New “concrete possibilities” have opened up for divorced and remarried to receive communion by his synod document on the family Pope Francis has said.
On board the papal plane from Lesbos, Greece to Rome, the Pope was asked during a press conference to clarify whether it is true that nothing has changed on access to the sacraments for remarried divorcees.
The journalist asked: ”Are there new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the exhortation, or no?”
"I would say yes," responded Francis. “But that would be too short of a reply.”
The Pope then urged journalists read the presentation of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn given at the news conference launching the apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.”
That presentation stressed the need for a “pastoral discernment” of individual cases and cited footnote 351 where the Pope said it was possible to give sacraments to the divorced and remarried in “certain cases.”
When asked why he placed this as a footnote Francis referred to remarks Benedict XVI had made on the Second Vatican Council. The Pope Emeritus said there were two councils “one in St Peter’s [Basilica]” and another in the media.
“When I called the first synod, the great preoccupation of the majority of the media was ‘will they give communion to remarried divorcees?’ Not being a saint, that gave me a bit of frustration and made me a little sad. Because those media don’t realise that that isn’t the important problem. The family is in crisis, young people don’t want to get married, there’s a plunge in Europe’s birth rate that makes you want to cry, the lack of work, kids who are growing up alone…These are the great problems.”
The Pope added that he “didn’t remember” the footnote 351.