So, one of the requirements for sacramental confession is a firm purpose of amendment. A lot of people are talking about whether divorced and “remarried” couples should be allowed to go to Holy Communion, but this speech from Pope St. John Paul II seems to indicate that they even have an impediment to going to penance–unless they are willing to live in “total abstinence”.
I believe it is because there were to be no doctrinal changes. This practice is already established as given below in Familaris Consortio. What some are proposing is that the couple need not live as brother and sister nor would this be scandal (because the Church would allow then to decide if it was sinful).
Divorced and Remarried (from ):However, 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. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”(180)
John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, 7 (Oct. 25, 1980): AAS 72 (1980), 1082.
Erm… doesn’t Paul make the same judgment call, though? Older widows can be enrolled in societies of widows; but younger widows, since they’re younger and healthier (and more likely to be tempted by fleshly desires), should not be. :shrug:
Speaking of younger widows, Jackie Kennedy’s marriage to divorced Onassis sure brought on a big controversy back in the 60’s. I don’t know if it was a coincidence but the excommunication against divorced Catholics (or one who marries a divorced person) was lifted in 1970. FWIW.
I think they should keep going though (to confession) and the priest while not giving absolution, can still bless them and pronounce prayers over them, something like invoking God’s mercy and freeing grace over the person so that in whatever way they are bound, God may find a way to loose them, set them free, to make a way where none seems possible. A frequent prayer like this from a priest together with spiritual communion may go a long way to freeing people I believe.
I think if this was done instead of just sending them off without confession OR communion, many would miraculously find healing and divinely wrought solutions down the road. God can do all things and the church should make free and liberal use of her mediating and intercessory power wherever she can.
The lifting of the penalty of excommunication had nothing to do with Jackie Kennedy’s irregular marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Remember, this was a time when the Pope and the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople also lifted their mutual, nine hundred year old excommunications. It was a time of a relaxation of many conventions and strictures in society in general and of many canonical penalties and ecclesiastical laws. It is also important to remember that the automatic excommunication that was leveled on Catholics if they attempted marriage while validly married in the Church was only applicable in the United States. The American bishops impose this penalty because of the high incidence of divorce in our Protestant country. Of course, that was a high incidence that would be considered extremely low by today’s standards.