Canadian bishops respond to Amoris Laetitia

When Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter published “A Pledged Troth: a Pastoral Letter on Amoris Laetitia” news of the document went around the world.

You can read it online here.  Bishop Lopes does a beautiful job of weaving in the teaching on marriage found in our Divine Worship Order of the Solemnization of Marriage, the Catholic Church’s constant teaching on marriage and the sacraments and Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation’s attention to discerning, accompanying and integrating those whose family lives do not live up to a Christian ideal.

Bishop Lopes is a member of both the United States and the Canadian conferences of Catholic bishops.

Here’s a story I wrote about the response of two more Canadian bishops to Amoris Laetitia.  

An excerpt:

Like their western Canadian counterparts, the Archdiocese of Ottawa and the Military Ordinariate of Canada have responded to the controversial chapter eight of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia by interpreting it in light of the Church’s constant teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and her discipline on the reception of the sacraments.
Chapter eight, entitled “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness,” has led to a wide range of interpretations by bishops and cardinals around the world.
Some say the document allows those in irregular relationships to receive the sacraments after a period of discernment and if their consciences are clear; others have argued Amoris Laetitia changes nothing in the constant teaching and discipline of the Church.
At a pastoral day Feb. 15, the Ottawa archdiocese passed out a booklet containing the Alberta and NWT guidelines to its priests and pastoral workers.
“I endorse this document’s guidance on how to accompany families with compassion and care while also upholding the Church’s unchanging teaching on the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist,” Archbishop Terrence Prendergast writes in an introductory letter included in the booklet.
 Bishop Scott McCaig of the Military Ordinariate holds a special place in our affections at my parish Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Before he was named a bishop, he was General Superior of the Companions of the Cross, a charismatic, Eucharistic, Marian and Magisterial order of priests founded by Fr. Bob Bedard about 30 years ago.  Before our parish was received into the Catholic Church, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast assigned a Companions priest Fr. Francis Donnelly to be our mentor priest, present while we went through our catechesis. Then, during the year we waited for the first of our clergy to be ordained, Fr. Donnelly would come and celebrate our Mass for us.   Bishop McCaig, then Fr. McCaig, would come frequently on the Sundays when Fr. Francis  couldn’t make it.  We enjoyed their preaching and the reverent way they would celebrate our liturgy.
On Feb. 22, Bishop Scott McCaig of the Military Ordinariate of Canada published his guidelines on chapter eight to “clarify” its implementation but he urged people to read Amoris Laetitia in its entirety.
“It confirms the revealed truth about marriage and teaches us compassion for the broken,” Bishop McCaig writes. Like the Alberta and NWT bishops, Bishop McCaig stresses Pope Francis’ teaching on pastoral accompaniment.
“It means welcoming and loving people where they are at, no matter how sinful and disordered their lives might be,” Bishop McCaig writes. “We do this without judgment or condescension, knowing that we ourselves are sinners who have received mercy.” It means not being afraid to get “deeply involved in the messiness of peoples’ lives.”
But accompaniment has a goal: leading people to encounter Jesus Christ and helping them to live a fully Christian life, Bishop McCaig says.
“It is critically important to note that the integral teaching of the Catholic Church on the reception of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried has not changed,” Bishop McCaig writes, noting Pope Francis did not intend to make a new set of rules.
Like the Alberta and NWT Bishops, Bishop McCaig outlines the ordinary discipline of the Church and the Code of Canon Law.
Bishop McCaig attended so-called “Bishop School” in Rome in the same cohort as Bishop Lopes last year.

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