On November 11, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, addressed the USCCB General Assembly. In this address, he stated: “The pastoral thrust of this pontificate must reach the American people, especially as families continue to demand of dioceses and parishes the accompaniment envisioned by Amoris Laetitia.”
What exactly is this accompaniment that families are demanding? I pray that Archbishop Pierre is not referring to the practice of the bishops of Argentina, Germany, and Malta who defy Scripture and the unchangeable Tradition of the Church by granting Holy Communion to those in a public state of adultery—the divorced and civilly remarried.
As director of the Marriage and Family Life Office for two different dioceses in Ohio, since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, I have yet to witness any individuals or families demand Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. I have had a grand total of zero letters, zero emails, zero phone calls, and zero in-person meetings calling for Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. In three and a half years, not a single person has demanded, let alone asked, for such “accompaniment.”
I have been asked instead to provide pastoral accompaniment for the divorced, most especially for those who have been abandoned by their spouse. Numerous people have asked for help with challenges and difficulties in their marriage. People have also asked for accompaniment and assistance in obtaining a declaration of nullity or a marriage convalidation. Several adults have contacted me because they continue to suffer the pain of having grown up with divorced parents.
I have been asked to provide help and healing for countless people who struggle with an addiction to pornography, or whose spouses are addicted. I have heard from individuals with same-sex attraction who have struggled for years to live a chaste life. The message of Fr. James Martin has made these men and women seek reassurance that their difficult struggle for chastity has not been in vain. I have encountered many people who are scandalized by active priests who are also active homosexuals.
Parents have asked for help imparting to their children the truth and meaning of human sexuality, the call to chastity, and the beautiful vision of Christian marriage. Hundreds of these parents have children who have decided to “marry” outside of the Church, embrace the homosexual lifestyle, or who now identify as transgender. Others have asked for assistance in removing highly grotesque sexualized literature from Catholic high schools. Still others have expressed concern that some Catholic school teachers are also active homosexuals. Sadly, one parent even lamented that faculty at a local Catholic high school encouraged children to embrace the homosexual lifestyle.
I have received numerous demands from families with children who have good reason to be angry that we still know nothing about how Theodore McCarrick rose to power in the Church. These families are demanding to know if Pope Francis knew about McCarrick’s predatory behavior when he lifted the restrictions that Pope Benedict placed on the ex-cardinal. People are demanding to know why we have yet to receive simple yes-or-no answers to the five dubia. And recently, the Amazon synod has awakened anger in a whole host of people, who are shocked and scandalized, demanding to know why idol worship was permitted to occur in the Vatican. Who will answer these continued demands?
Following this USCCB General Assembly, our bishops would do well to have conversations with and accompany families who are struggling to hand on the Catholic faith to their children in this time of great confusion. The bishops will discover that the actual demands of families go beyond what is envisioned in Amoris Laetitia. They will find that today’s families are in many ways “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” Who will accompany these families and answer their continued demands?
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