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Updated: Polish bishops consider new document on accompanying the divorced and remarried

Pope Francis meets Poland's bishops at the cathedral in Krakow, Poland in July 2016 (CNS)

Update: an earlier version of this article, based on a report elsewhere, said that the Polish bishops’ conference had approved the document. The bishops are in fact studying the document. The article has been changed to reflect this.

The Polish bishops’ conference is considering a new document which reaffirms the Church’s traditional teaching on Communion for the remarried.

The document has been produced by the bishops’ council on the family. The Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana has published excerpts, in which the council lays a particular stress on supporting those in irregular situations.

The council suggests that bishops appoint priests with a special role of accompanying people who have separated from their spouses. The priests would carry out “careful discernment”, to distinguish between different kinds of situation and to make sure that nobody feels excluded or shunned.

For those who are in a new relationship, the council reaffirms the teaching of the Church as stated in John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio:

“The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.”

The council says that a divorced person in this situation, if they continue their new sexual relationship, cannot take Communion because their state of life “is objectively incompatible with God’s law.”

It cites not only Familiaris Consortio but also Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1994 Letter to Bishops, which also reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching.

The council also follows previous Popes in saying that, if the couples cannot separate but resolve to live “as brother and sister”, they may possibly be able to receive the Eucharist when scandal is avoided.