Amoris Laetitia – Chapter 8 and That Footnote…

The footnote says,

In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. … I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.

Does this mean what both the progressives and conservatives think–that the door is not only open to divorced and remarried people to receive communion, but that therefore (as some conservatives would protest) the entire edifice of the Catholic Church’s sacramental system is in tatters?

No. Have we forgotten that there are seven sacraments? If we are welcoming those who are wounded and seeking the Lord then the sacraments are exactly what we give them in certain cases. In certain cases they will need baptism. In certain cases they will need confirmation. In certain cases they will need confession. In certain cases they will need anointing of the sick. In certain cases they will need marriage. Will they also need the Eucharist? Of course. They need to come to Mass. They need to come to Eucharistic Adoration. Do they need to receive communion? Of course–once their marriage situation has been regularized through the annulment procedure and proper Catholic marriage.

The “accompaniment” and “walking with the wounded” which the Holy Father recommends is a plea for us priests and all the people to meet the woman taken in adultery in the dust and to grant her forgiveness and say “Go and sin no more” and then to help her live that way. That this is a process which often takes time, care, compassion and  concern is all the pope is pointing out. He is making the plea that we priests and people listen to the full, often complex and difficult situations and help people understand church teaching and move step by step to that place and time where they can be completely reconciled, ransomed, healed restored, forgiven and receive the medicine of communion.

Furthermore, there is the complex question of the relationship of a person’s sin and their culpability. A person may be in grave sin objectively, but their culpability or guilt may be very low because of ignorance, intention or circumstances. I have explained this aspect of moral theology in this article at Aleteia today and Scott Eric Alt explains it in more detail, and quotes the pope showing how this elucidates footnote 351 in this article at Aleteia.

Therefore do I have a problem with Amoris Laetitia? I  wish it were shorter and more concise and precise, but is there any kind of major problem?


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