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BELLUNO, Italy (ChurchMilitant.com) - Two Italian bishops are under fire after pushing for Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried — unions considered adulterous according to Catholic teaching.
In a Nov. 22 pastoral letter, Bp. Renato Marangoni of the Belluno-Feltre diocese in northern Italy wrote apologetically to those who have left their sacramental marriage and found a new civil spouse or partner, describing such situations as "experiences of union."
He said to divorcees who have entered new relationships, "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."
In like manner, Bp. Corrado Pizziolo of the neighboring diocese of Vittorio-Veneto announced in the diocesan newspaper this week a "novelty" that "consists in the fact of providing for certain couples, who do not fully live Christian marriage, the possibility of accessing sacramental participation."
Faithful Catholics are slamming the bishops for seeming to promote adultery and sacrilegious Communions.
Catholic Italian website Radio Spada criticized Bp. Marangoni's letter as "a prostration," saying, "Although it is a bishop's letter, there is no reference to abandoning the severely sinful situation that endangers the eternal destiny of souls, no reference to the high Christian values of chastity, the sanctity of the family, no reference to unity and indissolubility of marriage."
Radio Spada featured the full text of the the bishop's letter, and introduced it with the words: "More than the letter of a successor of the Apostles, the following is the letter of a successor of the apostates."
Bishop Marangoni addressed his letter to those "who have chosen to be a family, and have gone through situations that have led to separation or even divorce, and, beyond this, to begin new experiences of union for which some have chosen to remarry civilly or not to marry."
"Perhaps you have also suffered from attitudes among us of judgment and criticism towards you," Marangoni wrote to divorcees with new civil partners.
"For a long time," he said, "we have also said that you could not be fully admitted to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, while in many of you there was a desire to be sustained by the gift of the sacraments and by the warmth and affection of a community."
Marangoni invited divorcees who have since entered new relationships to a pastoral meeting "on the afternoon of Sunday, December 1, at 3 p.m., at the Pope Luciani Center in Col Cumano of Santa Giustina."
He also accused the Church of having become too "rigid" in its teaching and practice:
In this, we have become rigid in a very formal vision of the family situations you are in. We were wrong not to consider as much the personal situation, the dreams that you had nourished, your vocation to married life with the life plans it entailed, even though you had to face troubled family events, where many factors may have been decisive in hindering all of this.
Both Marangoni's letter and Bp. Pizziolo's remarks cited Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Specific citations include the controversial eighth chapter, interpreted to imply that Holy Communion should be granted to the divorced and civilly remarried without any expectation of chastity.
Radio Spada parodied the exhortation's title, calling it "the terrifying Amoris Laetitia (et Castitatis Tristitia)," Latin for "the joy of love (and the sadness of chastity)."
Interpretation of Amoris Laetitia has been a hot-button issue ever since its release last year, with some using the document to push offering Holy Communion to unrepentant people living in an objective state of mortal sin.
Church Militant reported in January that many regional bishops conferences in Italy have endorsed a heterodox interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.