Pope Francis adviser invites adulterous couples to be godparents, teach religion

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Pope Francis gives a blessing during an audience with participants in Italy's National Liturgical Week in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 24. (CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPA) See POPE-LITURGY-REFORM Aug. 24, 2017.

A bishop who is considered one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers issued a decree opening various parish leadership roles to divorced couples living in illicit second marriages.

The document, entitled “Rejoice with me,” seeks to implement Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which appears to endorse giving Holy Communion to those who have divorced and illicitly remarried, even if they continue to have sexual relations. It was recently issued by Marcello Semeraro, who is the bishop of the Italian diocese of Albano.

According to Italy’s Religious Information Service (SIR), the decree states that “after a careful evaluation by the pastor,” those who are divorced and remarried may “actively participate in the Liturgy of the Word during the celebration” of Mass as lectors who publicly read the epistle. “They may be deemed ideal for the teaching of the Catholic religion” in schools, even to be “educators of the faith together with other catechists of Christian initiation” or “part of the group of educators … of family groups,” according to the decree.

The directives from Semeraro appear to contradict the laws and tradition of the Catholic Church, which requires that Catholic teachers be “outstanding in correct doctrine” and “the witness of Christian life” (can. 804).

As the secretary of the pope’s “kitchen cabinet,” the Council of Cardinal Advisers, or “C9,” Semeraro is in close contact with Francis, and his implementation of Amoris Laetitia is likely to be informed by private conversations with the pope.

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