Bishop Steven Lopes, head of the American ordinariate, has reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on Communion for the remarried.
A pastoral letter, sent to all 42 ordinariate parishes and communities in the US, said that divorced and civilly remarried couples could receive Communion only if they were “committed to complete continence”. A week earlier the two bishops of Malta said that remarried people might find it “impossible” to live as brother and sister, and could therefore receive Communion if they felt “at peace with God”.
In a 16-page document, A Pledged Troth, Bishop Lopes said that indissolubility was part of the nature of marriage, and that the Church’s dogmas “illumine the path of faith”.
On the question of the Eucharist, he wrote that, before receiving Communion, a Catholic must confess any objectively grave sin, and make a resolution not to commit the sin – in this case, adultery – again.
The bishop wrote: “A civilly remarried couple firmly resolving complete chastity thus resolves not to sin again, which differs in kind from a civilly remarried couple who do not firmly intend to live chastely, however much they may feel sorrow for the failure of their first marriage.
“In this situation, they either do not acknowledge that their unchastity, which is adultery, is gravely wrong, or they do not firmly intend to avoid sin.”
The document said that a firm resolution to amend is a necessary step before receiving Communion. “Unless and until the civilly remarried honestly intend to refrain from sexual relations entirely, sacramental discipline does not allow for the reception of the Eucharist,” it added.
The Maltese document claimed that such a resolution might be “impossible”, and that a person with “an informed and enlightened conscience” could decide to receive Communion.
We must prepare couples for marriage properly, says Pope
To ensure that engaged couples are entering into a fully Catholic marriage and remain committed to their vows for life, they must be prepared properly beforehand and supported afterwards, Pope Francis has said.
Addressing members of the Roman Rota, a tribunal handling mostly marriage cases, the Pope said the Church could not ignore a “widespread mentality” that was convinced that eternal truths did not exist. Many young people approaching the Church for marriage, he said, did not understand what the sacrament was and that it was for life.
“Such a context, lacking religious values and faith, cannot help but condition matrimonial consent”, which was one of the essential conditions for a Catholic marriage to be valid, the Pope told Rota members.
The response of the Church must be to provide serious preparation for engaged couples and support for newlyweds.
“The objective of this preparation consists in helping engaged couples to know and live the reality of the marriage they intend to celebrate so that they may do so not only validly and lawfully, but also fruitfully,” he said. “In this spirit, I would like to reiterate the need of a ‘new catechumenate’ for marriage preparation.”
Christ ‘is certainty in liquid age’
In an age that often seems to be a “carnival of worldly curiosity”, Christians are called to lead people to the solid ground of the Gospel like St Dominic did, Pope Francis has said.
“We are moving in a so-called ‘liquid society’, which is without fixed points, scattered, deprived of solid and stable reference points, a culture of the ephemeral, of the use-and-dispose,” the Pope told Dominicans at a Mass marking the end of the order’s 800th anniversary celebrations.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.