A Guest Essay
by Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk
Archbishop of Utrecht
This chapter is taken from Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family ©2015 Ignatius Press. It is reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Editor’s Note: Through the gracious assistance of a reader, we were given permission to re-print this text from the so-called “Eleven Cardinals Book”, issued as one guiding response to the Synod on the Family. As the implementation of Amoris Laetitia continues apace, we believe this essay by Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht in the Netherlands remains as relevant as when it was written, if not moreso. We would like to thank the reader (who would prefer to remain anonymous) who sought this permission, as well as Ignatius Press for allowing us to re-print it here for the benefit of our audience.
In the last half century, one of the most heated debates in the Church has concerned the question of whether the divorced and civilly remarried can receive Eucharistic Communion. In a great many parishes in Western Europe, almost all these persons do receive it. Any priest who has the courage to be “mean” and to tell them that they are not properly disposed to receive can expect a very negative, emotional reaction. For the sake of the priests who are courageous enough to say so anyway, and also in the interest of the persons themselves who are involved, bishops have the obligation to bring clarity to this problematic situation from the doctrinal, theological, and pastoral perspective.
In the 1970s, various theologians discussed this problem, without there being any precise pronouncement in this regard by the Magisterium of the Church. Nevertheless, there are loci theologici for this in Sacred Scripture and in the constant tradition of the Church that rule out the admission of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion.
Jesus himself explicitly forbids repudiating one’s wife and contracting another marriage and describes the latter as adultery (Mt 5:32; 19:9; Mk 10:11–12; Lk 16:18). Saint Paul declares that it is unlawful for either the husband or the wife to separate: “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor 7:10–11).
The Eastern Orthodox Churches, which admit the possibility of a second and even of a third marriage of divorced persons, whereby they can receive Eucharistic Communion, see an argument for this practice in an exception that is supposedly found in the Gospel according to Matthew: “Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity (πορνία), and marries another, commits adultery” (Mt 19:9; cf. 5:32). However, does Matthew really allow an exception to the prohibition against divorce and remarriage for a married person whose spouse is guilty of “unchastity”? The question is: What is meant by the expression “unchastity”
with which the Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates the Greek term πορνία (porneia)?
1.) The meaning of the term πορνία is uncertain. It designates illicit sexual behavior, which may include adultery. We cannot jump to the conclusion that the term πορνία means adultery, because the Greek language has a word specifically for that: μοιχεία.
2.) According to the classic Catholic solution, Matthew is not presenting a real exception because the verb απολύω does not refer to divorce in the sense of the dissolution of the marriage that would clear the way for a second marriage. The aforementioned verb refers instead to a separation from bed and the cessation of cohabitation without a second marriage in the case of an adulterous wife. In this interpretation, the clause “except for unchastity” would have to do with the separation from bed and would imply that this is lawful only in the case of a woman guilty of adultery. We should note that the assumption that Jesus here is allowing a second marriage for the divorced person is based on an argumentum ex silentio [argument from silence]: in fact, Jesus does not say explicitly that it is lawful to contract a second marriage after a divorce.
3.) It is most likely that πορνία here is a translation of the Hebrew term zênût, understood as an incestuous union within forbidden degrees of relationship (cf. Lev 18:6–18). In such a case there is in fact no marriage, and a decree of nullity would be required rather than a divorce. Therefore there is no obstacle to a marriage with another person. This use of the term πορνία is comparable to the use made by the Council of Jerusalem (around a.d. 50). The apostles, gathered in a council in Jerusalem, were answering the question of whether Christians of pagan origin must follow the Jewish law: “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity” (Acts 15:28–29; cf. Lev 18:6–18).
Given the uncertainties about the interpretation of the relevant passages in the Gospel of Matthew, the only sure way to proceed is as follows:
1.) They must be interpreted in the light of the other pertinent passages in Sacred Scripture, which allow no exceptions to the indissolubility of marriage.
2.) The authentic, definitive interpretation is up to the Magisterium of the Church.
Except for a few statements—which are not always formulated unambiguously—by some regional councils and various opinions of some Fathers of the Church that are not always consistent with those expressed elsewhere in their writings, the Catholic Church has forbidden divorce and remarriage in her official pronouncements from the fourth century on (Synod of Elvira [300–303]). The Magisterium has always been clear and decisive about the indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage and about the absolute prohibition of divorce followed by a new marriage, as is clear from the following list, which does not claim to be complete:
- Lateran Council III (1179);
- Council of Trent (1563), canons 6 and 7 on marriage; canon 7 says that marriage cannot be dissolved, even by adultery committed by one of the spouses;
- Pius VII, Brief Etsi fraternitatis (1803);
- Leo XIII, Encyclical Arcanum divinae (1880);
- Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 48;
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2382, 2384, and 2385.
Contrary to the practice of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which allow a second and even a third marriage for divorced persons, the Magisterium has always maintained the prohibition of divorce and remarriage, even for Eastern Rite Catholics (Council of Lyon II , Benedict XIV ).
The moral object of a sexual relationship within the context of a civil marriage of a divorced and remarried person is ultimately a form of adultery, according to the above-cited words of Jesus himself. Seen in this light, the second civil “marriage” is not, in fact, another marriage, but a form of structured and institutionalized adultery. In 1803, Pius VII described the ratification of a second marriage after a divorce by pastors through their presence and their blessing as a “very serious crime” and a betrayal of their sacred ministry. These second marriages, Pius VII said, “should not be called nuptials, but rather adulterous unions”. According to a longstanding practice of the Church, those guilty of adultery in general cannot receive Eucharistic Communion. The Council of Trent describes adultery as a mortal sin through which the person involved loses the grace of justification already received and is unworthy to receive Communion, unless he or she has repented of the sin, has confessed it, and no longer commits it. From 1981 on, explicit statements that divorced and civilly remarried persons are not to be admitted to Communion have been made by Saint John Paul II (1981), by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1994), and by Benedict XVI (2012). Saint John Paul II used the following language:
“However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.”
The Church’s longstanding practice and repeated pronouncements of the Magisterium that a divorced and civilly remarried person cannot be admitted to Communion are standards indicating that this is an unchangeable doctrine.
In a report that it issued in 1977, the International Theological Commission says that the fundamental reason why it is impossible for the divorced and remarried to receive communion is the incompatibility of their state of life “with the precept and the mystery of the Paschal love of the Lord”. This is what Saint John Paul II affirmed in the apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio (84).
There is a fundamental analogy between the relationship of Christ and the Church, on the one hand, and the relationship of two spouses, on the other, as indicated in the Letter to the Ephesians (5:23–32). The heart of the analogy is the fact that in both relationships the parties “mutually give and accept one another”, as stated in canon 1057 §2 (1983 CIC). In both cases, this gift is total, which also implies its definitive and therefore irrevocable character. The totality of the reciprocal gift of the spouses implies that it includes both the spiritual and the material dimension. Therefore, it is not a gift merely on the level of intention or emotion, but also encompasses the physical level, including sexual relations. We see here the importance of a correct, non-dualist anthropology that considers the physical dimension, too, as being intrinsic to the human person.
The Letter to the Ephesians adds that the love of the spouses is taken up into the charity of Christ himself, that is, into the reciprocal giving between him and the Church. The mutual gift between Christ and the Church is made present in the Eucharist, through which we share more intensely in this gift, that is, in his suffering, death, and Resurrection. Adultery—and therefore also a divorce followed by a new civil marriage—violates the totality of the reciprocal gift between spouses at the spiritual, emotional, and physical level and, consequently, is incompatible with the total, reciprocal gift between Christ and the Church, to which the gift of the spouses is analogous and into which it should be taken up. This is the fundamental reason why a divorced and remarried person cannot receive Communion.
We must realize that the question about administering Communion to divorced and civilly remarried persons is not an incidental, secondary matter. If we were to agree that it was, we would also be agreeing that the mutual gift of the spouses did not have to be total, either at the spiritual or at the physical level. Consequently, we would be compelled to change the Church’s doctrine about marriage and sexuality in other areas. In this way we would weaken our essential arguments against adultery in general. The argument against the use of contraceptives is that their obstruction of the gift of maternity and the gift of paternity through the conjugal act makes the spouses’ reciprocal gift and therefore the totality of the gift itself incomplete at the physical level (cf. Familiaris consortio 32). In abandoning the requirement of the totality and reciprocity of the gift, we would have to accept the use of contraceptives. If we were to agree that the reciprocal gift of the spouses did not have to be total and, therefore, that it was lawful to prevent the gift of a new life, we would be compelled to accept also sexual acts that are not directed to procreation at all, such as homosexual acts. The question of whether divorced and civilly remarried persons can receive Communion is intrinsically joined to other questions of marital and sexual morality.
Proposals for pastoral practice
More than a year ago, a Dutch journalist from a Catholic television station asked me why a divorced and remarried person must not receive Communion. I gave an answer based on the essence of marriage and of the Eucharist as described above. The journalist’s reaction was typical of the present era: “Your Eminence, your answer is clear, but I am not sure I can explain it to my sister.” Apparently he meant a divorced and remarried person. Since I do not know her, I do not dare to evaluate her capacity for understanding or her lack thereof. Nevertheless, there are two obvious possibilities: either his sister does not accept the Church’s doctrine about marriage and the Eucharist, or she knows only that the Church forbids the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, without, however, really knowing the doctrine and, therefore, without understanding the reason behind the prohibition. The latter possibility is the more likely one in a country in which catechesis has been seriously neglected for half a century. In addition, there is the currently prevailing culture of pronounced individualism, which does not accept commonly held ideas or opinions, especially if they are thought to be imposed by an authority.
The solution to the problem of admitting the divorced and remarried to Eucharistic Communion is not primarily in speculating about a possible nullity of marriage because of a faulty knowledge of the faith or a lack of faith per se on the part of those who contracted it. Nor should we seek the solution in a simplification of the procedure for declaring nullity of marriage or in a special penitential process aimed at creating the possibility of receiving Communion without putting an end to the adulterous relationship. In his encyclical Veritatis splendor, Saint John Paul II refutes the misconception that pastoral practice consists of seeking to offer compromises between the Church’s doctrine and complex everyday reality in the form of “so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium” (56). True pastoral ministry means that the pastor leads the persons entrusted to his care to the truth definitively found in Jesus Christ, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” ( Jn 14:6). We must seek the solution to the lack of knowledge and understanding of the faith by transmitting and explaining its foundations more adequately and clearly than we have done in the last half century. The task that Christ has entrusted to us is, indeed, to proclaim the faith. In speaking about the foundations of the faith, we must realize that what has just been described is part of a broader problem. This problem touches on the essential content of the Church’s doctrine on marriage and the Eucharist and also on the meaning of tradition and of the Magisterium. The Church by creating or at least tolerating confusion in this area at the same time creates or tolerates confusion with regard to fundamental questions of the faith. The problem of Communion for the divorced and remarried is therefore one part of a much larger problem.
Based on what has been said so far, it seems to me that it is important to consider the following proposals:
1.) Every couple who present themselves for the sacrament of matrimony must receive thorough preparation, consisting of at least five or as many as ten meetings, which are to provide a clear and effective explanation of the central truths of the Church’s doctrine, especially those truths regarding marriage and sexuality. There are good examples of these Christian marriage preparation courses in some ecclesiastical provinces and some new movements.
2.) Whenever couples present themselves for a marriage in the Church, one should have the courage to ask them explicitly whether they accept the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. When the answer is uncertain or negative, it is necessary to dissuade them from marrying in the Church and, in their own interests, to be more selective in admitting such couples to the sacrament of matrimony. Otherwise, they run the risk of ending up in cohabitation and irregular relationships for which, often, it is not easy to find solutions in keeping with the Church’s doctrine if their marriage fails and they divorce.
The purpose of these proposals is to prevent failed marriages. Another aspect is the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried couples. According to the Church’s doctrine and longstanding practice in this regard, these persons cannot be admitted to Communion or to the sacrament of penance. Nonetheless, they should be invited to participate in the life of the Church and in her liturgical celebrations, to the extent possible within due limits. By using some creativity, ways should be found of assuring them that they are welcome in the Church. One classic bit of advice to persons who cannot receive Communion because of their state of life is generally to make a spiritual communion. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994 and Benedict XVI in 2012 recommended this also for the divorced and remarried. This communion does not consist of receiving the Host, and therefore it is accomplished, not materially and corporeally, but rather spiritually by means of silent, interior prayer, with which the person expresses to Jesus faith in his Real Presence in the Eucharist and an ardent desire to receive it. One can make a spiritual communion during celebrations of the Eucharist by a mental prayer, while remaining at one’s place, while the others go forward to receive sacramental Communion. However, even someone who is making only a spiritual communion could come forward with the others to receive a blessing instead of Communion. In Dutch dioceses, during Communion, while obviously allowing also the option of remaining at one’s place and uniting oneself with Christ in silent prayer, all who want to are invited to come forward. Those who cannot receive Communion are asked to come forward with their arms crossed on the breast as a sign of the desire to receive a blessing. In this way it is possible to show all those who cannot receive sacramental Communion that they are welcome. This practice has proved to be an effective way of putting an end to heated, tiresome discussions about the fact that someone who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church, especially Protestants who are present at Eucharistic celebrations, cannot receive Holy Communion. The practice just described has dispelled the idea that they are excluded. The same can happen also in the case of divorced and civilly remarried persons. It is necessary to insist on the fact that spiritual communion and/or a blessing are also a source of grace.
One objection often raised is that a person who has the option of making a spiritual communion also has the right to receive sacramental Communion. This objection is based on the presumption that there is no difference between the two. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains this difference, making an analogy between baptism of desire and spiritual communion. The effect of the sacrament can be obtained by receiving it in desire, not in reality. Thus some individuals have been baptized with the baptism of desire. As we said earlier, spiritual communion consists of an ardent desire to receive the Eucharist. In an analogous sense, the effect of the Eucharist can also be obtained by means of a desire to receive this sacrament, although its effect is produced in a more complete way when it is actually received.
Aside from the invitation to participate in liturgical celebrations to the limited extent possible, it is important to offer the divorced and remarried the pastoral care that is offered to all the faithful: personal pastoral accompaniment, the possibility of meetings and personal conversations, and the possibility of participating in the group activities of our parishes. The challenge for pastors is to show that the practice of the faith and participation in the life of the Church are not limited to Eucharistic Communion, although this is “the fount and apex of the whole Christian life”. Besides attendance at Eucharistic celebrations, making a spiritual communion, and receiving a special blessing at them, the divorced and remarried should be encouraged to read and listen to the Word of God, to practice lectio divina, to persevere in prayer, and to perform charitable works—things that ought to nourish and characterize every Christian’s life anyway.
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Super Evangelium S. Matthaei lectura, 522 and 1559–60; cf. DH 1327.
 Cf. B. T . Viviano, “The Gospel according to Matthew”, in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond Edward Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland. E. Murphy (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2000), 643.
 DH 117.
 The idea that the Council of Nicaea (can. 8, DH 127) allows a second marriage after a divorce is based on a misinterpretation. Taken in context, this is a canon against the Novatians and therefore a rejection of their conviction that a second marriage after the death of a husband or of a wife was unlawful.
 DH 754–56.
 DH 1807.
 DH 2705–6.
 Leo XIII, Arcanum divinae, February 10, 1880, in ASS 12 (1879–1880): 385–402.
 DH 860.
 DH 2536.
 DH 2706.
 Decree on Justification, chap. 15, DH 1544.
 Decree on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, chap. 7, DH 1647. Cf. Paul’s statement: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself ” (1 Cor 11:27–29).
 John Paul II, apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio (November 22, 1981) (FC), 84.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful (September 4, 1995), 4.
 Benedict XVI, Pastoral Visit to the Archdiocese of Milan and 7th World Meeting of Families ( June 1–3, 2012); Address during the Evening of Witness ( June 2, 2012).
 FC 84.
 International Theological Commission, Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage (Rome, 1977), 5.3.
 In the documents of the Magisterium, the essence of marriage is described as a “mutual giving of self ”; cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes (December 7, 1965), 49.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful (September 14, 1995), 6.
 Benedict XVI, Pastoral Visit to the Archdiocese of Milan and 7th World Meeting of Families ( June 1–3, 2012); Address during the Evening of Witness (June 2, 2012).
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 80, a. 1 ad 3.
 Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium (November 21, 1964), 11.
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So now retired Cdl Mueller is stating that the dubia questions mentioned on this site are not right (https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/07/13/former-doctrine-chief-denies-false-account-papal-meeting/)
However what strikes me is Cdl Mueller says that he did not have any doctrinal differences with AL. Does that means the former prefect of CDF felt that Communion for the Divorced and Civilly remarried Catholics is allowed – even though they continue in an adulterous relationship.
I smell fish and its rotting away……
One of the options this article leaves for the divorced and remarried is “spiritual communion” which is not possible. Spiritual Communion is only for those who are disposed properly to the Sacrament but can’t receive it for other reasons, such as not abiding by the Eucharistic fast. Spiritual Communion for those in objective mortal sin is another novelty of the modernistic church.
What’s your source for this?
See my question above. I don’t think it’s a novelty, but I do think the good Cardinal is making assumptions. The Common Doctor teaches that one can receive communion spiritually. (Cf. ST 80:1.)
No. It is a novelty of the Church of Modernism. However, the example you gave would allow the “brother and sister” to receive Sacramentally in private. It is common sense, if you can’t receive Sacramentally then you can’t receive Spiritually. Your example also brings up another novelty thrust upon us by JPII and that is it being ok for “married” people to live together as “brother and sister”.
Well, I know they could receive privately, but what would you have them do at Mass as others approach to receive communion? St. Thomas grants that one can receive the effects of the sacrament spiritually (i.e., in desire only), so I don’t see how one can say that is a modernist novelty, unless St. Thomas was a modernist.
Juris Doctor, I don’t contest that one can receive the effects of the Sacrament spiritually. But show me where St. Thomas or any orthodox moral theologian states that a person in objective mortal sin can receive the effects of a Sacrament spiritually. As to your question, they can sit in the pews and pray for a conversion of heart and the fortitude to remove themselves from the occasions of sin.
I agree with you that a person in mortal sin can’t receive the effects of holy communion. It seems to me that your main objection is that the “brother and sister” option is never morally legitimate, which I would have to disagree with. If I’m hearing you correctly, you believe that a divorcee who cohabits with the other biological parent for the sake of raising their children is committing an intrinsically evil act, even if they’re both perfectly chaste. Is that what you believe?
If a person is in a state of grace, then they will receive graces via a spiritual Communion. This is common sense. However, my argument is that those in objective mortal sin must be judged by the objective order and not counseled to receive spiritually since that implicitly assumes they ARE in a state of grace. Neither the Church nor mankind judges internals. Thus, these people need to be counseled to remove themselves from the public and objective sinful lifestyle. If they listen, then they can receive sacramentally.
Now about this “brother and sister” teaching of JPII. This was/is definitely a novelty. Never did the Church as a whole allow this in the past or offer it as an option. You are asking me if it is an intrinsically evil act when a married man separates himself from his wife, with or without her permission, reason is irrelevant, and lives with another woman whom he is sexually attracted to. My answer is VERY LIKELY and close to YES if not YES. Would your wife let you sleep at another woman’s house 7 days a week, whom you are sexually or intimately attracted to if you promised not to have any sexual relations with the other woman? Is there no grave sin you would be committing when doing this? If one’s answer includes the excuse that their situation is different from the other man’s, then they are basically looking at this through the lens of a Modernist or Subjectivist. They would not be acknowledging the objective order of things and basing their response on elements that are subjective and unknown to others. As Catholics, we are not to judge anything, good or bad, on subjective or hidden things. We are not to assume one is practicing perfect continence. We simply judge things objectively and act accordingly. So, if a person is married and living in an adulterous relationship, regardless of there not being sexual intimacy, then that person is in objective mortal sin and cannot receive any sanctifying grace from any Sacrament other than Confession which will need a firm purpose of amendment. Placing oneself in the near occasion of sin is a sin, maybe not mortal, but it is a sin if done on purpose. I would argue that placing oneself in the near occasion of mortal sin is a mortal sin but that is beside the point. I remember reading in Spiritual Combat that all sins must be conquered, not just avoided, except sexual sins, unless one is well advanced in the spiritual life. This is because it is natural for a man to be attracted to a woman and the temptations are extremely difficult to overcome by the novice. Back to the man living with this other woman; think of all the other things this man would be doing that the Church would consider, at least some, to be a mortal sin. He would be scandalizing others, constructing a barrier preventing reconciliation with his wife, pretending he is married to his adulterous partner and presenting her as his wife rather than his real wife (lying), probably kissing and petting his mistress from time to time (adultery), and thinking of her from time to time in a way a husband thinks of his wife (adultery). These should all immediately point out the absolute absurdity of thinking it is possible for a man who is living with his supposed “wife” to live as if they were mere “brother and sister”.
The excuse about the children is getting old, wouldn’t you agree? The children seem to matter in this situation but the VII church seems to care less about them when granting and encouraging annulments. Prior to Vatican II, the Church did care about the children which is why it was very difficult to get an annulment.
Please see the link below. Mundabor is a bit hard to read most of the time but this one posting should be helpful. I suggest reading the comments also. There are not that many of them.
One last thing: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.” Here Christ does not mention anything about sexual relations. He also included lust or the thought of sexual relations with another woman to be adultery. This needs to be considered when one counsels a man to live with another woman whom he pretends to be married to, when he is truly married to another. What is that saying about millstones?
P.S.- If you want to discuss this further, please email me at [email protected]. I will leave this email account active for 72 hours.
Very good essay, Your Eminence.
Casa Santa Marta is on the line. They want to know if Malta is in your travel plans? Apparently the Pope is saying that Cardinal Burke needs a room mate.
“Nothing does that soul good; and hence all her good works are fruitless, as long as she remains in in mortal sin; neither are they of any help towards enabling her to arrive at [eternal] glory.” – The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila.
This quote does not appear to square with the notion of a person in an adulteress second marriage receiving spiritual communion with our Lord. Any thoughts? Is it along the lines of Saint Augustine’s prayer ‘Lord make me pure but not yet!’ No one is guaranteed the time to repent and it seems unfair for the Church to offer this as if one has all the time in the world to straighten out one’s life.
If I recall correctly St. Teresa said in order to reach heaven we must reach a state of mental prayer. It takes us humans time to come to our senses and a spiritual communion would develop a desire for the act itself. Although not instant it makes a person move in a direction that is pointing to the light of Christ and thus recognizing there sin and finally to repentance. I have to say it took me time to build a relationship with our Lord. I continue to nourish this relationship and mental prayer is indeed a must.
Seems to me that it would be better for everyone if the divorced and remarried were excluded from the Church entirely and possibly be excommunicated, as they are living in the state of mortal sin and will go to hell if they do not change their ways. Pretending they are still Catholics gives the impression that it is only a legalistic technicality keeping them from receiving Communion. Here harsh treatment for serious sin is most appropriate to save the sinner and not give scandal those who obey the law of the Church.
This is the problem.
It would represent a true act of mercy and I dare say would result over time in 1} returns to the Church 2} a renewed culture of marital commitment.
We are members of a church, the Roman Catholic Church, which can only occupy itself with obsessive-compulsive erroneous speculations on human concupiscence. The solution to these moral dilemmas – that which nips their distraction – is intimacy with Jesus Christ nurtured by personal prayer, liturgical prayer and authentic catechesis. Were the Roman Catholic Church to bend itself to its commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 – and its priests regard themselves as indeed “in persona Christi” instead of a member of team Masters & Johnson, or an analysts for Alfred Kinsey, much would be accomplished. But ecclesiastics of the most highest rank prefer to be social analysts, sociologists, sexologists, psychologists, economists – being a priest or a religious just doesn’t match their self-esteem. Why?
Because they don’t believe in anything but their own notions.
Were one to sit them down and have them recite the Creed the conscientious among them would require a volume of annotations on “just how” they believe one mystery of the faith or another. The rest of them would just lie in order to retain their economic security, the roof over their head and the wheels under their posteriors.
We got a vocation crisis all right. I’m convinced that seventy-five percent of those claiming to function under the guise of a priestly/religious vocation don’t have the rudiments of Christian
faith, let alone a vocation. Our church is staffed by clowns, liars, atheists, morons. To give credit where credit is do, the best and brightest serve the elixir mendacity with real craft.
Should I be wrong I’d expect to see a flourishing Church of adults devoted and committed to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. All I hear about is a mass of fools requiring justification for their
multiple forms of concupiscence and a clergy eager to feed them the lies they long for.
Lest anyone think we are alone in our decay, protestantism has submitted itself in every way possible to this demonic deception – we merely follow their lead into the pit of “ecumania.”
Witness the diatribe delivered most recently in “Civilta Cattolica” by Antonio Spadaro SJ and the Argentine Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, a friend of Pope Francis. It should provide some credence to this observation.
That article should be the subject of it’s own thread.
I’m looking forward to it. Steve won’t fail us.
Regarding the protestant shift (AKA Modernism) and modernist notions of ecumenism: The company you keep reflects who you are.
Scathing, but within the limitations of all generalizations, so true.
And in Protestantism we have happy and joyous rejection of the truth masquerading as “in the Spirit”.
They surrendered to the devil long ago. We are getting ready to unfurl the white flag.
That’s one flag I want to see burnt.
EXCEPT as a direct and ongoing step toward contrition and obedience, what good is making a “spiritual communion” for a person living in a state of unconfessed, unrepentant mortal sin?
Seems just another dodge of the post-Conciliar culture in being “nice” while leaving the individuals in danger of eternal damnation.
The post conciliar theologian would say that the fact that a person is thinking about spiritual things that this a first step toward an eventual full return to Christ and the Church. Conversion is a gradual process therefore the person is in his own imperfect way beginning to seek Christ. We are not to judge to harshly not cast stones at the sinner but to welcome him
I agree. Isn’t it true that “spiritual Communion” is for people prevented from receiving due to things like geography or hospitalization? It’s because you can’t get to Mass, not because–at Mass–you elect to remain improperly disposed.
Yes, Helen, that’s what we were taught when the Catholic Faith WAS taught from kindergarten onward. As pre-Holy Communicants at school masses the priest would lead the children in this prayer at every Mass before Holy Communion – ” O Jesus, though I cannot receive you Sacramentally , come at least Spiritually into my soul.”
Good article, but I have just one teeny weeny quibble. I think that in these discussions we tend to focus on the meaning of “porneia” a little too much, a tendency that has often proven unfruitful. Perhaps we should take a closer look at the word we commonly see translated as “except for”. As Ronald Know suggests in his footnote to the passage in Matthew, Jesus may not actually be saying “except for” anything at all. Exploring this might prove helpful.
This is a reply to this whole thread: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!!! Enough! Can a civilly divorced Catholic who does not have a Church annulment and has contracted another so-called marriage receive Our Lord in Holy Communion? NO! Enough said.
There’s one thing I don’t understand in this essay. The eminent author encourages the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion spiritually. Is he assuming, without saying so, that such persons are living as brother and sister? And if so, why would they choose spiritual communion rather than sacramental communion (assuming that can be done without giving scandal)?
No, I’m pretty sure it’s the “Conservative” Church of Nice version of Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too.
Sorry, I meant Ronald Knox, not Ronald Know. Although I think he Knew a thing or two.
“Based on what has been said so far, it seems to me that it is important to consider the following proposals:
1.) Every couple who present themselves for the sacrament of matrimony must receive thorough preparation, consisting of at least five or as many as ten meetings, which are to provide a clear and effective explanation of the central truths of the Church’s doctrine, especially those truths regarding marriage and sexuality. There are good examples of these Christian marriage preparation courses in some ecclesiastical provinces and some new movements.
2.) Whenever couples present themselves for a marriage in the Church, one should have the courage to ask them explicitly whether they accept the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. When the answer is uncertain or negative, it is necessary to dissuade them from marrying in the Church and, in their own interests, to be more selective in admitting such couples to the sacrament of matrimony.”
BRAVO!!!!!! ???? ???? ???? ????
I teach adult catechism, and I’ve said many times that if you have enough time to pick out the best wedding dress, the best tux, the best caterer, DJ etc, then you should meet with the priest AT LEAST once a month (ideally every week, but once a month seems feasible) in order to learn the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage and the family.
Many Catholics don’t have ANY catechetical training after Confirmation or First Holy Communion. So you have at least a 10 – 15 year gap in which neither the prospective bride and groom have learned NOTHING about what they are entering into.
My grandmother (eternal memory!) was 17.5 years old when she came to the U.S.. My grandfather was 35 (no, that not a typo – he was 35!). They got married 2 weeks after she arrived because young girls of 17 had to be provided for lest they fall into sin. They were married 50 years and Dad (the youngest of 5 children) was born on their 14th wedding anniversary.
I’d bet my bottom dollar that my grandparents knew more about marriage and the teaching of the Church re marriage and the family than many couples today.
Civil remarriages cannot be recognized therefore – no Communion.
Marriage is a Sacrament which must be given by a Catholic Priest………shall we go to Confession at the Justice of the Peace as well? No, of course not.
I do offer, however, that in cases of long standing divorce and remarriage – especially where children are involved between the new couple that dispensations of prior marriage annulment should be fast tracked and granted.
With the understanding of “Go in peace and sin no more.”
You sound like Francis…fast and easy annulments for those who have unfortunatley caused havoc in their lives and many other lives.
You sound like an ignorant troll attempting to navigate concepts you lack the education to undertake.
I agree with you. We ALL know that for a Catholic to divorce and re-marry without an annulment is a grave, mortal sin. We ALL know that Our Lady of Fatima stated clearly that millions of people have gone / are right now going to Hell – and the main reason is sins of the flesh.
We all know that if we regularly miss Mass and die without confession we will go to Hell. If we kill without repenting we will go to Hell.
Yet still people trot out the same old chestnut of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” with false Bergoglian “mercy” oozing out of every pore. When Jesus said those words He was talking about neighbors and friends acting as Judge in God’s place and killing someone unlawfully.
In this day and age we hear a lot about “Everyone’s doing it – so let’s just forget / ignore / change the 10 Commandments because they’re WAY out of date and we know much better than God!”
Which Saint said It doesn’t matter whether everyone’s doing it or nobody’s doing it – a SIN IS STILL A SIN!
Mortal sin is called mortal because it kills the life of sanctifying in the soul. To receive Christ into our souls it is necessary to be in the state of sanctifying grace.
A sacrilegious Communion is a grave sin and requesting Christ to come into our soul when in the state of mortal sin is also an insult to Our Lord . One should go to Confession and then make spiritual Communions when unable to receive sacramentally
The war for the reception of Communion by adulterers was won years ago by the American bishops, most prominently Cardinals Baum, Hickey, McCarrick, and Wuerl, archbishops of Washington–all of whom have given Communion to pro-abortion polticians.
Wuerl has assiduously promoted the lie that a minister of Communion must know “the state of the soul” of a would-be communicant before Communion may be denied. This lie is now a key element of Amoris Laetitia.
The American bishops have voted repeatedly to approve “Catholics in Political Life,” in which it is said that a bishop may “legitimately” give Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
You read that right! An overwhelming majority of American bishops have voted themselves permission to COMMIT MORTAL SIN. (When can. 915 is flouted, the act is ALWAYS grave matter, because it is always sacrilegious and a cause of grave scandal.)
Cardinal Baum ? I didn’t know that he…….. did that.
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
I believe we need to separate the reception of communion and the theology of Eucharist from the theology of marriage.
The Catholic Church over the centuries has been over concerned with the bedroom and lets it get in the way of what is happening in the dining room and living room. The sacrament of reconciliation is in place for a reason. A divorce, once confessed, should be enough to permit people to be at one at the table, regardless of their canonical declaration of nullity – despite their need to do so. People are not perfect. We make mistakes, we sin, we promise not to do it again but many times we fail. Why we single out the divorced is beyond me. I know the objection is that they will persist in their second marriage and continue to have sex with their new spouses. But this is true for all sin, we cannot reverse it. Murderers are forgiven even though their victims persist in their death!
Too many people have been too righteous, particularly celibate clergy, in their condemnation of divorced persons. We need to be more compassionate and loving. The pain of these divorces should be enough for these people to learn. As a church, we need to take this opportunity to help the person make better life choices through self reflection and therapy to learn how to process their own life stories and chose a mate who make them a better a person. As a priest, I know the difficulty in convincing young couples that their future marriages may have many land mines ahead. But who am I to tell them that their love cannot conquer what I perceive to be possible explosions that will destroy their pending marriage. Many people do not understand the heart of what we teach as sin of pre-marital sex, divorce and common living before marriage. The values we uphold as a church are in place for a reason. Sadly, most cannot see it until its effects are experienced.
Pope Francis has said that the Eucharist should not be used a punishment for bad behavior or a reward for good behavior, but as medicine for the soul.
We try to be Compassionate while holding on steadfast to Church Teaching. I think that has been the most central issue for the Church. I think this explains Vatican 2…… and this Issue of Communion.
Technically according to Canon Law : Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.
Now, is Divorce a Big Grave Sin ? No. Although Marriage is the Sacrament that will last until the end of time….. there are some cases, where you can get divorced and it’s not your fault. The So called No Fault Divorces I believe.
Canon Law : 2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.
The Catholic Church teaches that a Person can receive Communion if that Person is divorced but not remarried. Since technically, under Canon Law….. Divorce is a Civil matter…..
I might be wrong.
Technically according to Canon Law, You can not.
What is ” Divorce ” ? The Civil Divorce under Human Law ? Or the Catholic Annulment ? Because I don’t think that has been clarified.
This was another excellent article. After all this time and truth regarding this issue, I am really beginning to believe that we shall see the day when a pope denies the existence of God. I pray for Pope Francis, but I also realize that an unrepentant sinner usually worsens his/her condition. Thank goodness God allows people to think their own thoughts instead of follow the leader or we’d all be journeying to the land of Judas with the guidance of today’s Church leaders.
To the moderator I made the post below under another article on the site in which
comments had almost petered out, although my post was not initially accepted
eventually it was. No one had made a new comment for over four weeks from the
time my comment was accepted hence; I am attempting to repost it here under
this active article. Kevin. ……………………………………………………….
Is an act of humility too much to ask?
I have read
“At this moment in time the church has two sails that are blowing in the opposite direction causing great discord within the Church. On the Right: an extreme conservative wind wanting to blow our boat back to the becalming out-of-date swamp of pre-1962. On the Left: an extreme liberal wind wanting to blow our boat into rapids where faith and morals are thrown overboard”.
But we can go forward in UNITY OF PURPOSE by hoisting a third sail one of Humility, the true (only) sail that the Holy Spirit blows upon, bringing arrogance to its knees and folly does not have to be appeased.
Is the true Divine Mercy Image an Image of Broken man?
Pope Francis says we need be a Church of mercy and so we do, but more importantly we need to be a humble Church, as Gods Mercy received in humility guarantees spiritual growth, which wells up into eternal life.
I agree with the four cardinals in that this statement from
Veritatis Splendor “conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions
to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of
their object” as God’s Word (Will) is inviolate. Individual we can only stand
before His Divine Mercy in humility as we can never justify sin.
I all so agree with this statement by Pope Francis “the Eucharist
‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for
the weak”. It’s the sick and supplicant who need the doctor, not the well and
How can the two statements be reconciled “With God all things are
possible” as only God can square the circle.
Throughout history God has made His Will know to mankind through
his Saints, Spiritual leaders and Prophets. And at crucial times His Will has
be revealed in a way that that cannot be misunderstood by His people.
God’s Word (Will) given to Sister Faustina
“Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in Thee.”
The Divine Mercy Image that the Church displays today is an affront
to God, instigated by nationalistic pride and those who would pacify the
powerful it has nothing to do with humility.
As The true Divine Mercy Image is an Image of Broken Man
“Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription:
“Jesus, I Trust in Thee.” “I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the whole world”
Sr. Faustina acted immediately in singular (pure) intent; no one else
can paint this picture, as no one else can SEE what she saw. The picture she
painted, sketched, (no matter how badly) must be venerated and no other, to do
so knowing it is not the painting commanded by God (His Word is inviolate) is to commit blasphemy.
The Church acknowledges that Sr Faustina received a direct visual
and verbal request to “paint an Image according to the vision you see” God’s
Word is Inviolate this is our most fundamental belief and sits at the base of
all the Sacraments. His Word is not open for debate it cannot contradict itself
and must not be touched by man, it is impossible for it to be God’s Word (Will)
and not His Word (Will) at the same time.
For clarity the church teaches that divine revelation ended with the apostles.
The visual and verbal request given by God to Sr. Faustina may not be an
additional revelation but it is a communiqué endorsed by the Church that
incorporates the direct Word (Will) of God and for that reason it is binding on
the Church in that the true image painted by Sr. Faustina (one of Broken Man)
must be venerated and no other.
Sister Faustina was very poorly educated and it is fair to assume
that if her superiors had accepted her painting as they should have done (they
would have known that Gods Word is inviolate) she would have also. Earthly
hands violated Gods Word to fit their own earthly vision of goodness as they
could not accept the reality that they were been asked by God to show human weakness.
Any revelations after the first revelation now must be considered
suspect, as from that time onwards earthly hands were distorting the Word (Will) of God.
Sister Faustina was uneducated coming from a very poor family with
only three year’s very basic education. Hers were the humblest tasks in the
convent. She was very innocent and trusting we can deduce this because after
her first vision she immediately attempted to paint Jesus herself and for this
reason I believe her vision was genuine and received in total trust.
Her diaries reflect a particular culture and type of devotion at a particular time in the Church but are more in
keeping with those who would propagate such devotions. We need to look at her
spiritual advisor Fr Michal Sopocko who appears to have overseen her diaries
and commissioned the first fraudulent image of Divine Mercy, and in doing so
violated her trust in God.
The Church has acknowledged that the Word (Will) of God had been given
to her, its actions confirm this, we have a picture in God’s House, with the
words “Jesus I trust In thee” But the picture is not the one commanded by God,
it is a worldly image of goodness, it pertains to the senses and is made in
man’s own image, it has nothing to do with Trust.
The present Divine Mercy Image is a self-serving
IMAGE of Clericalism, definition of CLERICALISM: a policy of maintaining or
increasing the power of a religious hierarchy. Their actions show that they did
not trust in His mercy and were only concerned with a worldly image of
goodness, the very same problem which has led to the cover up of the on-going
child abuse scandal and refusal to acknowledge its historical culture within
the Church emanating from Rome.
The original picture by Sister Faustina in its brokenness relates to
spiritual beauty (goodness) as it pertains to humility. The pure (humble) in
heart shall see God The True Divine Mercy image calls for the leadership of the
Church to give account for themselves, before God and mankind while at the same
time healing so many past and on-going injustices.
To do this the elite within the Church need to act out these instructions
given by Jesus Christ to His Church
“I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world “
Commencing in Rome by recapturing (Staging) the original ceremony by
displaying the present self-serving blasphemous Divine Mercy Image an image of
Clericalism, then remove (Destroy) it publicly and re-place it with the true
image an Image of Broken Man and in humility venerate it in a symbolic way that
cannot be misunderstood by mankind, then re-enact this action with the help of
the bishops throughout the whole Church (World).
If this were to happen a Transfiguration would
occur within the Church at this moment in time that would resurrect the true
face of Jesus Christ, a face that reflects Truth and humility before all those
she is called to serve in love and compassion. From this base one of humility
before God the Church can proceed to tackle many of her on-going
problems/dilemmas as it would permit the Church to give access to the Sacrament
of Holy Communion (Spiritual Food) to all baptised Catholics who for whatever
reason apart from the sin against the Holy Spirit, who presently cannot receive
the Sacrament of Reconciliation the means to do so.
As an example; To those in second relationships,
permit them to partake in Holy Communion in making a public acknowledgement of
their need of God’s Divine Mercy just prior to receiving the Eucharist by
venerating the true Image of Divine
Mercy an image of Broken Man, saying these words from the heart publicly
“Jesus I Trust in You”
Then as the recipient approaches the priest for communion after his /her
public confession the priest could say (or words to the effect of) “Welcome to
the path/way of salvation/confession/reconciliation receive The body of Christ”
in doing so acknowledging the on-going commencement to receiving the full
sacrament of Reconciliation, by doing so His outward sign of inward grace His
Divine Mercy is manifest at that moment in time as having been given by God
Himself to the recipient before His Church (People/Faithful) full absolution
has not given by the Church as they dwell in His Divine Mercy as he/she returns
to his/her sinful situation (Entanglement with evil) but a journey of HOPE in
that spiritual growth has commenced, this must be clearly understood by the
laity in regards to the indissolubility of marriage.
The need for the teaching on birth control in Humanae Vitae can also be
strengthened by encouraging the laity who practices it, to acknowledge it
openly before the Church in accepting their own human frailty, before partaking
of the bread of life in Venerating The True Image of Divine Mercy an image of
broken man, a reflection of themselves before God in the Eucharist. In
acknowledging their dependence on His Mercy they give glory to our Father in
heaven in bearing witness to the Truth, teaching others by their example to
serve the Truth and walk in humility before our Creator and in doing so
encourage all to confront that which enslaves mankind, our own sinfulness.
“Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription. “Jesus I trust in thee”. I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world “
This is a missionary call instigated by our Lord to
the whole Church to Evangelizing through the action of Humility, a disarming
action in its honesty, that embrace all in its simplicity, as we encounter our
brothers and sisters who stand and seek direction at the crossroads (Difficulties) of life.
kevin your brother
It is one thing for divorced and re-married Catholics to commit Sacrilege publicly but by their own decision – it is quite another thing for a so-called Catholic Pope to enable Bishops and Cardinals to encourage public sinners to OPENLY commit that Sacrilege thus giving toxic bad example to young people not to mention leading their flocks to Hell.
Endless discussions droning on ad nauseam are odious and counterproductive. A Sacrilege is what is being committed every time this Blasphemy takes place. It is spitting in God’s face. All the empty talk in the world will not make this abomination right!
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