Question on article "How to Stay Catholic"

I hope this is the correct location for this topic if not please relocate.

After reading this article I agree with the sentiment behind it, especially with the current story of the Pope’s talk with a remarried catholic (still not sure if there is really a reliable source yet). I am one of those Catholics that feeling that it would be devistating to the Church if the remarried are allowed to take Holy Communion. I do not feel I need to worry about this though because I believe the Holy Spirit will guide the Pope and all involved in their decission on the matter.

On to my concern. Maybe I misunderstood or maybe I am incorrect in my understanding of the Church’s teaching on receving the Eucharist, but I have great concern with the following quote from the article.

“In one case, a friend is anxiously waiting for the expected episcopal Synod on the Family this October, wondering if he can remain Catholic if there are changes in the Church’s eucharistic discipline for divorced and remarried Catholics.”

Now I understand there are certain things that can be changed and certain things that cannot. Typically things that can be changed are called “disciplines”. The way I read this is that it is only a disciple of the Church to not allow remarried to take communion (I disregard the statement about the divorced because if they are alone and not in a relationship they are technically only seperated and divorced civily). I was under the impression and still am that the Church has issue with people receving Holy Communion when in a state of mortal sin. By remarrying they are putting them selves in a perpetual state of adultery there by a perpetual state of mortal sin. In my understanding for the Church to allow the remarried to recieve communion they would have to alter the teaching on divorce which cannot be done since it comes from Jesus himeself.

If this comes across uncharitable or harsh in anyway please forgive me. I do not intend to insult or anger anyone. I made certain assumtions which can be clarified if need be, but I did this to keep it short.

It is a discipline of the church to not allow remarried to communion.

Let’s look at something. A couple is remarried in their Protestant church. That church performed the wedding and told them they were more than free to marry. They made the decision because of this.

Said couple several years later decides to be Catholic. They learn the teachings of the church, repent of their decision (even though it does not meet the definition of mortal sin since they did not have full knowledge).

Should this couple be barred from the Eucharist ?

As another parallel,

A couple is married in a Protestant church. After several kids the man has a vasectomy. They become catholic and after confession, he is allowed to have communion.

Despite the fact that the “sin of not being open to life during sex” continues forever, this man received forgiveness and can receive communion.

Why not also the person who was remarried in my first example.

So, something to consider. I hope all the “faithful Catholics” will remain faithful if the church does adjust this policy. If they don’t, sadly, it proves they never believed in the authority of the church to begin with.

Let’s look at something. A couple is remarried in their Protestant church. That church performed the wedding and told them they were more than free to marry. They made the decision because of this.

Said couple several years later decides to be Catholic. They learn the teachings of the church, repent of their decision (even though it does not meet the definition of mortal sin since they did not have full knowledge).

This instance falls outside of the assumptions I made to shorten the post. I am assuming that the remarried couple are already Catholics or one of them is and can not or has not gotten an annulment from their previous marriage. As for the vasectomy the the man has repented and will with the grace of God no longer commit the sin of being closed to children. The issue with a remarried catholic couple is that they continue to be in a state of mortal sin without taking any actions to remedy the situation, either because they can not get an annulment, due to the first marriage being valid, or do not want to go through the process. This makes for a non-repentant or bad confession. I could be wrong but I believe even if you are a protestant that has remarried you have to go through an annulment process to join the Catholic church and receive communion. When convalidating a marriage (again this is from my exprience in my diocese) if the non-catholic has been married they must submit for an annulment because their protestant marriage may have been a valid one even though it was not in the Catholic church. (This is a whole other topic in itself) A friend of mine entering the Catholic church this Easter was told he had to have his wife’s first marriage annuled and his marriage convalidated prior to him being received into the church so now he must wait to join the church. It is my understanding this is typical and is nothing out of the ordinary.

There is a difference between your examples - a remarried couple who want to receive communion can in theory end their relationship and by that “undo” their situation. It might not always be viable (care for children, economic reasons, etc), but it can be done. They are not barred from Holy Communion because something they did decades ago, they’re barred because of their state in life at the moment.

The man who had a vasectomy for contraceptive reasons, however, can’t undo what he did. However, “being open to life” does not depend on fertility - if it did, infertile people would not be allowed to marry, and infertility would be grounds for annulment. It is not - impotence is (if it was there at the start and prevented consummation), but that’s another matter. So if he is now open to life (even though it would take a miracle), he is not sinning through having sex with his wife.

In the first case, a change of state is needed to receive Communion. In the second, a confession is all that is needed. However, I tend to agree with you that it is a matter of discipline - but if so, the discipline is a rather natural consequence of dogma.

So, something to consider. I hope all the “faithful Catholics” will remain faithful if the church does adjust this policy. If they don’t, sadly, it proves they never believed in the authority of the church to begin with.

I agree to this. While I doubt there will be a “revolution”, I think some people place too much confidence in their own ability to analyze what will and will not change. We know that teachings that are declared dogma can’t and won’t change. As for the rest, I try to be careful about speaking in absolutes (though I surely fail at times :slight_smile: ), even when I see few possibilities (or reasons) for change.

You are right but I think you misunderstand the vasectomy issue.

How can one with a vasectomy be open to life?

This is not to mention that practicing Catholics can go get a vasectomy and have it forgiven.

It should show you that the divorce and remarriage thing is a discipline.

It seems those ignorant of the churches teaching after a period of penance could be received to the sacraments if there was no other way to rectify the situation.

The man who had a vasectomy for contraceptive reasons, however, can’t undo what he did. However, “being open to life” does not depend on fertility - if it did, infertile people would not be allowed to marry, and infertility would be grounds for annulment. It is not - impotence is (if it was there at the start and prevented consummation), but that’s another matter. So if he is now open to life (even though it would take a miracle), he is not sinning through having sex with his wife.

I assume you mean by divorce and remarriage thing being a dicipile you mean not receiveing communion. That just goes back to my original issue to live in adultery and never change your relationship status to become in communion with God’s will, therefore commiting a mortal sin as I understand it is not a disciple. Again I may be misuderstanding the church’s teaching on receiving while in a state of mortal sin, is that a discipline which can be changed?

As stated in my original post I do believe in the Catholic Church completely and will remain a faithful Catholic as long as I live I am only trying to understand this issue more fully.

On a side note would this not in a round about way justify divorce and remarriage, what would stop people from marrying as many times as they want?

It is something that would have to be case by case as a last option.

For example the Protestant couple who divorced and remarried and has two kids and wants to convert.

Should the family be split up because of this? No. The church already says no.

So that’s one area I could see the church maybe bending a bit. But who knows.

I personally think people should be more alarmed with the couples on birth control getting communion week after week then this.

I think the quote that you refer to from the article was actually about people misinterpreting what they read in the media, or maybe they interpret the article correctly, and it may be wrong.:confused:

Anyhow I think that the article was not really saying this was going to happen but rather how people are jumping to conclusions before they know all the details. That is really what the article was about. Stay Catholic. Don’t sweat the small stuff.:thumbsup:

If they were not Catholic and successfully converted, I’m not sure the context that they would be barred. To convert a couple with previous marriage marriage attempts would have to go through the annulment procedure. If the couple’s first marriage(s) were null, then they would be free to convert and receive communion as a married couple.

As another parallel,

A couple is married in a Protestant church. After several kids the man has a vasectomy. They become catholic and after confession, he is allowed to have communion.

Despite the fact that the “sin of not being open to life during sex” continues forever, this man received forgiveness and can receive communion.

Why not also the person who was remarried in my first example.

A getting a vasectomy is a single sin, committed in a single moment. It can be confessed, and subsequent intercourse could still be “open to life”, in that the couple is willing to accept a child should the vasectomy fail.

When a married man divorces and “remarries”, he is technically having intercourse with a women who is not his wife. Each time is a separate act of adultery. In some cases, an irregular couple who promises to refrain from intercourse will be permitted to receive communion.

So, something to consider. I hope all the “faithful Catholics” will remain faithful if the church does adjust this policy. If they don’t, sadly, it proves they never believed in the authority of the church to begin with.

In your third sentence above “This is not to mention that practicing Catholics can go get a vasectomy and have it forgiven”…I want to make sure I understand you.

They can have that choice forgiven if they repent of it. They can’t just say “I’ll get a vasectomy and then go to confession afterwards.” That is not the way confession works. It would not be using the sacrament correctly; that would not be true repentance… Anyway, that is what I thought you meant and wanted to correct it.

With regard to divorce of a valid marriage and then re-marriage outside the Church…no it is not possible for them to receive the Eucharist …unless they decide to live as brother and sister to continue raising the family together. They need spiritual direction from their priest.
When two Catholics divorce they know that marriage is forever, (unless there is reason for annulment, which means at the time of marriage there was an impediment.)

When they freely choose to marry outside the Church they are turning their back on Christ’s true teaching.
We can’t rationalize all kinds of excuses to get around that.

I understand all the arguments guys. I myself am a divorced convert living celibate as I have no annulment.

I would just like people to be open minded that there are pastoral ways this may be addressed and be prepared if it comes down to understand the background of the church 'a decision making.

I believe that if the marriage is a true marriage, a sacrament, then it can not be dissolved.

It is only when the marriage is proven to be incorrect on the wrong grounds, that it can be declared a non sacrament, and a non marriage.

In the first instance, getting a civil divorce with the church’s permission is ok, and then the person may go to communion. But this dosen’t dissolve the original marriage, it remains in tact.
So if this person remarries in a civil ceremony, they may not go to communion because they are violating their first sacramental marriage. I do not see any way that this is church disipline, since it is based on a valid sacrament which binds one to the original spouse.

Now in the second instance, where it was not a good marriage, a sacrament never took place. When one person then civily divorces and remarries, then this is a different cow altogether. And there would be many circumstances which might make going to communion possible. For one, after papers are sent to Rome, the chancery believing that there is no reason why the papers won’t go thru, and that there is nothing they can see which would prevent a person’s second marriage and the first divorce, then I would think it would be ok for them to go to communion. But as it stands, that person can’t.
And there maybe other instances along this line as well. In this last case it would be more of a displinary procedure since a sacrament did not take place.

As Pope Benedict would say, that is not a true moral option.

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