THERE has been no official comment from the Vatican on remarks this week by a French bishop on the exclusion of remarried divorcees from the Sacraments.
In what was interpreted by some sources in the Vatican as a direct message to the hierarchy, Bishop Jacques David of La Rochelle said "divorce was not a blind alley". The Church's "isolation" from its excommunicated faithful was more perilous still.
"Only God can judge," he said in an open letter addressed to "brothers and sisters divorced and remarried".
He reminded them that the friendship of God was not just a promise for the future but a gift for the present, adding that the obligation to exclude a part of the Catholic community from the sacraments was a "sad thing".
Observers of the French Church in Rome suggested that the bishop might be attempting to prompt the Vatican to explore the whole question of divorcees and the faith. In the past year, Pope John Paul II has addressed the issue on at least two occasions. While there was no change in the Church's fundamental position, the Pope appealed to bishops to exercise compassion in their dealings with remarried divorcees.