A senior bishop has said that the Church in Poland will refuse communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, despite the landmark family document from Pope Francis which opened up the possibility, reports The Tablet.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, said that giving communion could not be allowed following a period of pastoral discernment - something which Francis has advocated - adding that if remarried divorcees had a valid first marriage they cannot receive the eucharist.
His remarks came just hours after the Pope’s arrival in Kraków for a global gathering of young Catholics and highlighted the tensions between Francis and Poland’s hierarchy.
“This [communion for divorced and remarried] cannot be solved in a confessional box in two minutes or even a couple of years,” the Archbishop told journalists at a briefing last night. “This is a path for the priests and the laity to walk together knowing that if a marriage has been validly concluded there is no ground to administering communion to remarried divorcees.”
The Archbishop cited John Paul II’s document on the family - where communion for divorced and remarried was effectively ruled out - and said that Francis’ text, issued following two synod gatherings, had taken into account the Polish hierarchy’s recommendations. These, he added, “retain the truth of the gospel that we cannot deliberately overstep Christ’s precept against divorce.”
Archbishop Gadecki also pointed to Francis’ desire for local Churches to have a say: “The Holy Father says the general laws are very hard to enforce in each country - the Pope speaks about decentralisation, that is the conferences in individual countries might interpret papal encyclicals looking at their own religious and cultural situations,” he said.
On the day of his arrival the Pope had a closed-doors meeting with the bishops where no speeches were made - in the past Francis has used such gatherings in Mexico and the United States to upbraid national hierarchies. But given that the legacy of his polish predecessor John Paul II looms large during his visit, the Pope sought to avoid any public clashes.