(Vatican Radio) The bishops of Malta have issued an invitation to Catholics on the island nation to show “mercy and pastoral discernment” to those living in difficult family situations.
In a letter, to be read out in churches all over Malta and Gozo, the two Bishops Charles Scicluna and Mario Grech explain that they have recently issued guidelines for priests, aimed at accompanying couples and families “in complex situations, especially those involving separated or divorced persons who have entered a new union”. The bishops say that although these people may have “lost their first marriage”, many of them “have not lost their hope in Jesus” and “earnestly desire to live in harmony with God and with the Church”.
The bishops note that people in this situation “ are asking us what they can do in order to be able to celebrate the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” The Church leaders urge such people “ to continue to enlighten their conscience and to seek the assistance of a priest to accompany them”.
The two bishops published their guidelines for priests in January, with a focus on the application of Chapter VIII of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). This chapter, they note, is “an invitation to mercy and pastoral discernment in the light of various social realities present today”.
The guidelines have been handed out to every priest in the dioceses of Malta and Gozo. They stress “If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it”, a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist”.