New call for divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive communion

It’s something the pope himself has said needs a closer look.  And now a leading theologian is adding his voice to those calling for “re-evaluation.”  Details:

At the seminar in Salzburg by Austrian Catholic Action, the German theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff, a professor of moral theology at the University of Freiburg, has launched an appeal for a “theological re-evaluation ” of divorced and remarried persons and a new way to interact with them by the Church. According to Schockenhoff, the Catholic news agency Adista reports, the Church must emphasize its readiness for reconciliation in the spirit of the biblical sources and the practice of the early Church, breaking away from an attitude of “moral condemnation” that provokes in the interested parties a “painful feeling of exclusion”.

Benedict XVI himself admits that communion for divorced and remarried persons is an open question. He spoke about it in a meeting with the priests of the diocese of Aosta on July 25, 2005 and, more officially, in his speech to the Roman Rota, on 28 January 2006. Both times, the Pope urged them to “deepen” a particular case: the possible invalidity of a marriage in the Church celebrated without faith, for those who, having passed to a second union, have returned to the practice of Christian life and request communion.

Schockenhoff in recent years has studied the problem well enough to devote an entire book to it, whose title was taken as the theme of the day of study: “Opportunities for reconciliation? The Church and divorced and remarried persons.” Moreover, “separated persons, divorced persons and those who are remarried are not at the margins of the Church, but belong to her as do many other Christians who stray or have made mistakes.” His proposal, Adista specifies, is a radical one: the Church can and must give communion to divorced and remarried persons.

First of all, it is a “pastoral emergency”: the number of these Catholics, currently excluded from the sacramental life, is increasing and the problems related to their participation in Church life cannot be further delayed.

Secondly, there is no reason that bars this step, either in the Scriptures or in the practice of the early Church. The reference to Jesus’ words on the indissolubility of marriage before God, says the theologian, cannot simply be treated as a canonical norm, while in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and in the writings of St. Paul there would be “counter-tendencies” and “exceptional circumstances” in which divorce could be tolerated. And if the indissolubility of marriage remains “the only valid yardstick,” this does not mean, Schockenhoff argues, that from a biblical point of view there cannot be “emergency situations” as an exception to this standard.

Read it all.

UPDATE: For more on the pope’s thinking on this subject, check out this item from last year.

Comments

  1. In the first millennium the discipline was quite mixed on this subject. The Fathers were not of one mind and there was considerable diversity of praxis not just between East and West but often between dioceses. However while generally rare, divorce and remarriage were tolerated on some occasions in the Christian West. And St. Basil the Great’s Canon IV (Epistle 188) which deals with second and third marriages and was confirmed by the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh OEcumenical Councils remains the basis for the discipline of the Orthodox Church on the subject of divorce and remarriage.

  2. Amen…

  3. That the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics is a pastoral emergency is a true statement. I was on the receiving end of an “exit interview” the other day. A man whom we know from our parish came to our house to give a quote on some home improvement work we were planning. I hadn’t seen him at church for quite awhile and wanted to ask if everything was okay, but didn’t quite know how to to bring it up. Well, he brought it up. He asked how everything was at the parish, and said he missed us. But they had joined another church, a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) congregation. I knew that his wife had been married before, and they never went up to Communion. He said that the annulment process was too daunting for his wife; and after about 25 years they were tired of being excluded from the sacraments. These people had been every-Sunday, faithful Catholics, and members of Perpetual Adoration. He felt that the belief of the Lutherans was close to Catholicism in many respects, and that it was good to be able to receive Communion. We can argue about transubstantiation vs. consubstantiation all day, and say that we’re the only ones who have the Real Presence. But how much good does it do somebody like this, if we build a fence, and exclude them from from full participation? Losing families like this is a failure on the part of the Church.

  4. It’s been awhile since I looked at it, but I don’t recall B16 questioning the application of c. 915 to these cases; he wrote the book on it (well, the letter, anyway) in 1994. Rather, if memory serves, his remarks in 2005 were about what constitutes valid marriage in ‘lack of faith’ situations, a welcome question, that, but not one concerning reception of Communion, directly anyway. I’ll try to find time to look at it all again.

  5. I think It is the right thing to do to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist.

  6. The Eucharist, as St. John Chrysostom said, is medicine for the journey, not a reward for being “good”. I’ve always found it difficult to believe that Jesus would be pleased to see His Body and Blood being used as a club to punish those who stray, or as that key “element” which separates those who are in “communion” with the Church and those who aren’t. Jesus invited everyone to sit at table with Him….saints and sinners alike. I don’t believe there is ever any evidence of Him excluding anyone. I’m all in favor of any movement to open the Eucharist to more people. None of us is worthy; Jesus gave Himself to all of us.

  7. It’s long overdue.

  8. So you are saying that one does not have to be in the state of grace to receive Communion? That’s a new one for me. And we wonder why the confession lines are so short!

  9. So should cohabitating couples be allowed to receive too? Let’s just do away with the concept of sin altogether.

  10. “Losing families like this is a failure on the part of the Church.”
    What about the failure of the people involved? Sounds like Perpetual Adoration did nothing to deepen his commitment to Christ and the Church.

  11. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t some extended (time-extended) version of the sacrament of reconciliation for couples who are in a second marriage that comes after a divorce. A chance for the spouse from the divorce to receive forgiveness for his/her failings in the marriage (every spouse has some failings, even if the other spouse was largely responsible for whatever problem[s] led to the divorce) and for both partners in the new marriage to receive some extended counseling (perhaps over the course of three or four months) on creating a union that does not fall into the same traps as the previous one. In other words, to deal with the history, the baggage of human struggles and sinfulness, and to welcome and receive Christ’s sacramental healing through Reconciliation. And then allow the couple to move forward — as full members of the church, welcome at the sacraments — rather than encourage them, essentially, to look for the door out. (No, I realize no official church document tells such couples they should leave. But isn’t that the message many of them end up getting anyway? How very sad — and unnecessary. Christ can forgive any sin and heal any wound. A very Catholic belief, that.)

  12. You don’t know these people, I do. There’s more that I’m not saying because it is confidential. Please refrain from judgement when you don’t know all the facts.

  13. I had not seen the Pope comments on this issue favoring a change in Catholic teaching in this area. It would seem to demand a change that would have impact on the sacrament of marriage teaching. I will wait for the Pope and Magesterium to make this change and until then, Catholics must obey Church teaching. I note that the group Austrian Catholic Action is out of sync with non negotiable church teaching and issued an “Appeal to Disobedience” which is a troubling sign for all Catholics who care about the faith. This is not a church that votes for what we believe, but depends on the infallibility of the Pope and Magesterium to help us find the path of Christ. We know that what Christ promised those who choose to follow is that we must pick up our Cross. That cross is usually heavier when we live in conflict with Church teaching. Christ gave the keys to Peter, not to those waving palm branches and cheering on Sunday and crucify him on Friday.

    Show me a group of clergy calling for disobedience to the teaching of the Catholic Church, especially those non negotiable and thus essential for faithful to accept, and I will always go the opposite way. So I will wait for changes from those Christ has made infallible rather than those screaming for disobedience.

  14. I would agree with an approach like that.

  15. I’m saying that Jesus welcomed everyone to the table, both saints and sinners alike. I don’t believe that Jesus ever said that people needed to be in a state of grace before they sat down and ate with Him. Of course, I could be wrong. I also thought Confession was to reestablish our relationship with God, not so we could receive the reward of going to Communion with all the other worthy people.

  16. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Mark…

    I just updated the post to include this story from December, which clarifies the pope’s thinking on the subject.

    Dcn. G.

  17. Why dont you read the Pope’s sensitive discussion of the issues involved In these cases before you comment. Deacon Greg posted a link to it a few months ago.

  18. As I thought, the journalist has botched the pope’s position: http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/does-the-pope-really-favor-admitting-divorced-and-remarried-catholics-to-holy-communion/.

    If I have to say it a thousand times, I will: read what the pope actually says, and don’t really on what someone (even me!) says the popes says.

  19. Part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for the person to have a purpose of amendment. Where is that if the couple continues to live as husband and wife? Jesus called that adultery.

  20. Why don’t you answer a question? Why do you dissent from Church teaching?

  21. That sounds like a wonderfully healing experience that would deepen a persons relationship with God and draw the person closer to Jesus. The present system puts a wall up In front of the Eucharist.

  22. I don’t need to know them to say that what they adored in Adoration is not what they are receiving now. The annulment being “too daunting” is a poor excuse for someone to leave the Church.

  23. Yellow card, Melodie. You can’t post anonymously about unidentified people as proving your point about XYZ, and then, when challenged about the case, claim it’s confidential and if one only knew all the facts one would agree with you. Sorry, you just can’t. If you post it, they can reply to what you said and reasonable inferences thereon.

  24. In response to you I would echo what Scout said below. It is not for me to keep anyone away from Jesus. I could not stand beneath His Cross and humbly accept the Mercy He has given me if anything I anything I say or do would deny that Divine Mercy to another

  25. Right, B, it’s not for you to keep to anyone away from Jesus. But the question is whether the Church has authority to keep people from taking Jesus illicitly.

  26. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    RomCath…

    Have you been through the annulment process?

    As part of my ministry, I work with couples all the time who are beginning the process. I help them collect the paperwork, read over their histories, counsel them in collecting the testimonials and interview them for a written report I submit to the Tribunal.

    “Too daunting” doesn’t begin to do justice to what some of these people have to go through. It’s not just gathering material and dealing with the church bureaucracy. It’s also psychologically and emotionally difficult. It’s retracing their steps and digging up issues many had hoped would remain buried — infidelity, abuse, addiction, regrets, immaturity, family problems and a host of other complications. Sometimes, it involves attempting to reach former spouses or children from whom they’ve been estranged for decades. And the process, at its worst, can drag on for years.

    I am humbled to walk this journey with those who have the courage and faith to go through the process. It isn’t easy. And I can understand why many just don’t think they can do it. (Frankly, if I were in their shoes, and had lived through some of their experiences, I wonder if I could…)

    Dcn. G.

  27. Okay, I can say this without breaking a confidence. The anullment paperwork is extensive. It asks intrusive personal questions and requires people to revisit painful times in their past. Not only that but it asks them to get family members and friends who knew the situation to fill out paperwork. And basically one has to ask one’s ex to do one a favor, even though there are ways around that if he/she won’t cooperate. Some people don’t agree that the Church should make them jump through all these hoops as a gateway to the sacraments, especially when many years have gone by and the second marriage has lasted way longer than the first. I can see how people might feel that way, even though I have never been in that situation myself. The Church requires people to practice heroic virtue in these circumstances, but denies them access to the main source of grace to sustain heroic virtue. It’s a Catch-22. I can’t say it’s the right thing to do, but I can say that I understand why some vote with their feet.

  28. Mr Peters How does Jesus define illicit and where does He use that word in the Institution of the Eucharist. Jesus also gave His Living Water to the woman at the well who was married repeatedly and was living with a man not her husband.

  29. Deacon Greg
    Since there was no reply button on your post I will do it here.
    No I have not been through the annulment process but know many who have. All have said that while it was daunting, it was healing as well. It put closure on a difficult period in their life. The process should be difficult as it testifies to the seriousness with which the Church takes the indissolubilty of marriage. After all Jesus spoke about this himself. We cannot just wave a magic wand and say it never happened. Confessions can be daunting too but doesn’t it too bring healing?
    I hope as a Deacon I trust you affirm the Church’s teaching on marriage.

  30. I didn’t perceive any question about commitment to Church teaching in his post, but Dcn. G’s description of the annulment process also sounded off to me. I have too many counter examples (gleaned from 10 years of daily work in tribunal) to cite here, fwiw.

    Anyway, isn’t this thread about the pope and Communion? Why all the tribunal stuff?

  31. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    RomCath…

    You can’t compare going to confession and getting an annulment.

    And your last line? You’re better than that, RomCath. You’ve been following me a long time. You know better.

    Dcn. G.

  32. Deacon Steve says:

    The problem with this lies with the first marriage. If it was a valid, sacramental marriage, then it is to be permanent until the death of the spouse. We need to be very careful that we are not doing away with the permanence of marriage. This is the whole point of the annulement process, to examine the vows that were exchanged to determine as best as possible if a valid, sacramental marriage took place. If a valid marriage took place, then it cannot be dissolved until the death of one of the spouses, and neither of them would be free to enter into another marriage union. If they do get married then they are committing Adultery, which is a violation of the 6th Commandment. You cannot receive absolution during the Sacrament of Reconcilliation if you are not going to attempt to avoid repeating a sinful behavior. A couple that continues to live together a husband and wife would show no remorse or willingness to attempt to not repeat the sinful behavior.
    And the reality is that we as Church do not deny the sacraments, but we do ask the people to refrain from receiving on their own because of their circumstances. If they choose to receive in opposition to Church teaching ultimately it is between them and God. The Church is doing what it feels is required as handed down to us from the time of the Apostles in accordance with what scripture teaches.

  33. Losing families like this is a failure on the part of the Church.

    Maybe it begins with failure in catechesis. Melody’s newly Lutheran friend — who tired of being unable to receive the sacraments — seems not to grasp that he is still not receiving the sacraments. This very basic level of confusion may have had much to do with his ill-considered decision to enter into a canonically irregular union in the first place. We are not going to fix this problem by pretending that people are not the owners of the consequences of their freely-made decisions. Paul himself warns that would-be communicants should be protected for their own sake from receiving the Sacrament if their sacramental understanding is in error.

  34. So the answer is to define down sacrilege?

    Since divorce and remarriage is adultery, according to Christ’s own words (Matthew 19:9), and since adulterers have no place in heaven, according to the inspired words of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 6:9), how can a moral theologian justify presenting the body and blood, Soul and Divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to someone living in a state of mortal sin?

    Corinthians 1:11:27

    Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

  35. BP, consule auctores probatos.

  36. A valid marriage cannot be dissolved except by death. The two become one flesh, and no man can put it assunder.

    What you are envisioning is yet another re-defining of marriage, except this time it would be re-defined by Christ’s bride Herself, Whose union represents what every marriage should reflect. If the Bride’s children are free to marry and re-marry and remain in good standing with the family, then Protestants should be able to receive the Sacraments, too.

  37. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Ed…

    Obviously, I don’t have your breadth or depth of experience with this stuff. But I’ve found, in the couple years I’ve been doing it, that often people wait for years before beginning the process — sometimes decades, as a last-ditch effort to “get right with God.” Not long ago, I dealt with a man whose first marriage ended in 1963, and everyone involved who could be a reliable witness is dead or disappeared. I also get a lot of international cases, with marriages that began overseas and ended here, for one reason or another. Getting records can be, in a word, challenging. And, as I indicated, there’s a lot of baggage to some of these cases.

    But that’s New York. Your mileage may vary.

    The thread is about divorced and remarried Catholics, which is how we started down the annulment path…

    Dcn. G.

  38. Sitting and eating with Him, and partaking of His body and blood, Soul and Divinity, are not the same thing. One is fellowship and an invitation to discipleship; the other is Communion.

    The unintended consequence of a teaching like this, is that it also destroys the theological justification of Purgatory.

  39. The process described above by Deacon Greg Kendra, for an annulment would make anyone think twice, IMO. Now I understand why one of the divorced teachers I taught with said she wasn’t going to go through with it. She isn’t remarried, and as far as I know doesn’t plan to. She did receive communion at the monthly children’s mass. The fellow discribed above by Melody is probably one of many former Catholics who have decided they want to receive communion but can’t in their former Catholic church so turn to another Chrisitan community. The rule seems, IMO, to be outdated. Perhaps the RCC will seriously rethink this. They might find many former members returning to the place they would really like to worship, but can’t because they divorced and remarried. Returning members benefit the Church and the returning parties.

  40. Chris, are you saying there is NEVER a reason for divorce? That no matter what the situation in a marriage, the couple should stay together? Well, in some circumstances, that death might occur at the hands of one of the people in that marriage—extreme, yes, but you said marriage can’t be disolved except by death. That’s a bit harsh IMO. Ideally everyone who marries will remain together happily until death parts them—however life isn’t that way.

  41. Scout,
    The authoritative verse regarding the worthy reception of the Eucharist is 1st Corinthians 11:27-29:

    “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

    So, yes, if one is in a state of sin, the Sacrament of Reconciliation must be received before one can partake in the Eucharist.

  42. The other part of the annulment process that can be daunting is the cost. Fees just increased in my Diocese and the parishes don’t have the funds to assist most of the time. $400 for a formal case is a lot of money in Eastern Oregon; and 18 months-2 years is a long wait for a decision.
    I have several folks in the RCIA process who are also awaiting annulment…one woman waited 4 years for resolution. She did say it was worth the wait and really made her think about her commitment to marriage. She attended the RCIA sessions faithfully for the entire time and she was so joyful in her anticipation to receive Eucharist, Confirmation and Marriage at the same Mass after the annulment was granted.
    I am an Advocate for my parish and handle annulment cases. It is very painful, but healing for many, as Deacon Greg said.

  43. The problem with such an approach is that it stands in conflict to Christ’s clear teaching in Matthew 19: 4-9:

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
    “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
    Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

  44. Pagansister – there are certain situations (e.g., physical abuse, or proximate harm to children) where divorce is “acceptable”, however, re-marriage is not. Divorce, by itself, does not disqualify one from the sacraments. You can be divorced and receive Communion. You can’t be divorced and remarried and receive Communion.

    Divorce is always and everywhere a CIVIL action. The Church does not believe in divorce, period. Th Church does not have the POWER to divorce a validly married couple. There’s marriage, and there’s annulment (the marriage never took place). So while there may be reason for civil recourse in limited situations, a civil divorce does not break the bond between the husband and wife, if the marriage was valid when the husband and wife administered the sacrament to each other at the vows. That’s where annulment comes in.

    We can’t redefine the Truth based on our feelings. e.g., I don’t like Mondays, so I’m going to have the courts give me a piece of paper that tells me Monday no longer exists.

    The answer is to reach out to alienated individuals and help them to embrace their cross while leading them in charity through the painful but correct solution of the annulment process.

  45. Meaning?

  46. Pardon me if this is a little off the intent of the thread.

    I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderful woman, who is a joy to be with and puts up with my flaws. Because of that, I cannot imagine being divorced and remarried. I try not to judge others and hope that reasonable efforts are made to bring all who want it back to the Eucharist.

  47. outside of the abuse of contaceptices by the reported members of the church, this seems to be the next abuse on the list.

  48. Deacon Steve says:

    I am not sure how it is in you Diocese, but in mine, the cost for the annulement process is a suggested donation. Ours is $500. If someone cannot afford it, then they are asked to give what they can even if it is only $1. No one is excluded from the process because of money.

  49. It seems silly that murderers, adulterers, and others in grave sin are free to receive Communion yet those who are divorced or remarried are not.

    Hell, priests who raped children and actively cover it up still receive Communion.

    Why the double standard?

    Oh yeah, I forgot, hypocrisy.

  50. $400 over two years or so is a pittance in the USA. If the upside is readmittance to the sacraments, I wouldn’t mind giving up the cost of less than a cup of coffee a day.

  51. George, no one in a state of grave sin is “free” to receive. Sinners who’ve repented and been absolved are free to receive. It’s not complicated, so don’t try to make it so.

  52. pagansister, the teacher you describe would not appear to be barred from receiving. If she now lives in celibacy, there is no question of her being in an adulterous relationship. Her civil divorce has no standing in the Church’s eyes. The Church has always accepted that in some cases husbands and wives can no longer live under the same roof.

  53. Chris, sorry, but I don’t think that one should gauge the rightness or wrongness of a change in church practice on how messy it makes the theology for another, largely unrelated theological thread. I’m convinced Christ did not institute the sacraments principally to bolster the theological foundation for purgatory.

  54. I am divorced and remarried.. My second marriage has lasted longer than the entire relationship and marriage of that of my first….Neither myself nor my husband have witnesses. We have one on each side.. My mother who saw it all is no longer with us..My father has been passed on over 30 yrs. My brother and sister in law refuse to get involved because they ‘think it’s stupid and ridiculous” (very lapsed Catholics).. My husbands father has been passed on since 1982 and his mom is also passed on.. He has one person who was willing to be a witness.. I have one friend who was willing to be a witness and I was told by the tribunal that “You don’t have enough witnesses, we can’t help you” and so now we are not supposed to feel like we are being shunned? Can you explain how we are not supposed to feel that way?,, Instead we are to sit in Mass and be seen like “bad little children’ by others when we do not go up to receive communion or we are to live a chaste life… I understand where these ‘rules’ come from but it’s also no reality.

    It seems to me that Jesus gave the Keys to Peter.. and He told Peter, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.. that to me says that changes to the ‘rules’ can be made and it will be completely acceptable to God… It also seems to me that in recent years maybe longer, the church seems more worried about ‘the rules’ than the actually people…

    The Pope and the Church have the authority passed down directly from the Lord through Peter to make changes and they haven’t.. So there’s really no need to ‘wonder’ why Catholics walk away…

  55. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    From my understanding of these things, costs vary wildly around the country.

    In my diocese, Brooklyn, it’s $1,100. If there is real hardship demonstrated, the diocese will try to work something out.
    Dcn. G.

  56. I see all this, yes. When I said “off”, I meant, one-sided. Sure, it can be a tough process, but it can also be easy, and it is usually personally satisfying. Provided it is grounded on truth, of course, which some people lose sight of.

  57. The difference is that these murderers and molestor-priests who’ve gone to Confession and received absolution can now receive in good conscience. Divorced and remarried are in a “continuing” state of sin and will never be eligible, under the current system. So I think it’s a little more complicated than it might appear…at least in the real world.

  58. Yet sins can be forgiven, can’t they, Survivor? No, I’m not saying, Hey everyone, let’s promote sin; let’s encourage people to marry, then divorce, then remarry. But we acknowledge that all of us are sinners, right? And some people have indeed committed adultery — and they can be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation. Some people have murdered — and they can be forgiven. But we are told that the only way for a couple in a second marriage (where a divorce occurred but no annulment has been obtained) can only show their repentance by not actually living out their new marriage — a marriage which may very well be a place where’s God’s in-dwelling becomes more and more evident in each of their lives. They are forced to separate or live as brother and sister.

    And yet some are able to obtain not one but a couple annulments (yes, I mean Newt). Those early marriages were “invalid,” we are left to assume. Once we term the marriage invalid, it’s as though it (and the pain and conflict and wounds associated with it?) never existed.

    I have no beef with people who have sought and obtained annulments; one of the people I most respect was in that situation not too long ago. But throwing the “Invalid marriage!” line out there does sometimes seem like an Orwellian “Catholic divorce” — a divorce that is deemed an undivorce. Certainly there ARE conditions which prevent individuals from being able to fully give assent at the onset of the marriage — e.g., extreme youth, addiction, untreated mental illness, etc. But we ALL have baggage when we marry. Person A was sexually abused as a child; Person B had an alcoholic parent; Person C has a long history of staggering financial debt and the paranoia that might come with that circusmstance. But if we grab onto those circumstances and say that any of those circumstances is a potential impediment to a valid marriage, are we not in fact suggesting that no one who has any of the histories mentioned above can be ready to enter, with full consent, into a valid marriage? In other words, don’t we end up playing The Invalid Marriage Game, in which just about no one is ready to marry, ever?

    I would much prefer that we do away with the requirement of annulments (at least in most cases) and simply admit: Marriage is complex. People mess up — sometimes in very big ways. We are sinners. The church is a hospital for sinners, a source of grace and healing. And people who have suffered through a divorce and seek to have a healthier (and more blessed) second marriage need and deserve the Church’s help. Let’s promote healing; let’s promote people who most need sacramental grace staying in the church and receiving it.

  59. Whatever the cost is I am quite sure it is lower than what the lawyers charge for the divorce. Any diocese will work it out with the petitioner so the cost is not a factor.

  60. The Pope is not going to change something that comes from Christ himself. The teaching on marriage, divorce and adultery comes from the Gospel not from the Church.
    It would be a lot easier if people applied for an annulment before the second marriage took place.

  61. AMEN. Seems like some here would like to deny Jesus ever said anything about divorce and remarriage.

  62. Really?

    If that is true why did Sen. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kerry, and Sen. Ted Kennedy (examples) receive communion when the Pope himself has stated that they are in grave sin and he ordered they be refused Communion?

  63. Henry Karlson says:

    Well, it’s not so simple. The Church’s understanding of marriage developed quite a bit through the centuries, and the way it is currently understood in the West is not the way the details play out in the East.

    There are many factors, many of which the Church has historically found itself capable of playing with. Some of them include:

    Sacramental vs non-sacramental marriage
    Marriage to more than one spouse
    Dispensation/economia vs normality

    A good introduction as to how the East works these together can be found here: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/athenagoras_remarriage.htm

    And yes, the East in the Catholic Church follows the Orthodox in its theology of marriage. The fact that there is a divergence of thought here shows how late the theology of marriage has been in its formation.

  64. And if you look at the results of the second marriage — in many cases, at least — you find a deep, healthy, loving relationship, and a stable and loving support system for children born of that union. In other words, you find evidence that the second marriage is more a blessing rather than a sin. Maybe the first marriage was warped by sin, or the victim of the other spouse’s selfish and sinful behavior (though it wasn’t enough, perhaps, to get that first marriage deemed “invalid”). Yet we are asked to view the second marriage as morally problematic even when all signs are to the contrary, and that couple is told to abstain from communion and other sacraments. A sad situation.

  65. There are many Catholics whose first marriage ended due to adultery committed by their spouse. Let me give you a real world example, one without reliance on a legalistic approach to what is essentially a pastoral problem, because I am one of them. We remarry, without benefit of an annulment, for a variety of reasons. In my case, there were young children involved, and the probable impact of the annulment process upon the precarious equilibrium established for child custody (shared equally) with an often emotionally unstable “ex” (I won’t go into the details) was examined, in my case with the help of a priest friend. I decided not to apply for an annulment, after first examining my conscience as to reasons behind the failure of my marriage, and after concluding that doing so would simply create more destruction and emotional turmoil into an already volitile situation. I know that I have valid grounds for an annulment, beyond infidelity. By the grace of God I met a wonderful woman (Catholic) several years after my divorce, and got married (in a Methodist church) four years ago. We have been blessed with two more children together, and they have been baptized in the Church.

    I receive Communion in the Catholic Church. I do so with a clear conscience. I don’t believe that my marriage (which is a true committment with a loving and mature partner, unlike my first marriage) is committing adultery. People may differ with that conclusion (in fact I’m sure many will) but I believe that my own situation provides a prime example of the pastoral need (emergency?) that the article addresses. Many Catholics in my situation are navigating very difficult circumstances, in good faith and in good conscience, while keeping the needs of their children as their primary focus. Do you really think that a failure to adhere to Canon Law form should be the deciding factor in whether someone like me should receive Communion? I don’t.

  66. What has this got to do with the topic of divorce, remarriage and reception of Communion in the Latin rite?

  67. I think your believing something isn’t a sin (adultery) doesn’t make it so. I think Jesus was pretty clear on the subject. Not to mention the Methodist marriage.

  68. Cardinal Ratzinger also talked about this topic in Peter Seewald’s interview book, “Salt of the Earth”. At the time, cardinal complained that the annulment process was too lengthy and complicated. He mused about the possibility of it being handled more locally, by qualified pastors.

  69. Deacon Steve says:

    You have to remember that the annulement process looks at the exchange of the vows and the consent. Behavior after is considered only as evidence of lack of consent or valid exchange of the vows. The process looks at the first marriage to help make a determination. If there was valid consent and a valid marriage, then the second marriage is morally problematic because they were not free to exchange consent again because of the impediment of prior marriage. If the prior marriage was as warped with sin as you claim (which does happen) then the annulement process will go very smoothly. Allowing people to freely remarry cheapens the vows taken. We might as well go the route the Mexico is proposing, having all marriage licenses expire after 2 years and then have to be renewed or the marriage automatically ends and each can go their separate ways. What is required is better catechesis on marriage starting when the children first enter religious ed. We must teach that marriage is a permanent insitution, and combatthe Hollywood disposable marriages/interchangeable spouses.

  70. Scout, the Sacred Heart doesn’t withhold forgiveness from the truly contrite. Our sins are a lot less impressive next to God’s power to forgive and his desire for us to be reconciled to him.

    One either believes in the reality of the sacrament of Confession, or else one doesn’t. You will have to decide which applies in your case.

  71. Right Romulus, There was no reason why this teacher could not receive Communion. But then you have to understand the Sacraments to figure that out. The lack of understanding is appalling.

  72. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    When, exactly, did the pope single out those three people and order that they not be given Communion?

  73. I think you are missing the point of what I posted. Or perhaps trying to oversimplify what I said. Most people don’t live their lives in a legalistic progression. They do their best to reconcile faith with the circumstances that life presents them with. That is what the article that I posted in response to recognizes as the pastoral need in question.

  74. Henry Karlson says:

    Several things.

    First, you brought up how modern theology of marriage came from “Christ himself.” However, anyone who has studied the history of marriage within the Church knows that it is not so simple. Christ is connected, the Holy Spirit is connected, to be sure, but this also must include historical realities.

    Second, is the discussion only about the “Latin Rite”? It’s funny, you try to make it all about what happened with Christ, then you limit it to the Latin Rite. But the thing is, Latins are not the only Catholics.

    Third, when discussing discipline and theology, the two longs need to be examined and addressed. When there is a pastoral crisis, looking to both lungs might provide an ample solution.

    So basically: the Catholic Church is more than the Latin Rite, what Christ commanded is not so simple as what we find in the modern Western theology, and there is a pastoral crisis.

    Let’s be realistic and look to what the Orthodox do with it and see if it can have some help here.

  75. Steve — Your last paragraph is well stated. I vote to take it one step further.

    An admission that marriage is complex should lead to doing away with annulments period. Let’s not spend the time and energy on the admittedly daunting annulment process, but on helping people to cope with their new status in life.

  76. Deacon Greg,

    I have walked the annulment road with several friends, serving as a witness before the tribunal. It’s a searing experience for many, to be certain. I have to agree with Ed Peters and RomCath here. Yes, this thread is about divorce and remarriage, but for Roman Catholics this topic being discussed in the absence of considering annulment is like trying to envision a coin with only one side.

    As I distill the comments here, they break along two lines:

    1. The paramount concern is the emotional fragility/lability of those remarried without annulment.

    2. The paramount concern is the indissolubility of marriage.

    The first must be subordinated to the second, lest each married individual become their own marriage tribunal. At that point we become Protestants. Individual conscience is the rationale for Protestant rejection of confession. How easily it could creep into Catholicism through misplaced pastoral concern for those who truly struggle with the issue of their first marriage. However, there are a few checkpoints the individual chose to blow through which could have prevented their present angst.

    In decades-old cases of remarriage, why did the individual not approach the Church before hitting the dating scene, or at least when the new love was looking like marriage? We now have the cases of people whose wounds were too fresh (and I get that) to go through annulment decades ago, and whose second marriages are too old to dredge up the past.

    That leaves us with individual arbiters of their own unions (which obviates the purpose of a marriage tribunal), who now act as arbiters of the sacramental system outside of matrimony, determining what does and does not require absolution, and who can and can not receive the Eucharist.

    A Roman Rota in every garage.

    I think the answer is that the Church must provide whatever hand-holding is required to walk people through the annulment process. Even with the best of intentions, these sincerely struggling folk have arrogated quite a bit of Apostolic Authority to themselves, and the loving response is to stand firm and demand that they submit to that loving authority in a genuine spirit of humility.

    Then, as I have done, we need to walk through the fire with them every step of the way.

  77. Peter — good for you. A wonderful spouse, a loving home for your children, a Christian marriage, and a clear conscious arrived at with due diligence. All told it is something to shout from the rooftop for the world to hear. Congratulations.

  78. Chris Sullivan says:

    1. Jesus’ welcome of Judas to the last supper speaks volumes to admitting sinners. St Augustine said that Jesus gave Judas Holy Communion.

    2. Paul wrote that each had to consult their OWN conscience. I agree with Pope Benedict that the conscience of the couples concerned is the central matter in their presenting themselves to receive. Not what other people might think about their situation.

    3. The fundamentalist position that what the Gospels record as Jesus’ words on remarriage and adultery are necessarily the exact words of Jesus needs to be rejected. That isn’t the Catholic way of reading the gospels.

    4. The gospels and Paul list a bunch of exceptions to the prohibition on remarriage, indicating that right from the get go the Church realised that this was a complex area and it never was as simple as just saying people can never separate and remarry. Canon law continues to recognize the Pauline and Petrine privileges to dissolve valid marriages.

    5. The Orthodox Church recognize the complexity of some marriage situations and allow divorce and remarriage with some conditions. This is a possible way forward.

    6. Steve’s point about the centrality of forgiveness in the gospel is very important.

    7. The church has the power to bind and loose. Let her use her power to set people free from broken marriages and not to drive people away from the Church by inflicting even more misery on the poor in spirit.

    God Bless

  79. While I agree that the annulment process can be very difficult and daunting for many people, part of me thinks it should be difficult…. or at least it shouldn’t be easy. If we want to say we take marriage seriously, then investigating whether a marriage was valid should be taken seriously. If we simplify the process too much, how is it different than simply accepting divorce?

  80. “2. Paul wrote that each had to consult their OWN conscience. I agree with Pope Benedict that the conscience of the couples concerned is the central matter in their presenting themselves to receive. Not what other people might think about their situation.”

    Setting aside your interpretation of the Holy Father’s position. Would this hold true for couplse living together without the benefirt of marriage? For the man who is cheating on his wife? The child abuser? So long as they claim their conscience is clear, there is no sin?

  81. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Gerard…

    From my experience with this, you also have people who were not very devout or faithful Catholics when they got married the first time and now, many years later, they are. Life happens. Conversion happens. You grow and change. People find themselves now wanting to take the faith seriously, and live it fervently. And there they are, in a sacramental bind. Many have remarried. Some, more than once.

    If would be wonderful if every couple were spiritually mature enough to deal with this issue in an appropriate, timely and canonically correct way.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.

    I often tell people going through this process: “There’s one canonical reason for annulment that isn’t listed on your application form, but should be: ‘I was young and stupid.’” 90% of the time, that’s what it boils down to.

    Dcn. G.

  82. Ed, just got back on line and was going to check this as well. It did not sound like the Pope from the comments the journalist tied to him. You saved some leg work, but I will go read everything on the matter anyway. Truth matters, especially coming from the successor to Peter.

  83. I doubt anyone is supportive of the process as it stands. However, when dealing with a sacrament, would rather have it hard than papered over.

  84. Chris Sullivan says:

    “Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. Conscience confronts [the individual] with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official church.”

    (Pope Benedict XVI [then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger], “Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II”, ed. Vorgrimler, 1968, on Gaudium et spes, part 1, chapter 1.)

    God Bless

  85. How about the Cathecism of the Catholic Church. Seems to lay this out very well.

    Rom Cath has excellent questions and Ed Peters lays it out as to authority. Some Catholics simply refuse to accept the Church authority and in doing so give up infallibility. Strange.

  86. Scout, my Latin is a bit rusty but I think it comes out to something along the lines of “the authority has ruled.”

  87. Survivor, you don’t seem to understand. Many here do not accept the authority of the Church, the Pope infallibility, non negotiable teaching of the Church, what is in the Cathecism of the Church, or anything else that gets in the way of whatever they want to do. Providing a quote from St Paul serves no purpose for most of them do not like St Paul anyway. That is what is so frustrating for it is hard to understand why they stay in a Church they do not believe in our accept when there are thousands out there in full agreement of what they actually believe. Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to make that point when he predicted that the Church might get smaller, but have those there that were strong in their belief. This is not a democratic religion where people can vote for change. When what they want comes against a non negtiable teaching, such as women priests never ever changing, they refuse to accept it because nothing for them is ever non negotiable. The Church has no authority now or ever to change that teaching. Not hard to understand. Strange. Voting for a pro abortion candidate is not allowed without proportiante reasons for killing 54 million babies with 4.000 a day added to the total cannot be right. Simply ignore the proportionate reasons part and anything will do such as big government program support to fight poverty.

  88. Henry Karlson says:

    Now, we must remember, the differing paragraphs of the Catechism are not of the same level of doctrinal authority. Some are of great authority, some are not, and this is a basic criticism many have had with the catechism: that many pick it up not understanding this point. Indeed, it becomes worse when some Catholics become fundamentalists in regards to the Catechism and treat it as a “sola scriptura” Protestant does the Bible. It is not meant to be taken that way. It is not an infallible document. The Church welcomes theological discussions and pastoral possibilities.

    The Catechism shows that the East and West have different theologies in regards to marriage. This within the Catholic Church herself. Though it tries to work out a middle way between the two, what one finds in the East is not what one finds described in the CCC. The fact that you have two rival theologies within the CCC (however diminished the Eastern view is presented) demonstrates the need for further analysis and exploration of the topic itself. This, of course is something the Church has no problem with. Why then do you?

  89. My marriage was recently annulled. The process was very painful (like divorce), but it was also very healing (unlike divorce). More than that, the fact that I had to write everything down, and examine everything, even things that were decades in the past, gave me greater insight into my behavior and my ex-spouse’s behavior than any counselor ever did. I also should say that the tribunal was extremely helpful in addressing my concerns.

    I understand what Deacon Greg is saying about people who divorce and remarry and then refind their Catholic faith. These are such hard cases, and I’ve known people — very fervent in their faith — who are in such situations. But isn’t — in the long run — better catechesis the answer to preventing such situations?

  90. Henry Karlson says:

    Mark

    Or perhaps they do agree with the Church but understand that there is more to what the Church teaches than the simplistic presentation of many. While I doubt it is what you intended, how you present papal infallibility seems to be different from the Church’s own, and you seem to be making many things a matter of papal infallibility which the Church has not ruled. It does no one any good to say people deny infallibility when the issue is not one which has been raised to that level.

  91. The issue is not the sin of the past, but the current sins being continued. If one is divorced, they do not have a problem with receiving sacrament of Eucharist if leading a celbate life. If annuled, free to marry again provided it does not have other impediments which made the first marriage invalid. Sin has consequences and devalues the sacrament when we allow sin to wrap its arms around the sacrament. That is why we are to approach receiving sacrament carefully and prayerfully. I also trust the Catholic Church to put in place what we need to follow to help us on the path to heaven. What everyone seems to be focusing on here is what we want in this world and not how to get to heaven. They want changes to make things easier here. Some call for cheap grace. We have had a lot of cheap grace thrown around in the effort to get along with whatever we want. That is why it is called cheap grace. The Catholic Church is our road map and if you are not in alignment with authentic Catholic teaching, you are probably now on a very dangerous road. The Eucharist is a sacrament, not some drive by McDonalds fare. Those who fool themselves into receiving it while in grave sin are adding on with another grave sin. The lines are reconcilliation should be much longer and the lines for the Eucharist should be much shorter if we all looked at our souls to first determine which line to join. I learned that Pope John Paul II went weekly to Reconciliation. After learning that I picked up the practice and have been doing so for years. What you learn in this process is the ongoing sins you have to stop if possible and some of them such as what we are discussing here require great pain.

  92. Henry, the vast majority here are Roman Catholic. Confusing it with the beliefs of the Eastern Church not sure matters much. Those things have to be worked out on higher levels and serve no purpose that I can see here.

    As to some teaching having greater authority, many even when they hear a teaching has been labeled by the Pope as non negotiable do not accept it anyway.

    For most, a tour through the Cathecism is an eye opener as many have not taken the time to do even this. On the whole, I find it an excellent document and if one accepts the authority of the church rather than reading seek loopholes, it serves us well.

  93. Such as?

  94. Bill McGeveran says:

    I came across a link to an interesting journal article on the subject of indissolubility of marriage:
    http://www.ts.mu.edu/content/65/65.3/65.3.1.pdf
    I didnt really study this article well enough to attempt even a brief summary, but I think it is worth some study by those interested in this question.
    Whatever one may think of the arguments there, it seems clear to me that more needs to be done to deal pastorally with the many people whose marriages have broken down, often largely through no fault of their own. And I think the response of some people to those whose marriages have failed, in effect saying “tough darts to you if your life has been screwed up,” while it may stem from sincerely held beliefs, is actually and obviously non-Christian. I wonder if these critics of failed marriages would think differently if it happened to them.

  95. It is so easy to fool ourselves into accepting sin. Satan makes it easy for us and we depart from Church teaching at the risk of placing our soul in peril and often taking other with us. Eve sinned and went to her partner to get him involved. That is why you often find those who reject church teaching to make their worldly life more comfortable and filled with a “clear conscience” seldom go anywhere near the confessional. Many are cultural Catholics who also do not accept that you have to attend Mass every Sunday or that recieving the Eucharist while in grave sin creates another grave sin and soon your soul is so buried in sin you are blind to sin. Like taking that first drink, sin eats away at your soul and soon you are addicted. I was reading about St Padre Pio and his devotion to the confessional and the gifts God gave him to see sins and bring them up to the one he was facing. He believed that we would be better able to follow Christ if our sins placed a mark upon us for all to see because so many where blind to sin and gravely ill when they arrived for reconcilliation with God. If you think you are OK and that what the church has labeled as sinful is not bothering your conscience, open your heart and soul and mind and you will hear it is essential for you to pick up your cross.

  96. Henry Karlson says:

    Mark

    The discussion is about The Church. The Church is more than what happens in the West. If we are going to discuss what happens in the Church, to ignore the East within the Church is bad form. More importantly, as has been said many times, the West has been encouraged to learn from the East and develop so the Church can breath with both lungs. Thus, when questions are raised, looking to the East is important and helpful. I think what upsets many is that in doing so, their views are challenged: well, that is what the Church wants. Deal with it.

    This is not about loopholes. And many people treating the Catechism in a way it was not intended is dangerous and destructive to the Church’s living tradition.

  97. It appears that your issue with Catholicism, to paraphrase Chesterton, is not that you have tried Catholicism and found it wanting, but that you have tried it and found it difficult.

    Twice during these comments I have cited the words of the New Testament, the most authoritative source we have, only to be told that the Scriptures don’t matter.

    Such a radically antinomian position, which rejects all Church authority & law, does no justice to the Catholic Faith or the Church. Asserting the authority of a personal “Me-gesterium” is ill-placed, and as St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians, spiritually dangerous.

    It is a difficult teaching, much like Christ’s teaching in John 6:60-69, which is worthy of further reflection:

    “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
    Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
    Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
    From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

  98. Or that the New Testament (specifically 1st Corinthians) says anything about receiving the Eucharist unworthily.

  99. Deacon Greg,

    I’m in agreement with you, especially about people being young and stupid.

    It happens.

    But perhaps the greatest argument in favor of maintaining the Eucharistic discipline under discussion is the reality that annulments have become quite common. Were the Church parsimonious with annulments, I think thee would be greater impetus toward removing the ban on Eucharistic participation by those remarried without annulment.

    However, the relative frequency with which they are granted should be a beacon of pastoral warmth and hope to people who are remarried.

    Think about it; these folks have:

    Dispensed themselves from their marital vows.

    Married outside of the Church.

    Dispensed themselves from canonical requirements concerning Eucharistic reception.

    Arrogated Apostolic Authority in the process.

    Established new sacramental and canonical norms, using the angst associated with their current state as justification.

    If, as you say, they are now spiritually mature then they must demonstrate that maturity by submitting to the authority of the Church. Yes it’s painful, but they have spent a lifetime arrogating Apostolic Authority in order to avoid confronting their pain… a sort of spiritual neurosis. Now their pain demands that the Church surrender her Apostolic discretion?

    I’ve been there with people who have fallen into this category. I’ve told them that their unwillingness to confront their past is no excuse for arrogating Apostolic Authority in the present, and that the annulment process is much more compassionate and healing than they imagine (which it is).

    Being young and stupid is very understandable and pardonable. Being older, wiser, and arrogating authority to oneself that is the bishops’ alone is a far, far more serious matter, and we should not allow ourselves to be blinded to that reality by our compassion.

  100. “I think thee” should read, “I think there…”

  101. To your point #2, then Cardinal Ratzinger:

    “Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced-and-Remarried Members of the Faithful” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a letter to the world’s bishops on October 14, 1994 said,

    7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality.

  102. Himes & Coriden were replied to by Ryan and Grisez, here: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Content/Site140/Blog/922RyanGrisez4p_00000000553.pdf

  103. If nothing else, perhaps we can agree that this all points to a need for better marriage preparation in many parishes, so that the spouses understand what it really means when they enter into a sacramental marriage in the first place.

  104. In our diocese it is free

  105. Deacon Ed Peitler says:

    Opinions about Church teachings are basically irrelevant. Church teachings are not the result of plebiscites.
    There is no dearth of opinion in the Catholic Church but you can’t say the same about obedience.
    Just do what the Church teaches and we’ll all be a lot better off than we have since 1965!

  106. I could not quite reconcile why a priest requires years of training, formation, discernment before receiving the sacrament of holy orders. Yet a couple participates in a few months of marriage preparation probably already in a state of sin by cohabitating yet receives the sacrament of matrimony. Although this doesn’t address the question at hand it seems to illustrate one of the many origins for its cause. Just a thought….

  107. I have posted the Pope’s orders here before and there was a cognitive dissonance to it as it involved Democrat politicians who actively support abortion.

    Lets have a walk down memory lane.

    1) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. John Kerry, Christopher Dodd and Edward M. Kennedy received Communion at Nationals Park in Washington, as did Rudolph Giuliani at Yankee Stadium in New York. They were present because they were invited to the masses by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York.

    (Abortion aside, Giuliani’s third marriage would make him ineligible for Communion because his second marriage was not annulled by the church.)

    2) Benedict’s position was unequivocal when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Asked in 2004 whether Kerry as Democratic presidential nominee should be allowed to take Communion, he replied, “The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.”

    “Pope Benedict on Wednesday warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.” – May 9, 2007 (CNA)

    “Cardinal Ratzinger said in his letter titled “Worthiness to receive Holy Communion”, that a Catholic politician who would vote for “permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion. Ratzinger’s letter explained that if such a politician “with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.””

    “the Pope was referring to the Church’s Canon law 915 which states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

    The Pope’s own words, it can’t be anymore simplistic:

    “It is simply part of church law that the killing of an innocent baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ.”

  108. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    You said orders were issued not to give communion to three specific people.

    Please find an article in which — as pope or as Cardinal Ratzinger — he explicitly names specific American politicians to whom communion must be denied.

    I haven’t found one.

    Dcn. G.

  109. Chris Sullivan says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger updated his views from the 1994 SCDF document (which was widely criticized) in a 1998 article published in L’Osservatore Romano :-

    In other words, if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible. The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception.

    Admittedly, it cannot be excluded that mistakes occur in marriage cases. In some parts of the Church, well-functioning marriage tribunals still do not exist. Occasionally, such cases last an excessive amount of time. Once in a while they conclude with questionable decisions. Here it seems that the application of epikeia in the internal forum is not automatically excluded from the outset. This is implied in the 1994 letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in which it was stated that new canonical ways of demonstrating nullity should exclude “as far as possible” every divergence from the truth verifiable in the judicial process (cf. n. 9). Some theologians are of the opinion that the faithful ought to adhere strictly even in the internal forum to juridical decisions which they believe to be false. Others maintain that exceptions are possible here in the internal forum, because the juridical forum does not deal with norms of divine law, but rather with norms of ecclesiastical law. This question, however, demands further study and clarification. Admittedly, the conditions for asserting an exception would need to be clarified very precisely, in order to avoid arbitrariness and to safeguard the public character of marriage, removing it from subjective decisions.

    http://www.osservatoreromano.va/portal/dt?JSPTabContainer.setSelected=JSPTabContainer%2FDetail&last=false=&path=/news/vaticano/2011/276q11-Testo-card–Ratzinger-sulla-pastorale-dei-f.html&title=The%20pastoral%20approach%20to%20marriage%20%20should%20be%20founded%20on%20truth&locale=en

    Epikeia means an exception, an indulgent and benign interpretation of law, which regards a law as not applying in a particular case because of circumstances unforeseen by the lawmaker. Ecclesiastical Latin, from the Greek επιεικεια (epieikeia), meaning reasonableness, fairness, or clemency.

    In the external forum (ie publicly), objective criteria need to apply. However, in the internal forum, which is what binds a person’s ability to decide to receive Holy Communion, a person is obliged to follow her own conscience, even it be erroneous.

    God Bless

  110. As someone who has gone through the annulment process not once, but twice, successfully, I learned the hard way, that people don’t change, they only reveal themselves. I also learned that “family of origin” matters. Also, in the case of adultery, scratch the surface and you are likey to find underlying problems that, if known, might have resulted in a couple not marrying. Or, as I experienced, you can end up with a bait and switch situation. Many issues, DON’T come up no matter how good a pre-canna program is. IF one member of a couple is determined NOT to discuss issues OR hide them, there is NO way to know if there might be serious problems. Remember, this is NOT the 50′s when everybody knows everybody else’s family etc.
    IF I had not done my own investigation in BOTH cases I would never have discovered the real issues and witnesses who could be persuaded to testify on my behalf.
    In the first case, it took several months, but I learned that she came from a very dysfunctional family because her father was an alcoholic and worked a away from home (he worked for the railroad). What it came down to when all the junk was scraped away was that she married me to get out of her parents house. Once, she was out and on her own with a pretty good job(we had been college sweethearts), suddenly our marriage was over, all in the space of 3 years.
    In the second case, I learned that she had been engaged 6 times before me( she let me believe that she had just “dated a lot”), had a terrible spending problem (she insisted that she had been helping her parents during a financially difficult period) and a number of issues. Most shocking was learning that she had married me because she was in her 30′s and afraid that her friends would think that she was a lesbian and that I was her last chance. When I confronted her friends about these issues, they said “You seemed so different and better than any of the others she had dated, we didn’t want to mess it up by bringing up the past. ” Later, at a dinner one of them had for me, she said, “We are all so sorry about the way she treated you We thought she’d changed. We were wrong”. We went through pre-cana and she came through it with flying colors even the testing etc. It wasn’t 2 years before she was cheating on me and trying to force me to quit my job and move some place just because she wanted to move. During the annulment process, which I began 4 years after we divorced, she admitted that she had “gamed the system” to marry me and never had any intention of living up to the vows nor did she ever believe in any of the things taught in pre-canna. She said” I did what I needed to do to marry you. You insisted on a Catholic ceremony so I gave you one”. Several years after we divorced, I met and married an African-American woman who is a director of religious education in our diocese and we have been happily married for 10 years. As an insult added to injury, my wife and I had to take out a 2nd mortgage on our house to pay a $25,000 credit card bill, my ex defaulted on, that the court had said was her debt. The company didn’t see it that way and we’re stuck for the next 8 years. so yeah, I learned the hard way. Before my wife and I married, when got serious, I told her every bad thing about ME I could think of and tale of woe. Then I looked her in the eye and told HER to tell me the same thing AND to KNOW that I would check out her story and that I had the means to do so. She did and I did and we’ve been happy ever since. My POINT is do a background check. I wish I had-twice!

  111. Bill McGeveran says:

    @Ed Peters, thanks for that link. Some people may want to read both articles and judge for themselves.
    I do see that the latter article was apparently published at the behest of the Vatican, without peer review (as per http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=14963
    That doesn’t make it bad, of course, but I wonder why it could not have been peer reviewed beforehand.
    (In any case, my view is that the present situation is something of a scandal; it just cannot be right. Some marriages have irretrievably broken down and it should not be necessary to find them to have been invalid in the first place through a tortuous legalistic process involving a heavy burden of proof. And in any case, I’d still say that people who are in good conscience should be able to receive communion.)

  112. pagansister says:

    Personally, Peter, I’m happy that you have found a woman that you plan to spend the rest of our life with and marrying her. The church you married her in should make no difference, IMO. You’re married in the eyes of God, IMO. I admire you for following the path you did—studing the process of annulment, with the help of a priest friend, and deciding that going through the process would make the whole divorce situation harder on everyone. You chose to baptise your 2 children in the Church and you continue to receive communion in the Church. Good for you. The rules, after reading all the “stuff” that has to be done to get that annulment, seem to only make things harder on those who need to leave a marriage and I can most certainly understand why many Catholics choose not to proceed with an annulment while going through the secular divorce proceedure, which can be complicated enough. The best to you and your family. I wish you many, many happy years together.

  113. pagansister says:

    Romulus, obviously I have no idea if she was living in celibacy. I just know that she received communion at mass. Also obviously, I woudn’t have asked her about her private life!

  114. It was peer reviewed. It’s a long story, google it. Best, edp.

  115. For twenty years I have sought pastoral intervention to heal a valid marriage and for twenty years, I have been ignored. The Catholic Church is broken.. not beyond repair but beyond what our current hierarchy wants to address.

    I have lived through the annulment process. It is not unbearable by any means.
    However, its abuse is. That is what I saw.

    Grow up you who have been abandoned. Face what is before you and keep your
    pants on and your dimes between your knees. You whine, as I have whined. I understand, for sure. I do not understand leaving the Church because she asks you to take the high road. I left her because she dwells on the low road.

    My opinion on that has not at all changed with regards to marriage. The Church is a pastoral pig-sty. But I was WRONG for having left her. She needs the few of us left who “Walk the Line”.

    THE ANSWER IS NOT BETTER PREPARATION. The answer is living the GOSPEL!

    Read the addresses of the Popes to the Roman Rota to learn something. They are on the Vatican.va website. They are tremendous. Read Monsignor Cormac Burke’s
    website it is tremendous. When you have digested both AND accepted and earnestly incorporated what they say into your CATHOLIC CONSCIENCE, then MAYBE, you will BEGIN to understand what all this means.

    The Church needs to help badly wounded marriages. That is a place to start. But the advice of those of us who are respondents who have survived the corrupted nullity process is worth NOTHING to the Church.

    That says pretty much everything. Those of us who have lived faithfully to abandoned marriages are IGNORED by those in POWER in the Catholic Church, however, our spouses and their unrepentant adulterous partners are openly accepted and treated as if they were married.

    Go ahead Deacon, delete my post like you ALWAYS DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Karl J Wengenroth

    [Karl...I'm letting your comment stand. It speaks for itself. I hope you feel better having gotten that off your chest. -- Ed.]

  116. pagansister says:

    Chris, let me understand that IF a person gets a civil divorce AND and annulment, they can remarry and stay in the Churche’s good graces? The annulment means they were never married—so what does that do to the children of that marriage that never took place? Does that mean they were born out of wedlock, something the Church frowns upon? Just thought I’d ask—

  117. Bill McGeveran says:

    Church teachings are not ipso facto infallible and they can evolve…. Despite your implication, no one is actually saying that these teachings are, or even should be, determined simply by counting up opinions. That does not make the opinions or insight of large numbers of faithful irrelevant. In fact when they do not make sense to a lot of people there are grounds for reexamination…Authority and the responsibility to obey exist in various contexts; for example, there are parents, teachers, governments. But I dont think any kind of authority can be sustained in the long run if it disregards the perspective of those who are being called upon to obey.,..

  118. pagansister says:

    I’m so glad Robyn that your second marriage is a happy one. It is a shame that the rules make it hard or impossible due to lack of witnesses for you to go thru the annulment process—-since you seem to want to stay in the Church. It seems you tried to do the right thing, but wasn’t possible according to the tribunal. Your feelings of being “shunned’ seem very valid to me.

  119. Truth hurts?

  120. pagansister says:

    pol, it is great that your finally found the “right woman” ! She was, from the sound of your post, totally worth waiting for! :o)

  121. Bill McGeveran says:

    Thanks; sorry. I do see from later references that the article I cited was wrong; the response by Grisez and Ryan WAS apparently peer reviewed. It was also apparently published under Vatican duress in the form its authors ultimately decided upon, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect on its content..

  122. I’m not sure how he parses the differences between Catholic and Lutheran theology regarding the sacraments. However one thing seems plain to him; that he isn’t considered a second-class Lutheran because of his marriage.

  123. Deacon, I will not in a million years be as bright nor have the graces poured onto me as with Pope Benedict. If he rules that there will be changes, I am confident and comfortable to follow those changes. I also think he keeps doors open because he has not yet arrived at a final decision, but in reading this, they seem to be very limited if they are opened. It seems like you might get your wish for some changes to the annulment process and it might also include slightly increased conditions. Again, I will bow to his judgement and that of the Magesterium in unity with the Pope.

    What I hate to see is dissenting clergy calling for disobedience as with this Catholic Action group in germany. We have had very poor overall teaching of actual Catholic teaching in this country and sometimes throwing out stories like this without research to show what the Pope has stated upfront can be more harmful than informative.

  124. Deacon that was some of my concern too. First you post the article which seems to have had some journalistic errors and is around a group of clergy who seem to be in open dissent on far more than this as they are also calling for women priest, certainly a settled issue with what Pope JPII said about the Church having no authority. After the thing kind of blows up, the update kind of stifles some of what was being promoted in many ways. But your post seemed to be very anti the current teaching of the church which I think prompted the question. If the goal is to inform, seems like having the article and getting the direct info on what the Pope has actully said, noting that this article has a group of clergy in open dissent, and then maybe expressing what the Church teaching is and your views. I realize that all this takes time, but even if you have less posts, it would be far more valuable to the Church and the audience of your blog. Just my humble suggestion. As an example, I often see fewer posts with Anchoress who I also visit, but she seems to have multiple links when she posts and usually makes her views known upfront. Without this you have far more red meat battles. Of course those who disagree do not attack each other near as much as some blast the poor anchoress instead. Frankly, with your education within the church to become a deacon, seems like your view upfront would be beneficial.

  125. Ours is by donation. No one is turned away for money reasons.

  126. Divorce in Klamath Co is around $150 with no kids and no attorney. Most people wait because there are NO jobs here…and 18 % unemployment. Very few can afford a $400 payment, even over 2 years.

  127. Scout is right, the issue is the continuing sin. One part of confession is the firm resolve to stop sinning. The priest who senses there is no resolve to stop sinning should not give absolution. You can’t say I am doing this sin and after confession I am going home to a woman I am not married to in the eyes of the church and live as man and wife. You could be forgiven if you say that you are going to end the relationship where sin is involved by becoming celebate. I would assume that this then would allow you to receive the Eucharist because the sin has stopped. You have agreed to pick up your cross rather than receive the Eucharist in grave sin which is a grave sin in and of itself.

  128. Rom Cath- you are wrong. And, I’m not very appreciative of your harsh and unforgiving tone on this thread. Deacon Greg is much more lax than I would be with your comments.
    The process of annulment is supposed to be a HEALING process. It is supposed to help the people involved- petitioner, respondent and witnesses. Most ‘putative’ marriages are not valid. You don’t have any influence over the outcome, regardless of your supposed knowledge of the Catechism or your reading of Canon Law. Leave it to Church Judges, will you?
    You can spout ‘doctrine’ and ‘the Catechism’ all day long, but unless you are privy to the FACTS of the consent of the marriage, you have no ability to comment on each individual marriage and its validity. That is reserved to the Tribunal and Judges of the Diocese.
    It does not matter when the process for annulment begins…it depends on the circumstances that led to the consent of the first marriage. If the facts of the consent are invalid, then, the marriage was invalid. It doesn’t matter if the persons involved have remarried.
    Robyn- it should not matter how many witnesses you have. Please, go to your Diocese. They will give you accurate information. It’s great to have several witnesses, but it’s also not needed in all cases, especially if there are documents to support the facts of invalidity. Don’t give up! Many people do not give consent to ‘marriage’ as detailed by the Church and natural law.

  129. How about what Cardinal Burke has stated very publically about those who should and should not receive the Eucharist? He is not only a Cardinal, but Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican Supreme Court as I understand. He is also member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and member of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints
    and President of the Commission for Advocates, which is responsible for admitting the world’s qualified canon lawyers to a registry of those who may practice in the Vatican’s courts. I think he would be very good to listen to on Church teaching as he obviously has maximum support of our Pope.

    “The person — himself or herself — presenting themselves for the Eucharist in grave sin is committing a sacrilege: in other words, receiving the Sacrament unworthily, since the holiness of the Sacrament itself demands that one be in a state of grace to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore, when I set this forth, it’s not a new idea on my part — that this is in line with the constant tradition of the church.”

    “It is discouraging that either members of the church claim not to understand this, or they claim that in some way there is an excuse for someone who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin to receive Holy Communion. I look at it this way: this response on the part of many in the church comes from living in a society that’s completely secularized, and the thinking that is marked — the God-centered thinking which has marked the discipline of the church — is not easily understood by those who are bombarded day in and day out with a kind of God-less approach to the world and to many questions.”

    “We are called to speak the truth with love as the Holy Scriptures say, but also to realize that one has to continue to proclaim the message in season and out of season, and whether it’s being warmly received or not being received or being resisted or criticized doesn’t excuse the bishop or the priest from teaching clearly or steadfastly.”

    It seems that this should be the goal of all clergy, esepcialy the Bishops who should have a sacred duty to lead the flock to Christ, not to grave sin through neglect. Allowing those with grave sin as Cardinal Burke has laid out, to openly commit a “sacrilege” involving the Body and Blood of our Lord should not be something we allow.

  130. This is a very good PERIODICA DE RE CANONICA
    from Cardinal Burke clarifying some in error on Canon 915 and receiving the Eucharist in grave sin.
    http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/holycom/denial.htm

  131. The problem I have with exclusion from the sacraments is the internal inconsistency.

    If a person marries, divorces and remarries, three mutually exclusive possibilities result:

    1) the first marriage is and always has been valid, and the second cannot be as long as the first spouse lives; OR

    2) the first marriage is and always was invalid, while the second is valid; OR

    3) both marriages are and always were invalid.

    My problem is the state of the couple who fall in to possibility #2, during the period of time that they have not (perhaps not yet) received a juridical proclamation of the nullity of the first marriage.

    The fundamental characteristic of divorce is that it establishes a particular point in time before which the marriage existed and after which the marriage did not. Our teaching is that an annulment is NOT a “Catholic divorce” because an annulment is not an act at a particular point in time, but is merely a formal recognition of something that has ALWAYS been true.

    So when the Church recognizes that the first marriage of a divorced-and-remarried Catholic was NEVER valid, then, by logic, it is also recognizing that the second marriage was valid (if illicit) FROM THE BEGINNING. What then are we to make of the Church’s behavior during the time period between when the second VALID marriage was entered into, and the decree of nullity is granted? The Church was actively attempting to “put asunder” exactly that which was “joined by God” — the valid second marriage. The Church has denied the sacraments — all of them — to the validly married couple. If one of the spouses commits some (completely unrelated) mortal sin in the interregnum, and repents sincerely of it, he/she, denied the Sacrament of Confession, will remain in that state of mortal sin and will go to hell if he/she dies during that period.

    Or, another way of looking at it… A couple is validly but illicitly married. The Church carries out a sustained campaign to convince the spouses to divorce, through the blackmail of withholding the sacraments. Then, in due time, through a diligent application of the annulment process, the Church decides that this marriage that they have been actively trying to destroy is and always was valid after all. Or, as Roseanne Rosannadanna said, “Never mind.”

    If the Church ACTUALLY believed what the Church teaches about the sacraments, then the notion of withholding the sacraments from a couple who may or may not be validly married the Church just hasn’t decided yet is grossly, obscenely disproportionate. Unless the Church thinks that the sacraments are trivial…

  132. People might do what the Church says, but there might cause some inner conflict for some. At least superficially though, the “Church” would be better off.

  133. YEAH, YOU BETCHA!!!

  134. How sad and how selfish that the “poor babies” can’t wait to jump from bed to bed.

    How arrogant that they refuse to consider the example they set as if they were forced to be married multiple time.

    Yet, in the face of such moral depravity it is the Catholic Church, whose role it is to
    teach and nurture the authentic practice of the faith, which somehow becomes the
    bad guy by teaching that people should be in a state of grace when receiving the precious body and blood of Christ and having the unmitigated gall to expect such from those who identify themselves as Catholics.

    Imagine that!

    Karl

  135. “Some marriages have irretrievably broken down and it should not be necessary to find them to have been invalid in the first place through a tortuous legalistic process involving a heavy burden of proof. And in any case, I’d still say that people who are in good conscience should be able to receive communion”

    Why shouldn’t they have to go through a process?? Why did the marriage break down? Was it invalid from the beginning?

  136. A valid marriage is broken, irretrievably…….by death.

    Otherwise the marriage persists inspite of attempts to murder it.

    Karl

  137. Deacon Keith says:

    Lovely, they’re married in the eyes of God… And if it fails, then what? Then they’re no longer married in the eyes of God?

    Thanks, pagansister, I’ve wasted five years in the seminary to find out that I don’t need the Church. I get to decide, at any moment in time, what is true in the eyes of God.

    Sweet! I’m the pope now! It’s true because I say it’s true in the eyes of God.

  138. Deacon Keith says:

    Cathy,

    In your post you present an invalid option, number 2. While I understand what you are saying, no marriage can be valid if a prior bond exists and has not been declared null. This is because no one can enter into a valid second marriage without the death of a first spouse or a canonical decree of nullity.

    If you marry Bob and then you and Bob split and your marriage was never valid (to make it easy, let’s call it a simple lack of form case) then you STILL can’t marry in the Church, which is a valid marriage, without the declaration of nullity. That’s all there is to it. You present yourself to the pastor and say you have a prior marriage and he won’t (or shouldn’t because he can’t under the law) allow you to marry again until the first bond is resolved.

    Now, assuming what you are suggesting is that, you and Bob split and you and Stan go to the Chapel d’Amour and get married, that marriage isn’t valid either! There is a lack of form with it and, regardless of your opinion of it, it remains invalid.

    For a person in the situation you pose, there must be a declaration of nullity and a offering of consent under form or dispensed for good reason for there to be a valid marriage.

    Your situation 2 simply doesn’t and can’t exist.

  139. I gave several examples of the Pope stating politicians should not be given Communion and possibly even be excommunicated for their pro-abortion efforts. It was ignored. Our local Bishops defied the Pope and actually invited these politicians to Mass with the Pope and were given Communion. Surely you remember the scandal?

    I gave a specific example regarding the Pope when questioned about Sen. Kerry being denied Communion.

    ” In a June 2004 letter to US bishops enunciating principles of worthiness for communion recipients, Ratzinger specified that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied the Catholic sacrament, for being guilty of a “grave sin.”

    He specifically mentioned “the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws,” a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights. The letter said a priest confronted with such a person seeking communion “must refuse to distribute it.”

    Pope’s Orders: http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

    Cardinal Ratzinger Orders Kerry Communion Ban
    Wednessday, July 7, 2004
    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/7/6/152916.shtml

    Who is responsible for denying Communion to those in grave sin? The priest or the parishioner?

    Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, who holds a doctorate in canon law and whom Pope Benedict XVI this summer named to head the Church’s highest court in Rome.

    Last year the archbishop published a lengthy examination of the question in Periodica de Re Canonica, a canon law journal, in which he demonstrates the “long-standing discipline” in Church law and practice requiring ministers of the Eucharist to refuse Communion to certain public sinners.”

    “The exercise of such discretion is not a judgment on the subjective state of the soul of the person approaching to receive holy Communion, but a judgment regarding the objective condition of serious sin in a person who, after due admonition from his pastor, persists in cooperating formally with intrinisically evil acts like procured abortion,” he wrote.

    “No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow,” he said.

    Pelosi – Abortion Supporter

    “Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer said that the Church has been “patient enough” with outspokenly pro-abortion Catholic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    LSN questioned Bishop Gainer on whether Pelosi should be denied communion due to her public stance as a ‘pro-choice’ Catholic. While acknowledging that it was up to her local bishop, the Lexington prelate did say that “something should be done.””

    “Archbishop George Niederauer responded today to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) recent comments that she has “some concerns about the Church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose.” Justifying her decision to support abortion by citing her free will “is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching,” the archbishop insisted.”

    It is no wonder that Archbishop Niederauer has not denied Pelosi Communion when he is involved in things like this:

    SF Archbishop Uproar: Communion To Fake, Gay Nuns
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_FDl1XX7js

    “The “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”, whose motto is “go and sin some more” and describes itself as a “leading-edge order of queer nuns,” planned to hold regular bingo games at Most Holy Redeemer Parish until Catholic activists reported the plans to the press. A local homosexual newspaper, the San Francisco Bay Times, reported that the events at the parish included sexually explicit activities. Prizes included porn DVDs and “sex toys” the paper said.”

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2007/oct/07101004

  140. Pagansister-

    Strictly speaking, they wouldn’t be getting remarried. They would be getting married for the first time, as any previous attempts at marriage that have received a degree of nullity are recognized as just that, null and invalid. It’s an unfortunate fact of Catholic vocabulary that we use the wider culture’s phrasing on this, as it reinforces the notion that the annulment process is just Catholic divorce.

    Nothing changes about the children’s status. Legitimacy isn’t an issue in canon law anymore, and the children themselves don’t have any stigma attached to being born out of wedlock. The Church frowns on children being born out of wedlock because it frowns on extramarital intercourse. The couple involved, presumably, thought they were married. While they may be incorrect about that, the validity of a marriage is presumed until it has been demonstrated otherwise.

    The annulment process is intended to determine a fact: whether or not the couple involved intended and were able to get married. If they were, then they remain married until one party to the marriage dies. Do circumstances arise in which the best practice is for them to be seperated? Unfortunately, yes. Does that dissolve the sacramental bond, if one exists? No, it does not. Does that create situations that are difficult at best? Yes, it does, but we aren’t called to carry our box of kittens or tray of cookies. We’re called to carry our crosses. I don’t say that to be glib; I mean that recognizing that sometimes we are called to do difficult things is an important part of the spiritual life, and doing difficult things is often the way in which we most grow in holiness.

  141. By that measure, no one could ever been excluded from the Eucharist. They can be atheist, but if their conscience says it’s OK to receive, they can. The abortionist, the child molester, the slaver, they can all receive the Eucharist and no one can tell them they shouldn’t.

    One major indicator that there is a problem with using the “internal forum” for deciding whether a previous marriage was valid is that nearly everyone who is in a second marriage will claim their first was invalid (after all, if they believe their first marriage is valid, they’d be unlikely to committ polygamy). So every single one of those marriage is invalid simply because the spouses don’t want to be married anymore. How is that different from the no-fault divorce laws that landed us in this situation to begin with?

  142. I agree with RomCath.
    Remarriage without a declaration that the previous union was invalid leaves the couple in an objective state of sin. It’s not a matter of judging them subjectively.
    The road to Heaven is narrow and difficult. But the road to Hell is broad and easy.
    Let us encourage the divorced not try to destroy the Church to make it convenient.

  143. So, objective truth is unimportant? All that matters is how we feel subjectively? ALsdair MacIntyre is right. We are all Emotivists!

  144. He said, “Consult approved authors” meaning reputable moral theologians who do not dissent from the Church’s teaching.

  145. George Mason says:

    @ Barbara:
    Try reading St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians about how one can eat and drink condemnation upon oneself by receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood unworthily.
    This is affirmed by the Councils of Lateran IV and Trent.
    This is the constant teaching of the Church even until today.

    St. Thomas’ Corpus Christ sequence is appropriate:
    Sumunt boni, sumunt mali, Sorte tamen inaequali (The good drink and the bad drink the same, but with different destinies).

  146. George Mason says:

    You are talking about non-Catholic Eastern Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church of the Eastern Rites follow the same teaching as the Roman on the indissolubility of marriage.
    If you did not know, the Orthodox have some other doctrinal mistakes besides the teaching on marriage.

  147. George Mason says:

    The problem is you equate any table with the Eucharist.
    When did Jesus offer the Eucharist to those unrepentant in their publicaly known sins? It never happened.
    He only offered the Eucharist at the Last Supper (and perhaps on the way to Emmaus and at the sea shore) according to Scripture. The only one’s who were there were the 12 who he had just washed clean. (Review the incident of foot washing in John which some Fathers explain as a baptism.)

    Apostolic practice was also different from what you suggest. And St. John Chrysostom was not indiscriminate in giving out Communion. That’s why he was exiled by the Emperor.

  148. George Mason says:

    Don’t hold your breath, Mark.

  149. George Mason says:

    If you mean the sacrament of Penance, the problem is that a priest cannot absolve someone who does not intend to avoid grave sin and the near occasion of sin. Remarriage while a previous bond is thought to exist is a grave sin.
    Thus, the persons who intends to remain in the new pairing and live “as husband and wife” prefer their objectively sinful situation. They do not have the disposition to receive absolution even if the priest says the form of the sacrament.

    Conversion is difficult. And all Christians are called to take up the cross to be faithful to Christ.

  150. naturgesetz says:

    I had a pastor who had been judicial vicar for his archdiocese. He was aware of cases in which the husband in a first marriage was permanently impotent, and had been so from before the marriage was entered into, which, under Canon 1084, “invalidates marriage.” So de facto the first marriage was invalid. But since the husband did not disclose his impotence, the ceremony took place, and the tribunal can’t issue a decree of nullity without proof of antecedent and perpetual impotence. That could be provided by testimony of the first husband’s doctor. But the first husband won’t permit his doctor to reveal the information, which is private under civil law. So the woman cannot obtain the decree, even though the first marriage is invalid.

    In his opinion, it is a serious problem that canon law forbids a woman in this situation to marry even though she has never been validly married before. And it is a problem that if she enters into a marriage, canon law excludes her from the sacraments.

  151. George Mason says:

    I commend you for going to Mass each Sunday. Even though your sitaution objectively prevents receiving Communion, you can receive graces being present at Mass.
    I’ll pray that your brother and sister-in-law have a change of heart. I hope they will become more considerate of your feelings. Even if they think it is stupid, it seems that at least familial affection could be a motive for them to help you.

  152. George Mason says:

    No. The Eastern Catholics teach the same as the Orthodox about the minister of the marriage. But Eastern Catholics have corrected the Orthodox error about the indissolubility of marriage.

    And FYI, the Orthodox have quite a few errors and inconsistencies in sacramental practice.

  153. Henry Karlson says:

    I know of Eastern Catholics who have gone through the second marriage according to the normative tradition. Notice how, in the ecumenical dialogues with the Orthodox, Orthodox theology of marriage is not brought up as a thing separating us; this shows that their theology, which can be seen as going back before the schism (and something which Pope Benedict himself has brought up as a discussion point!), your assessment is not the one Catholics bring.

  154. Henry Karlson says:

    Sorry, got list in mid-sentence there. This shows that your assessment of their theology is not the one the Church brings up. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Church and her history shows the complexity is greater and more varied than many in the West thinks? Pope Benedict recognizes this.

  155. pagansister says:

    Seamus: thanks for answering my question. However I find it interesting the children who are born when the couple “thought ” they were married means they were not really born out of wedlock—-because of the Church disapproves of extra marital intercourse. Complicated stuff to say the least, and the kids were born in a presumed marriage situation. And the Church has no stigma about the children of an annuled marriage. OK—that’s good. The more I learn about all this, the more I understand why some Catholic couples don’t bother with an annulment!

  156. pagansister says:

    Deacon Keith, Only my opinions. I expect since you spent 5 years training, you found you did need the Church. I’m just happy Peter has found, from what he says, happiness. If this too should fail? That is what divorce is for. And if another divorce should happen, right—not married in the eyes of God unless he marries in a church again. It would be up to Peter to handle the situation. In my mind, God understands things—should another divorce happen- IMO yet again, God will understand. Judging another person’s decision about what he/she does in a divorce sitution is not my job, or anyone elses. And if you become Pope, I will say ” I swapped opinions with the new Pope back when he was a ‘Deacon. Hope you had a great day.

  157. pagansister says:

    In a couple thousand years things in the world have changed RomCath. It is entirely possible that some of the outdated (1500 years worth)rules might have to be thought about again. I exepect folks in a ”bad marriage” 2000 years ago probably died at a much younger age, thus no one worried or thought about it. Also, in those days, men ruled and could treat women as they wished.

  158. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! As my post points out, IF a person want to get married in a Catholic cermony, they say what they have to and do what they have to do and unles the diocese or parish is willing to pay for a staff of private investigtors, that’s not going to change. Remember, this is America! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WEDDING! The marriage is secondary.

  159. George Mason,
    “If you did not know, the Orthodox have some other doctrinal mistakes besides the teaching on marriage.”

    Such as?

  160. That’s not what’s being said. If objectively speaking the first marriage was invaild, a lack of a determination by the tribunal will not alter that fact. It’s not the tribunal that renders the first marriage invalid, it is the facts and circumstances that existed with respect to the first marriage that do so.

  161. TIME OUT. Hello. I’m anxiously awaiting the final annulment of my husband’s 1973 marriage and 1988 DIVORCE in order that I can join the body of Christ as a convert to the Catholic Church. I wasn’t divorced, he was, but since I was not sacramentally married, I’m doing what it takes to join THE BODY OF CHRIST. Yeah, it was time consuming. SO WHAT. It’s worth every iota of effort it took. BOO HOO. I thought marriage was a sacrament. This is dumb. This is not helping my Lenten promises to exercise patience and be nicer.

  162. Frankie in Australia says:

    Reading this “blog” is pretty daunting and unpleasant at times. I am a divorced and remarried Catholic Dad as is my wife a divorced and remarried Catholic Mum. We have 6 kids between us and 10 grandchildren. We are both (maybe all) imperfect human beings who have suffered (but survived) the pain of divorce and now suffer because of the spiritual difficulties about receiving communion. Yes, I know what the Catechism says. Yes, I know, if we are supposed to be Catholics we have to follow the rules the Church sets. I could go on for a very long time trying to justify treating this issue with my pained conscience as my guide …. but it would make no difference to all the good Catholics above who can find no room in their hearts to try to understand the difficulties suffered by their divorced brothers and sisters. I was reminded recently that Jesus wasn’t a Catholic. Not even a Christian. The Church should be confident enough and need not fear breaking down because it has room to allow for participation by some members who are not able to be compliant with 100% of its rulings. Genuine compassion for others is needed with this difficult issue,ot just endless reminders that we are bigger sinners than others. “I came to call sinners, not just the virtuous”

  163. Deacon Steve says:

    Frankie it isn’t that we are not understanding of the difficulties that those who have gone through a divorce feel. It is the very difficult process of trying to be symapthetic and hepful to those in that situation, while at the same time upholding and defending the dignity and seriousness of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Marriage is supposed to be a permanent institution, not entered into lightly or on a whim. There is no trial period within a marriage where the marriage is considered temporary. There is a need to work with, and try to help those that have gone through the end of a marriage and the divorce process, but it is not right that this come at the expense of the Sacrament of Marriage, that we undermine or destroy the notion that marriage is permanent. The Church does have a process by which the validity of a marriage can be examined, and if appropriate be declared null, thus opening the possibility for remarriage in the Church and a return to full participation in the Sacramental life of the Church. It is not always an easy process, but given the seriousness of the outcome, it shouldn’t be. And it is available to all, despite the claims of some of the more cynical posters on this blog and elsewhere. Of course there can be improvements in any process, but care must be taken that marriage is not viewed or presented as something temporary which can be abandoned at a whim. Mainstream society does prevent marriage as temporary, or a throw away when things get tough. Divorce is glamorized on TV and in the movies. The Church is trying to fight these depictions of marriage and uphold the sacredness of the bond between the husband and wife.

  164. Frankie in Australia says:

    Unfortunately Steve, yours is a somewhat typical and sadly predictable response. It takes the view that the original marriage (in our case both marriages) were entered into lightly and as if intended to be “temporary”. That is an insult and a ridiculous and insulting assumption and further adds injury. Anullment! What would that do to our kids?? All our children deserve only encouragement, help, support and love. They, ALL together with both extended families, including previous spouses, share the life God gave us, in the best way we all can as human beings. Not super human righteous marvels who have managed to live perfect lives and therefore qualify to comply with all the “current” rules of the Church. Things do change. When I was a kid, you had to fast for a minimum of 12 hours before communion. Where has that rule gone? You had to go to confession before communion. Noiw the queues for communion go out the back door, in truth, are the queues for confession the same length …. no way! You can’t tell me that the Church is not full of ordinary people who are simply doing their level best within terms and conditions with which they do not comply but put to one side, (just like their priests) and go to Church to pray and stay in touch with God in a way that is within their capacity. Every Easter, this one included, the priest gets up at mass and tells the congregation how great it is to see the Church full, “Let’s renew or commitment to see them full every Sunday from now on”. We know it will not happen. Are all the poor sinners who only make it ocaisionally doomed? Is everyone who is imperfect or who cannot be (or is not) in full compliance doomed? It is hypocritical to act as if everyone who steps up to receive communion is in a complete “state of grace”. I simply don’t believe it. The lady above who gave the “boo hoo” and “poor Babies” comments is one example. How can someone with such ugly sentiments and lack of compassion even be looking forward to taking communion when she “qualifies” and is remarried?? I live with this dilema daily. Sometimes, I give in and take communion …yes, I know, we receive it not take it ….. but when I do, I say from the bottom of my heart, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you; but only say the word and I shall be healed”. If the perecentage of people like me in the body of the church is 0.0001 or 1 or 2 …. I wouldn’t know how many it is, but whatever it is, is there no room for the Church Leaders, to make room for “us” whillst still extolling the virtues of marriage for life. I am certain that the vast majority of divorcees also still believe in marrieage for life……but they, have come up against insurmountable and many reasons for it not being the case for them……. surely that big bag of rules that Pope Benedict does not want to place on everyons shoulders, could include a few rules that allow for members whoi have had to face rotten circumstances in their lives. I firmly believe that Jesus would find a way to ease the burden on this type of sinner. For the moment … I remain stuck in the dilema. Either go to mss and participate partially, or go to mass and participate as fully as I can personally and pray that God will accept my human frailty, not the Church, I can’t ask anyone in the Church to give me their approval, that would be unfair to them and stupid of me. I have to deal with this situation. Maybe I should just give up and become a Lutheran like the guy above. I can hear the chorus of righteous ones now …boo hooing and saying good riddance!! Well, I guess I will have to maintain my belief in Jesus and do the best I can to try to still be a Catholic ………..

  165. Frankie in Australia says:

    Oh ….. I forgot……………….
    RomCath says:
    February 27, 2012 at 8:40 am
    So should cohabitating couples be allowed to receive too? Let’s just do away with the concept of sin altogether.

    This is the “head in the sand” attitude I mean ………. Does RomCath actually think that 21st Century cohabiting couples don’t go to mass and receive communion?? Are you kidding? I’m not judging here, just being realistic in an era when people live together, have babies and sometimes even get married. and yes, they still act and live as Catholics. Right? Wrong? Personally, I am tired of extremes. Maybe the “concept of sin” is due for some redefinition!!

    Boo Hoo ….but back to Jesus again..and acceptance and forgiveness…

    Come as you are, that’s how I want you.
    Come as you are, feel quite at home.
    Close to my heart, loved and forgiven;
    come as you are, why stand alone?

    No need to fear, love sets no limits.
    No need to fear, love never ends.
    Don’t run away, shamed as disheartened.
    Rest in my love, trust me again.

    I came to call sinners, not just the virtuous.
    I came to bring peace, not to condemn.
    Each time you fail to live by my promise,
    why do you think I’d love you the less?

    Come as you are, that’s how I love you.
    Come as you are, trust me again.
    Nothing can change the love that I bear you.
    All will be well, just come as you are.

  166. Dorian…better catechesis is not always the answer. You can work with a couple for over a year (as I have done, and our Deacon, and our Pastor has done, MANY times) and if they want to get married, even if the Pastoral Associate or Deacon or Pastor who has prepared the couple objects, they have the right and responsibility to be married in the Church. It’s a right as a Baptized Catholic. Many parishes only do what is ‘canonically required’. I encountered this 2 weeks ago- ‘FOCUS is not cannonically required. They are prepared and eligible. You must marry them’. They were prepared in another parish (location) and have scheduled a marriage at my parish with our Pastor. Catholics have the right to marry.

  167. Frankie in Australia says:

    There seems to have been stunned silence on this blog since April 6th. Am I wrong or not refreshing it correctly?

  168. Frankie in Australia says:

    Make that April 8th………..

  169. It seems that a lot of people have a lot to say. The annulment process was constructed by man. It can be re-constructed by man. The Bible says that annulment was granted if adultry was committed, no questions asked, so why do believers in an adultrous relationship have to go through annulment, years of work and subjection to bad recollections just because men made a document, that could be edited by men? The Bible also clearly explains that when a couple has been joined, and one is a non-believer, the marriage can be dissolved if the non-believer does not allow the other to practice his faith. Not allowing one to be a Christian spouse and parent is not allowing him to practice his faith, whatever the not allowed practice is/are. Why does the believer have to go through the whole long annulment process? If two people go before a priest or deacon, that does not know them, and doesn’t take sufficient time to really know them and to discover that the persons are not compatible, and proceeds to marry them because he is in a hurry to do his job, to ask some questions and get some untrue answers, just because he is a priest or deacon does not mean that marriage is of God or that these two were brought together by God as the Bible says. That first marriage was not a valid marriage to start with. So, why does the believer, “Catholic” means that he/she believes in the Trinity, have to go through the painful process of an annulment, that can take years, anyway? The time should have been taken up front. All are capable of mistakes, why can’t the Church admit its mistake and welcome those who want to come back with open arms and admit that they made a mistake up front, where it mattered most? Forget admitting a mistake happened on the Churche’s part, just take the people back that want to come back. Sin is something that you do willingly, know that you are hurting God, and you do it any way. I doubt that “SIN” has occured at all here. People think they are in love with the person they marry. They don’t, at least the believer, choose to hurt God. The other of the partnership may not even believe in “sin.” For some reason, they do not KNOW their partner. Where is our love? Are we “BELIEVERS?” What do we believe in? On what are our beliefs based? Who wrote it? Where is our knowledge of Sacred Scripture? Where is our knowledge of Cathecism? Why are we so quick to judge? Who is the Judge anyway? Jesus came to preach LOVE? Will the Catholic Church really dissolve because we welcome people back into the flock? What would Jesus do?

  170. I have read with much interest all of the comments about catholics that have divorced and remarried but can’t received the sacraments. I am in the same boat. But what of all the priests that received the sacraments and they themselves have done unspeakabe acts for many years before it was discovered. How is it that they can do this but the church frowns on divorced and remarried couple. I will look elsewhere for people who believe as I do that Christ is the only one to judge you and noboby else has that right.

  171. anonymous says:

    Until you can walk a mile in our shoes, don’t be so quick to judge. My husband left me in 2000 and we divorced in 2001. We were both cradle Catholics and I was devastated. I went to our diocesan office for help and advice as I did not want the divorce. I was told to let it go. I felt so isolated. I ended up leaving the church as so many others did and I remarried a wonderful man in the Lutheran church. However, I never felt completely comfortable. I wanted to go back to the Catholic church. I met with a priest to to start annulment proceedings. My children were so confused (attending Catholic school) and questioned the validity of their birth if we annulled the marriage. I chose not to proceed with the annullment as I felt the process was way too intrusive and painful not just for myself, but for my ex, my current husband , his previous wife and my ex’s current wife. I also had no one as a “witness” to our marriage problems. I was private and never discussed with anyone. I didn’t even tell my parents for 3 months that he had left and served me with papers. The feelings of dispair and failure were overwhelming. I do remember the priest I discussed this with telling me that my conscience would tell me what is best. I am taking communion against what the church currently teaches, and this is the only comfort I have

  172. naturgesetz says:

    Frankie —

    I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, so I don’t know what it’s like to be in your situation. And I don’t know if you told us why you can’t obtain an annulment. But I just want to respond to the bit about what an annulment would do to your children. The fact is that your children already know, or will soon enough, that your first marriage ended in divorce. All an annulment does is to tell the kids that it’s okay in the eyes of the Church. But what happens when there’s no annulment, and your children learn that Jesus said that divorce and remarriage constitutes adultery? At that point wouldn’t it be much better to be able to say that the first marriage was invalid, not because of your own personal say-so,but because the Church found solid grounds for saying so? Or do you just tell them that Jesus didn’t mean it? Seriously, I don’t mean to be confrontational. I just want to ask you to think about the possibility that having an annulment in your pocket might be a good thing when they begin to ask questions.

  173. Ok, I come from a family how has been seperated. So I know more about this subject then the better majority of people who have comented on what Melody said. I also know this, there was once a time (and not to long ago for that matter) that the church adodapted to the times and needs ofv it adherents. This no longer happens and that is the sadest thing I have learnt in a long time. Plus, The anumenty process disproves the exsitance of a fully religious marriage. While what many need is to not just leave a marriage but to find love with another. Marriage (when this rule was created) was not as it is today. Ralley was it done for love; it was done for survival and to build stronger ties in families. This is no longer necassary and when people fall out of love, IT GETS MESSY! There neeeds to be a way for people to escape, from abusive husbands/wives, from forced marriages (belive me, they still happen) and even more minor things. Sometimes people just cant stand to look eachother in the eye anymore! What everyone is failing to understand it that living apart from eachother is not enough. They need to be able to be HAPPY again. To find love again. The current rules are dening them this.
    Also, divorce was allowed back in the time of the first testiment.

  174. Frankie in Australia says:

    naturgesetz says:

    May 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Appreciate and understand, no make that respect, your contribution and the sense of a degree of compassion, I can’t accept however what I see as a damaging and totally inadequate process, namely anullment. After all the terrible things that have ocurred by members of the church throughout the ages never mind in say the last century, (I did not want to use the word “priests” but I have to). It’s not only them, it is the Bishops and Cardinals who have avoided confronting the terrible abuses that have been proven to have happened…but put those to one side … while undeniably covering up some if not all of those things, communion and attendace at other Sacraments was still taking place globally and strict rules still being applied to the ordinary global congregation as if the Church was perfect. The hypocrisy was and remains staggering. In an environment like that, where human clerics of all ranks management failings are so definitive and obvious how can imperfect ordinary people be expected to accept other strict restictions on full participation in the Sacraments without feeling ridiculously naive and just as hypocritical as their “leaders”??? We are not fearful simpletons. At least not of failed church management that for generations has bent the rules to protect and shelter cleric abuses and even allow proven abusers to contnue to serve mass. It’s unbelievable and such a perfect illustration of human frailty and duplicity. Human frailty should be recognised (i.e. who will cast the first stone). Mistakes or unavoidable circumstances should be taken into account without further damaging those involved. Abusing or failed clerics of all ranks should be pursued to the fullest extent of criminal law and their victims completely protected and sheltered by the church. Period. If found guilty let them be subject to the rules of punishment. I cannot speak to Canon Law I am not knowledgeable enough, but they will have to live with and face their conscience whatever happens. My only point in mentioning them at all is that divorced catholics are treated with the same “kind of” uneven and inadequate processes of resolution and basically left hanging out to dry because of concrete, head in the sand, adherence to outdated ways of dealing with contemporary issues.

  175. Julia Moffat says:

    This has thrown me for a loop.
    I never realized that the catholic church was so narrowed minded
    God and Jesus forggave all my sins and then I am WORTHY.
    For the Pope to say I am not worthy to receive the Eucharist even though
    God has forgiven me, what is that. I remarried a Catholic man whom we are trying hard to find our way in this world, and be closer to God. How can we if the church treats us unworthy. I believe in my Heart God would not agree.

  176. “I never realized that the catholic church was so narrowed minded
    God and Jesus forggave all my sins and then I am WORTHY.”

    Julia then you must think Jesus was narrow minded too since he gave the teaching about divorce and remarriage. One who is forgiven and amends their life is worthy. One who persists in sin is not worthy to receive the Eucharist. If you are Catholic you should be aware of this.

  177. Rosanne Lockhart says:

    I was married to my first husband in the Catholic Church. I was totally faithful, he was not. After 20 years of emotional abuse and serial affairs, with no hope for marriage counseling (he didn’t need it, he said), I fell into major depression, on the verge of suicide. While I was in a psychiatric hospital, he divorced me. Long story short, I lost everything – my home, my children, and everything else except my car and the clothes on my back because I was emotionally unable to face the divorce, plus I had no money to hire a lawyer. After about 10 years, I applied for annulment, which was granted. I met a wonderful man and remarried in the Episcopalian Church, because he too was Catholic and divorced. The circumstances of his divorce were similar to mine in that his ex-wife did not want marriage counseling or reconciliation. He too lost his home, his children, and all that they had worked for. He still calls himself Catholic, as I do. Why, as devout Catholics, are we penalized and not allowed to receive Communion? I, personally, was so afraid that I would be condemned to hell if I divorced my husband that I was suicidal. This rule of the Church is wrong. I asked God to forgive me, and He only said the Word, and my soul was healed. Although I went through the annulment process, that was a mere formality. I was already healed. If it’s good enough for the Lord, why isn’t it good enough for the Church???

  178. Interesting discussion.

    How are co-habituating couples equated to married couples (outside of the catholic church)?

    I was raised as a Roman Catholic as a kid until my parents fell away from the Church. As a young adult I was not very religious but wanted to come back to the Roman Catholic church (after trying several other churches over the years) now that I am middle-aged.

    I found the teachings more satisfying then my child mind remembered but found the annulment process onerous.

    After trying to start the process and finding out more and more I had to do (maybe a failing of the priest) – I found another Catholic variant church that feeds me spiritually.

    If the Roman Catholic church ever has an expedited process that takes into account human failings – I’d be glad to come back into the fold. Failing that I will be out of communion but able to partake in all of the sacraments.

    Blessings

  179. I just found this post. Very interesting, as my husband and I are in the same boat as many of you who have considered and/or started the annulment process. Those of you who have NOT been divorced and remarried ABSOLUTELY, CANNOT simply quote Canon law or the Catechism to those of us who have been divorced & remarried and expect us to respect your comments. Try walking a mile or two in our shoes (espeially given that everyone’s journeys back to the Church are different), and then maybe you’ll understand the pain and stress that we face. Shame on all of you and shame on the Church for trying to be so black and white on subjects that clearly are NOT.

  180. I just found this thread and I find it to be a rather interesting discussion. I have a story to share and I’m not looking for forgiveness or validation. This is only my personal story which has led me to be somewhat conflicted with how I perceive my own faith.

    I married many years ago to a woman that I had known since college. We had a decent relationship, but it was always more of a friendship. Two children were the product of our marriage. Several years ago, I was presented with the aspect of divorce. I was stunned, hurt, lost and angry. The underlying reason for the divorce was simply that we could not continue our relationship in a romantic manner. There was a core part of each of us that was being neglected.

    After the divorce, and after I had sorted my life out, I remarried. My current wife and I exist on a level of emotion and spirituality that I had never even knew existed. We share many ideals in common, we love our children and we love each other. Each of us knows deep in our heart that God provided us a path and brought us together.

    We live very Christian lives. We provide a safe and loving home for our children. We have started to once again attend Mass regularly. In time, I’m sure that we will be recruited to a more active Parish life.

    We also have no interest in having our prior marriages nullified. The pain, cost and time are not currently of any interest to us. It pains us to know that we are living in mortal sin. I guess we are actively walking away from the teachings of the Church.

    And you know what? We are fine with it. Our lives are much better than they ever could have been before. We are happy, our children are happy and that is all that matters right now. When I face judgment, I am confident that my marriage will hold up in the eyes of God. I know that He is happy we are together and doing good with our lives.

  181. Please let this discussion continue. As I get older my faith deepens and yet I am shoved further into an no man’s land that causes me spiritual grief. My fault that I did not see that my first marriage would not work yes it was. I constantly ask forgiveness for many things I did not see for one reason or another. I converted to the catholic faith and I love it yet at times I have abandoned it. However it means more to me now, I have remarried a catholic whose wife committed adultery and we were fortunate to find each other. I feel I am a strong ambassador for the catholic faith but others would look on my personal circumstances and think not. He who will ultimately judge me is central to what I do but the understanding and compassion of others would be very welcome. Diane

  182. Mike Romero says:

    Wow! A priest who molests a child and confesses can receive communion AND remain a priest. Gay priests are rampant while they receive communion and conduct mass. However, a divorced catholic cannot receive communion. Is there not something wrong here? Very, very wrong? I to am a divorced catholic. I to am looking at becoming a member of the WELS or LCMS Lutherans. Would I rather be of those “Catholics who come home?” You bet I would, even with the hypocrisy that you see on a variety of issues.

  183. As a divorced Catholic you do not feel that you can participate fully in the sacraments, it is the fact that once divorced, you lose your marriage and subsequently you cannot participate fully in your faith.

  184. Fiergenholt says:

    to both Michael (Feb 13: 5:58am) and Mike Romero (Feb 11: 9:33pm)

    Am I missing something here? Both of you two seem to be assuming something that is not accurate.

    Current church teaching is this: divorce — in and of itself — does not separate one from the faith at all. Divorcees are still allowed to receive the sacraments, act as sponsors at Baptisms and Confirmations and even — providing the local bishop approves — be called to ordination as a deacon. IT is RE-MARRIAGE after divorce, without an adjudicated annulment, that causes the fracture.

    Of course, if you have of your own free-will, separated yourself from the church — then accept that responsibility and live with the consequences of that decision.

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