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Friday, August 11, 2017

Love is Faithful; Marriage is Indissoluble until Death

Amoris Laetitia is a Hymn to Fidelity in Marriage, And How to Get There

No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries. There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment 
Amoris Laetitia
that bears fruit in new life. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.
But  nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?
(Amoris Laetitia 52)

by Susan Fox

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water?”  (John 4:12)

So the Samaritan woman continues to haggle with Jesus, who asked her for a cup of water. He told her that if she knew Who asked for water, she would ask Him for Living Water. 

I'm sitting on the edge of my chair. Doesn’t Our Lord get a drink of water? But clearly, Jesus is speaking of a spiritual reality, the Holy Spirit. And the woman thinks He means a material reality — plain drinking water.

Jesus explains the difference: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Ah, now she is hooked. She thinks she will never have to return to the well and draw water again, if she has this Living Water. “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (John 4:15)

But Jesus’ response is surprising:  “Go, call your husband, and come here.” (John 4:16)

Whoops. “I have no husband.” she replied. She offered Him the truth, and this is the root of her moral dilemma. Jesus is the Truth. He  can work with truth.

“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband;’ for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you say truly.” (John 4: 17-18)

So Jesus  begins the process of accompaniment which will end in her conversion. For the problem of the woman at the well is not her living situation, but her bone deep desire for God, which was not being met with a live-in boyfriend. 

Pope Francis realised this truth in his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, when he cried, But nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond? (Amoris Laetitia 52)

In Amoris Laetitia, the pope is personally going to meet the woman at the well. He is leading the Church to assist couples in irregular situations so they might reinstate their lives in conformity with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Helping them does not make marriage dissolvable, nor does it allow communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. The pope is not giving up on marriage:  “The Synod Fathers noted that Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that ‘it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ (Mt 19:8). The indissolubility of marriage – ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) – should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage” Pope Francis concluded. (Amoris Laetitia 62)

Coming on the heels of the 2015 Synod on the Bishops, many orthodox Catholics feared the Church was planning to change 2,000 years of Catholic tradition on marriage,  turning it into a more fluid situation, including stable gay relationships. They apparently believed that Jesus Christ lied when He said,  “I am with you always to the end of the world.” (Matt 28:20)

Jesus didn’t lie. Amoris Laetitia is a magisterial document binding on Catholics. And thankfully it upholds the indissolubility of marriage between one man and woman open to new life and prepared to share their whole lives together exclusively and in faithfulness until death. 

Tragically, one year later, some bishops still doubt. They believe the document says the Church can give Holy Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, who  are not living as brother and sister and have not obtained a declaration of nullity of their first marriage from the Church. Conservative Catholic bloggers and new services very rudely call this “giving communion to adulterers.”

But in fact Catholics, who are divorced and remarried may not receive Holy Communion, and Amoris Laetitia makes that clear. 

Footnoted clearly in the controversial Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia (Footnote #345) on “accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness,” is the Church’s document, Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried (2000). 

It  refers to Canon Law 915, which says those objectively  persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion. People divorced, remarried civilly or in another church are living objectively in grave sin, though they may not realise it. And we cannot judge them. 

Not clear enough? Pope Francis footnotes Familiaris Consortio (footnote 329) in Chapter 8: “However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based on 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.” 

The state of life of a person technically co-habitating with another cannot be said to model that union of love between Christ and His Bride. Christ doesn’t co-habitate with the Church, which implies He is using her. He marries her, gives His life for her.  Therefore a cohabitating couple — even civilly remarried — may not go to communion even if they are in a state of grace through ignorance or diminished responsibility. 

So why have we gone through the drama of four orthodox churchmen led by Cardinal Raymond Burke requesting clarification of Amoris Laetitia, because of their doubts about its teaching. Where is the doubt? 

Formally allowing the reception of communion among Catholics who are sexually active, divorced and remarried would contradict the indissolubility of marriage. It’s impossible! But bishops in Belgian, Malta, Sicily and San Diego, California, and numerous other places have openly declared they will give communion to divorced remarried, claiming it is in Amoris Laetitia.

At no point does the document say that divorced remarried can receive communion. I have thoroughly read it. 

Based on Amoris Laetitia’ paragraph 37, which states, “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them,” the Belgian bishops concluded that divorced Catholics, who are sexually active, may follow their conscience to the communion rail. 

Why? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the same thing. A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church #1790) 
No one thought the Catechism published in 1992 gave divorced remarried the right to Holy Communion. Why does Amoris Laetitia give this right when it quotes the catechism? 

The Belgian bishops speak of respecting the decision that the laity may make in this matter. But Pope Francis speaks of accompaniment.

Accompaniment means assisting people pastorally in irregular situations to reinstate in their lives the truth of marriage, according to the Gospel. The word is not used, but it is clearly a process of conversion. Amoris Laetitia does not see the Church throwing up her hands in despair, and saying, “Oh go to communion. It’s your conscience.” No Pope Francis calls the Church to holy meddling.

“Although she constantly holds up the call to perfection and asks for a fuller response to God, “the Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence, like the beacon of a lighthouse in a port or a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way or who are in the midst of a storm,” so tenderly begins Pope Francis in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia’(Amoris Laetitia 291).

The Polish bishops clearly understood Amoris Laetitia does
Couples in non-sacramental unions should be
led to "true repentance," the Polish bishops said.
not allow communion for divorced remarried. The Polish Episcopal Conference on June 6-7, 2017 affirmed that
Amoris Laetitia has not changed Church doctrine on the issue.  Of course not, Amoris Laetitia reiterates the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage.  

How did the Polish bishops understand, and the Belgian bishops did not? 

They stayed close to Our Lady. They dedicated their whole meeting to the 100th anniversary of Fatima. The Beloved Disciple John was the only apostle who remained faithfully at the foot of the cross, while the others hid, because he was with Our Lady.

Secondly, they read their own Polish pope’s works, those of Pope Saint  John Paul II. While much of the world buried the words of John Paul II in the library, the Polish bishops faithfully studied them. 

Familiaris Consortio (by John Paul II) and Amoris Laetitia are in the same line, with this linear understanding of these documents” the Polish bishops said. Pope Francis is spiritually the little Argentine brother of Pope John Paul II. But he is gravely misunderstood. 

“The apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia is the catalyst that has divided not only bishops and Episcopal Conferences from each other but, priests from their bishops and from each other, and (left) the laity, anxious and confused.  As a Trojan
Fr. Linus Clovis thinks the Church's magisterial
document is a Trojan horse. 
Amoris Laetitia spells spiritual ruin for the entire Church,” thundered Fr. Linus Clovis of Family Life International at the Rome Life Forum May 18, 2017.  

I agree with Fr. Clovis that the false interpretation of Amoris Laetitia — like the false spirit of Vatican II — is separating priests from their bishops and bishops from their fellow bishops and cardinals from their pope!  Lies always do that.  But the solution is not to malign Pope Francis.  The solution is to read the document and explain it to your bishop. Such an act will save the Church in this crisis. 

Marriage Theologian Rev. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet O.P. said Amoris Laetitia can be difficult to understand because you need a theological background. “It has to be read in the light of the whole teaching of the Church, especially Familiaris Consortio (1981) for the teaching on marriage and family, and Veritatis Splendour (1993) for the moral teaching.” 

Fr. Brachet admitted the existence of the document has raised false hopes about eventual changes in the teaching of the Church on marriage and divorce, or the opposite, unjustified fear of such changes.

Fr. Brachet speaking to two ITI students
 in Sopron, Hungary
“In both cases it seems that there is a lack of confidence in the fact that the Holy Spirit leads the Church,” Fr. Brachet said. “Thus it is important to read the text, the whole text, but the text only, in the light of the teaching of the Church.” 

“The documents of the magisterium, including those on moral issues, must be interpreted according to the hermeneutic of continuity and development. And certainly not according to the hermeneutic of discontinuity, rupture, or transformation with respect to the perennial magisterium,” said Fr. Angelo Bellon, O.P., Professor of Moral Theology, Archdiocese of Genoa. 

Communion for divorced & remarried Catholics
 would destroy
the Church's teaching on Marriage, which is indissoluble. 
To give communion to divorced remarried Catholics — without demanding they live chastely —  would rupture 2,000 years of Catholic teaching on marriage. “The progress of the moral doctrine of the Church takes place under the action of the Holy Spirit that gradually leads to the  knowledge of the whole truth, without ever contradicting or denying the previous magisterium,” Fr. Bellon wrote. 

Not only that, but he points out that Pope Francis himself in the text of Amoris Laetitia repeatedly says he is following this hermeneutic of continuity: “Therefore while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition,” Pope Francis wrote (Amoris Laetitia 79).

It is chapter 8 on “accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness” that has caused the most consternation in the Catholic world. And it is probably the most fascinating document that the Church has produced in some time. 

All of the Church’s magisterial documents on marriage have been undergoing a quiet development since the Middle Ages. As late as 1880, Pope Leo XIII spoke about the ends of marriage as an institution, the first and primary end being the procreation and education of children. The spouses were to give “mutual help.” That was a secondary end. My Catholic in-laws were schooled in that view of marriage. Marriage was the foundation of the family, and the family was the foundation of civilisation. 

But something changed in the last century. The Church turned the lens of her camera to the intimate relationship between husband and wife, instead of marriage as an objective institution. By 1968, Humanae Vitae rhapsodised  about married love in which man and wife become “one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfilment.” A Theology of the Body took it further, and we discovered it was possible to commit adultery with our own spouse. Oh boy. The Church in the Middle Ages never mentioned that. 

Pope Saint John Paul II: "They cannot look
on the law as merely an ideal to be
achieved in the future."
The same development of doctrine is taking place in the pastoral issues related to contraception and divorce.  Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio began the development  when he applied the law of gradualness in the use of contraception, while still cautioning that it doesn’t change the moral law. “They cannot look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as the ‘law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.” 

In Familiaris Consortio 34, Pope John Paul II  is urging couples to recognise the teaching of Humanae Vitae as the norm for exercising their sexuality. He is also saying that they may take step by step advances to living the truth that every marital act must be open to new life. But he is warning confessors not to mix up the law of gradualness with the inflexibility of the objective law. Whether the couple understands it or not, contraception is always intrinsically evil.

The law of gradualness has been in the church since the woman met Christ at the well. It simply means that we sinners take our time getting converted to the truth and the Church must be patient with us.

St. Paul used this gradual pastoral approach: “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly. For since there is
jealousy and dissension among you, are you not worldly? Are you not walking in the way of man? For when one of you says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?” (1Cor 3:2-4)

Pope Francis breaks new ground in doctrine using the law of gradualness (step-by-step advance to living in the truth) in Amoris Laetitia, Fr. Brachet told Christ’s Faithful Witness in an interview It is the same principal that Pope John Paul II used in Familiaris Consortio in 1981.Pope Francis calls it accompaniment. 

Pope Saint John Paul II applied the law of gradualness to life issues'; Pope Francis applies it to pastoral situations. This is a stunning development in moral theology.

“Priests have the duty to “accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop. . . What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation 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 on what steps can foster it and make it grow. Given that gradualness is not in the law itself, this discernment can never prescind (be separated) from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church.” (Amoris Laetitia  300)

In other words, Pope Francis says the discernment process is to take place in the context of the traditional teachings of the Church, including the prohibition against giving  communion to the divorced and remarried. 

Catholic Church now focuses on the
subjective conscience of the soul.
So as the lens of the Church’s camera shifted from marriage as an institution to relationships within the family, now the church is changing her emphasis to look inside the conscience of the sinner and not at the place where his foot is stuck. It still doesn’t change the fact that an unrepentant Catholic in a second marriage is not living in communion with the Catholic Church, and may not receive Holy Communion.

“We must accompany the persons, not the situations,” Fr. Brachet emphasised. And with that, we see the objective state of the couple, which may radically contradict the ideal of marriage, is to no longer be the focus. Their situation and its wrongness doesn’t change, but we will be working intensely with the human beings wanting to return to God’s grace, i.e. the woman at the well. 

Their objective state may be that of serious sin. Veritatis Splendour showed us that certain moral acts like adultery are always intrinsically evil. But the persons living a second marriage may be living in diminished freedom and/or invincible ignorance. I know I had a hard time understanding this concept until I remembered that I had lived through this state in my own life 25 years ago. 

Though I went to regular confession since I was a child, I did not recognise certain sins of omission. I never confessed them, and indeed I never subjectively sinned by committing them. I lived in invincible ignorance. 

Then a priest in confession told me to go home and look at all the projects I had left unfinished. I did. There were my husband’s shoes waiting to be taken in for repairs, a statue I wanted to get painted, my poems collecting dust unpublished. Suddenly, I woke up and I was responsible for these actions in the future. Though my habits had been disordered before, now I could live my life in conformity with the gospel. Finish your projects or don’t start them, that was the priest’s advice. The truth set me free. 

A  Catholic married couple may live in invincible ignorance with respect to contraception.  Their mothers introduced their daughters to the pill and their sons to the condom to protect them. Their teachers told them to use contraception to prevent abortion. Their boyfriends carried condoms. Their girlfriends were on the pill. It was the responsible thing to do, according to the media. Their priest said it was okay sometimes. (He was incorrect). 

Thus they are married, using contraception, and living in invincible ignorance while going to communion every Sunday. The objective sin of contraception cannot be imputed to them. They are actually living in a state of grace. What? You think the priest should tell them to stop? Yes, according to Pope Saint John Paul II, they should be led to the truth. 

But in actuality, it  may take a lot of time, and a lot of convincing to overcome everything they have already been taught about contraception. They may not believe their new confessor. The same is true for a second marriage. A person entering a second marriage doesn’t think to himself, “Well, I am going to make my adultery formal.” Who thinks that? No they think, “I am in love! Can love be wrong?”

So Pope Francis writes, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly mentions these factors: “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors” (CCC 1735) In another paragraph, the Catechism refers once again to circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility, and mentions at length “affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability”(CCC 2352) For this reason, a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved.” (Amoris Laetitia  302)

Say that again? It says a couple can be living objectively in a state of serious sin, but subjectively may be living in a state of grace because of diminished freedom or knowledge. Here the bishops in Belgian become confused. If they are living in a state of grace, why can’t they receive communion? 

“But this is not the only criterium!” Fr. Brachet warns us. 

The objective union of the married divorced does not model that of Christ and the Church! And "Those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the Divine Eucharist" (Canon 712).”  This is all helpfully footnoted in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

The Catholic Church cannot just lay down and let the sinner decide for himself whether he will go to communion. The Catholic Church has its own conscience!  It is the Conscience of Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot violate her own conscience by giving communion to divorced and remarried. It would amount to an admission that marriage is not indissoluble.

“In effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. That scandal exists even if such behavior, unfortunately, no longer arouses surprise: in fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the conscience that it becomes more necessary for Pastors to act, with as much patience as firmness, as a protection to the sanctity of the Sacraments and a defence of Christian morality, and for the correct formation of the faithful.” (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried)  This is helpfully footnoted in Amoris Laetitia. 

Amoris Laetitia has one controversial footnote in chapter 8. When Pope Francis writes that “it is possible that in an objective situation of sin… a person can be living in God’s grace," that is footnoted with 351: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 44). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47).(Amoris Laetitia 305)

“The text says ‘in certain cases,’  the text does not say that divorced who have entered a new union are such a case!” Fr Brachet again cautions us. Yes, and such an interpretation of footnote 351 would contradict footnotes 345 and 329 in Amoris Laetitia.

“In the case of divorced who have entered a new union, it can happen that there is no sin because of the absence of imputation (they don’t know they are in sin, or they not free), but the meaning of their objective situation remains (they are living in adultery),” Fr. Brachet explained. “The specific reason of their non-access to the communion is the objective meaning of their situation: their objective situation is in contradiction with the objective meaning of the (Holy) Communion” Fr. Brachet said referring to Familiaris Consortio 84. And also I would add giving communion to divorced and remarried objectively contradicts the meaning of marriage, which is indissoluble.

Fr. Brachet emphasised Pope Francis’ point in quoting Pope John Paul II: “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.”

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” (1Cor 11:27)

With respect to Amoris Laetitia, many are obsessed with the issue of communion for divorced and remarriage. But Amoris Laetitia is talking about all types of strange and irregular situations that have to be discerned. My little friend "Jane" was a “certain case.” She was 62 years old, Catholic, slightly retarded and unmarried. She dressed in a frumpy manner and she wasn’t pretty. But a 50-year-old man visited her regularly and manipulated her into having sexual relations with him. I tried my best to talk her out of letting this man into her house. But he promised someday he would take her on a date. I heard so much about this fabled date.  Jane desperately needed to feel important.  Someday, she would dress up and be treated like a princess. That was her dream, and so she was a victim.  

I told Jane, “You need to go to confession.” She agreed. I went to my pastor, and told him "Jane"  would appear in his confessional and she was slightly retarded and definitely emotionally childlike. With childlike confidence, she went to confession.  LOL, according to Jane,  Father wasn’t going to absolve her. Jane was pacing back and forth in the confessional, wringing her hands. The confessional definitely felt like a torture chamber! Finally, she said, “Susan Fox said you would help me!” The situation changed immediately, and Father did give her absolution. I’m sure Pope Francis would agree "Jane" was one of those “certain cases” in need of the sacrament of reconciliation.

The only situation in which Amoris Laetitia allows communion for divorced and remarried who are unable to separate, is in the case of Canon Law 915: 
  1. they are living chastely as brother and sister, and
  2. the situation is not public. 
If it becomes openly known that they are living together in a second marriage or cohabitating, it could cause a scandal and they may not receive Holy Communion. Hence Amoris Laetitia clearly does not suggest the bishops give communion to "adulterers."  

Because of the misunderstanding regarding Amoris Laetitia, conservative bloggers and news services have created an image of Pope Francis as someone guilty of doublespeak. He gives lip service to marriage, but wiggles his eyebrows and denies it. Such a false allegation has sadly made even the most devout Catholic lay person doubt the pope. 

No matter what the pope says now, they are poised to believe he means the opposite.  Rather strangely, Fr Brachet, a Dominican, has the opposite opinion. He knows Jesuits.  He says orthodox Jesuits do not  engage in doublespeak. Our Jesuit Pope Francis says what he means, and if he says “in certain cases…” he doesn’t mean he is giving communion to divorced remarried. “That is not the Jesuit way,” Fr. Brachet said. Besides as Fr. Bellon points out such an interpretation of that comment “in certain cases” would introduce the hermeneutic of rupture and not continuity. And Pope Francis has made it clear in the text that he is following the previous magisterium completely. 

When the controversy over the false spirit of Amoris Laetitia is over and people can sit down and read the wonderful text that it is, we hope that the Church is able to indeed work with troubled marriages and bring couples to Christ. Sadly, for decades,  the Catholic Church has been bleeding divorced Catholics to Protestant Churches where they find the  indissolubility of marriage is not so rock solid and they can relax in a new union.  Now Pope Francis has given the Church a beautiful plan for calling these couples home to the Catholic Church.

If the Church is able to overcome her differences and work with the woman at the well, there will be a specific fruit eaten that Christ also enjoyed. For after Christ’s encounter with the woman at the well, the apostles arrived begging Him to eat. He refused. 

It was a message to our Church in this time. “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 

So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought him food?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, lift up your eyes and see how the fields are already white for the harvest.” (John 4:31-35) 

Susan Fox is a former investigative reporter, who worked for several daily newspapers and newswire in the 1980s and 90s, including the San Francisco Examiner and the San Diego Union,  under her maiden name Susan Burkhardt. She won many awards for her work then, which was in the area of economics and business reporting. Currently she is working on a master's degree in Marriage and Family at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. This is a paper she did for Catholic Marriage Theologian Rev. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet O.P. Bishop, who approved its publication.  

Interested in studying at the International Theological Institute? You can apply here.
Each student at ITI is only charged 6,000 Euros a year in tuition, but the actual cost of the education is 20,000 Euros. Donate here

Or to donate contact: Dipl. Ing. Alexander Pachta-Reyhofen, Director of Development (Europe), International Theological Institute, Email: a.pachtareyhofen@iti.ac.at


Baklinski, Pete, “Pope’s doctrine chief: Those in ‘grave sin’ cannot receive Communion until contrition, confession and reparation,”  Life Site News, (June 21, 2017)

Baklinski, Peter,  “U.S. Cardinal Writes Foreward to New Book Approving Communion for Adulterers,” Life Site News, (June 9, 2017) https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u.s.-cardinal-writes-forward-to-new-book-approving-communion-for-adulterers

Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried (2000)     http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html

Pope Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio on the Role if the Christian Family in the Modern World (November 1981).

Eli, Bradley, M. Div., Ma.Th, “Belgian Bishops: Divorced & Civilly Remarried May Receive Holy Communion,” Church Militant (May 30, 2017) https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/belgian-bishops-divorced-civilly-remarried-may-receive-holy-communion 

“Polish bishops: Amoris Laetitia does not allow Communion for the divorced and remarried,” Catholic Herald (June 12, 2017)  http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/06/12/polish-bishops-amoris-laetitia-does-not-allow-communion-for-the-divorced-and-remarried/

Clovis, Fr. Linus, “The anti-Church has come. Why faithful Catholics should not be afraid,” (May 18, 2017)  https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-anti-church-has-arrived-and-it

Resume of Rev. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet O.P.

Bellon, Angelo, O.P.,  “Instructions for reading the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” Settimo Cielo (May 5, 2016) http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351288bdc4.html?eng=y

Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, (July 25, 1968).


  1. What a load of Heretical babble!Accompany and discernment,walking together to Hell.One must stop the sin straight away and get to confession not wait for walking together in sin.Adultery is a Mortal sin and confession can resolve the sinful situation-not waiting for someone to walk with them.Slithery words my friend.Heretical Bergoglio and his wordspeak!

    1. Mr. Johnson, Have you never gone to confession and come out and gone and committed the same sin again? Are you always able to stop sinning completely after each confession? If the the answer is yes, "I sometimes commit the same sin again," then you are being accompanied through a gradual process of overcoming that sin. I've been to almost weekly confession for 57 years. It is a regular practice of mine. I can say I don't commit the same sins I committed say 30 years ago. I have overcome many sins, but in the interim there were many years where I had a sin I just could not get rid of. I was being accompanied by my confessors to overcome it once and for all by the grace of God. God bless you. Susan Fox

  2. 1. Why does a document for the pastoral good of all the faithful need theological expertise to be understood?

    2. Why did the Pope endorse the interpretation given by the Argentine episcopate?

    1. Thank you so much for your questions.
      1) Sadly, bishops largely ignored the writings of Pope Saint John Paul II when he was alive, and they never taught Familiaris Consortio, nor Theology of the Body, nor Veritatus Splendour. Understanding these documents is necessary to understand Amoris Laetitia. The laity were never taught. The laity were never trained. The laity were never prepared. So now they are confused. Also some of the bishops received the same bad education. It doesn't require theological expertise. It requires catechetical preparation. That was never done. That is the point of Amoris Laetitia. The formation of the laity was so poorly done, no one understands any longer that Marriage is indissoluble and has been since the time of Jesus Christ. No one understands that if the church would approve communion for divorced remarried it would literally refute 2,000 years of Catholic teaching on marriage. No pope would attempt that --even if he wanted to -- without something like a Vatican II to back him up. Pope Francis didn't want to approve communion for divorced remarried. He said so before the Synod began. He said he was not free to do so and he's not. What constrains him is Christ's own words in the Scripture: “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses order a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus answered, “It was because of your hardness of heart that Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but it was not this way from the beginning. Now I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery." That last caveat doesn't mean adultery, it means things covered under Leviticus 8 like marrying your sister, which is invalid anyway. There you see the law of gradualness at work. The Jews were slowly prepared to accept the truth, there is no divorce. They were so shocked even his disciples said, "If this is the case, why would anyone marry?"

      2) the Argentine issue is a canard. It was a leak. It was probably a leak from a prejudiced source who wanted to get communion for divorced remarried. I saw the Pope's alleged statement, but we really don't know whether it was a response to the alleged document that was in the news. Whispers in the dark and winks in the night do not make magisterial teaching. It has no relevance at all except as a bedtime story for shocked Catholics willing to believe we have an evil pope. God bless you vetusta ecclesia

      Susan Fox

  3. Thank you Susan Fox for doing all the work and for this clarification. May God continue to accompany our Pope and also dispel doubts and misunderstandings in regards to Amoris Laetitia.

  4. Thank you! Rose Marie Doyle for reading and understanding. God bless you. Susan Fox

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    1. Chris, I think you need to read the whole article. "Marriage Theologian Rev. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet O.P. said Amoris Laetitia can be difficult to understand because you need a theological background. “It has to be read in the light of the whole teaching of the Church, especially Familiaris Consortio (1981) for the teaching on marriage and family, and Veritatis Splendour (1993) for the moral teaching.”
      So Veritatis Splendour alone doesn't answer you question. Adultery is always intrinsically evil. The object of the act is evil. It is objectively evil.

      But Familiaris Consortito introduced the law of gradualness, which means that the person in his subjective state may be unable to understand the moral law. He is not in mortal sin because remember to commit a mortal sin you have to know it is a mortal sin. So he is in a state of grace while committing objective evil. This is the root of the confusion about the whole issue. If he is in the state of grace, why can't he go to communion? Because he is not in union with the Catholic Church! You can have a nice Protestant in a state of grace standing there and you won't give him communion because he is not in communion with the Catholic Church. Neither is a person who is divorced remarried, and not living as brother and sister/or publicly known to be living in a second marriage. Either condition prevents them from receiving communion. If they live as brother and sister and their situation is not publicly known, then the Church has always permitted communion, but it's up to the local pastor. This is Church teaching. There are links in the piece. You can read the Church documents that Amoris Laetitia is based on especially Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who Are Divorced and Remarried http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html Susan Fox

  6. Do as I did, simply marry your last wife first. HTH

  7. Great Idea! I've been married to my last husband first for the last 34 years. It's going great, but I never lapsed from the faith or became lukewarm. When that happens people get stuck in all kinds of situations, and many of them do not involve Divorced Remarried. In fact, the entire document Amoris Laetitia does not mention Communion for Divorced and Remarried Once. Not once. The whole document is about how we convert people mired in irregular situations. They can be Catholic, married for the first time, but not in the Church. Their husband can be never married before. They have small children, but he's an atheist and he won't get married in the Catholic Church. That has nothing to do with Divorced and Remarried. They can be an elderly retarded woman who is having intimate relations with a younger man. She and he are not married at all, but she needs to straighten out her situation. Amoris Laetitia provides a road map back to the Catholic Church, back to the strictures of the Holy Gospel. It is not about accepting sin, and saying that's okay. It's about a pastoral approach for saving mankind. Bringing them out of sin into conformity with the Holy Gospel. God bless you. Susan P.S. Let's pray it gets implemented.