A Theory of Faith: Encouraging Single Mothers to Access Rituals

Pope Francis, head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, recalled this in response to a question from a bishop from the Dominican Republic, who highlighted the fact that some single mothers avoid communion for fear of rebuke from priests. In a situation already strained by their life choices, they should be helped to access the saving power of the sacraments.

Vatican news

Single mothers who have chosen to have their children out of wedlock should not be prevented from accessing the sacraments, but should be encouraged. So says the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in response to a question from Bishop Dom Ramón Alfredo de la Cruz Baltera of San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.

Letter of approval by the Pope

The letter, signed by Cardinal Mayor Victor Manuel Fernández, approved by Pope Francis on Wednesday, December 13, and published this Thursday on the website of the Dicastery, aims to respond to the Dominican bishop’s concern about the behavior of some young women. “Keep away from communion for fear of violence from clergy and community leaders.” It has been observed that “in some countries, priests and some laity actually prevent mothers who have children out of wedlock from accessing the sacraments and baptizing their children.”

The Eucharist is God’s answer to the hunger of the human heart

Recently – highlights of this letter – Pope Francis said, “The Eucharist is God’s response to the deep hunger of the human heart, to the hunger for true life: in it, Christ himself is truly in our midst. The way” (Address to the US National Eucharistic Congress Organizing Committee, June 19, 2023). Therefore, “under such circumstances, women who choose life because of that choice and lead a more complicated existence should be encouraged to access the saving and comforting power of rituals.”

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The Courage of Single Mothers

The particular case of single mothers and the difficulties they or their children face in accessing the sacraments, the text notes, the Holy Father had already condemned when he was cardinal of Buenos Aires: “There are priests who do not baptize children. Single Because they were not conceived in the sacrament of marriage. These are the hypocrites of today. Those who clericalized the Church. Those who keep God’s people from salvation. And that poor young woman, who could have returned her son to the sender, but had the courage to bring him into the world, going from parish to parish to baptize him” (September 2012 Homily).

Pope Francis – please note – recognized the courage of these women to continue their pregnancies: “I know it is not easy to be a single mother, I know that sometimes people look at you badly, but I tell you something: you are a brave person because you were able to bring these two daughters into the world. Woman for that, he is the reward. Do not be ashamed, walk with your head held high. “I did not kill my daughters, I brought them into the world!” I congratulate you, God bless you” (video conference broadcast by BBC, September 4, 2015).

Being a single mother does not preclude access to the Eucharist

In this sense, the letter signed by Cardinal Fernández continues, “it is necessary for the pastoral work of the local church to understand that being a single mother does not prevent access to the Eucharist. Like all other Christians, the sacrament. Confession of the sins committed allows them to bring them closer to communion, the women who accepted and protected the gift of life that they carried in their wombs. And the ecclesiastical community should appreciate the women who struggle every day to raise their children.”

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Of course, it is observed, “discern the predicament and go to the companionship of the shepherd. Some of these mothers, considering the weakness of their situation, sometimes sell their own bodies to support the family. Instead of judging them harshly, let the Christian do all you can to avoid this very serious danger. The community is invited.”

The Logic of Compassion

Therefore – says the letter – “Teachers who propose to the faithful the whole ideal of the Gospel and the doctrine of the Church, must help them to take the logic of mercy towards weak people and to avoid persecution or too harsh and impatient judgments. ” (Amoris Laetitia, 308).

Next, when the cardinal, often, comments on the biblical episode of the adulterous woman (John 8, 1-11), the final phrase is emphasized: “There is no more sin”. Of course, “Jesus always calls people to change their lives, to respond more faithfully to the will of God, to live with more dignity. However, this phrase is not the central message of this Gospel pericope, it is an invitation to recognize that it is not. One can cast the first stone.” That is why, referring to mothers who have to raise their children alone, Pope Francis recalls that “in the difficult situations experienced by those most in need, the Church must pay special attention to understanding, comforting and integrating them. They have the effect of feeling judged and abandoned by that Mother who, apart from imposing rules on them like stones, is called to bring them the mercy of God” (Amoris Laetitia, 49).

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Sexist and authoritarian attitudes

He recalled what the Pope said in his message to the Synod about the feminine and maternal face of the Church. People of God” (Address to Synod of Bishops, October 25, 2023).

“It is up to you,” concludes Cardinal Fernández, responding to the bishop of San Francisco de Magoris, “to ensure that this kind of behavior does not occur in your local church.”

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