Final Relatio: An Opening for Communion to Divorced & Remarried?

Final Relatio: An Opening for Communion to Divorced & Remarried?

“Discernment” is key term

by Christine Niles  •   October 24, 2015   205 COMMENTS



VATICAN CITY, October 24, 2015 ( – Liberals are already rejoicing over the Final Report of the 2015 Synod on the Family.

The Italian version was released today, with the English translation expected soon. It’s reported that all 94 paragraphs received a two-thirds majority vote. Although the small circle reports of the Synod Fathers this past week overwhelmingly rejected the Kasper Proposal (opening up Holy Communion to those in non-sacramental, invalid marriages — the numbers were four to one against), fears were that the Final Relatio, drafted by a group consisting largely of a liberal bloc of six prelates and one priest, would gain a victory for the progressive agenda by writing this proposal in.

Those fears seem largely to have been realized, at least according to liberals who are celebrating what they deem an opening for Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried in the final Synod document. Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times tweeted: “Bishops open the door to allow divorced & remarried Catholics to take communion, on a case by case basis.”


And Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin issued a similarly celebratory tweet: “Breaking #Synod 15 doc: Striking softening to remarried Catholics, stresses ‘internal forum,’ individual conscience.”

The key paragraphs are 84–86. Paragraph 85 reportedly barely received a two-thirds majority, making it in by only one vote (’s working translation follows):

Discernment and Integration

84. The faithful who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more integrated in the Christian communities in different ways as possible, avoiding any chance of scandal. … [It] is therefore necessary to discern which of the various forms of exclusion currently practiced in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework can be overcome. …

85. St. John Paul II offered a comprehensive policy, which remains the basis for the evaluation of these situations: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to discern situations. There is indeed a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have contracted a second marriage for the sake of the children, and are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous marriage, irreparably broken, had never been valid “( Familiaris Consortio, ​​84). It is therefore the duty of priests to accompany the people concerned on the way of understanding according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the Bishop. …

Moreover, one cannot deny that in some circumstances “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or nullified” ( CCC , 1735) due to several constraints. Accordingly, the judgment of an objective situation should not lead to a judgment on the ‘subjective culpability'”(Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration of June 24, 2000, 2a). Under certain circumstances people find it very difficult to act differently. Therefore, while supporting a general rule, it must recognize that the responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases. The pastoral discernment, while taking account of a properly formed conscience of the people, must take responsibility for these situations. The consequences of acts are not necessarily the same in all cases.

86. The process of discernment directs these faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. The interview with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and the steps that can foster it and make it grow. Given that the same law offers no gradation (cf. FC , ​​34), this discernment will always consider the needs of truth and charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church. … (emphasis added)

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin 

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