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Archbishop leading US response to Amoris Laetitia says his role has ‘no policy dimension’

Archbishop Charles Chaput beside Pope Francis as the pontiff blesses volunteers at the World Meeting of Families (AP)

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, the leader of a new working group of US bishops on implementing Amoris Laetitia, has said his role is administrative rather than policy-related.

The archbishop was speaking after the Catholic Herald reported that his appointment sent a signal on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Archbishop Chaput has opposed proposals to allow some divorced and remarried people to receive Communion without living “as brother and sister”. The archbishop said the proposals would not be truly merciful, and could lead to a collapse in Catholic practice like that seen in European countries which admitted the divorced and remarried to Communion.

But speaking to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the archbishop said it was “misleading” to read any policy decision into his appointment.

“Our ‘committee’ is very ad hoc and may exist for only three or four months,” Archbishop Chaput told CNA, adding: “There is no policy dimension to what we are doing”.

He said the group’s aims were “to gather what the bishops of the USA are doing” and share the information with other bishops, and then report to Cardinal Baldisseri at the Vatican, who is gathering responses from bishops’ conferences around the world.

In a statement, the US bishops’ conference said: “The working group is bringing the resources of the bishops’ conference together for essentially three purposes: first, to assist bishops with the positive reception and ongoing implementation of Amoris Laetitia; second, to learn the various initiatives taking place in the local Churches to assist this positive reception; and third, to update the Holy See on various initiatives, especially with the hope of offering our Holy Father an update at the time of the annual Curial Visits.

“In view of this, the hope is that the working group would have a fuller understanding of the range of positive efforts by mid-September of this year.”