Luma Simms is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; her essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared in a variety of publications including National Affairs, Law and Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, First Things, Public Discourse, the Institute for Family Studies, and others.

A Response To The Bishops Of Malta

The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano has published a document by the bishops of Malta to the priests of their diocese, approving Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics sans annulment. The document first spends a paragraph on cohabiting couples and those who are only civilly married. “These situations call for ‘pastoral care that is merciful and helpful,'” say the bishops. The document goes on to say that if, during the discernment process between a priest and a couple, the priest has a “reasonable doubt” about the validity of the first marriage, then the priest should advise the couple to seek a declaration of nullity. The bishops then move on to advise priests what to do with a couple who have no recourse to a declaration of nullity: In a nutshell, discern until they believe they are “at peace with God.” When this happens, the couple “cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” The bishops make reference to notes 336 and 351 of Amoris Laetitia.

Throughout the document, the bishops tell their priests that not all cases are the same, that there are a variety of situations, and so on. But they never offer guidance for a case in which the couple must do the hard work of obeying what the Church has taught for two thousand years. With the exception of two sentences that give lip service to continence, the bishops tell their priests that it is “humanly impossible” to obey God in sexual matters.

In truth, the bishops of Malta, and other bishops around the world who go about exclaiming that it's impossible to obey God regarding sex, are setting in motion two very destructive ideas. First, they undermine obedience to God in all areas of life, and circumvent the suffering necessary for holiness. Second, they are setting the stage for class division within the laity.

Read the rest of the article at First Things

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