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Divorced and remarried are now asking for Communion, says senior Milan official

Milan Cathedral (PA)

Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has begun to change attitudes to Communion in the archdiocese of Milan, according to a senior official.

In an article for the Milan archdiocese website, Monsignor Fausto Gilardi, who is in charge of Confession at Milan Cathedral, says that there has been a growing “demand” in the diocese from the divorced and remarried for absolution and Communion.

Mgr Gilardi’s piece, which has been translated for the news website Crux, claims that some priests have changed their practice. He says that some have “opened a ‘teller’s window’ for consultations”.

Mgr Gilardi comments that this seems to contradict Amoris Laetitia’s warning against “the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant ‘exceptions’”.

The article says that other priests have asked divorced and remarried people to enter a pastoral process, but he does not specify whether Communion is a possible goal.

Mgr Gilardi writes that in the last few days, the divorced and remarried have mostly not been “disappointed” by the invitation to a “journey”.

He also says that pastors “aren’t called to impose a norm, but to lift up the value expressed through that norm’”.

Since its publication, Pope Francis’s encyclical has generated differing interpretations. Much of the debate was over footnote 351, which some argued implied that the Pope wanted the Eucharist to be a possibility for divorced and remarried couples.

Last week, however, Pope Francis said that he couldn’t remember writing the footnote.

Recent major statements on the subject, by Pope St John Paul II and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had reaffirmed the Church’s traditional practice, which is that the divorced and remarried are not to take Communion unless they live “in complete continence”.

At the press conference following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said that he didn’t “see why there should be a change” from John Paul II’s approach.