Cardinal Vallini offered a 17-page set of guidelines, in which he encourages priests to inform their people about the new procedures offered by Pope Francis to test the validity of a marriage. He goes on to say that if an annulment cannot be obtained, other avenues may remain open.
Cardinal Vallini stresses that in the apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis “is not saying that they must be admitted to the sacraments, although he does not exclude this in some cases and under some conditions.”
He says that Amoris Laetitia does not represent a break with prior Church teaching, and that under normal circumstances a divorced and remarried couple would be required to live as brother and sister if they intend to approach the Eucharist.
In unusual cases—“as in the case in which there is the moral certainty that the first marriage was null but there are not the proofs to demonstrate this in a judicial setting”—remarried couples might be allowed to receive the Eucharist, Cardinal Vallini writes.
But even in these cases, he cautions, reception of Communion could not be allowed if “their condition is shown off as if it were part of the Christian ideal.”
Ultimately, the cardinal writes, the decision about admission to Communion should be made by a priest-confessor after careful discernment and extensive counseling:
It can be none other than the confessor, at a certain point, in his conscience, after much reflection and prayer, who must assume the responsibility before God and the penitent and ask that the access take place in a discreet manner.