In a remarkable pastoral letter, issued by Bishop Renato Marangoni of the northern Italian diocese of Belluno-Feltre, those who have separated from their legitimate spouses and attempted marriage in a civil forum have received an apology for the Church’s prior fidelity to her unbroken apostolic discipline, which had hitherto prevented them from receiving absolution and the Eucharist.
The bishop also invites them to attend a “friendly and familiar meeting,” where they will reflect on the words of Pope Francis in his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Chapter 8 of the document, titled “Accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness,” ignited a doctrinal dispute over fundamentals of the Catholic faith on marriage, the sacraments, and the moral life.
Addressing divorced Catholics who have begun “new experiences of union” through civil remarriage or without attempting marriage to their new partners, Bishop Marangoni opens his letter (see full text below), saying: “There is a first word I wish to confide to you: Sorry! This word contains our awareness that we have often ignored you in our parish communities.”
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