Archbishop Gadecki’s intervention: The Church cannot bend to the will of man
12 October 2015
We are honoured to publish an English translation of the intervention made to the Ordinary Synod by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznan, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference.
To begin with, I would like to stress that the following presentation does not express only my personal opinion but the opinion of the entire Polish Episcopal Conference.
1. There is no doubt that the Church of our times—in the spirit of mercy—has to help those who are divorced and “remarried” civilly to see (with prompt charity) that they are not separated from the Church but can—and indeed should—participate in her life insofar as they are baptized.
They ought to be exhorted to listen to the Word of God, to frequent the sacrifice of the Mass; to persevere in prayer; to increase their works of charity and initiatives of the community that favor justice; to educate their children in the Christian faith; to cultivate the spirit and the works of penance to so implore, day after day, the grace of God. May the Church demonstrate herself to be a merciful Mother that may sustain them in the Faith and in Hope.
2. The Church, nevertheless, in the teaching regarding the admission of the divorced and civilly “remarried” to Holy Communion cannot bend to the will of man but to the will of Christ. Therefore, the Church cannot let herself be conditioned neither by sentiments of false compassion for people nor by false models of thought, even if they are diffused in the context in which she finds herself.
The admission to Holy Communion of those who continue to cohabit more uxorio without a sacramental bond would be in contrast with the Tradition of the Church. Already the documents of the very first synods of Elvira, Arles, Neocesarea (which took place between 304 and 319) reaffirm the doctrine of the Church not to admit to Eucharistic Communion the divorced and “remarried.”
3. The fundamental reason is that “their state and their condition of life objectively contradict that bond of love between Christ and the Church that is signified and actuated in the Eucharist.” (Familiaris consortio 84)
The Eucharist is the sacrament of the baptized that are in gratia sacramentalis. The admission to Holy Communion of persons who are divorced and civilly “remarried,” i.e. of persons that are not in sacramental grace, could cause much damage not only for that which pertains to the pastoral care of families but also for the doctrine of the Church regarding sanctifying grace.
In fact, such an admission would open the door to all the persons who are in mortal sin to receive Holy Communion; in consequence this would cancel the Sacrament of Penance and would debase the importance of living in sanctifying grace.
Finally, it needs to be reaffirmed that the Church cannot accept the so-called law of graduality or the gradual path. As Pope Francis reminded us, those of us gathered here do not want and do not have any power to change the doctrine of the Church.