Local Option

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“According to the assessment of the confessor and taking into account the good of the penitent, it is possible to absolve and admit [the divorced and civilly remarried] to the Eucharist, even though the confessor knows that it is, for the Church, an objective disorder.”

So reads the new pastoral document issued by the Sicilian bishops’ conference. The argumentation is taken partly from Amoris Laetitia, and partly from general principles adduced from Evangelii Gaudium.

There can be no doubt that if it was the Holy Father’s intention to change the doctrine of the Church on matrimony and divorce by stealth – that is by encouraging local autonomy – he is having a considerable degree of success.

We in the Ordinariate – with a long and painful experience of the workings of Provincial Autonomy in the Anglican Communion – view these developments with something approaching alarm.

It is not simply that the toothpaste can never be returned to the tube; it is that it is almost impossible, once the principle has been granted, to restrict the operation of local or regional autonomy to one topic. Everything is soon up for grabs in a free-for-all in which the centre cannot hold.

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