Amoris Laetitia continues to sow confusion, division, and strife within the Catholic Church, with the priests as the victims.
Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, along with his brother bishops, released on January 6, 2016 guidelines that allow Catholics living in adultery to receive Holy Communion, provided they are “at peace with God.”
American canon law expert Edward Peters described the guidelines as the “Maltese disaster," and said they ignore perennial Catholic teaching on marriage and the sacraments.
In Malta now, anyone who approaches for the sacraments should be recognized as being ‘at peace with God.’ Objective evidence to the contrary is simply no longer relevant. Canon 916 is thus eviscerated, Canon 915 is effectively repudiated."
In my view, the Maltese bishops have effectively invited the Catholics entrusted to them (lay faithful and clergy alike!) to commit a number of objectively gravely evil acts."
But Scicluna, former chief prosecutor of clerical sexual abuse for the Vatican, insisted in a January 17 interview with Times of Malta that he and his fellow bishops were simply following what the Pope laid out in his April 2016 exhortation on marriage and the family.
I invite people to refer to [our] document, because the guidelines quote extensively from Amoris Laetitia and make constant reference to a discernment process that has to take place.”
Bishop Mario Grech of the diocese of Gozo, Malta, threatened to strip all priests of their priestly faculties if they do not follow his new guidelines, claiming he is following the directives of Amoris Laetitia. He reportedly has taken this severe position following a recent visit to Rome. According to the German press on January 19, Bishop Grech threatened his priests with suspension a divinis if they refuse to comply. However, Grech has subsequently denied these allegations.
The disorientation and suffering of the priests follows the confusion introduced by Amoris Laetitia.
Cardinal Caffarra, in his January 14, 2016 interview to Il Foglio, discussed a letter he received from a priest.
I received a letter from a priest that is a perfect portrait of what is going on. He wrote: "In spiritual direction and in Confession I don't know what to say anymore. To the penitent that tells me: "I live like a husband to a woman who is divorced and now I approach the Eucharist," I propose an itinerary in order to correct the situation. But the penitent stops me and immediately replies, 'Father, you see, the Pope has said I can receive the Eucharist without the purpose of living in continence.' I can't take this situation anymore. The Church can ask me anything, but not to betray my conscience. And my conscience objects to a supposed pontifical teaching that allows the reception of the Eucharist, in certain circumstances, by people who live more uxorio when they are not married."
Needless to say, Amoris Laetitia continues to sow confusion, division, and strife within the Catholic Church. Instead of upholding the Church's timeless teachings on marriage and the family, the papal document, along with the response of certain bishops, undermines them. Now priests are being put in a position where they must either choose between following their superiors or remaining in the truth of Christ. Lord have mercy.