Rome, Italy, Jun 9, 2015 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During recent meetings which were held separately, both the Polish bishops and the Eastern Catholic bishops from Europe have discussed the family in view of the upcoming Synod on the Family, and are likely to uphold Catholic pastoral care for families.
The bishops from Poland will be on the front line at the synod, giving an overall view of the family and not focusing merely on the contentious issues of access to Communion for the divorced and remarried, and pastoral openings to homosexual relationships.
A source in a congregation at the Roman Curia told CNA that “the feeling of the Polish bishops is that John Paul II’s teaching on marriage and family has been betrayed” by the “shadow council” led by some German bishops at the Pontifical Gregorian University on May 25.
The lecture delivered the last week of May to the Polish bishops’ conference’s general assembly by Fr. Dariusz Kowalczyk, SJ, gives one to understand the issues at stake for the Polish bishops.
Grounded in St. John Paul II’s pastoral care and speaking about granting access to Communion for the divorced and remarried, Fr. Kowalczyk indicated two criticisms.
“The first question we should ask ourselves,” he said, “is this: Does the Church have the authority to give sacramental absolution and Holy Communion to divorced persons cohabiting in non-sacramental unions? This question of Communion for those people is comparable to the issue of the mandatory celibacy of priests, or on another the level, to that of ordaining women.”
He then continued: “If we answer the question of Communion for remarried divorcees by saying that a change in the Church’s current doctrine and practice is possible, then a second question can be asked: From the pastoral viewpoint, would the new, proposed sacramental practice be useful? Would it edify the Church or not? After all, the fact that something could be possible from the doctrinal point of view, does not necessarily imply that it would be good for the Church from a pastoral point of view.”
Fr. Kowalczyk then concluded that “We have two arguments here: one is doctrinal and the other pastoral – a risk of confusion on the indissolubility of marriage. Both concern the sacramental sign, which has theological, anthropological, and didactic meanings.”
The doctrinal argument, he said, “can be considered from two perspectives: that of sin, which contradicts sacramental Communion (understood both as a sacramental sign and as grace), and that of the relation between the meanings of each of the sacraments.”
The arguments presented by Fr. Kowalczyk – that admitting the divorced and remarried to Communion would contradict the nuptial significance of the Eucharist, and it would also confuse people about the indissolubility of marriage – will be core issues at October’s Synod of Bishops.