Let us recall for a moment what the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1650 states,
“Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ—‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’—the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.”
The Rev. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D., a priest of the Society of the Oblates of Wisdom, is an Associate Professor of Theology in the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce, P.R.. He is also parochial vicar of the parish of Saint Joseph the Worker in the city of Ponce, and a ‘Defender of the Bond’ for the island’s marriage tribunals. He was born in Australia and, after being raised as a Presbyterian, converted to the Catholic faith in 1972. In 1979 he began studies for the priesthood in the major seminary of Sydney, and after completing his Licentiate in Theology at Rome’s Angelicum university was ordained as a priest in Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1985 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In 1997 he gained his doctorate in Systematic Theology, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical Athenæum of the Holy Cross in Rome. Fr. Harrison, who has lived in Puerto Rico since 1989, is well-known as a speaker and writer. He is the author of two books and over 120 articles in Catholic magazines and journals in the U.S.A., Australia, Britain, France, Spain and Puerto Rico. His special interest in theological and liturgical matters, in keeping with the charism of the Oblates of Wisdom, is upholding a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ between the teachings of Vatican Council II and the bimillennial heritage of Catholic Tradition.
The most troubling aspect of AL, however, is its treatment in Chapter 8 of those living in irregular sexual relationships. Not a few stalwart champions of the magisterium are reassuring us that, basically, all is well. Canonist Ed Peters insists that the exhortation effects no change in church law. That is true, but it misses the point. For in paragraphs 302 (last section), 304 and 305 Francis has sent a clear message to priests that in individual cases they can and should bypass, rather than apply, the law, making ‘pastoral’ exceptions to it according to their own ‘merciful’ discretion. Robert Moynihan and George Weigel assure us that there is no change of doctrine embodied in the new document. But that’s only half true. Moral doctrine (i.e., teaching proposed as divine law) will be effectively changed not only if the Pope directly contradicts it, but also if he undermines it by relaxing disciplinary measures needed to protect it. Lamentably, like a tiny mustard seed full of massive potential, this kind of change has now been carefully planted in the fertile soil of two footnotes to an Apostolic Exhortation.Remember, when does doctrine change?
"Doctrine changes when pastoral contexts shift and new insights emerge such that particularly doctrinal formulations no longer mediate the saving message of God's transforming love. Doctrine changes when the Church has leaders and teachers who are not afraid to take note of new contexts and emerging insights. It changes when the Church has pastors who do what Francis has been insisting: leave the securities of your chanceries, of your rectories, of your safe places, of your episcopal residences go set aside the small minded rules that often keep you locked up and shielded from the world." Thomas J. Rosica from Richard Gaillardetz
In notes 336 and 351 to paragraphs 300 and 305 respectively, the Holy Father breaks with the teaching and discipline of all his predecessors in the See of Peter by allowing at least some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics (with no decree of nullity and no commitment to continence) to receive the sacraments. Since “discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists" owing to a variety of mitigating psychological and other factors, Francis affirms in n. 351 that the Church’s “help” to these Catholics living in objectively illicit relationships can “in certain cases . . . include the help of the sacraments”. The context indicates that this means mainly Penance and Eucharist. Commentators of all beliefs and none have almost universally interpreted the footnote in that sense, and their widely trumpeted claims have been confirmed by eloquent silence from the See of Peter.
The Bishop of Rome has set himself against the Catechism because Amoris Laetitia grants permission in its pastoral footnotes to provide the sacraments to those in adultery and other "irregular" situations. Of this, there can be no doubt.
The Pope himself is responsible for this confusion. He must clarify what he meant or Cardinals and Bishops must meet together and demand that he clarify the errors inherent in the Joy of Whatever you call Love.
Perhaps the Archbishop of Los Angeles would like to explain this?
The question is, what does Jorge Bergoglio think and who will get the answer out of him?