CDF confirms Church ban on Communion for divorced/remarried [CWN]

In a lengthy statement published in L’Osservatore Romano, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has strongly affirmed the Church’s teaching that Catholics who …


Do you think this affirmation will be echoed from the pulpits throughout the Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church this coming Sunday?

Did we really expect anything else? I wish they had chosen a more accurate title. It should say something like " Church upholds ban on communion for those in irregular marriages". Or, “Church upholds teachings on marriage with regards to communion”.

It’s not the fact that they are divorced and remarried, it’s that they have ignored church teaching on marriage in the first place that got them in trouble. If they hadn’t remarried outside the church in the first place they wouldn’t be in this situation. But yes, lets all blame the church for maintaining it’s teachings on marriage.

May I ask why it should read, “Church upholds”?

Cardinal Muller published an article outlining an argument in the Vatican newspaper. It isn’t an official declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (of which he happens to be Prefect).

He is trying to reassure people that the Extraordinary Synod next year is not going to adopt the Orthodox Church’s approach to divorce and to prevent whisper-campaigns.

If the topic were to come up in the Synod, this article tells us that we can be sure what side of the issue Cardinal Muller will come down on.

I think he is to be commended for stating what he does but since its not an official pronouncement I fail to see why it should be accorded the rank of the magisterium.

The CDF has not said this. So why is the article claiming that it has? Cardinal Muller has spoken in a personal capacity. :shrug:

For the same reason the title of the article is “Church ban on communion…”.

I’m not disputing the church’s prohibition on communion for re-married divorcees. What I’m disputing is that the church has said anything about it in this instance. This isn’t an official announcement by the CDF as the article title claims. Its an essay written by a Cardinal in a personal capacity outlining the theological justification for the prohibition, who happens to be head of the CDF. He isn’t exercising his authority in this essay, is he? :shrug:

I don’t think many Catholics know the real teachings regarding marriage period (let alone when it is not OK to receive communion).

  1. Many think that the divorce all ready excommunicated them, so getting remarried isn’t a big deal because they already lost the ability to receive communion. Which is not the case. You lose the ability to receive communion when you start living with a new partner/spouse without receiving an annulment.

  2. Many think getting an annulment is close to impossible, especially if they already have kids. So they don’t even bother trying to get one.
    *]My one Aunt for example, could have received an annulment pretty easy I think. She was happily married, living in Colorado. Went back East for Thanksgiving with family and when she returned home, her husband had changed the locks, moved everything out of the house, and was already living with another woman. She was only gone for a two weeks. He was in the Air Force and using my aunt to pay for his college so he could finish Officer Training School. But for some reason, she never got an annulment. Either a priest told her something wrong or a friend, but she never got one. Instead she left the Church. She was uneducated.
    *]My second Aunt was abused by her husband. He hit her several times so she left. She never received an annulment either. (This Aunt was actually divorced and remarried before the Aunt above, so maybe that where the confusion was introduced).
    *]Either way, I have two aunts who had marriages which didn’t work out due to bad husbands and in both cases, it lead to my Aunts and cousins not being Catholic.

  3. Many people don’t know that you can still marry a non-Catholic outside the Church if you receive dispensation (Catholic how to make sure their marriage is legit)

  4. Or if they know about dispensation, they don’t understand why it’s needed.

Everything comes down to needing to re-educating today’s Catholics. I’m 36 years old and my parents did a terrible job raising us in the faith. Of 5 children, I’m the only practicing Catholic (only after falling away and now returning) and none of us were married in the Church.

When including my cousins, of 11 Grandchildren:
*]2 are practicing Catholics (but my cousin’s wife is a liberal Catholic)
*]3 are non practicing Catholics (1 of them might become a Methodist)
*]6 are not Catholic

We need to educate our youth and parents. Perhaps our Catholic foundation classes for Children should include at least one parent? Perhaps instead of focusing on what grade they are in, perhaps it should be taught more like RCIA and include the parents of the children. All children from the family in the same class, or the parents with the older kids? We need to re-educate the parents the same time we are teaching the children (I know this is harder with kids who attend Catholic school vs CCD/CFF).

CCD when I was a kid really didn’t work. That’s why I like some of the newer programs like CFF, PREP, etc that are different than CCD. But even then, if the parents don’t know the faith, it won’t be reinforced at home.

And we need to focus more on teaching the Bible, because, we are also losing Catholics to the Baptist and other groups who get hoodwinked because they believe strongly in Jesus, but did not receive a strong Catholic education.

The society of the 70s, 80s, & 90s did so much damage to the Church, that has left us with mess society is today in the 21st Century. It might not be the Church’s fault that these Catholics (I’m including myself) were not educated properly, but we can no longer depend on parents to fix it. Too many parents simply lack the proper Catholic background.

If we don’t improve the way we educate the marriage issues which this thread speaks about will get worse.

God Bless!

I was under the impression that this topic has been of recent interest to Pope Francis, and that the special commission of 8 cardinals was to address this. I wonder if the Curia is trying an end-run as has been its habit.

It’s not an official declaration from the CDF, but I think it’s a stretch to say it’s just some Cardinal’s personal opinion. I mean, if it had been an off hand remark at a press conference or something, then yes. But I don’t think the Prefect of the CDW would write a long, authortative essay to be published on the Vatiacn’s own newspaper, on a topic like this, all on his own just to share his opinion.

I can’t imagine that something like this would get published without some kind of approval from Francis etc.

I hear what you’re saying brother but can we really speculate on the inner workings of the Vatican?

As Catholics we take a statement as authoritative under specific guidelines. An official statement by the CDF is signed and approved by the pope personally, as well as being the work of the most authoritative Vatican body in terms of doctrinal disputes, in its own right.

An article in the Vatican newspaper does not have the pedigree to count as an official statement. It certainly shouldn’t be called a “CDF” document since it was the work of Cardinal Muller outside the CDF.

If the CDF wanted to actually quash and clarify this issue, then the CDF would have used its authority to draft an official document with the pope’s signature on it.

True, the title of the article is a little misleading.

I just mean that I think this is more than one official’s personal opinion, but like you say, it’s not a CDF document either.

I hear you. I would hope, that to escape confusion in public, Cardinal Muller would first consult Pope Francis and that this would be the norm. However, we have no evidence that he did do this and that this is the case. It would just be speculation, which is why we cannot stake anything on it. I find it strange that Cardinal Muller has not made it clear that he has had express approval from the pope to publish this (although even then it still wouldn’t be an official document). This is such a hot-button issue that was causing not a little discussion and agitation among Catholics worldwide over the past while since the announcement of the impending extraordinary synod. Why has Muller, if he did receive approval, not stated so explicitly in light of this?

I don’t think it would be very typical of him to say, or need to say, that he had approval from the Pope. I mean, I don’t recall seeing that happen in other situations like this, so as far as I know, I don’t think we should expect him to have done that.

From reading the article I wonder why the title weren’t “Church ban on sacraments…” If you can’t do confession, then why are you able to receive communion?

Perhaps you are right, I really don’t know (nor would claim to) I’m merely curious because this was such an important issue, especially in light of that situation with the diocese in Germany. A more authoritative statement, if this is truly the pope’s judgement, would have been better. As it stands the article is a reflection by a very important cardinal but without any other authority,

Considering that what he is saying is consistent with Catholic teaching on the matter ( which is a matter of morals) then he is speaking in his authority as a faithful Archbishop of the Church.

While I agree that there needs to be improved education of the subject, that does not excuse what people choose to do against the teachings of the church. No one is stopping them from taking the time to find out BEFORE they act.

Just read this again, and all I can say is wow, this essay is fantastic :thumbsup:
I love these quotes:

“The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same."

“For Christians, the marriage of baptized persons incorporated into the Body of Christ has sacramental character and therefore represents a supernatural reality. A serious pastoral problem arises from the fact that many people today judge Christian marriage exclusively by worldly and pragmatic criteria. Those who think according to the “spirit of the world” (1 Cor 2:12) cannot understand the sacramentality of marriage. The Church cannot respond to the growing incomprehension of the sanctity of marriage by pragmatically accommodating the supposedly inevitable, but only by trusting in “the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor 2:12)”

This is Jimmy Akin’s take on this essay. He thinks Muller is essentially speaking on behalf of Francis to calm all the speculation:

  1. Is there reason to think that the speculation on him changing the Church’s practice is overblown.
    Yes. Archbishop Gerhard Muller, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has just published a lengthy (4,500+ word) article in the Vatican newspaper which appears to be designed to correct such speculation.

  2. What do you make of this piece?
    I think it’s a deliberate attempt to correct speculation that Pope Francis is going to drop the Church’s discipline on the civilly remarried and Communion.
    In particular, I think it’s an attempt to not get expectations up on this point for the forthcoming Extraordinary Synod.

  3. Who is Archbishop Muller speaking for, here?
    He’s certainly speaking for himself, as the piece carries his name.
    However, I strongly suspect that he is, in fact, speaking for Pope Francis. It would be extraordinary for the head of the CDF publishing a piece like this if the Pope were even contemplating a change on this point.
    The two men are in significant contact. They have regular meetings (usually on Friday afternoons) to discuss the work of the CDF, and with all the speculation in the press, it would be irresponsible of Muller in the extreme to publish such a piece in the Vatican newspaper (L’Osservatore Romano) without running it past the Pope first.
    It is far more likely that the piece was published with the Pope’s blessing and, quite possibly, that it was even written at his instigation.

  4. If the Pope wanted to tamp down such speculation, why wouldn’t he do so himself?
    We’ve seen it happen before that the CDF has been used to correct press speculation based on what a pope has said.
    A prominent case of this happened in the reign of Benedict XVI, after a controversy over condoms got started due to a question Benedict was asked in the interview book Light of the World.
    Rather than come out and speak in his own voice, Benedict had the CDF release a 1-page clarification on his behalf.
    Given the way that the clarification is written, I suspect that Benedict may have written it himself, though he chose to release it through the CDF to prevent the pope of being put in the position of having to tell the press, “Well, what I really meant was this . . .”
    I suspect that basically the same thing happened here: Pope Francis made statements to the press that were ambiguous and that touched off a firestorm of speculation.
    To solve the problem, without having to make the correction himself (which would, among other things, harm the positive image he’s trying to build with those distant from the Church), he decided to have the CDF issue a clarification.
    Given the way that this clarification is written, though, I don’t think Francis wrote it himself. It has a precise, meticulous character that suggests it was written at the CDF, likely by Muller himself.

I have a number of issues with this essay and the interpretation that Muller is speaking for the Holy Father. Namely that:

  1. Jesus was not so strict as Muller makes him out to be. In Matthew’s Gospel in chapter 19 we find the Lord making the exception for divorce in the case of infidelity. Traditional interpretations of Matthew’s recounting of the teaching insist that Jesus was referring to annulments and not divorce, but the verb in Greek, apoluo, specifically refers to the act of the wife in Greco Roman culture divorcing the husband. There was no concept of annulments or nullifying the marriage as if it had never existed in the first place, as Jews and Greeks and Romans in first century Palestine had no concept of annulments to begin with. Even in the context outside of divorce, the verb is used to mean releasing someone from their debts, or to set someone free or let go or dismiss them in a more general sense. The verb very clearly has overtones of separation, not nullification and in the context presented here Jesus is very clearly referring to divorce.

  2. It was Francis himself who put forth the idea of being more merciful in a pastoral framework towards divorced and remarried Catholics, as well suggesting that looking into the Orthodox solution of 2nd and 3rd marriages was definitely on the table. Is it really Archbishop Muller’s place to be criticizing the direction that the Holy Father is considering for the Church? It almost seems to me that Muller is ridiculing Francis’ suggestions, considering his language here is fairly strong. I am not sure it is really Muller’s or the CDF’s place to attempt to set the tone for the Synod or for the direction Francis wants to take the Church in. I would almost suggest this be to border lining on dissension. It seems incredibly out of line for Muller to be criticizing the Holy Father’s decision making process this openly.

  3. It makes no sense to me to say that Muller is speaking for Francis- this seems incredibly wishful thinking on Mr. Akin’s part. If Francis was dead set against allowing 2nd marriages or showing mercy towards divorced couples, why would he suggest such things as currently being tabled for suggestion? It would be like dangling a carrot in front of someone’s face and saying “nyah nyah you can’t have it” and then yanking it away, which quite frankly seems cruel to me and inconsistent in regards to what we know of the Holy Father’s personal character.

All in all, this seems to me to be the Curia/CDF grinding their teeth and being dragged kicking and screaming at the mere mention of the possibility of change to any sort of pastoral practice. Goodness, they helped elect this man! The least they should do is support his leadership and not criticize his suggestions so openly: for a Curia who elected this Pope on the mandate of reforming them, this certainly does not make them look good! Just my two cents.

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