Communion alone is ‘not the solution’ for divorced and re-married Catholics, says Pope Francis

The only thing lighting up any landscape is your spinning one comment out to mean something that elsewhere the Pope has repudiated. Seriously - you need to calm down and quit trying to interpret the synod from one comment.

OK, let’s look at the context again:

“In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution.


  1. This is about remarried divorcees who have not regularised their situation. That is why - in current Church practice - they can’t receive Communion, read from the pulpit, be godparents, etc. This is ***not ***about remarried divorcees who have regularised their situation. They don’t have any problems.

  2. There is no mention of them regularising their situation before admitting them to the sacraments, etc. Again, the Church does not exclude from her life those who have done the necessary: separation or brother and sister arrangement. None of this is new.

  3. The synod when touching on this issue discussed what to do about remarried divorcees in a current irregular union, not about those who had sorted themselves out. It is this synodal discussion the Pope refers to.

If anyone can prove this wrong, feel free. I’d be delighted, really I would.

Justin - you’re right. It is very clear. That being said, I believe the Holy Father is a humble and holy man, and while he may personally sympathize with the Cardinal Kasper crowd on this issue, he will ultimately act according to the consensus of his brother bishops at the next Synod.

… and the Holy Spirit.

i think the mobster stuff was happening here in the mid 20th century, and maybe still happening in his home country? doesn’t feel that relevant to me.

Yes, of course. The Holy Spirit will guide the Holy Father and the bishops in reaching a consensus.

ultimately, God’s will, will be done.

In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why cant they be godfathers and godmothers? “No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?”. The testimony of a man and a woman saying “my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on”. Anything more Christian than that?

I am struggling with this quote. I assume that Pope Francis is talking about remarried divorcees who are sexually active. I assume so because remarried divorcees who “live as brother and sister” can already receive communion.

The problem is that sexually active remarried divorcees are persistently and unrepentantly engaging in a gravely immoral act (sex with someone to whom they are not validly married). That is the perennial teaching of the Church. I know that it’s a very hard teaching, but it is a teaching that necessarily follows from Christ’s words.

I just don’t see how the quote “I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on” is consistent with persistently and unrepentantly engaging in gravely immoral acts. I cannot imagine Padre Pio, or any of the saints, saying that a Catholic who is persistently and unrepentantly engaging in gravely immoral acts is setting a good example by doing so. I just don’t understand that.

The Holy Father’s hypothetical remarried divorcee says “my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here.” Presumably that is a reference to either the failure of the first marriage, or the decision to enter into a second marriage. But as always, neither of those things is the issue here. The issue here is the ongoing, unrepentant acts of adultery. It is not a past mistake, but an ongoing choice, that makes the person in question ineligible to be a godparent.

My other struggle with these words is a practical one. Pope Francis seems to be saying that sexually active remarried divorcees should be integrated at every level of parish life: not only should they be free to receive Communion, but they should also be able to be godparents, EMHCs, and so forth. What I don’t understand is this: if it is unmerciful and unnecessary to exclude sexually active remarried divorcees from any part of parish life, how is it fair to exclude from parish life other people who are involved in a pattern of unrepentant grave sin? For example, consider the following three people:
*]Alice is a Catholic who goes to Mass regularly and is active at her parish. She is a remarried divorcee whose first marriage has not be annulled. She is sexually active, and does not confess her sexual activity in confession with a firm purpose of amendment. Her second marriage is very stable and involves children.
*]Betty is a Catholic who goes to Mass regularly and is active at her parish. She is a divorcee who is in a long-lasting relationship with a man. She lives with her partner, and is sexually active with him. She does not confess her sexual activity in confession with a firm purpose of amendment. Her relationship is very stable and involves children.
*]Cathy is a Catholic who goes to Mass regularly and is active at her parish. She is in a civil marriage with another woman. She lives with her partner, and is sexually active with her. She does not confess her sexual activity in confession with a firm purpose of amendment. Her relationship is very stable. She and her partner adopted two children several years ago, and have been raising them together ever since.

According to the Holy Father, Alice should be allowed to partake in every part of parish life: receiving Communion, distributing Communion, teaching religious education, being a godmother, and so forth. The question is: is it fair to exclude Betty and Cathy from parish life?

The only difference between Alice and Betty is that Alice is civilly married to her partner, while Betty is not. But according to the Church, neither of them is married to the man she is currently living with, and both of them regularly engage in gravely immoral acts. Is it really fair to exclude Betty from parish life and include Alice, solely because of Alice’s civil marriage?

And Cathy: her situation is virtually identical to Alice’s. Both of them are cohabitating with people to whom they are civilly married. Neither of them is married to her current partner in the eyes of the Church. Both engage in gravely immoral acts regularly (sex with someone who is not one’s spouse). Both are in stable relationships that involve children.

If mercy and compassion demand that we not restrict Alice from full participation in parish life, surely they also demand that we not restrict Betty and Cathy? Surely we shouldn’t be legalistic and unmerciful to Betty and Cathy?

In other words, it seems to me that the Holy Father’s words here work just as well as an argument for integrating cohabitating couples and same-sex couples fully into parish life.

I don’t want to come to these conclusions. I don’t at all mean to attack the Holy Father. I am looking for help interpreting Pope Francis’ words here in light of the perennial teachings of the Church. Any insights would be appreciated.

I don’t know, this is why I can’t understand why this is even on the table. :frowning:

I really don’t know what to make of this interview. Is he moving the conversation away from communion and towards other ways to “integrate” remarried people (which I would find encouraging)? Is he saying he does support communion for the remarried? I really can’t tell.

And Pope Emeritus Benedict just said:

"He (Benedict) also clarified that he has “always taken the position” that it is “impossible” for those who are divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. “As prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith I’ve written even more drastically,” he noted.

Divorced and remarried Catholics, he said, need to “feel love of the Church” and should “not be burdened with more than they already have to deal with.”

Yup. If your premise leads to an absurd conclusion, maybe you should reconsider your stance.

I wonder how much this will influence Francis. I can almost guarantee that they have talked about this. First part sounds like Father Benedict, the second part sounds like Francis. :shrug::slight_smile:

I think the main question here is this: is he saying he supports communion for the remarried? Or is he saying “the debate isn’t about communion per se, its about determining which are the possible ways that remarried people could be further integrated into the Church”. I could see it either way :confused:

IMO, this other translation from Vatican Insider implies more the latter, because it adds “It is not a solution if they go to communion”:

“We raised the question: ‘What can we do with them, what door can be opened? It was a pastoral concern: So will they get communion? It is not a solution if they go to communion. This alone is not a solution, the solution is integration. They are not excommunicated, that is true. But they cannot be godparents at baptism, they cannot read the readings in the mass, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach catechism, they cannot do some seven things. I have the list here. Stop! If I take account of this it seems they are excommunicated de-facto”, he remarked."

Any Spanish speakers out there that could shed some light on the original?

i think pope francis is a master at getting people to think outside the box.:wink:

Good point. It seems the sentence would be okay if the “alone” were taken out. What’s the Spanish or Italian nuance there? If it were Latin perhaps I could compare the sentence to something else.

Yeah, thats basically what I mean. It could be “the solution is communion plus other forms of integration”, or it could be “the solution isn’t communion per se, the solution is integration, so we’re determining which forms of integration are possible” (then lists other forms of integration).


Something like that. It’s possible to integrate without the communion; it seems that the Polish and Spanish communities are doing a lot of that already.

I think what we have here is a form of tunnel vision. And part of that is exacerbated by the incessant questioning of “What did he mean? What did he mean?”

perhaps that is due to a younger group on this thread; a group who is used to email and twitter and Facebook, and instant communications, coupled with instant analysis.

This ain’t gonna be over until the synod has met again, next year, and the matters the synod finally decide on are reduced to writing, given to the Pope, and then he decides what, if anything, is going to happen. And no one seems to understand that a) any comments he makes now are primarily in the form of questions - which does not mean that he is heading that way; only that these are questions before everyone.

b) Coupled with that is the fact that everyone’s vision is narrowing down, and forgetting all the rest that is on the table.

Let’s look at a few statistics.

In the US:

About 25% of Catholics who have married are now divorced.

About 75% of Catholics do not go to Mass on a regular basis.

What portion of the 25% divorced are among the 75% not attending Mass? We don’t have any accurate statistics, but a reasonable guess is that a larger part of them are not going to Mass. That, in and of itself needs to be addressed, and that is part of what the synod is about.

And the rest of the Catholics who don’t attend - they too are part of what the synod is about.

Also on the table is a world-wide problem of lack of use of the tribunals to examine marriages. The US has 2 things going for it; we as a whole tend to follow the law better than some countries; and about 7"% of divorced Catholics in the US have received a decree of nullity, which is higher than any other country.

And about 8% have started the process and either quit, withdrew, or have finally reached a hearing and the court did not find an impediment based on the testimony and evidence. That leaves 85% not addressing the question.

We have fewer and fewer marriages, although the population of Catholics either remains the same or grows slowly. Why? People are shacking up instead of getting married.

Baptisms are also down; partly due to abortion; partly due to ABC, and partly due to the fact that 75% of Catholics have dropped out of the Church to a lesser or greater extent.

Some people simply do not have the money to pay for the (minimal) fees to a tribunal; but a much bigger source (actually 2) keep people away; 1) a misunderstanding of what a tribunal’s decision of nullity really means; and 2) the excessive amount of time that it can take for a tribunal to reach a decision, have it appealed, and have a final decision.

These are all pieces on the table.

And the most likely one to not be acted upon is granting some sort of wholesale "Y’all come!’ invitation to Communion.

What is going to happen before the next synod is that bishops will talk to bishops - and that is going to be primarily in private.

More research will be done; but most of it will not see press time, as it will be gathering information; not making decisions.

Eventually, the synod will reconvene and discuss what they need to cover, and come to a consensus. And Pope Francis will agree, agree in part, disagree in part, disagree, or go another direction, not change certain things, or some other combination.

All the panic and running around going “I don’t understand” is because at this point, there is nothing to understand.

Just because we did not have instant communication for the last 2000 years does not mean that what we are seeing now was not occurring every time the Church came to a decision point on some matter. It is just out in the public view because of changes in communication. Every time there has been a major matter to be hashed out, it has been thoroughly hashed - we, the laity simply did not see it. The situation is normal. There is no need to panic. It has been said repeatedly: moral law, and theology are not going to be turned upside down. The Church does not operate that way - if for no other reason than that Christ promised the Holy Spirit will guide the Church in such matters. and the Holy Spirit is still on the job.

:thumbsup: Excellent advice, Otjm! It’s great to see some practical wisdom.
I would like to echo Our Lord’s words here, since they may help some of the worry-worts to gain perspective.

Matthew 6:27-34

**Can any of you by “worrying” add a single moment to your life-span? **[Or change the outcome of the Synod??]
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness [and trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance], and all these things will be given you besides.Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Let’s support our beloved Pope with much prayer for the Church’s guidance, according to God’s holy will.

Good effort, otjm. I pretty much lose the will to live when I open up these synod related threads. I think some people enjoy hand wringing, sidelock tugging and being scandalised a little too much. I always feel safe and secure in this boat that is our Church regardless of the tempest raging around her.

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