. The suspension (a divinis) is a canonical penalty provided for by canon 1333. Such a suspension prohibits all or some acts of the powers of Holy Orders, such as celebrating Mass, hearing confession, and the power of governance, such as acting as a parish priest.
It would seem that priests in Gozo are now vulnerable to accusations from anyone that they are not implementing, “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia”, with devastating consequences for their exercise of priestly ministry.