HOME, SWEET ROME! – POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

HOME, SWEET ROME!

Your roamin’ Catholic correspondent is again back in the Eternal City following one of the best vacations ever – delightful, fun-filled and extraordinarily relaxing days with my Hawaiian ohana (family) and then a visit with my sister and her family, including nieces and nephews I had not seen in two years and one, little Charlotte, whom I had never met! Photos were posted by my nieces on my Facebook page in case you are curious!

Vacation time has ended but I have promised myself to try and relax a bit each workday just as I did in Hawaii. To make time to smell the flowers, to enjoy a Roman piazza for a few minutes more than planned, to phone friends just to say ‘ciao’. I’d like to do what a speech and drama teacher taught us in high school: the next time you walk home from school, look up, not down, and come back to class and tell me what you saw that you never noticed before.

A page on my desk calendar says “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘Gee I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.” And that’s true even when you really love your work, as I do!

A very important story broke on September 1 as I was enroute from Los Angeles to Rome. I arrived Rome yesterday and, after I unpacked my luggage, including my computer, I followed some of the news about the just-published papal letter and saw a fine piece on Fr. Douglas Vu’s Facebook page. Fr. Vu, based in Birmingham Alabama, and I are good friends and I respect how he explained this extraordinary piece of news from Pope Francis, and how he also warned about misinterpretations and media spin.

I thus decided to share his post on my own Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) so as not to possibly do an injustice to a vitally important piece of news because of jetlag. And, as I said yesterday, if you want the truth about this matter, read Fr. Vu’s entire post.

In the event you have been checking in at this blog post but not on Facebook here again is that story.

If you already saw this on Facebook, make some time to smell the flowers!

POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

Fr. Vu introduced the news referring to the http://www.news.va publication of the Holy Father’s letter on absolution for the sin of abortion during the Holy Year of Mercy in this fashion

Friends,

Please be very careful and be prudent on what you might hear, read, see in the news, or post on social media this week about the LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ACCORDING TO WHICH AN INDULGENCE IS GRANTED TO THE FAITHFUL ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY

First, please read the entire letter (only 2 pages), the link is here: http://w2.vatican.va/…/papa-francesco_20150901_lettera-indu…

Here is an article from Catholic News Service could help you to understand about the context of this letter: “Administering mercy: Facilitating forgiveness does not downplay sin” – Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Always, but especially during a Holy Year, the Catholic Church does everything possible to help Catholics repent of their sins, receive forgiveness and draw closer to God.

The church’s law and its canon lawyers are part of that effort, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and a prelate of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court handling matters of conscience.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy would open Dec. 8, he also said he would appoint “missionaries of mercy” to preach and teach about God’s mercy. They will be given special authority, the pope said, “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”

Then, in a letter released at the Vatican Sept. 1, Pope Francis announced his decision “to concede to all priests for the jubilee year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

The first step, of course, is to recognize an action is a sin and confess it, expressing contrition and a willingness to do penance. Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s action is designed to ensure that the path to penance and reconciliation is not blocked by a priest not having the full authority to offer absolution in the name of God and the church.

In an interview with Catholic News Service June 2, before the pope announced the extended faculties, Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s mention of “reserved” sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

The missionaries of mercy will have the “faculties” or authority to remove the excommunication and grant absolution in those cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary, he said.

Some commentators have questioned whether the pope’s plan for mercy will send the message that abortion isn’t a serious sin.

But for Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, a ministry promoting healing and forgiveness for those who regret an abortion, it is a crucial part of the Year of Mercy.

“For millions of women, in their hearts abortion is the unforgiveable sin,” Thorn said during a telephone interview from her home in Milwaukee. “This sin holds people hostage,” she said. “Some women keep coming back confessing the same sin” over and over, Thorn said. “She knows she has committed a sin — the hard part is to convince her of God’s mercy.”

In the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law, Bishop Arrieta said, the offenses that carry automatic excommunication are: apostasy, heresy and schism; profanation of the Eucharist; physical violence against the pope; attempted absolution of an accomplice in sexual sin; attempted ordination of women; consecration of a bishop without papal approval; violating the secrecy of the sacrament of confession; recording the words of a confessor or penitent during confession; procuring, performing or actively assisting or pressuring a woman into having an abortion.

“All sins can be forgiven,” Bishop Arrieta said, but more serious sins are also considered crimes under canon law and carry penalties. In order to receive absolution, a person must be allowed to receive the sacraments, which he or she cannot do while under the penalty of excommunication.

However, when an excommunicated person is in danger of death, any priest can hear his or her confession and grant absolution, the bishop said. That is because the priority in the church’s law is the salvation of souls.

“All the barriers of canonical penalties fall when faced with the need to save souls and the danger of death,” he said.

When a woman goes to confession seeking absolution for abortion, “the problem is not the sin, but the penalty, which prevents the reception of any sacrament,” Bishop Arrieta said, which is why Pope Francis is making special global provisions.

In most dioceses of the United States, England and several other countries, the bishops regularly give all their priests the faculties to grant absolution for abortion. But in other places, like Italy, such permission is given only on special occasions.

During the April 19-June 24 public exposition of the Shroud of Turin, for example, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin granted his priests such faculties to “demonstrate the Father’s mercy toward those who repent of an evil committed.”

He said, however, the permission would be valid only during the shroud’s public display so as not to “diminish the rigor of the law,” which is designed to teach people how seriously wrong it is to kill an innocent life.

Bishop Arrieta said that when the Code of Canon Law was being revised in the 1970s and ’80s, church officials had long, passionate discussions about removing the penalty of automatic excommunication for an abortion. After all, the serious sin of murder does not carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.

The penalty was maintained, however, because officials believed it could “give a distorted impression that the church no longer sees abortion as so grave,” he said. “Sin is sin,” Bishop Arrieta said, and the offenses that can carry automatic excommunication are especially serious, but a Holy Year is an especially serious time of grace.

“The pope is not saying abortion is no longer important. No. It’s important,” the bishop said. “It is the most frequent cause of excommunication.” By granting a special faculty to certain priests during the Year of Mercy, he said, Pope Francis is trying to balance a desire “to facilitate reconciliation as much as possible” while also “trying to form consciences” about the seriousness of abortion. “The church has a spiritual patrimony and during a Holy Year, it encourages the faithful to draw on this patrimony” for the grace and strength to reconcile with God and begin a new life, he said.

The pope is not saying that any sin is unimportant, the bishop said. “No, not at all. The pope is saying the church is like a field hospital in the middle of battle and the treasure of the merits of Christ and of the saints must be distributed broadly” to heal the wounded.

END of article

***

  1. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on abortion: http://www.vatican.va     (Paras 2270 through 2276)
  2. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the sacrament of penance and reconciliation: http://www.vatican.va     Go to: PART TWO
    THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY –
    SECTION TWO, THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCHCHAPTER TWO  THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING – ARTICLE 4
    THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION (starting with Para 1422)
  3. Please talk to a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon if you need help to understand the teaching of the Church on faith and morals.
  4. If you are live in the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama and you need help to make a good confession, please contact me and I am happy to assist you (email: Fr.Vu (at) stsbhm.org
  5. Please get this post so more Catholics and people of Christian faith and people of good will might learn

 

 

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POPE FRANCIS: OUR DIVORCED AND REMARRIED BROTHERS AND SISTERS ARE NOT EXCOMMUNICATED

Pope Francis, after a month-long break, resumed his weekly general audiences this morning and once again dedicated the catechesis to the family, a subject he has dedicated many months to, and he reflected on what he called “the situation of our brothers and sisters who have divorced and entered a second union.”

As I listened to the catechesis in the Paul VI Hall, I tried to imagine some of the headlines in the media, knowing many would focus on – as they should – the fact that the Pope said that people who divorce and marry again are not excommunicated and should not be treated as such but knowing that others would say the Pope opened the door to communion for the divorced and remarried, a topic discussed in the 2014 synod on the family and one which will gain headlines this coming Octobber in another synod on the family.

Pope Francis did not open that door, He did not mention communion, nor did he use the word sacrament for those who are divorced and remarried.

What did the Pope really say? I am going to help you understand this catechesis by providing the entire English translation, the official Vatican English language summary and then take a look at No. 1650 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1650) on this matter. The translation was by ZENIT and I made only a couple of changes for clarity.

Here are some of the photos I took this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

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POPE FRANCIS: OUR DIVORCED AND REMARRIED BROTHERS AND SISTERS ARE NOT EXCOMMUNICATED

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

With this catechesis we take up again our reflection on the family. After speaking last time of wounded families caused by the misunderstanding of spouses, today I would like to focus our attention on another reality: how to take care of those that, following the irreversible failure of their marital bond, have undertaken a new union.

The Church knows well that such a situation contradicts the Christian Sacrament. However, her look as a teacher draws always from her heart of mother; a heart that, animated by the Holy Spirit, always seeks the good and salvation of persons. And this is why she feels the duty, “for love of truth,” to “discern the situations well.” Saint John Paul II expressed himself thus in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio (n. 84), pointing out, for instance, the difference between one who has suffered the separation and one who has caused it. This discernment must be made.

If, then, we look at these new bonds with the eyes of little ones – and the little ones are looking – with the eyes of children, we see even more the urgency to develop in our communities a real acceptance of persons that live such situations.  Therefore, it is important that the style of the community, its language, its attitudes are always attentive to persons, starting with the little ones. They are the ones who suffer the most in these situations. Otherwise, how will we be able to recommend to these parents to do their utmost to educate the children in the Christian life, giving them the example of a convinced and practiced faith, if we hold them at a distance from the life of the community, as if they were excommunicated? We must proceed in such a way as not to add other weights beyond those that the children in these situations already have to bear! Unfortunately, the number of these children and youngsters is truly great. It is important that they feel the Church as a mother attentive to all, always willing to listen and to come together.

In these decades, in truth, the Church has not been either insensitive or slow. Thanks to the deep reflections carried out by Pastors, guided and confirmed by my Predecessors, the awareness has greatly grown that a fraternal and attentive acceptance is necessary, in love and in truth, towards the baptized who have established a new cohabitation after the failure of their sacramental marriage; in fact, these people are not at all excommunicated, they are not excommunicated! And they absolutely should not be treated as such: they are always part of the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI intervened on this question, soliciting careful discernment and wise pastoral support, knowing that “simple recipes” do not exist (Address to the 7th World Meeting of Families, Milan, June 2, 2012, answer n. 5).

Hence the repeated invitations of Pastors to manifest openly and consistently the community’s willingness to receive and encourage them, so that they live and develop increasingly their belonging to Christ and to the Church with prayer, with listening to the Word of God, with frequenting of the liturgy, with the Christian education of the children, with charity and service to the poor, with commitment to justice and peace.

The biblical icon of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18), summarizes the mission that Jesus received from the Father: to give his life for the sheep. This attitude is also a model for the Church who receives her children as a mother that gives her life for them. “The Church is called to be always the open House of the Father […]” No closed doors! No closed doors! “All can participate in some way in ecclesial life, all can form part of the community. The Church […] is the paternal home where there is a place for each one with his difficult life” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 47).

In the same way all Christians are called to imitate the Good Shepherd. Above all Christian families can collaborate with Him by taking care of wounded families, supporting them in the community’s life of faith. May each one do his part in assuming the attitude of the Good Shepherd, who knows each one of his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love! (ZENIT news service)

VATICAN ENGLISH LANGUAGE SUMMARY

Dear Brothers and Sisters: We return now to our catechesis on the family, by reflecting on the situation of our brothers and sisters who have divorced and entered a second union. Though their unions are contrary to the Sacrament of marriage, the Church, as a Mother, seeks the good and salvation of all her children. As these situations especially affect children, we are aware of a greater urgency to foster a true welcome for these families in our communities. For how can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?

I am especially grateful to the many pastors, guided by my Predecessors, who have worked diligently to let these families know they are still a part of the Church. There is no easy solution for these situations, but we can and must always encourage these families to participate in the Church’s life, through prayer, listening to the Word of God, the Christian education of their children, and service to the poor. As the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep, so the Church as a Mother gives her life for all her children, by being always the “house of the Father, with doors wide open”. May everyone, especially Christian families, imitate the Good Shepherd, who knows all his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love.

CATECHSIM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON CATHOLICS WHO DIVORCE AND REMARRY

(CCC 1650) Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ—”Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”—the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.