Manifest grave sin

Seeking understanding:

What I find difficult to understand is that The Church states that those living in manifest grave sin cannot receive Holy Communion; however, if the two people stay together and live in celibacy, they are then able to receive Holy Communion. Aren’t they still living in manifest grave sin since details of their private life would in all likelihood be a quite private matter?

Not at all. They could be siblings. They could be roommates. They could be part of a religious community.

It’s not manifest, at all, what 2 people living together are engaging in.

Thank you for the reply

What I meant was that two people are known to have married outside The Church and therefore in manifest grave sin.
If they decide to live celibately together after seeking advice, they are then free to receive Holy Communion, but to all they are married outside The Church, and therefore living in manifest grave sin, and receiving Holy Communion. Their status of celibate living would not be generally known (unless of course the couple decided to make it generally known).

I think your initial premise that they were known to be married outside the Church is not likely. How would people know they were married outside the Church? Unless they told everyone, it’s not likely that anyone would know. Not knowing their background, everyone would assume they were married in the Church. If somehow everyone knew though, their priest could advise them to attend mass at another parish where it is not known. An alternative could be the priest administering Communion to them privately. During the normal masses, the priest would make sure there were a few extra wafers blessed for this purpose.

The big question here remains: how is this the business of anyone in the congregation other than the two persons in question and their confessor?


The parish in which I now live is an old established parish. Some have had their parents, even grandparents live in this parish.
Not only the above, sometimes all it takes for one parishioner to know something or other and gossip quickly spreads. Not only that, I know of an instance where a person shifted to another parish and yet the gossip followed somehow.

Be everything as it may, it does not answer how The Church defines “manifest grave matter” if a couple married outside The Church are living celibately and receiving Holy Communion, I would have thought that they would still fall within the term “manifest grave matter”?

I do underscore my previous post.

I totally agree with you, bardegaulois.

What I am seeking to understand however is The Church’s definition of “manifest grave matter” - one of the things stated is the need to avoid public scandal.

As an aside and my personal thoughts only, it is far more important that the Community of The Church on earth understand that it is not their role to judge any person or persons at all worthy or unworthy where reception of Holy Communion is concerned in the instance under discussion. If one is troubled by the issue or related issues or anything at all, one can discuss it in Confession or by private appointment with a priest.

If a non Catholic perchance should comment that so and so are married outside The Church and receiving Holy Communion, the same thing should happen i.e. direct them to discuss the matter with a priest.

It does seem to me that the “manifest grave matter” rule in Canon Law opens up a whole can of worms and it has…a virtual Pandora’s box of confusion and non-understanding. It seems to me that in Canon Law commenting the need to avoid public scandal, it is also to keep The Church’s image ‘snow white clean’ and I think we already know where that kind of mentality might/could lead.

Definition of manifest: “clear or obvious to the eye or mind.” If no one knows about their situation, how could it be clear or obvious to the eye for anyone that sees them receive? It’s not manifest, so they can receive. If the gossip spreads, the couple could still receive Communion privately. Only the priest would know.

I guess it would ultimately come down to the priest. If he and the couple tried their best to keep it a private matter but it still kept getting out, maybe at some point the priest would tell them they need to live separately. In these “irregular” situations, the couple is supposed to be working towards improving their state with regular guidance from their priest. In their meetings, they discuss what’s going on. The priest can decide that a different direction would be best, and the couple as Catholics should be obedient to the Church, including whatever their priest wants them to do.

Thank you for the replies.

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