Pope Francis's comments to Argentine bishops on allowing Holy Communion for some civilly remarried divorcees was the blueprint for the Maltese bishops' Amoris Laetitia guidelines.
The two bishops came in for strong criticism for asserting the primacy of conscience over the objective moral truth in the document, stating that remarried divorcees can receive Holy Communion after a period of discernment, with an informed and enlightened conscience, and if they are "at peace with God".
Theologians, canon lawyers, and some Vatican officials drew attention to apparent and, some argued, obvious contradiction to the Church's established teaching.
Some priests in Malta have also expressed their "deep discomfort" about their bishops' directives, which they call confusing.
But in his lengthy exchange January 24 with Tonio Bonello of Malta's RTK Church radio, Archbishop Scicluna sought to defend the document, saying the Pope's comment to the Argentine bishops — that there is "no other interpretation" of his apostolic exhortation on the family – gave an "indication of how we bishops must proceed".
He said they looked at the whole document and "all the questions which are causing most problems," adding they didn't just look at the most controversial chapter the document, Chapter 8, "but also at the interpretation approved by the Pope."
"To be honest, I was very surprised because after the Pope wrote to the bishops of Buenos Aires, I felt that when the Pope tells you 'there are no other interpretations', one has to accept the interpretation that the Pope gives of his own documents," he said. "We adhered to Amoris Laetitia. We also followed the interpretation that the Pope approved, but evidently what we did was not liked everywhere. One can't please everyone."