23 February 2017, The Tablet

Imaturis Laetitia: Debate over communion for divorced and remarrieds shows how far some are from 'mature discipleship'


There is a longstanding recognition in the Church that a situation might be objectively sinful yet lack subjective culpability. Every day in the real world, priests have to make that judgement

That Amoris Laetitia is being condemned as “allowing adulterers to receive Communion” shows how far many remain from what Richard Gaillardetz (see page 4) calls “mature Christian discipleship”.

Critics of Amoris Laetitia takes refuge in blanket categories that do not correspond to pastoral realities (many of the divorced and remarried without an annulment are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of adultery). But the deeper problem is that the lens through which its critics view the document is often simply false. They read what is an old-fashioned, discernment-based pastoral approach in terms of a surrender to subjectivism and relativism.

Yet the source of Amoris Laetitia is not liberal theology but the pastoral tradition of the Jesuits and the Redemptorists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that has been preserved above all in Latin America. It is not a surrender to subjectivism, but a profound rejection of it.

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