Can someone fully explain why remarried Catholics can't receive communion OR go to confession?

Ok, so I understand that mortal sin severs our relationship with God which is why divorced and remarried people with no annulment can’t receive communion. But: why can’t they repent either? that doesn’t make any sense to me. They sinned, and it was really bad. So they need to repent. But “sorry, we don’t think you are capable of being forgiven even though the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” I mean I must be very confused on this or it’s illogical. I’m hoping I’m just confused. Someone please tell me I’m confused (and prove it).

Certainly they can repent like anyone else.

What does repentance require? Firm purpose of amendment.

So as soon as they stop committing adultery, poof-- back in the communion line.

You’re confused. :wink:

Yes, a divorced-and-civilly-remarried person can repent and return to the reception of the sacraments.

However, they must repent of adultery. That means that they must, in practice, stop committing adultery. So, if they’re willing to put aside their (adulterous) civil marriage, then they can go to confession, be absolved, and return to reception of the Eucharist.

On the other hand, if they go to confession – fully intending to return to their civil marriage arrangement – they wouldn’t be able to say “I’m sorry and I intend not to commit this sin again”, can they?

In short, although repentance is critical, so is the intent not to sin again. A person who intends to persist in their (adulterous) civil marriage doesn’t intend to cease committing that sin… so, they can’t validly be absolved of their sin.

Does that help?

But then why does this say they can’t approach Penance before going through the Marriage Tribunal?

In “Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced-and-Remarried Members of the Faithful” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a letter to the world’s bishops on October 14, 1994 said,

  1. The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality. [/library/curia/cdfdivor.txt]

By this document the Holy See affirmed the continuous theology and discipline of the Catholic Church that those who are divorced and remarried without a Decree of Nullity for the first marriage (whether that marriage was made within or outside the Catholic Church) are in an objectively adulterous union that prevents them from honestly repenting, receiving absolution for their their sins, and receiving Holy Communion. Until the marital irregularity is resolved by a Marriage Tribunal, or other procedures which apply to marriages of the non-baptized, they may not approach Penance or Holy Communion. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in Reconciliation and Penance, the Church desires such couples to participate in the Church’s life to the extent possible (and this participation in Mass, Eucharistic adoration, devotions and so on is a great spiritual help to them), as they work toward full sacramental participation.

But does the Church really advise a 2nd divorce?? Or would it not really have recognized that marriage in the first place?

As long as they to live together they remain in adultery. This comes straight out of Scripture and what Jesus said about marriage. Marriage is a Sacrament. It is permanent until “death do us part.” An annulment says that despite outward appearances there was never a Sacramental marriage.
In other words, the couple was never free to marry, because one of the spouses is still married to his or her first spouse. A confession can simply not remove that impediment.

Ok and so obviously adultery is a mortal sin, so let’s say someone has regularly gone to confession their whole life, but for the last 7 years are in an adulterous relationship. And they die while in that relationship… Does that mean they go to Hell? Obviously we don’t know if they would or not but wouldn’t that suggest that they would?

It is referring to couples who fully intend to continue their sexual relationship.

Perhaps you missed this part:

The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive holy communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only 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, for example, for 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.” In such a case they may receive holy communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.

As the pope said of Gay relationships, “who am I to judge?” It is the Lord who makes the final decision and while the Church has named individuals as Saints, it has never named individuals who are condemned.
There are always ways that an individual can change the path that they are following. There are many people who are divorced who remain single throughout their lives, choosing to remain faithful to the spouse who was not faithful.
There are Saints who were playboys before they converted and led chaste lives. Nobody is forced to marry or to remain in a relationship that is not in keeping with what the Church teaches.
Scripture says that God hates divorce. Divorce hurts everybody involved. It tears families apart and leaves deep scars.
I think you know the answer to the question that you are asking. Each of us is asked called to continual conversion throughout our lives. If we find that we have turned down a wrong path, there is always a way back.

The Church would advise that they act as the married person that they are until and unless they are declared free to marry.

This may or may not involve physical separation, as circumstances dictate.

No, the second attempt at marriage would not be presumed valid.

That is not at ALL what the Pope said.

This is what he said:

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

There’s more context than that. :wink:

Earlier in his response, the Pope said, “But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets.”

So, the context of his answer is someone who has same sex attraction and who has sinned… but who has repented of his sin and been absolved in confession.

In other words, the context isn’t someone who persists in sin. So, we’re not talking about those who are actively living a lifestyle of sinful sexual activity. That’s where our current question is relevant. If a person is in a second (civil) marriage, then he is actively committing adultery. For that person, there’s an objective assessment that can be made. On the other hand, if they’ve repented of the adultery and stopped sinning, “who are we to judge?” :wink:

That’ s it. Lazybones ,that 's me who did.not quote it all.:slight_smile:

I don’t think the act of just the civil marriage is itself adulterous. My father is a widower in his fifties and a few years ago he and his girlfriend, also a Catholic, got civilly married because she was laid off and lost her health insurance—they could not get sacramentally married at the time because my now-stepmother’s annulment to her physically abusive husband was still being processed. Their relations were entirely chaste up until the they were recently married in the Church after the annulment was granted. Father is is an active member of his diocese and in frequent communication with his Pastor, and as far as I know he was never told the civil marriage itself was adulterous.

They played by the rules in the eyes of the Church.
So your example is ok.

This document was written in response to the “internal forum solution” proposed by some as a solution when for some reason an annullment was not in the picture. One uses one’s own conscience to decide. This is considered valid by some, but this document says no, it is not permitted.

I do realize that there is more to what the pope said. I referenced the pope’s statement without quoting him. The pope has continuously supported marriage and the Church encourages those with same sex attraction to lead chaste lives. The main point that I was making is that I am nobody’s judge. God is, which is the same thing that the pope said. He did not condone any sinful lifestyle, nor did I. If you read my complete post, instead of stopping at the first sentence you would have noticed the call for conversion. The OP was asking me to make a judgment, a condemnation, something that I refused to do.

As long as they didn’t commit adultery, it wasn’t!! God Bless, Memaw

This has confused me as well. A catholic who confesses sterilization is forgiven, with no expectation to have the reversal surgery. It really seems the same to me, especially if there are children involved in the second marriage.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit