Three more Catholic archbishops have signed on to a letter released by three bishops on Dec. 31, which publicly challenges Pope Francis' teaching on Communion for the "divorced and remarried" and states that his instruction is "alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith."
On Dec. 31, three bishops from Kazakstan released their letter, Profession of the Immutable Truths About Sacramental Marriage. These prelates were Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda, and Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana.
Two days later, as reported by LifeSiteNews, two Italian archbishops joined with the Kazakhstan bishops to defend the Church's timeless teaching that people who divorce and remarry -- not an annulment -- are living in a state of adultery and must not receive Holy Communion unless they go to Confession, leave the adultery, and seek to live chaste lives (separately, or like brother and sister).
The Italian bishops are Carlo Maria Vigano and Luigi Negri.
The letter explains in detail why -- contrary to Pope Francis' instruction in Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) and its liberal interpretation by many bishops -- under no circumstances may "divorced and remarried" couples be offered Communion.
Since Pope Francis released his letter last spring there has been widespread confusion among clergy and lay people about whether people living in adultery could, under certain circumstances, receive Communion. Bishops from Argentina, Malta, Germany, and other parts of the world have said it is okay. Other bishops and priests have said it is not okay and violates a 2,000-year-old teaching of the Church.
Pope Francis has stated that the liberal interpretation of the bishops from Buenos Aires is correct and constitutes "authentic magesterium." This directly contradicts the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II.
In their Dec. 31 letter, the bishops challenging the Pope's interpretation state that it is "our duty before the faithful who await from us a public and unequivocal profession of the truth and the immutable discipline of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage. For this reason we are not allowed to be silent."
In addition to the Italian and Kazakh bishops, Cardinal Janis Pujats, the Archbishop Metropolitan of Riga, Latvia, signed on to the letter on Jan. 5, according to LifeSiteNews. Pujatis was elevated to Cardinal by Pope St. John Paul II in 2001. He participayed in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Pujatis is now retired.
In their letter, the bishops state that, "The admission of so-called 'divorced and remarried' faithful to Holy Communion, which is the highest expression of the unity of Christ the Spouse with His Church, means in practice a way of approving or legitimizing divorce, and in this meaning a kind of introduction of divorce in the life of the Church," a means of "spreading the 'plague of divorce.'"
Jesus Christ Himself "reaffirmed God's will regarding the absolute prohibition of divorce," said the bishops. Any attempt to change that, as is occuring through Amoris Laetitia, "seriously contradicts God's express will and His commandment," they said.
The letter also cites several Popes and Church documents that explain why the "divorced and remarried" cannot receive Communion unless they are living chastely, like a brother and sister. Sexual relations between those not in a valid marriage, e.g., the "divorced and remarried," are "always contrary to God's will and constitute a grave offense against God," state the bishops.
In concluding their letter, the bishops state, "We affirm therefore in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, of St. John Fisher, of St. Thomas More, of Blessed Laura Vicuña and of numerous known and unknown confessors and martyrs of the indissolubility of marriage:
"It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called 'divorced and remarried' to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith."