02 On the Pastoral Care of the Civilly Remarried

Pope Francis praises a group of Argentine bishops and their plan that "might eventually" welcome those who are civilly remarried back to reception of the Eucharist. Luke, Gomer and JD analyze what is going on here in order to bring you some clarity... or in this case, just add a bunch of new question marks.

Start Here: Pope praises bishops' guidelines by Cindy Wooden

“In other cases, the bishops said, when abstaining from relations could harm the new union and the children who are part of the new family, further discernment is necessary. It could be that there are factors that limit the responsibility or culpability of the divorced spouse, they said, and in those cases “‘Amoris Laetitia’ opens the possibility of access to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

“The pope’s letter to the bishops said they accurately explained what “Amoris Laetitia” taught and captured its full meaning. “There are no other interpretations,” he said.”
— http://catholicphilly.com/2016/09/news/world-news/pope-praises-bishops-guidelines-on-helping-divorced-remarried-couples/

The issue is this passage of Amoris Laetitia

The divorced who have entered a new union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment. One thing is a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins. The Church acknowledges situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate”. There are also the cases of those who made every effort to save their first marriage and were unjustly abandoned, or of “those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably broken marriage had never been valid”. Another thing is a new union arising from a recent divorce, with all the suffering and confusion which this entails for children and entire families, or the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligations to the family. It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and the family. The Synod Fathers stated that the discernment of pastors must always take place “by adequately distinguishing”, with an approach which “carefully discerns situations”. We know that no “easy recipes” exist.
— Paragraph 298, https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf

Here's the footnote:

John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiars Consortio (22 November 1981), 84: AAS 74 (1982), 186. In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters” which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, “it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 51).
— Footnote 329, Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 298

01 Are Most Sacramental Marriages Null?

Pope Francis has stirred up the pot recently with his comments on the crisis of marriage in today's "provisional culture." Here's the statement given ad lib from the Pope:

I heard a bishop say some months ago that he met a boy that had finished his university studies, and said ‘I want to become a priest, but only for 10 years.’ It’s the culture of the provisional. And this happens everywhere, also in priestly life, in religious life,” he said.

“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.
— Catholic News Agency

It was later edited by the Vatican before the transcript was released to say, "some" or "part of" instead of "the great majority". This was a head scratcher and many in the Catholic conservative blogosphere got angry. Here's our take.