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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Sept. 02, 2022

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and


St. Paul, writing to the Philippians of their joy in the Lord, exclaimed: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!” There is no better advice, but the exclamatory word for today is “Discern!”, because Pope Francis has begun a new series of general audiences on the topic of discernment1. I am quite sure this series will contain a good deal of excellent material, as is quite common with these thematic general audience addresses.

But insisting on discernment and actually practicing discernment properly and well are two different things. We should recognize that discernment is a particular theme—and one might fairly say also a particular problem—of the current pontificate. You may recall that after Francis issued Amoris Laetitia in 2016, many Catholics, including four cardinals, asked for clarifications on the possibility Pope Francis had opened (in a footnote) for the reception of Communion by those who are living in objectively grave sin. These requests for clarification frustrated the Pope immensely; in fact, they made him angry, and he never answered them. But in occasional outbursts, and without offering any guidance, he stressed that what he was asking bishops and priests to do was to discern. His response seemed to indicate that if discernment were required, no hard and fast rules were possible. …

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