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Dear Father Angelo,
What is the interpretation In meliorem partem of Amoris Laetitia no. 303?
I cannot read it in continuity, as I think the moral of the situation is well disguised in it: indeed, how can the conscience of certain couples, who are in a state of irregularity, recognise “with sincerity and honesty what for now” this situation “is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking?” Can in some cases God consider an adulterous union as a “donation that He Himself is asking for?”
There is a lot of confusion…
1. In order to understand the statement you reported it is necessary to read the previous written part.
Here is the passage:
“Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal” (AL 303).
2. The Pope thus talks about a twofold discernment.
“Twofold” as it is carried out on two levels.
The first is about the recognition of “a situation that does not objectively conform to the overall Gospel proposition”.
And this is justly due to three reasons:
Firstly, having separated what God united in the Marriage;
Secondly, having contracted a new union that is itself adulterous;
Thirdly, having had extramarital sexual intercourse which in this case are adulterous affairs.
These reasons are sufficient not to be allowed to receive the absolution in sacramental form nor the Holy Communion.
Talking about this situation that does not objectively conform to the overall Gospel proposition, the Pope recognises the impossibility to approach the sacraments.
This is perfectly in line with what the Holy Scriptures state that is:
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians, 11:27-30).
3. The Pope later talks about one further or second discernment.
He states that the individual in question “can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God”.
Here the Pope obviously talks about those breaking up the previous union and have formed a new union, which is in itself “irregular”, in which there are however serious issues inducing to a non-breakup or to a must not breakup.
It is the case, for instance, of people having children in the new union who demand and need the simultaneous presence of a father and a mother, although they are not spouses.
The Pope continues in this way saying that in this situation one can “come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal”.
In this precise actual necessity the two understan that this being together to take care of their children is the donation God calls them to.
4. However, the Pope does not say that in this reciprocal donation intended for children it is legitimate to have sexual intercourse.
The Pope well knows that sexual intercourse outside marriage is not legitimate.
5. Therefore, one thing is the donation of two “irregular” individuals, intended for children, which is dutiful and “for now is the most generous response which can be given to God”.
Another thing is instead their reciprocal sexual giving which is not legitimate because each of them belongs to another man or another woman.
The Pope does not talk about this second donation, nor alludes to sexual intercourse when he talks about “the most generous response which can be given to God”.
6. Unfortunately, some people seem to draw from the Popes’ words the consequence of legitimacy (in some cases) for sexual intercourse between divorcees and civilly remarried.
However, this assumption is wrong because the Pope talks in that very same paragraph of the recognition of “a situation which does not objectively conform to the overall Gospel proposition”.
In other words, such a situation is in contradiction with the Lord’s commandment: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate”.
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10: 9; 11-12).
This situation, if accompanied by the determination to have continuous sexual intercourse outside marriage, prevents in fact by divine right to receive the sacramental assumption and consequently the Holy Communion too.
7. The presence of just one single grave sin deprives of the state of grace and prevents from receiving the Communion.
Therefore, “moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits” (AL 300) is not the same thing as saying that one is in the state of grace.
8. “Within the complex situation” there is undoubtedly some good, like for example, the reciprocal devotion to their children.
However, this good does not make honest and right what is intrinsically sinful and severely offends God.
An eventual sacramental absolution, given by the priest, would not however be received by the individual as this one sets an obstacle for its reception from within.
9. In conclusion, like the logic states, “latius hos quam praemissae conclusio non vult” (conclusion cannot go beyond what the premises say).
And the premises that the Pope wrote in number 303 are clear.
You cannot make him say what he did not say or cannot say because this would be in contrast with the Gospel!
10. You ask me about the existence of a case, where God considers an adulterous union as “donation He is asking?”.
If the twain have repented for having violated the Lord’s commandment, they cannot split because of their children and live together in perfect continency, their union externally appears as adulterous but in actual fact it is not because they do not behave like husband and wife.
And since it appears as adulterous but it is not actually, they can receive the sacramental absolution and consequently the Holy Communion only where the scandal was removed, which means only where they are recognised as “irregular”.
11. Finally, I want to clarify that this is not the interpretation in meliorem partem which can be applied to other statements of Amoris Laetitia but the one that objectively results from the text.
I happily remind you to the Lord and wish you all the best for your ministry so that it is the most fruitful possible.