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Ghanaian bishops’ Amoris statement is silent on Communion

Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, at the bishops' conference general assembly earlier this month (CNS)

The bishops’ conference of Ghana has issued its guidelines in response to Amoris Laetitia. In contrast with other bishops’ conferences, they have avoided mention of Communion for the remarried, saying only that “Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God”.

Reaction to the document has been dominated by the question of whether divorced and civilly remarried couples, if still in a sexual relationship, can receive the Eucharist. Traditional Church teaching holds that this is impossible, but some bishops’ conferences have claimed that Amoris Laetitia overturns the former teaching.

The bishops’ conference of Malta have claimed that avoiding sex may be impossible, while Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego said couples should ask whether “God is calling them to return to the Eucharist.”

On the other hand, Cardinal Raymond Burke has said that if the San Diego interpretation became universal, “then the Church’s teaching on marriage is finished.” And bishops in several countries have reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching.

However, in their 2017 Communique, which covers Amoris Laetitia and other issues, the bishops of Ghana make no reference to the question, only quoting passages of the document about the need for “integration” and “discernment”.

The Ghanaian bishops are the first African bishops’ conference to issue an official response to Amoris Laertitia.

Nigerian theologian Fr Paulinus Odozor told Crux in March that Communion for the remarried was a non-issue for African Catholics: “We settled that long ago. They can’t.”

The document looks at the pastoral challenges facing the Ghanaian Church, such as the “fixation on sexual functionality”, the stigmatisation of infertility, an “extreme individualism” which undermines the family, and “the canker of pornography and abuse of minors”.

They also offer guidelines on marriage preparation, encouraging a six-month process of preparation, an emphasis on the lifelong nature of marriage, and less expensive wedding ceremonies.