Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation released by Pope Francis in April, has given rise to contradictory interpretations over its teaching on Communion for the divorced and remarried. “Amoris Laetitia opens the way to Holy Communion for divorced and remarrieds,” the Tablet (UK) wrote about the 260-page document on love and family life. Those who see a change in church teachings cite passages like “It can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace,” and especially footnote 351, which says, “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia took a different view in his pastoral guidelines for the archdiocese, released in July. According to the Washington Post, the document stated that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, as well as same-sex couples, “are eligible for Communion only if they don’t have sex.” Chaput stated that “the subjective conscience of the individual can never be set against objective moral truth” of the indissolubility of marriage, Catholic News Agency reported. Jim Kenney, mayor of Philadelphia and a Catholic, tweeted in response, “Chaput’s actions are not Christian.”
Amoris Laetitia does reiterate previous Vatican statements precluding contraception, such as “the conjugal union is ordered to procreation ‘by its very nature,’” but some members of the hierarchy continue to take a progressive interpretation. Also in July, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna and a theologian, discussed the exhortation with the Italian journal La Civiltà Cattolica, asserting that diverse modern families have “made it necessary to look in a more nuanced way at the complexity of these situations,” according to Catholic News Service.