by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
This past May 2, I gave the keynote address for the Northwest Regional Canon Law Convention in Portland, Oregon, entitled, “Doctrine, Law and Practice in Light of Mitis Iudex and Amoris Laetitia,” two documents issued by Pope Francis. With regard to the question of pastoral care for the divorced and remarried, Pope Francis had suggested in a footnote, “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.” The qualifier, “in certain cases,” means that there is no indiscriminate, universal or blanket permission for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive holy Communion. One example of these certain types of cases would be what is known in the church as the brother-sister solution, in which the couple lives together publicly as husband and wife, but abstains from all sexual intercourse. In such cases, the couple who agree to live as brother and sister may receive holy Communion with the approval of the bishop, provided there is no danger of scandal.