Continuing the translation from Josef Seifert's article in German, released under the Creative Common's License with Attribution CC BY 3.0). Complete translation (still in progress), on a single page: The Joy of Love – Joys, Anguish, and Hope – by Josef Seifert.
2.1.2 All „irregular“ couples: divorced, adulterers, lesbian and homosexual couples?
Many persons interpret the couples, who materially are living in grave sin, but who now by AL shall be welcomed at the Lord’s table, in a form completely opposite to the first answer: “All divorced and remarried persons, adulterers, lesbians and homosexuals, bisexuals and other couples should be admitted to the sacraments without any restrictions.” Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through its president, and many German bishops, but also US bishops such as the Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé Cupich, have interpreted AL in the same sense. The same applies to Cardinal Schönborn, who in an interview went so far as to say that Pope Francis, at least as regards the reception of the sacraments, had eliminated every distinction between regular and irregular couples. (cf. Schönborn, July 6, 2016)
This interpretation of the couples, who should be admitted to the reception of the sacraments and draw help and graces from them, not only contradicts Familiaris Consortio 84, is not only the negation of that which FC and many other documents teach. It is the radical, contrary and absolute opposite of the traditional teaching.
If instead of none, now all adulterous, homosexual, lesbian and promiscuously living couples shall be invited to the sacraments, there are truly no more limits, as Fr. Spadaro assures us. Why not administer the sacraments to couples, nurses and doctors, who through abortion or assistance thereto have been automatically excommunicated?
If one were to put the explanation and practice of the sacraments in line with this interpretation and its pastoral consequences, one would desecrate the holy temple of God, indeed one would transform it into a temple of Satan and a horrible site of every Eucharistic sacrilege and blasphemy. In view of such an interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which stands in stark contradiction to the repeated papal request for Eucharistic adoration, I believe it is extremely urgent to clarify that this neither is nor can be what the Pope intends, but a completely false interpretation and a total misapprehension of the meaning of AL. It is quite clear from the text of AL that this is a false interpretation of AL.
Still, in view of the fact that this interpretation is advocated by Bishops’ conferences, Fr. Spadaro, cardinals and archbishops including Archbishop Cupich, who was recently promoted to membership in the Congregation for Bishops, a very clear papal explanation that this interpretation of the words of AL is a radical misunderstanding is urgently necessary and must be given as soon as possible, if one wants to prevent total chaos.
A further reason urges this, namely that the offering of the holy sacraments to all (even granted that this understanding of AL is incorrect, as I believe it is) seems to be supported by the following words of AL:
„297. It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an “unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous” mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.”
When one, moreover, considers the Holy Father’s silence in reaction to this interpretation by the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and the fact that Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J. was a close collaborator in working on the text of AL, it is difficult to call into doubt what he says about AL (unless the Holy Father explicitly excludes this interpretation, which all bishops and faithful should humbly ask him to):
„The exhortation, following the synod's concluding document, goes the way of examining individual cases, without setting any limits to integration, as was formerly the case.“
This silence of Pope Francis strengthens the false and scandalous second interpretation of who, according to AL, the couples are, who should be admitted to the sacraments, above all when one considers that it is in no way a general tendency of Pope France to let everything go its way, without making public corrections. Thus the Pope, a short time ago, immediately and publicly corrected the impression that had arisen with many persons, that the simple invitation of Cardinal Sarah, motivated by noble liturgical considerations, that priests, as a way of meditating on the deepest goal of the liturgy (the glorification of God), should more frequently celebrate ad orientem (versus Deum), announced a change of the liturgical norms of Paul VI, according to which the Holy Mass should normally be celebrated versus populum. (In reality this norm was never absolute, and moreover was in part modified by the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI on the right of all priests to celebrate Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Rite (sic)). This immediate and very public critical reaction (which I regret), by the Pope to a mere, very beautiful suggestion of Cardinal Sarah, which was completely in his area of competence and moreover only recommended something that is allowed to priests anyway according to the currently valid norms for liturgical celebration, gives the world all the more reason to believe that when the pope is silent regarding the scandalous second interpretation of “couples in irregular situations” (who objectively are living in a state of gave sin) who now should without distinction be invited to the sacraments, his silence indicates his consent to this interpretation.
The same thing applies to the pope’s silence regarding the newest interview of Cardinal Schönborn in Corriere della Sera, in which the Cardinal, whom the Pope declared to be the most competent interpreter of AL, made the unbelievable claim that Amoris Laetitia had completely eliminated the distinction between “regular” and “irregular” couples. (This corresponds exactly to the interpretation that according to AL there is no restriction on the couples who are to be allowed to receive the sacraments, and in addition imputes to AL, that it puts marriage on the same level as concubinage, adulterous and homosexual couples.)
Many persons must think that the papal silence regarding this interpretation is a sign of papal consent. Without the promptest reaction of the pope to these interpretations the whole world must be that Francis supports this second interpretation of “couples in irregular situations” (in a state of grave sin).
Pope Francis seems, moreover, to encourage this second interpretation of the couples who should be admitted to the sacraments, by his recent appointment of Archbishop Cupich as member of the Papal Congregation for Bishops. For Archbishop Cupich defends this second interpretation regarding the admission to the sacraments more radically than any other American bishop, indeed he publicly distributes the Sacrament of the Eucharist to politicians, who for their support of abortion are automatically excommunicated, and, to top it all, defends this interpretation of AL by calling this document a radical “rule-changer” and considers it a good thing to distribute Communion to public advocates of abortion, a crime punished by excommunication (and forbids the priests of his diocese to take part in a march for life and in public priests for the abolition of abortion laws).
I therefore call on all Catholics, urgently to implore the Holy Father in the name of God and of the souls deceived by such false and scandalous interpretations of AL, to very soon make such a clear statement, to hinder a spiritual catastrophe and sacrilege without end in God’s sanctuary and as far as possible, to stop a total confusion among priests and faithful.
It is impossible that the Pope teaches this. Still, I believe, that reducing the complete chaos that has arisen from this interpretation and its high ranking advocates in the church, presupposes that the pope himself exclude this second answer with the strongest expressions possible and publicly declares in a commentary to AL: “It is false to maintain that it is a correct interpretation of AL, that all who live in concubinage, adulterous, homosexual, lesbian, and all other “irregular” couples are invited to the Lord’s table before they convert!”
I believe that this interpretation of the text of AL is untenable, not only because it simply cannot be that a Pope should teach such monstrosities, but also because Pope Francis in AL speaks of a testing and an examination, ideally with a priest, which should precede the reception of the sacraments by such priests.
This brings us to the third understanding of those „couples in irregular and objectively gravely sinful situations,“ who now should be admitted to the Lord’s table:
One thought on “The Joy of Love – by Josef Seifert – all couples allowed to receive?”
Seifert seems to misrepesent Cardinal Schönborn's statements in his interview of July 6. The cardinal says that Amoris Laetitia "rises above" the categories of regular/irregular, not by eliminating or denying them, but by putting them in the perspective that we are all "in via", have all sinned and need the mercy of God, and putting irregular situations in the perspective of "let him who is without sin cast the first stone." (Freely translated from the — the excerpt published in English to which Seifert gives the link in his article says even less that could reasonably be interpreted to imply "eliminating" the categories of regular and irregular. The closest is probably when he says "One cannot pass from the general rule to “some cases” merely by looking at formal situations."
The cardinal's position, in this interview and elsewhere, is not that such categories do not exist and are not legally relevant, but that the consideration of an individual case cannot be reduced to them.