Eucharistic Advice and Prayers Sought


The Situation:

A Protestant couple, both divorced and remarried, entered the Catholic Church later in life.The priests in the parish welcomed them into the full sacramental life of the Church. They were told that reception of the Eucharist is permissible so long as they live chastely, as brother and sister. They understand and willingly agree to do so.

Because of his theological training, the husband was invited to teach RCIA and other Adult Education classes. He also served at the altar, as a lector, and as special Eucharistic minister.

The couple moved away and began attending mass at the local parish. The new priest tells the couple not to receive Communion lest the congregation be scandalized by their unmarried state. In addition, the husband is not allowed to teach or serve publicly. Annulments should have been procured before the couple were received into the Church in the first place.

The Options Presented To Them:

*]Receive “Spiritual Communion” – whatever that is - at the local parish.
*]Separate and live apart.
*]Receive Communion from time to time at other parishes where no one knows them.
*]Pursue annulments for the previous marriages and “let the chips fall where they may.
The Problem:

The couple are in their mid to late sixties, their previous marriages ended over 40 years ago, and for very serious reasons, securing annulments is not an option.

The Question:

What is this couple’s status as Catholics? Are they quasi-Catholics who were never really received as full members into the Body of Christ, or are they truly Catholic and free to participate in the sacramental life of the Church?


That is an issue that needs to be decided on a parish level, not on the internet. there are potentially too many issues to give an accurate answer.

And by the way, they might consider setting an appointment with the bishop as it would appear that the bishop would have the final say.


You said they “entered the Catholic Church later in life”. So they both were formally received into full communion with the Catholic Church and are truly Catholic. That answers one question.

The second part is that each is eligible for the sacrament of Penance with the proper disposition and with the state of grace and avoiding all scandal and fulfilling all other sacramental requirements, the other sacraments may be received also.

What was actually stated in familiaris consortio for the divorced and remarried:However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted 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, such as for example 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.”(180)

  1. John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, 7 (Oct. 25, 1980): AAS 72 (1980), 1082.
    CDF repeated and added in 1994: “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’”(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal."

But also "7. 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 (15), 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 (16). Marriage, in fact, because it is both 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. "


“9. In inviting pastors to distinguish carefully the various situations of the divorced and remarried, the Exhortation Familiaris Consortio recalls the case of those who are subjectively certain in conscience that their previous marriage, irreparably broken, had never been valid(17). It must be discerned with certainty by means of the external forum established by the Church whether there is objectively such a nullity of marriage.”


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