The Archdiocese of Malta issued norms on Jan. 13 stating that under certain circumstances and after long prayer and profound examination of conscience, some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may return to the sacraments, according to a report on the Catholic News Service (Jan. 13, 2017) website.
The norms titled “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia,” state in part, With “an informed and enlightened conscience,” a separated or divorced person living in a new relationship who is able “to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist.”
Most Rev. Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta, and Most Rev. Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo sent the document to all the country’s priests.
The CNS report goes on to note that the first step always must be to affirm church teaching that marriage is indissoluble. Then, the bishops said, the couple’s specific situation should be examined to determine if their first union was a valid marriage. If not, they should be encouraged to seek an annulment.
Without an annulment, the bishops said, couples living in a new relationship should be encouraged to abstain from sexual relations since the church does not consider their new union a marriage. Sometimes, however, the couple will find practicing the virtue of “conjugal continence” impossible.
In the early 2000s then Msgr. Scicluna was Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2005 then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the CDF at the time, tasked Msgr. Scicluna with collecting testimony about the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Rev. Marcial Maciel, amid allegations of abuse.
For the entire CNS report, click here.