Bishop Paprocki: Don't be misled, Archbishop Chaput got it right on marriage

A couple newly married by Pope Francis receives communion in St Peters Basilica on Sept 14 2014 Credit Lauren Cater CNA CNA 9 15 14 A newly married couple receive Communion in St. Peter's Basilica, Sept. 14, 2014. | Lauren Cater/CNA.

Some news reports got it wrong: Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput's guidelines on Holy Communion and divorce-and-remarriage were "certainly correct" and in line with Pope Francis and Catholic teaching, an Illinois bishop has said.

"The Bible clearly teaches about the proper disposition to receive Holy Communion in the First Letter to the Corinthians," Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said July 15.

St. Paul says in that letter that those who receive unworthily will be "guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord."

Canon law reflects this biblical teaching, the bishop said in the Illinois newspaper the State Journal-Register.

Bishop Paprocki criticized press coverage of Archbishop Chaput's response to the Pope's 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia. He said an Associated Press report was misleading to say that Archbishop Chaput was "closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion."

Reiterating his April 8 remarks, the bishop said that the apostolic exhortation made no changes to canon law or church doctrine.

Archbishop Chaput on July 1 issued pastoral guidelines for his archdiocese on the Pope's exhortation. He said the document is best understood when read "within the tradition of the Church's teaching and life."

Bishop Paprocki agreed. He said the archbishop's guidelines are right to say that all Catholics, not only those who have divorced-and-remarried, must confess all serious sins and have a firm purpose of amendment before receiving Holy Communion. Chaput's guidelines said those who have civilly remarried must work to live "as brother and sister" in this relationship to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which would then allow for them to receive Communion.

The archbishop's guidance drew widespread and sometimes critical reactions. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Twitter snapped that Archbishop Chaput's comments "are not Christian."

But for the Bishop of Springfield, the guidance was useful.

"This applies not only in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but also here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, as it does elsewhere in the Church," Bishop Paprocki said.

According to Bishop Paprocki, Catholics in irregular relationships have a free choice.

"(I)f they persist in sexual activity outside of valid marriage, they must refrain from taking Holy Communion; if they wish to receive Holy Communion, they must refrain from sexual activity outside of valid marriage," he said, citing the Gospel of Matthew.

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