The organizers of “A Pastoral Appeal to the Bishops for an Apostolic Reaffirmation of the Gospel” listed ten crucial affirmations of faith that they would like bishops to formally make and address.
These include the affirmation that “God is love,” meaning that “fidelity to Christ and his teachings is realistic and achievable, not an abstract ideal needing to be adjusted to circumstances of life.”
They ask the bishops to reaffirm that conscience is the “immediate norm of behavior but not the infallible voice of God. It can misjudge… [and therefore is] in need of being conformed to the Gospel.” They also emphasize that marriage “is an exclusive union that cannot be dissolved by any human power or by any cause except the death of one of the spouses.” The bishops are likewise asked to re-affirm that “sexual activity outside of marriage is in every circumstance gravely evil.” They emphasize that the embrace of the “grave evil” of sexual activity outside of marriage is “a mortal sin which, like all mortal sins, causes communion with God to cease.”
The priest-organizers likewise wrote of the importance of proper contrition and receiving the Sacrament of Penance for people who have committed a mortal sin before they can receive Holy Communion: “To receive Holy Communion, Christians who recognize that they are guilty of mortal sin must have true contrition for their sins, including a resolve to avoid all sin in the future. In addition, they must normally first receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.”
The priests also would like bishops to restate that “reception of Holy Communion cannot be reduced to a private act based on a subjective judgment of innocence because it is a public witness to one’s embrace of the communal faith and life of the Church.”
And they underline reception of Holy Communion by those who have divorced and remarried “depends on the objective reality of the bond of their first marriage and on the avoidance of sin and public scandal.”
The priests observe that the Church’s apostolic witness can often be mistaken by both clergy and laity, affected by “secular mentalities and the false moral theology of past decades,” as “outmoded or even cruel” and so mistakenly perceive that witness as legalistic or abstract.
“This is extremely painful for everyone involved,” they go on to say, adding it can be an obstruction to “a clear and authentic presentation of the Gospel.”
But they also recall those clergy and laity who, despite “a deep sense of grief and betrayal” caused by these errors, find hope and offer encouragement in their “unambiguous and loving witness.”∎
Paul Simeon, Veritas Vincit