PRESS RELEASE from We Are Church (Ireland)

8 APRIL 2016

We are Church Ireland welcomes the publication of  ‘Amoris Laetitia’  - the reflections of Pope Francis on the recommendations of the 2014 and 2015 Synod of the family. However the Synod recommendations did not reflect the voices of Catholic families who had no deliberative voice throughout the course of both Synods.

While its pastoral outlook and its emphasis on the ‘logic of mercy’ are very welcome we are disappointed that there are no positive changes for the many divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who are in second relationships.

 

Its nine chapters cover the many issues facing Catholics from ‘the excessive idealisation of marriage’ to the position of Catholics in  ‘irregular unions’. Throughout his Exhortation he emphasises the superiority of mercy over justice and truth in a significant sentence,

‘Mercy is the fullness of Justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth’

The Exhortation calls on States to promote employment, decent housing and adequate health care as well as for migrants and people with special needs.

Significantly Pope Francis denounces the excesses of ‘patriarchal culture and male chauvinism and in a positive development says that ‘we must see in the women’s movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women’.

Chapter 8 is the most significant section of the document. In it he states very clearly that ‘It can no longer be said that all those in any irregular union are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.‘  The implication of this statement means that people in second relationships can now receive Communion as they are not in a state of mortal sin which in traditional theology was the only barrier  to receiving the Eucharist . While Pope Francis in  footnote 351   seems to assert this change there is still too much ambiguity in this regard.

Pope Francis justifies his decision for no definite change by asserting that ‘No easy recipes exist and as a result neither the Synod nor this exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and to be applicable in all cases’.

He calls for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to be more fully integrated into the Christian Community.

While Pope Francis reiterates the ban on artificial contraception he states that ‘responsible parenthood doesn’t mean unlimited procreation but the empowerment of couples to use their inviolable liberty wisely and responsibly taking into account social personal and demographic realities.’

Throughout the document Pope Francis emphasises the importance and the role of individual conscience .

The one area Pope Francis has failed to recognise is the giftedness and grace of Gay and Lesbian people both as single people and in their  relationships.

Overall this is a positive step forward by Pope Francis especially on his emphasis on the overarching importance of Mercy and compassion in the Church and recognises that in the Church ‘We find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love’ .

 

Brendan Butler, We are Church (Ireland) spokesperson.

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