RESOLVING THE DUBIA – Pope cites “untouchable Magisterium on marriage and on the Eucharist”

Rev José Mario O Mandía

Pope Francis, in his address to the judges, lawyers and officials of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the solemn opening of the Judicial Year last 29 January 2018, pointed out “the necessary relationship between the regula fidei, that is, the fidelity of the Church to the untouchable Magisterium on marriage, as well as on the Eucharist, and the urgent attention of the Church herself to the psychological and religious processes of all persons called to the choice of marriage and family.” The Roman Pontiff’s address was centered on the formation of conscience.

The Holy Father’s statement seems to address the questions raised — dubia — concerning paragraphs 300-305, particularly note 351, of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Four cardinals said that the Exhortation, dated 19 March 2016 and released 8 April 2016, seemed to imply that it was possible to give Holy Communion to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to engage in marital relations.

Pope Francis said that “Blessed Paul VI exhorted ‘absolute fidelity to safeguard the “regula fidei”’ (Teachings XV [1977], 663), which enlightens the conscience and cannot be obscured or detached.”

The task of helping souls form their conscience in the light of the teaching of the Church is an important task which involves listening to God on one hand, and listening to the concerned parties on the other.

With regard to the first, the Holy Father reminded his audience of the need  “to incessantly invoke divine assistance to carry out with humility and good measure the serious task entrusted to you by the Church.”

At the same time, the Pontiff pointed out “the urgent need for listening, on the part of the Pastors of the Church, to the requests and expectations of those faithful who have kept their consciences silent and absent for long years and were subsequently helped by God and by life to regain some light, turning to the Church to have their conscience at peace.”

“However,” Pope Francis added, “the care of consciences cannot be the exclusive concern of Pastors; rather, with different responsibilities and methods, it is the mission of all, ministers and baptized faithful.”

The Holy Father pointed out the need for a continuing formation. “It is therefore necessary to promote a state of permanent catechumenate so that the consciousness of the baptized is open to the light of the Spirit.” The aim is to form “a conscience illuminated by faith” so that “the human intention of the spouses is oriented to what Christ and the Church want.”

Pope Francis did not fail to mention his concern about young people shying away from life commitments. “A continuous experience of faith, hope and charity is all the more necessary so that young people may again decide, with a sure and serene conscience, that conjugal union open to the gift of children is great joy for God, for the Church, for humanity.” He stressed that the synod on the family and the exhortation that followed “had an obligatory path and purpose: how to save young people from the din and deafening noise of the ephemeral, which leads them to shy away from stable and positive commitments for the individual and collective good.”

What is the Roman Rota?

The Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota is the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, with respect to both Latin-rite members and the Eastern-rite members and is, with respect to judicial trials conducted in the Catholic Church, the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See. An appeal may be had to the Pope himself, who is the supreme ecclesiastical judge. The Catholic Church has a complete legal system, which is the oldest in the West still in use. The court is named Rota (wheel) because the judges, called auditors, originally met in a round room to hear cases. The Rota was established in the 13th century. (Source: Wikipedia)

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