Synod Fathers approve text on “discernment” for remarried divorcees

Vatican Insider

All paragraphs of the final document have been approved with a two-thirds vote from the Synod Fathers. Number 85 was also only just approved (178 placets, 80 non placets and there was a qualified majority quorum of 177). The text does not introduce any general rules, nor has unconditional access to the sacraments been granted but it does build on the work Wojtyla started with the “Familiaris consortio”, advocating “discernment” on a case-by-case basis


The concluding text of the Synod, approved by participating bishops makes no changes to Church doctrine and values the family and Gospel teaching, but also shows greater understanding to remarried divorcees. Two paragraphs in particular address the attitude to adopt with regard to remarried divorcees – a hotly debated and controversial issue – and also the possibility of them participating in the sacraments in certain cases and under certain conditions.

The decision to entrust communion for remarried divorcees to the “discernment” of pastors has been approved by a two-thirds majority, with only one vote beyond the necessary two thirds (178 “yes” votes against the required 177 votes for a qualified majority). These are the result of the vote on the Relatio Sinodi. There were 80 “no” votes. Three of the text’s paragraphs – numbers 84, 85 and 86 – received consensuses that were higher than the required two-thirds (177) but only by a narrow margin.

Paragraph 85 quotes the following passage of John Paul II’s “Familiaris consortio” as a “general criterion”: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.”

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