Divorced = No Communion?

nothing to do with me personally, but i read about a communion ban for divorced people, though this rule isn’t all clear to me because rightaway theres all this talk about remarriage and stuff.

simply, if one’s marriage is ended, the priest will refuse giving him/her communion?

specific situation (if it matters):

man - roman catholic - divorced - not remarried - (later: has new partner/relationship and child, but doesn’t marry)

i assume you guys give the answer benedictus would give (not some rare american interpretation or whatever)


Divorce is not the issue in itself. From the Church’s viewpoint, it merely ends any civil responsibilities or privileges between the couple. But it does NOTHING about severing the spiritual bond.

Therefore, it’s not divorce that causes the trouble. It’s REMARRIAGE after divorce that does so.

so, you say, a marriage is kept in tact to the Church, and the man and woman can continue doing communion?

kind of weird then, if you look at the situation with the specifics I gave; the divorced man sits in church, with his new partner, and their child, but to the priest in front he’s still married and doesn’t have a new relationship and child at all.

does the Church never acknowledge divorce?

In the eyes of the Church the man is still married. However the priest, contrary to what you suggest, will most certainly regard the man as being in a new relationship should he attend Mass with his new partner and their child. As he is still married to his wife, if he gets a new partner he is in an adulterous relationship. His new partner would also be committing adultery. The gravity of adultery is shown by it’s place as the sixth commandment, but it is also condemned in the New Testament (e.g. Mt 5:32; 19:6; Mk 10:11; I Cor 6:9-10). As adultery is such a grave sin - a mortal sin- it would be wrong for either the man or his partner to receive the Lord in Holy Communion.

The Church does not acknowledge divorce - in the Catechism (CCC2382) we can see why:
“Between the baptised, ‘a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.’” Canon Law does give certain situations where spouses may be separated while still remaining married - for example, if either spouse or the children were put in mental or physical danger by the other spouse. A civil divorce may be tolerated, says the Catechism, “if it remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of children, or the protection of inheritance.”

I would encourage you to read the section of the Catechism which deals with your question - the Church clearly outlines it’s reasons why divorce cannot be permitted. You should start reading at paragraph 2380: “Offences against the dignity of marriage: Adultery and Divorce.”

There is a need here to distinguish between the civil and the religious aspects. When we marry we are actually marrying twice. Once before God and once before the state. The fact they both occur simultaniously and that a priest presides at both does not change the dual nature of it. The Priest is merely excersizing his role in both the ministerial and civil realms.
When a couple goes to court and divorces, you will note that there is not priest present. The divorce is strictly a civil matter. It ends the civil contract of marriage based upon civil grounds.

So - while the couple has officially ended the marriage civilly, they remain married in the Church. As long as the couple do not enter into another romantic relationship with someone else, there is no reason why they could not recieve communion.

In order for the Sacramental aspect to be ended, the persons must apply for an annulment which, if granted would allow the persons to remarry in the Church.

specific situation (if it matters):

man - roman catholic - divorced - not remarried - (later: has new partner/relationship and child, but doesn’t marry)

i assume you guys give the answer benedictus would give (not some rare american interpretation or whatever)


We must make the assumption here that the man in your scenerio has not obtained an annulment and thus, in the eyes of the church is still married.
We should only receive communion in a state of grace.
In the situation you describe above, would you describe the man as in a state of grace?


The innocent person of a divorce (the person who did not cause or initiate the divorce) has not committed any sin, and is free to continue to receive the Sacraments as long as they are in a State of Grace. I ask is the man in the example possibly committing a serious sin by having this relationship and child outside of a valid Marriage? It has all to do with the fact that he does have this relationship and child with a person he is not Married to, while still married to his first wife as far as the Church is concerned.

(see my next reply)

The current code of canon law, in effect since 1983, does not have any canonical penalties related to a divorced person and the Sacraments. The old code of canon law (from 1919-1983) did have such penalties-- and perhaps that is why you came across something to that effect.

The Church does distinguish between an innocent party to a divorce and one who is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage (this responsiblity might be on the shoulders of one or the other, or both parties). The current state of “no fault” divorce laws in many countries make it nearly impossible for a spouse who does not want a divorce to prevent it from happening. For whatever guilt a person has in the breakdown of the marriage, the person should go to Confession. They are then able to receive the Sacraments.

Not enough info to answer. Based on that fact alone, the answer would typically be “no” but we must also factor in whether they’ve been to Confession for the divorce and whether there are any other circumstances that place them in a position unworthy to receive the Eucharist.

Um, yeah, that matters.

The guy may not be in a state of sin for divorcing, but he certainly should not be receiving Communion if he is sexually active outside marriage! That is fornication, or actually in his case adultery since he is still married to his first wife. Divorce ends a marriage civilly. It does not dissolve the bond created when the husband and wife enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. If he were to repent, go to Confession, and cease sexual relations with this other woman he could certainly resume the sacramental life.

Sounds like he’s a bit confused. He should know sex outside of marriage is gravely wrong. That’s not exactly a secret in Christian circles.

Yes, the answers you are receiving are solidly based on Church teaching and canon law.

The innocence of the party is situation specific. What did he do to try to save the marriage? When she said she wanted a divorce did he say “ok” or did he try to get her to go to counseling, did he work on reconciling, did he oppose the divorce? No fault divorce makes it almost impossible for a spouse to block a divorce. But, he would have to ask himself what he did to contribute to the breakdown to the point where she wanted a divorce and then what he did to try to reconcile and save the marriage. This is best discussed witih a priest through spiritual direction and/or Confession.

He may have had a lot of the guilt to bear, or none at all. We can’t know that here on the forum.

After his last good confession. He should have confessed the divorce and whatever part he played in the breakdown of the marriage. We can’t know when he was in a state of grace-- he and his confessor should discuss this.

Certainly. Whether divorced or never married, sexual relations outside marriage are against God’s law. For a never married this is called fornication. For a married person (which he still is) it is adultery.

A decree of nullity would mean he was not in a valid marriage. That would mean he could contract a marriage, it does not give him license to hav sex with a girlfriend.

I suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.

A decree of nullity examines the period of time leading up to the marriage and the actual exchange of vows. Things that happen during the marriage may be evidence of a defect but do not consitute “ground” in and of themselves. Either a valid marriage took place or it didn’t. The tribunal examines for defects of consent, intent, or impediments.

thanks for the answers so far.

  • Innocence: in this situation, the woman (protestant) wanted to divorce, because the man made her unhappy (not by adultery, abuse or any such reasons). so whose the innocent one of this divorce? ive always learned/thought divorce was a sin anyway for a catholic.

  • State of Grace: when was this man still in a state of grace? after the divorce, being single (no new relationship and child yet)? chastitiy any importance?

  • Anullment: and im not sure whether the couple wanted/got anullment. i understand its a thing of the Church stating there never was a valid marriage. but how does the Church conclude that, are they gonna investigate, asking the couple why they broke up etc.?

its strange though, even if innocent and all after divorce, sex (or any relationship?) is not allowed anymore, so this man meets consequences anyway. but does he (and she, though protestant) really have to stay celibate for the rest of their lives?

I think you were editing when I replied to your post. See answer above.

Civil divorce doesn’t do anything at all in relation to the covenant the couple made with God. Civil divorce divides property, imposes certain responsiblities, and guarantees certain rights to the individual in civil matters.

The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant between the two people and God. Once entered into it is irrevocable. So the only relationship “allowed” is the relationship these two freely entered into as a giving of their whole selves permanently and faithfully before God and witnesses.


He has the ability to submit his marriage for investigation to the tribunal. Perhaps there was a defect at the time the vows were exchanged. Perhaps this protestant woman lacked a full committment to indissoluable marriage. We don’t know that. It could be investigated. If through testimony and verification of the facts the tribunal determines there was a defect of consent or intent, or another impediment, they will give a decree of nullity. This means no valid marriage was entered into. In this case, the two would be able to contract a valid marriage with another.

If the marriage is found valid, then yes they would remain celibate and faithful to their marriage vows.


My parents’ situation: They married. Had me (yay!) I believe there was abuse and so my mother divorced him. (Early 70’s.) Dated once but then ended it. (again, 70’s.) She never remarried and since the one beau she had in the 70’s, stayed single.

I never saw her receive communion until sometime in the late 90’s, I noticed she HAS been going up to receive communioin. I believe it has to do with 1ke said regarding the code of canon law regarding divorce and the sacraments having changed in the early 80’s.

I guess you could say she was the “guilty” party in initiating the divorce, but then, my father had his own “guilt” in how he was in the marriage.

Remember, the Church specifically recognizes that there are cases when physical separation is necessary to protect a spouse and/or children – in the case of domestic violence for example-- even if the marriage is a valid marriage. There are times when one must physically separate, and either remain married but live separately or civilly divorce for protection.

So, if it were an abusive situation, I doubt there is any “guilt” on your mother’s part. She was doing the right thing to protect herself and you.

She is to be commended for honoring her marriage vows despite the need to separate physically from your father.

Yeah, that’s why I put “guilt” in quotes. :slight_smile:

I never understood why she did not remarry - I figured she could be happy and have a companion. Now that I understand the Catholic church’s teaching on marriage, I get it. I also never understood why she didn’t seek a decree of nullity. But maybe she was just keeping her word.

Either way you’re right. It’s been 38 years since the divorce. At least. And she has still kept her marriage vows.

God is close to the brokenhearted. Think about the cross and how Jesus was crucified although He had not sinned in anyway. Sometimes one person simply chooses to give up on the marriage relationship. Read the book of Hosea in which God tells Hosea to marry a harlot in order to understand the harlotry of Israel, of their unfaithfulness to their Covenant.
Marriage is likewise a covenant between a man and a woman. It is possible for one spouse to be remain faithful to the promises made at the altar despite the unfaithfulness of the other, to continue to live a chaste life.
Sometimes people enter a marriage or relationship in the mistaken belief that the other person will make them happy. This is an unrealistic view of marriage that places the responsibility for one’s own happiness on another person.

Words of encouragement come from scripture itself. "Like a maiden married in youth, the Lord your God, your creator will become your husband."
St. Paul talks about how a man is not to divorce his wife nor a woman separate from her husband. “If she must separate” recognizes those situations such as physical abuse where the wife may need to leave for her own safety as she “flees from persecution” even within her own household.

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