From Andrea Tornielli:
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, Gerhard Müller, has written a letter asking for the withdrawal and revision of the proposal to allow remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments
When the document made headlines across the world at the start of October for its reconsideration of the position of remarried divorcees, Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified that: “Nothing changes, there is no news for the divorced who remarry. The document comes in fact from a local pastoral office and does not touch the responsibility of the bishop. Therefore, it has jumped the gun, and is not the official expression of diocesan authorities.” Now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has disassociated itself from the proposal presented by an office of the Diocese of Freiburg to allow remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments. [But no doubt a lot of damage has been done because of that document, which came from a mid-level official in the Diocese of Freiburg under the aegies of Bp. Zollitsch. But liberals often use this tactic: creeping incremetalism. They make an outrageous statement, which must be retracted. In the meantime, some people buy into it. The next time the outrageous thing is forwarded, it sounds less outrageous. And so forth.]
Müller recognises that the proposal Freiburg published at the start of October contains very correct and important pastoral teachings, but is unclear in its terminology and does not correspond with Church teaching in two points.” The first regards the possibility for couples who have remarried after divorce to “responsibly reach” a “decision of conscience” to receive communion. According to the document’s authors the parish priests and the community must respect this decision. Müller stressed that remarried divorcees must be encouraged to participate in Church life but they cannot be admitted to the Eucharist. To give them this right “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage (pastoral reason).”
The second criticism is regarding the prayer and blessing of remarried divorcees. Such celebrations were expressly forbidden by John Paul II and Benedict XVI: “Due to the aforementioned discrepancies, the draft text is to be withdrawn and revised, so that no pastoral directions are sanctioned which are in opposition to Church teaching,” Müller writes.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, who is a member of Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals openly criticised Müller’s article, stating: “The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions.” He also said Müller’s article was like a “fence” around Francis’ “field hospital” of mercy, an image Francis used to describe the duty the Church has towards the many wounded in today’s modern society.
Marx, and his side, will lose. It is hard to conceive of any way around the issue of denial of Communion to the divorced and remarried, other than the usual solutions (i.e., separation, “sibling” relationship). Eastern solutions seem to be non-starters. The “lack of faith” solution seems also to be untenable. And the fact remains: marriage is either indissoluble or it is not.