The implementation of Amoris Laetitia has varied drastically according to interpretation of bishops, as evidenced by the reaction to the document throughout the world.
The discrepancy in implementation could point back to the broad spectrum in which Amoris Laetitia can be understood and has led Catholics to previously ask for clarification.
A German bishop recently announced that he sees the core message of Amoris Laetitia
in the fact that “the Holy Father allows an opening towards the
receiving of the sacraments, after an in-depth examine of conscience and
Guidelines from Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini of the Diocese of
Rome, which only recently were published, permit sexually active,
cohabitating couples to receive Communion in “limited” cases, as
LifeSiteNews has reported.
Conversely, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the former Archbishop of Florence, has published his own vademecum for confessors that forbids them to make exceptions, as Vatican analyst Sandro Magister reports.
Pope Francis has himself stated recently that the model diocesan implementation of Amoris Laetitia
was done by the Argentine bishops of Buenos Aires. In a letter to the
bishops there written last month, the Holy Father said there can be "no
other interpretation" of Amoris Laetitia than to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion in some cases.
But Antonelli, who is also the former head of the Pontifical Council
for the Family, took initiative and told priests in his diocese – in
full agreement with Cardinal Guiseppe Betori, the current archbishop –
that the guidelines to interpret Amoris Laetitia are within a
hermeneutic of continuity with the Church’s Magisterium. That means in
plain English that Communion for “remarried” divorced is possible but
only if they live like brother and sister.
It is noteworthy that Cardinal Antonelli gave his text to the priests
of the Trieste diocese in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in northeast
Italy on October 13.
Moreover, his vademecum has been made available in five
languages by the Pontifical Council for the Family for implementation in
other dioceses around the world. For English speakers, the text can be
Points 4 and 5 deal with the subjective personal responsibility of
the Catholic individual in the case of “remarriage” and divorce. With
regard to chastity in any given difficult case, the vademecum
states: “I said that the observance of the moral law could be deemed
mistakenly impossible for a person, because in reality, with the help of
God’s grace, it is always possible to observe the commandments, even to
be chaste according to their standard of living. […] God does not
command the impossible, but in commanding, urges you to do what you can,
and in asking what you cannot do, He helps you so that you can do it
(Council of Trent, DH 1536).” And further on: “Keeping God’s law in
particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is
never impossible. This is the constant teaching of the Church’s
tradition. (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 102).”
Point 5 explicates: “Since negative general rules always oblige,
without exception, the Christian in an irregular situation is bound
before God to do everything possible to get out of the objective
disorder and harmonize his behavior with the norm. It may be that his
conscience, mistaken in good faith, was not aware of it. However, the
priest accompanying him must guide him, with love and prudence, through
his discernment and in accomplishment God’s will for him, until he
assumes a form of life consistent with the Gospel.”
With these phrases, the handout explains what a “pastoral path of
discernment” must really aim to achieve. The steps that must be taken
along the path are enumerated: 1) Verification of the validity of the
previous marriage and possible annulment; 2) celebration of a religious
marriage or radical sanction of a civil marriage; 3) ending the
cohabitation, if there are no impediments; 4) practicing sexual
continence, if other solutions are not possible; 5) in the case of an
temporarily invisible error and, hence, refusal of sexual consistence,
assessment of the possible rectitude of conscience in the light of the
personality and the global experience (prayer, love of neighbor,
participation in the life of the Church, and respect of her doctrine,
humility, and obedience before God); 6) finally, sacramental absolution
and Holy Communion may be given.
Made available universally through the Pontifical Council, this
handout will likely be used by others in dioceses and parishes worldwide
to help clarify the Church’s teaching.