If reconciliation is not possible, the primary canonical solution is to seek a declaration from the Church that the presumed marriage was, in fact, invalid.
If a declaration of nullity is granted, those who are in new unions and who have no impediments may approach the sacrament of confession, contract a marriage, and receive Communion, he taught.
Bishop Martinez laid out three possible points on a path of "accompaniment" in cases when a tribunal does not grant a declaration of nullity.
Until a judgment is found, those who are cohabiting with another person are invited to separate. If they continue to live together they "would be in an objective state of sin," he said. This makes the reception of Communion impossible, he said, because the state of life contradicts Christ's union with the Church which the Eucharist signifies and makes present.
If the divorced-and-remarried cannot separate but are willing to practice continence, abstaining from sexual relations, pastoral accompaniment will help them to come to the sacrament of confession and receive absolution, which will open the way to reception of Communion. "To persevere in Christian chastity it is particularly recommended that they approach frequently the sacrament of reconciliation to be fortified by that sacrament's grace, trusting 'in the mercy of God which is not denied anyone' if they have failed in the commitment they have taken on," he wrote, quoting from Amoris laetitia.
If responding to the Church's call to continence is not possible, then "although they cannot receive Holy Communion, we must accompany them and exhort them to cultivate a style of Christian life, since they continue to belong to the Church." Bishop Martinez explained that such persons are not to be abandoned, but to be prayed for and encouraged. He repeated the invitation of St. John Paul II that they listen to God's word, pray, and attend Mass.
For those unable to live according to the Church's call, Bishop Martinez encouraged the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, noting that the Diocese of San Luis has 12 adoration chapels which they could frequent, where they should be "accompanied to commence a path of growth in prayer, in adoration of the Eucharistic Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus will work wonders in them, because he waits for everyone, to say to them as the Good Shepherd: 'Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest'."
In each of these ways of pastoral accompaniment, Bishop Martinez recalled that Pope Francis "encourages us to a paternal, pastoral dedication." He wanted his priests to remember that "our accompaniment consists, precisely, in knowing at all moments that we are loved by God, who is Love and who desires that everyone be saved and come to the knowledge of the whole Truth and to eternal happiness through the Holy Spirit." He added that it is a "a great work of spiritual mercy" to help form consciences well and in conformity with truth.
Martens told CNA that Bishop Martinez "basically says that Amoris laetitia doesn't change anything of the previous teaching; and he gets back to the teaching of John Paul II in Familiaris consortio … he does use Pope Francis to emphasize the teaching of the Church. I think it's great news."
By omitting a "conscience 'solution'", and clarifying that a personal conviction in conscience that one's marriage was invalid does not render that marriage invalid, Bishop Martinez is "on the same page" as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and the bishops of western Canada, Martens said.
"There is nothing in there in the sense of what you see in the Malta guidelines, or in what the bishops of the Buenos Aires province have said … I think it's pretty significant that also from Argentina we're hearing this voice."
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Most of the bishops of Argentina who have written on Amoris laetitia have interpreted it as allowing the divorced-and-remarried, in some circumstances, to receive Communion without observing continence. The bishops of the Buenos Aires province, as well as Bishop Angel José Macin of Reconquista and Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, have all offered such interpretations.
Among Argentine bishops, Bishop Martinez is joined by one of his predecessors in the see of San Luis, Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, O.F.M. Cap. Bishop Laise was among the first signatories of a Declaration of Fidelity to the Church's Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline, which was publicized Aug. 29, 2016.
Bishop Laise, who led the San Luis diocese from 1971 to 2001, signed the declaration, which reaffirms the Church's teachings on marriage and morality. More than 879,000 persons have signed the document, among whom are eight cardinals.
In his pastoral letter, Bishop Martinez also reflected on the possible causes of the exhortation's "distinct interpretations." He suggested the theological reasons for an inadequate evaluation of the ordinary Magisterium; an erroneous understanding of divine, public Revelation which sees it as a continual unfolding in history, in which the bishops can 'constitute' the deposit of faith, and not merely transmit, conserve, and defend it faithfully; and a dualistic conception of the Church, mistakenly perceiving a separation between dogma and morality, or between a visible institution and a "charismatic call."
Martens commented to CNA that understanding the nature of Amoris laetitia's teaching authority and intended purpose is critical to its interpretation.
"You can have infallible teaching proclaimed in a less solemn document," Martens explained, "and in solemn documents you can have teaching of several levels. An example of this is Evangelium vitae, the encyclical of John Paul II: some of the teaching in there is put at a higher level, and it's clear from the wording of the text."