Recently, Pope Francis approved of guidelines for admitting the divorced and civilly “remarried” to Holy Communion.

Is this a departure from Pope John Paul II and the Church’s bi-millennial practice?

That’s the question Tim Staples tackled on a recent episode of Catholic Answers Live.

Using the example of a woman in a “second marriage” (what Our Lord called “adultery”), Mr. Staples told his listeners:

On the objective level, what she needs to do, the right thing, you can’t continue conjugal relations if you’re going to receive sacraments…

If she persists in adultery, however, can she be admitted to Eucharistic Communion?

Francis says yes. John Paul II said no. Which one is the Catholic Answer?

As Mr. Staples confirms, Pope John Paul II said that the objective state of mortal sin “means you cannot receive sacraments, period.”

“But that is not a doctrinal statement,” Staples says, “that is a matter of prudence.”

What exactly did Pope John Paul II say?

“The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.” (FC 84)

Note well: The “practice” under discussion has nothing to do with prudence; rather, it is based upon Sacred Scripture the very words of Our Lord – and the consistent tradition of the Holy Catholic Church.

As such, no man has the authority to change it – not even a pope.

Even so, Mr. Staples goes on:

What Pope Francis is saying, and theologically he is correct, on the objective level it is possible, a pastor can discern that this woman, in that case, is not in mortal sin.

This is incorrect, and on a very basic point of Catholic teaching:

God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone. (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes 28) 

Not even the pope has the right, or even the ability, to discern internal guilt; rather, he has a duty to judge objective things and to teach accordingly.

That is what John Paul II did, and Francis is failing to do.

So, now what?

By placing false teaching before the life giving truth spoken by Our Blessed Lord, Catholic Answers is leading souls to perdition; even if by mistake.

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