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What Pope Francis understands: Enforcing religious edicts inflexibly leads to injustice

To the editor: According to Roman Catholic Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, no power in heaven or Earth can change a church rule saying that unless a marriage is somehow not valid, there can be no valid divorce, and therefore any person marrying after such a divorce is committing adultery and “living in sin.” Therefore the person cannot receive communion. (“Conservative opposition to Pope Francis spurs talk of a schism in the Catholic Church,” April 17)

In the Gospels, Jesus speaks against divorce within the context of Jewish rules of that time that gave the husband the right to divorce his wife for almost any reason, usually leaving the woman destitute.

In John Chapter 8, Jesus is asked to decide whether Moses’ command to stone a woman caught in adultery should be applied. He answers, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” When they all leave, Jesus tells the woman that he does not condemn her.

When a universal rule is proclaimed by a church or civil authority, unless it is applied flexibly, injustice is bound to prevail. Providing bishops with the flexibility to use discretion in granting communion to Catholics who remarry in a civil ceremony is an attempt to consider the specific human reality, not only the abstract rule.

Doris Isolini Nelson, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Regarding your story on a possible “schism” in the Roman Catholic Church, I think there’s been a de facto schism in the church for many years: orthodox Catholics (clergy and laity) versus heterodox Catholics (clergy and laity).

However, I do believe at least some of Pope Francis’ statements and actions could very well bring about a formal schism in the not too distant future. Speaking as an orthodox Catholic, I believe Francis’ pontificate has been a big disappointment.

Matt C. Abbott, Chicago

Abbott writes about Catholicism for Renew-America.com.

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