A Spanish archbishop who serves on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reconfirmed Church teaching with regard to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Archbishop Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit who currently serves as Secretary of the Congregation of the Faith, was responding to a question from a French priest who wanted to know whether he could give absolution to a penitent who, having been married in a Catholic ceremony, contracted a second marriage after divorce. Speaking three days after the close of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Ferrer, who is also a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University and an active member of the International Theological Commission, recommended that divorced and remarried persons “part with their new partner and reconcile with those they are separated [from]” or “live as brother and sister.”
Archbishop Ferrer reaffirmed the teaching of St. John Paul II regarding restrictions on receipt of the Eucharist by divorced and remarried Catholics. His October 22 response was published in its entirety in L’Homme Nouveau (The New Man), a bi-monthly Catholic newspaper which is the official distributor in France of the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano.
In his letter, Archbishop Ferrer restated what has been the longstanding teaching of the Catholic Church regarding divorced and remarried Catholics. In his statement, here translated from the French, he said in part:
“We can not exclude a priori the faithful divorced and remarried a penitential process that lead to the sacramental reconciliation with God and thus to Eucharistic communion. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n. 84) considered such a possibility and said the conditions: “Reconciliation through the sacrament of penance – which would pave the way for the sacrament of the Eucharist – may only be granted to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready for a life form that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. In practice, this means that when a man and woman can not, for serious reasons – for example, education of children – fulfill the obligation of separation, they are committed to living in complete continence, c that is to say, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples ” (see also Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 29).
The penitential undertake should consider the following:
1 – Check the validity of religious marriage in accordance with the truth while avoiding the impression of a form of “Catholic divorce.”
2 – See if any people with the help of grace, can separate their new partner and reconcile with those from which they were separated.
3 – Invite remarried divorcees, who for serious reasons (eg children) can not be separated from their spouse, to live as “brother and sister”.
In any case, the discharge may be granted only if it is assured of genuine contrition, that is to say “the inner pain and hatred of sin that was committed with the resolution can not sin again “(Council of Trent, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance, c. 4). In this line, we can not validly absolve a remarried divorcee who does not take a firm resolution not to “sin in the future” and therefore abstain from specific joint actions, and making meaning in everything in its power. “