Bishops Challenge Pope: Communion for Divorced/Remarried Is 'Alien To Entire Tradition of Catholic Faith'

By Michael W. Chapman | January 2, 2018 | 4:26 PM EST

Catholic Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

In a document released on Dec. 31, the Feast of the Holy Family in the Catholic Church calendar, three bishops denounced the instruction in Pope Francis' 2016 letter Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) that says "divorced and remarried" couples -- those living in adultery -- may receive the sacrament of Holy Communion without repenting and turning away from their adulterous behavior. This teaching, or discipline, is "alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith," state the bishops.

Their document, Profession of the Immutable Truths About Sacramental Marriage, was published in English on Jan. 1, 2018, by LifeSite News. The three Roman Catholic bishops are from Kazakhstan: Thomas 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. 

Commenting on Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia, the bishops explain that bishops at "local, regional, and national levels" have applied norms -- discipline -- that allow the "divorced and remarried" to "receive the sacrament of Penance (Confession) and Holy Communion while continuing to live habitually and intentionally more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse."

Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda in Kazhakstan. (YouTube)

"These pastoral norms have received approval from various hierarchical authorities," such as Buenos Aires and Malta, state the bishops. "Some of these norms have received approval even from the supreme authority of the Church," the Pope. 

Pope Francis officially approved the Buenos Aires interpretation of Amoris Laetitia as "authentic magesterium" in early December. 

"The spread of these ecclesiastically approved pastoral norms has caused a considerable and ever increasing confusion among the faithful and the clergy, a confusion that touches the central manifestations of the life of the Church, such as sacramental marriage with the family, the domestic church, and the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist," state the bishops. 


They continued, "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 three bishops then cited 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. 

Pope Francis. (YouTube) 

"It is not morally licit to engage in sexual relations with a person who is not one's legitimate spouse supposedly to avoid another sin," said the bishops. "since the Word of God teaches us, it is not lawful 'to do evil so that good may come.'" 

"We are not allowed to be silent," say the bishops, explaining that they have a moral responsibility to defend the Faith and protect the faithful from scandal and confusion. 

In concluding their letter, the three 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.

"By making this public profession before our conscience and before God who will judge us, we are sincerely convinced that we have provided a service of charity in truth to the Church of our day and to the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth."

Artist's illustration of Adam and Eve.  (Public Domain) 

Bishop Schneider is the author of Corpus Christi, Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church and Dominus Est -- It Is The Lord!     

To read the full document by the bishops, click here

(Main photo is a screenshot from 

Enjoying your article? The MRC is NOT funded by the government like NPR - but as a non-profit, your tax-free contribution will keep the MRC your conservative premiere Media Watchdog! Support us today by completing the form below. Enjoy your article!

Please support CNSNews today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]


Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman