A Catholic theologian has said in a media statement that Catholics may not follow the pope’s “novel teaching” endorsing Communion guidelines from the Buenos Aires bishops.
The Buenos Aires guidelines, pronounced by Pope Francis to be the “only interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia, allow some divorced-and-remarried couples to receive both the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist without a firm resolve to live chastely in continence.
News broke on the weekend that both the Buenos Aires guidelines and Pope Francis’s private note endorsing them have been promulgated officially in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. An accompanying comment from the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, says the pope’s note carries the status of an “Apostolic Letter,” and that the Pope’s endorsement is part of his “authentic Magisterium.”
That has led to worry among Catholics that they must now endorse the Buenos Aires approach under pain of heresy.
However, a notable theologian stated that, on the contrary, Catholics must not accept the novelty.
“Vatican I teaches us that there are conditions regarding papal infallibility,” he said. “Outside those conditions, we do not have certitude that what the pope proposes does not contain error.”
The highly credible source, would comment on the new addition to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis only under conditions of strict anonymity. Many theologians and priests have faced strong reprisals for speaking critically of Pope Francis. Two notable recent examples are Professor Josef Seifert and Fr. Thomas Weinandy.
“Normally speaking,” the theologian continued, “we should give assent to the ordinary Magisterial teaching of the Holy Father. However, the recent letter by the Holy Father appearing in the A.A.S. confirming the Argentinian bishops’ interpretation of Amoris Laetitiae in which those who have been married outside the Church without an annulment may receive Holy Communion is clearly contrary to the Divine Positive Law (Revelation), the constant tradition of the Church and even a statement made by a recent pope, Pope Saint John Paul II.”
John Paul II asserted in Familiaris Consortio that the Church does not admit divorced and remarried members to Holy Communion. The Pope wrote:
…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.According to the theologian, “Arguing that the pastoral practice is distinct from the moral doctrine (i.e. one must be in the state of grace to receive Holy Communion and adultery is mortally sinful) does not obtain in this case since the pastoral practice, according to St. Paul’s teaching specifically, IS the moral doctrine; there can be no distinction.”
“In cases where a papal statement clearly deviates from Revelation and the constant teaching of the Tradition of the Church, Catholics are not permitted to adhere to the novel teaching.”