This question is secondary to the question “Can a person in an invalid marriage receive communion?”.
The answer normally given is “Yes, provided they are not currently having sex (living together as ‘brother and sister’) and have gone to confession on the matter”. CCC 1650 is usually quoted.
My question - Does that really make sense?
It seems that the canonical status of people who are not validly married is exactly the same as those who are…not married.
The advice of the Church to ANY other people who are not married does not consist of “living together” in any sense.
If you turned the question around - “Father, my son is living with his girlfriend, what does he have to do to receive communion again?” Father would (in a sane world) say “He must move out” and go one to quote solid Catholic teaching on the near occasion of sin.
This has bothered me for a long time, because in the typical parish, you always have several people involved in irregular situations who are playing the “living as brother and sister” game. RCIA classes always have a few of these.
It seems that it’s a pretty poor witness to, on the one had, preach the absolute necessity of a valid marriage, then to actually counsel people who are not in a valid marriage to “live together”.
This was really made obvious to me in the context of couples in pre-Cana marriage preparation in our diocese. They were counseled not to live together before marriage, and the better priests in the diocese told them “move out until the wedding”. Same priest, same day, to a person seeking annulment in order to be able to regularize their current situation “live together as brother and sister”.
Canonically, it’s the same situation, right? Not a valid marriage = no sex.
Does anyone know anything about the “living together as brother and sister” thing? Where and when it got started? Any actual official teaching on the issue? Can anyone think of a good reason to recommend it, especially if children are not involved?