The bishops of Poland offer a restrictive interpretation of Amoris laetitia: “True repentance” from couples living in non-sacramental unions; no change in the Church’s doctrine of “not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried”.
In a declaration published at the end of their plenary assembly last week, in the city of Zakopane, the Polish Bishops’ Conference stated that couples who are not living in a sacramental marriage should be led to “true repentance and the sacrament of Penance”. The debates were led by Archbishop Stanisł aw Gą decki, President of the Episcopal Conference, in the presence of Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland and representative of the Holy See.
For the bishops, the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia must be interpreted in continuity with the teaching of the Church, especially John Paul II’s Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, which firmly forbade giving sacramental Communion to divorced and civilly remarried couples.
Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman for the Episcopal Conference, said that the bishops stressed that Amoris laetitia merely suggests “a new approach for the divorced and civilly remarried, to try to bring them back to the life of the Church, in the light of Familiaris Consortio”, but remains firm on the principle of never “allowing them to receive Holy Communion”.
This interpretation seems to be in complete contradiction with thae reading given by the bishops of Malta on the very same Exhortation. When they published their Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia, the Maltese prelates were not afraid to write that, “if a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist”. This laxism was hailed by L'Osservatore Romano in its January 13 and 14 issues.
We recall that, at the end of last year, Cardinals Burke, Caffarra, Brandmüller, and Meissner asked the Holy Father to “clarify” the Apostolic Exhortation’s most controversial points. So far this has been in vain.
The Polish bishops’ recent stance logically brings one to wonder what exactly is the impact of an exhortation that allows for the most contradictory interpretations. It is an illustration of the new magisterium which, since Vatican II, no longer teaches with authority, but as a sort of dialogue with the world. This magisterium finds itself in a rupture from Tradition, and from the magisterium of all time, whose role is to transmit the deposit of the Faith and lead souls to Heaven by teaching them to keep the commandments of God.
As early as 1966, Archbishop Lefebvre observed how, in the name of pastoral care, “The Faith, morals, and ecclesiastical discipline were shaken in their very foundations.”