From Dr Margaret Sealey
We live in confusing times, when it is very easy to fall into sexual sin. Pope Francis is all for teaching the ‘theology of the body’ of Pope Saint John Paul II, which gives us very good reasons for living chastely, arming us against sin: we should also frequently make use of the grace of the sacraments.
What should be done with those who have fallen into the sin of divorce and remarriage? It is difficult for those with new families and responsibilities to extricate themselves: even more damage to spouses and children would be caused. It seems to me that what Pope Francis is saying (and I have read and annotated the whole document) is that there are cases where, with guidance from their pastors, on acceptance of the Church’s teaching, examination of conscience and repentance, it would be possible for those in anomalous situations to come back to receiving the sacraments. Like all of us sinners they need them.
We agree that Pope Francis has taken a very pastoral approach on these matters. But on careful analysis we think that he has not, in the end, changed Church teaching on these matters. The ambiguities which you point out are seen by many others besides yourself. In one sense at least, your letter sets out why some Cardinals wrote the “Dubia” to Pope Francis on this matter. For our part, as doctors and culturally influenced as professionals by the Good Samaritan we too must earnestly seek what is right, reject what is wrong and then seek to deliver that with great pastoral skill.
We rather suspect that doing that is far easier for doctors and nurses working in health-care than it is for the poor priests who have to deal with these very complex matters in the Parish.