The Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, has introduced Communion for the remarried, but has not explained how it can be reconciled with Church teaching.
Cardinal Antonio Marto announced last month that the diocese had helped two couples and a woman, all living in new unions, to “discern” that they should receive the Eucharist.
Why was it under-reported?
This is not the first time that a diocese has introduced new guidelines which appear to break with Church teaching. Most famously, the bishops of Malta issued a document in 2017 which said that the divorced and remarried could receive Communion if it was not “possible” to avoid extramarital sex and if they felt “at peace” with God.
Pope St John Paul II and Benedict XVI both reaffirmed Catholic doctrine that the divorced and remarried could not receive Communion unless they resolved to live “in complete continence”.
What will happen next?
The diocese says that it wants to “help future divorced couples to complete this process” as well. It has set up a centre at which, according to the Portuguese newspaper JN Direct, “couples will be referred to specialized technicians and followed spiritually until their crisis is overcome”.
The diocese says it wants to extend a “window” which it claims was opened by Pope Francis. The Pope has made ambiguous statements on Communion for the remarried, which some dioceses have interpreted in line with the teaching expressed by John Paul II.
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