Infamous Footnote 351 through the lens of the Prodigal Son

This gem comes from Fr Z’s blog:

In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, there is a footnote, an infamous footnote in par. 305 .


Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.

Then the footnote … for sake of Tweets #Footnote351 :


I am getting good comments on this troubling footnote.  I am not sure which sacraments unrepentent public sinners should or may receive.  Dr. Peters comments about 351 in the light on can. 915, which prohibit from Communion those who are manifestly grave sinners (such as public adulterers, which is what one is if one remarries civilly without a declaration of nullity).  HERE.

This evening I was talking with a priest friend, Fr. Richard Heilman (whom I’ve mentioned in these electronic pages, most recently yesterday because he lead me to that great text by Fulton Sheen).  He wrote…

“The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak…

… for the weak who have chosen to come home, as did the prodigal son, to live in God’s presence, under God’s “house rules.” Might they make mistakes while home? Yes! And they will be offered forgiveness when they do. What they are not allowed to do is to “come home” and dictate their own “house rules.” Which is akin to the prodigal son coming home, and bringing the prostitutes with him.“

Rem acu.

What Fr. Heilman understands, and what the Church has always understood, and what Christ Himself taught when he forgave the woman caught in adultery, is that we have to amend our lives after sinning.

Fr. Z kudos.

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