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Poland: Bishops, “sympathy” for remarried divorced people and “discernment of the circumstances”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

“A look of love and support must be given to people who have been left or have left their spouses but try to make peace with the sacramental spouse by keeping the love, faithfulness and prayer”. This has been written by the Polish Bishops in a document drawn up during the plenary meeting that took place a few days ago, in which they give “pastoral guidance in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia”. The text does not address the matter of people in non-sacramental unions approaching the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Bishops state that “one must show sympathy with those devotees who, after the failure of their sacramental marriage, have entered into a purely civil union, because of the obstacle of the previous relationship, but try to live a Christian life, by raising their children in faith, and who long to fully partake of the Eucharist, by deciding to live as brothers and sisters”. The Polish Bishops, mentioning that Pope Francis takes into account “the huge variety of real-life situations” of divorced people who have legally entered into a new union, point out that “care for their spiritual good requires a thorough discernment of the circumstances”, because “the level of responsibility is not the same in all circumstances”. And they comment: “Pope Francis takes position on the need to adjust the general rule to real-life people and to their personal circumstances. This is in keeping with the thought of John Paul II who pointed to the need to take into account the complexity of the circumstances of divorced devotees who live in new civil unions”. The Bishops emphasise that discernment must “first give an answer – in accordance with canon law – to the question whether the first marriage may be considered null”. However, “if a final ruling states that such nullity does not apply, the pastoral discernment process must still go on”. In addition, the prelates add that, “for such discernment to lead to different and deeper forms of inclusion in the ecclesial community, it must take the form of a personal, consistent, long-term process of spiritual guidance”.

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