.- A recently translated book by Pope Francis exhibits a call for Catholics who have been divorced and are re-married to be made welcome in parishes, in the hope that they can remedy their situations.
“Catholic Doctrine reminds its divorced members who have remarried that they are not excommunicated – even though they live in a situation on the margin of what indissolubility of marriage and the sacrament of marriage require of them – and they are asked to integrate into the parish life,” he says in his newly translated book, “On Heaven and Earth.”
The book is a conversation between Pope Francis and Abraham Skorka, a rabbi and scholar from Buenos Aires. It was originally published in Spanish in 2010, when Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The Pope's belief that re-married persons should “integrate into the parish life” is unsurprising to Alejandro Bermudez, who recently translated the book into English.
“The most important thing to understand is that he is a very close follower of Pope John Paul,” Bermudez told CNA.
“He was a friend of John Paul II, and he is an intellectual and pastoral follower of John Paul II in his teachings, in a very particular and personal manner,” he explained.
“So what he means by encouraging divorced Catholics in a new union to 'participate in the parish' is exactly what John Paul II said in 'Familiaris Consortio,' that Catholics in this situation are not formally excommunicated.”
Bermudez, who is executive director of Catholic News Agency, explained that such individuals are “just in a condition that does not allow them to approach to receive Holy Communion.”
“But the way to move towards a remedy to that situation is by participating in the charitable life of parishes.”
He said that the Buenos Aires archdiocese “actually has a ministry and has a group of Catholics in this condition, who do not question the teaching of the Church about receiving Communion, they accept the irregular conditions in which they are living.”
“But at the same time, they want to make sure that by participating in Sunday Mass, and by participating in the charitable activities of the Church, they grow in charity and open ways in which God will finally help them move away from that condition, whatever that means for each one in their particular situation.”
In this way, Bermudez explained, Pope Francis' nuanced position on divorce is one that is always informed both by Catholic doctrine and by charity.