In Feb 6th 2018, the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon D. Manuel Clemente has issued guidelines regarding the reception of Amoris Laetitia on his diocese. My good friend Filipe d’Avillez has provided us with an accurate english translation, which you can read at the bottom of this post. The original one (in portuguese), can be consulted here.

By allowing the possibility of admission to the sacraments of certain cases of divorced and remarried couples with mitigating circumstances that diminish subjective culpability, D. Manuel Clemente joins the ever growing group of bishops who are faithful to Amoris Laetitia, as interpreted by the Pope’s manifest will. In fact, on his own document, the good Cardinal not only extensively quotes Amoris Laetitia, but also the letter from the bishops of the Pastoral Region of Buenos Aires, which the pontiff has officially declared to be the only adequate interpretation of his apostolic exhortation (besides also quoting the norms from Cardinal-Vicar of Rome Agostino Vallini).

The Cardinal also shows the continuity between Pope Francis and the previous pontiffs regarding the need of integration and accompaniment of people in irregular familiar situations, by quoting St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio and Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis.

Finally, D. Manuel Clemente shows how it is possible to be faithful to the authentic interpretation of Amoris Laetitia while at the same time being clear on what the Church’s doctrine is. The Patriarch stresses the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, how seeking an annullment and (if not possible) sexual continence are the preferred options and, especially, how the discernment process shouldn’t stop at the irregular situation with mitigating factors, but should rather strive to evolve to a fuller realization of the christian ideal.

He analyzes the text, not so much through the lens of his personal interpretation, but rather letting the authoritative texts speak for themselves, through extensive quotes. He then concludes with a hierarchy of procedures which undeniably provides clarity on how these situations should be managed. Namely:

Bearing all this in mind, I present herein some operative guidelines: a) To accompany and integrate people into the life of the community, in line with the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortations Familiaris Consortio, 84, Sacramentum Caritatis, 29 and Amoris Laetitia, 299 (see appendix). b) Carefully examine the specificity of each case. c) Not to exclude recourse to the diocesan tribunal, whenever there is doubt concerning the validity of the marriage. d) In cases in which validity is ascertained, not to neglect the proposal of a life in continence in the new situation. e) To bear in mind exceptional circumstances and the possibility of the sacraments, in line with the aforementioned apostolic exhortation and documents. f) To continue the process of discernment, bringing the practice ever closer to the ideal of Christian marriage and sacramental consistency

It deserves to be read in full. Click here to do so.

Image credits: D. Manuel Clemente’s official photo and coat of arms

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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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