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Polish bishops avoid Communion row in Amoris Laetitia guidelines

Mass for the 200th anniversary of the Diocese of Siedlce (BPKEP/Bishops Conference of Poland)

Poland’s bishops have released their long-awaited guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, sidestepping questions on Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The bishops said last year that Amoris had not changed Church doctrine on Holy Communion, and that those in “irregular unions” should be led to “true repentance and sacramental reconciliation” with their spouse.

A draft document also stated that divorced and remarried Catholics cannot be admitted to Holy Communion because “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist”.

The final document, however, says the Church should serve those living in irregular relationships “according to the pastoral criteria proposed by Pope Francis: acceptance, accompaniment, discernment and integration.”

It also does not directly address the question of giving Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried. Instead, the document calls for “pastoral accompaniment” for those “on the path of discernment” according to Church teaching and the guidelines of the local bishop.

It adds that the first step in that discernment is to establish whether the first marriage can be annulled.

The document does call for “understanding” when a couple “wanting to fully participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist, have decided to live as brother and sister” – an allowance already permitted by St John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio.

Read the full document in English here