The following document is written to clarify the implementation of Chapter Eight of the recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) in the Catholic Military Ordinariate of Canada. It is directed especially to the priests, deacons, and pastoral associates (lay ecclesial ministers) of the Ordinariate.
In no way is this document meant to be an exhaustive teaching on the Sacrament of Marriage or an extensive interpretation of the Apostolic Exhortation itself. Rather, it deals specifically with the matter of the divorced and civilly remarried and the question regarding their reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist.
V. The Avoidance of Scandal
In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II highlights one of the reasons why the divorced and civilly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion:
… if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.xiv
Pope Francis also makes it clear that in any extraordinary situation wherein someone in an irregular situation receives Holy Communion it must be done “avoiding any occasion of scandal” (AL 299).
Consequently in any extraordinary pastoral circumstances that meet the criteria mentioned in Amoris Laetitia, wherein someone is admitted to Holy Communion while remaining in an irregular situation, great care must be taken to ensure that scandal is not given to the faithful. This could be accomplished by the voluntary disclosure of a couple who are living in continence or it could necessitate reception of Holy Communion in private or in a parish where the situation is not known.