Bishop Paprocki: Archbishop Chaput’s ‘Amoris’ Guidelines Are ‘Correct’

The new rules on holy Communion and divorce and remarriage from Philadelphia’s shepherd are line with Pope Francis and Catholic teaching, the Illinois bishop said.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Some news reports got it wrong: Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s guidelines on holy Communion and divorce and remarriage are “certainly correct” and in line with Pope Francis and Catholic teaching, an Illinois bishop has said.

“The Bible clearly teaches about the proper disposition to receive holy Communion in the First Letter to the Corinthians,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., said July 15.

St. Paul says in that letter that those who receive unworthily will be “guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord.”

Canon law reflects this biblical teaching, the bishop said in a column for the Illinois newspaper the State Journal Register.

Bishop Paprocki criticized press coverage of Archbishop Chaput’s response to the Pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He said an Associated Press report was misleading to say that Archbishop Chaput was “closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.”

Reiterating his April 8 remarks, the bishop said that the apostolic exhortation made no changes to canon law or Church doctrine.

Archbishop Chaput, on July 1, issued pastoral guidelines for his archdiocese on the Pope’s exhortation. He said the document is best understood when read “within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life.”

Bishop Paprocki agrees. He said the archbishop’s guidelines are right to say that all Catholics, not only those who have divorced and remarried, must confess all serious sins and have a firm purpose of amendment before receiving Communion. Archbishop Chaput’s guidelines said those who have civilly remarried must work to live “as brother and sister” in this relationship in order to receive reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, which would then allow them to receive Communion.

The archbishop’s guidance drew widespread and sometimes critical reactions. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Twitter stated that Archbishop Chaput’s comments “are not Christian.”

But for the bishop of Springfield, the guidance is useful.

“This applies not only in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but also here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, as it does elsewhere in the Church,” Bishop Paprocki said.

According to Bishop Paprocki, Catholics in irregular relationships have a free choice.

“(I)f they persist in sexual activity outside of valid marriage, they must refrain from taking holy Communion; if they wish to receive holy Communion, they must refrain from sexual activity outside of valid marriage,” he said, citing the Gospel of Matthew.

“The latter may seem impossible to those steeped in our sex-saturated culture, but ‘with God, all things are possible.’”