This past week­end I was speak­ing to a gen­tle­man who expressed con­cern over Pope Francis’s upcom­ing post-​synodal doc­u­ment. He won­dered whether it was a good idea for the pope to have given such free range to Car­di­nal Kasper, and oth­ers of his way of think­ing, in shap­ing the synod debate.

I asked whether a sim­i­lar envi­ron­ment had pre­vailed in the months lead­ing up to Humanae Vitae.

“Well,” he said, “Pope Paul VI had brought in advis­ers from a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent faiths.”

“Is it pos­si­ble,” I spec­u­lated, “that the rea­son for doing that kind of thing is precisely in order that the best cur­rent argu­ments against Church teach­ing will be artic­u­lated, so that at the end the pope knows what he needs to knock down?”

“I sup­pose that’s pos­si­ble,” he said. “I hope so.”

All, or nearly all, his advis­ers had told Paul VI that he needed to do what, of course, the Holy Spirit pro­tects the Church from doing, which is to “change” its teaching—in his case, regard­ing con­tra­cep­tion. If Humanae Vitae upheld Church teach­ing even though every­thing seemed to be going against it, that—and our own faith in the Holy Spirit—should pre­vent us from trem­bling hands over what we will read before the end of the month.

Because all the media cov­er­age, after his flight from Mex­ico to Rome, was obsessed with what Pope Fran­cis said about Don­ald Trump and about con­tra­cep­tion, it was easy to miss—and I have not seen a sin­gle story on this—what the pope said about Com­mu­nion for divorced and remar­ried Catholics. Did you know that he was asked about that? I hadn’t; I only saw it by chance, as I was scan­ning the tran­script for some­thing else.

The pope had been asked how it was pos­si­ble that the Church could be more for­giv­ing to a mur­derer than some­one who had divorced and mar­ried.

Now, of course, by “for­giv­ing” the reporter means “receive Com­mu­nion.” And the answer to the ques­tion is that the Church isn’t “more for­giv­ing” of a mur­derer: It is just that the mur­derer, pre­sum­ably, stops mur­der­ing, while the divorced and remar­ried cou­ple (bar­ring an annul­ment and reg­u­lar­iz­ing of the mar­riage) con­tinue to live in adul­tery.

Pope Fran­cis, what­ever the rea­son, speaks around all this, in gen­er­al­i­ties, focus­ing on how unwise mar­riages end up doing harm to chil­dren. But at the end of his answer he talks about the need to “inte­grate” wounded fam­i­lies into the life of the Church.

“Does that mean they can receive Com­mu­nion?” the reporter presses.

The pope responds:

Inte­grat­ing in the Church doesn’t mean receiv­ing Com­mu­nion. I know mar­ried Catholics in a sec­ond union who go to church, who go to church once or twice a year and say I want Com­mu­nion, as if join­ing in Com­mu­nion were an award. It’s a work towards inte­gra­tion, all doors are open, but we can­not say, “from here on they can have Com­mu­nion.” This would be an injury also to mar­riage, to the cou­ple, because it wouldn’t allow them to pro­ceed on this path of inte­gra­tion.

When I was learn­ing to be a teacher, I was always told, “If you really want to empha­size a point, repeat it three times.” So the pope says here three times that inte­grat­ing the divorced and remar­ried into the Church does not mean they may receive the Eucharist. It is not an “award,” the pope says. The goal is the heal­ing of the cou­ple, not the giv­ing of the body and blood of Christ as though it were a prize: receive this and the Church has for­given you, like magic. To take that atti­tude, the pope says, would do fur­ther injury to the mar­riage; it would be a hin­drance to their heal­ing.

I have not seen this talked about or writ­ten about in the gen­eral media or in the Catholic press. But the pope said it, and so I bring it up. It is why I keep telling peo­ple, Have no fear. The Holy Spirit pro­tects the Church from error. If it has done so for 2000 years, do you really think some machi­na­tions by a car­di­nal in Ger­many are going to be the undo­ing of the Holy Spirit? Oh ye of lit­tle faith.

I have not seen this part of the inter­view writ­ten about any­where else, but I am going to make a pre­dic­tion here and say that the pope has just told us what the post-​synod doc­u­ment is going to say on the ques­tion that every­one is ask­ing the most.