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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Last week, Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro wrote an essay for La Civilta Cattolica saying the 2015 Synod opened the door to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics — and now Cdl. Raymond Burke is calling him out for it.
In an article written Tuesday for the National Catholic Register, his Eminence addresses Fr. Spadaro's claim that the 2015 Synod opened a new door, saying it requires an "immediate comment" to clarify what the Synod taught. Spadaro claims the Synod introduced a new teaching on the role of conscience and the "internal forum."
In response, Cdl. Burke wrote that "several Synod Fathers affirm the opposite, that is, they affirm that the Synod upheld the constant practice of the Church." His Eminence said that despite the "lack of clarity" in paragraphs 84 and 86 of the Final Relatio, Church teaching was not contradicted. The "public declarations of the Synod Fathers" are responsible for the widespread confusion about the Synod, says Cdl. Burke.
Creating the "expectation that the Roman pontiff can saction a practice which is in conflict with the truths of the Faith" does a "most serious harm" to the Church, His Eminence explained. "The Synod of Bishops ... cannot be the instrument of such an expectation."
The orthodox prelate emphasized that the question of admiting adulterers to Holy Communion is not something the Synod has the ability to address:
The fact is that the Synod could not open a door which does not exist and cannot exist, namely a discernment in conscience which contradicts the truth about the supreme sanctity of the Most Holy Eucharist and the indissolubility of the marriage bond.
His Eminence continued, saying the idea that "conscience can be in conflict with the truth of the faith" gives a false impression, because priests can't "open a door" for the divorced and remarried. Such a door, says Cdl. Burke, "does not and cannot exist." He clarified that honest conscience and true discernment work in harmony with the truths of the Faith, not in contradiction to them:
The way of discernment upon which the priest accompanies the penitent who is living in an irregular union assists the penitent to conform his conscience once again to the truth of the Holy Eucharist and to to the truth of marriage to which he is bound. As the Church has consistently taught and practiced, the penitent is led in the "internal forum" to live chastely in fidelity to the existing marriage bond ... to be able to have access to the sacraments in a way which does not give scandal.
True to academic form, Cdl. Burke noted that Fr. Spadaro's essay requires "critical comment in longer study" to fully address its theological problems. The faithful may perhaps expect a more in-depth response in the future from the orthodox canon law expert.
To learn more about the Church's teaching on marriage, watch ChurchMilitant.com's "Remaining in the Truth of Christ: The Church on Matrimony."