Pope Francis and Communion for the Remarried

francis and familiesPope Francis has surely been a sign of contradiction. Leftists were first enthused, thinking his passion for social justice meant he was one of them. Now they are dismayed to discover he insists on social justice for the unborn and other powerless undesirables they would rather discard. The ideological right is ever vigilant, seeking out evidence of incipient socialist, collectivist tendencies in his comments. What to do with a pope who insists that the eternal verities are, indeed, both eternal and true while insisting with equal vigor that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man? We could try listening, rather than judging everything he says through our own a priori set of assumptions.

The sacramental institution of marriage is one of the things Pope Francis has weighed in on that has sent both the left and the right into unwarranted tizzies. The pope is reported to have mused that a good 50% of all marriages are invalid and is open to the idea of some remarried Catholics receiving communion without having had a proper annulment. This has inspired hope on the left that they have found an unlikely ally in their assault on marriage and the family. It has inspired fear of the same on the right. Both the hopes and fears are the unwarranted fantasies of those incapable of seeing things without the coloring of an ideological lens
Before I get down to business, I must note that I have no personal stake in this. I am divorced. I do not have an annulment because, in 1991 the priest who examined my application discovered I fit a narrow set of criteria that allowed for the dissolution of the marriage under a little known and seldom used provision called a Petrine Privilege. Application had to be made to the Vatican and, with the pope’s approval, the marriage would be dissolved. I am free to date and re-marry. But it is not just a get-out-of-jail free card. Should I decide I want to re-marry, both my proposed partner and I must receive the recommendation of a priest, the recommendation of the marriage tribunal in my original diocese and the request must be sent to the Vatican. I can then re-marry if the pope sends back formal approval of the match. I have never gotten so serious with anyone that I had to explain these hoops to them. It does amuse me to think that if ever I should get so serious, the woman in question will probably be more than a little taken aback to discover I literally have to get the pope’s permission first.

The process of annulment is designed to determine whether a marriage was sacramentally valid in the first place. This requires the informed, free consent of the parties to the marriage. If that is lacking, it is not a valid sacramental marriage, in which case an annulment can be granted. An annulment is not (or should not be) a Catholic ‘divorce.’ Rather, it is a formal finding, after investigation, that the presumed marriage lacked the elements to make it sacramentally valid. This website on Catholic Culture provides a good article for laymen on the criteria involved. In all such decisions human judgment is involved, which means there can be errors of judgment. Provided that real diligence and deference to authentic teaching of faith is observed, such errors will be rare and can be corrected with appeal.

But what happens when an entire culture undergoes a collective breakdown?

Sometime beginning in the ’50s, I think (it could be earlier, but certainly not later), more than a few Catholic officials and priests were seduced by a culture of therapy which assaulted the culture of faith. Though most were well-intended, it was a terrible vanity to think their transient feelings trumped the accumulated wisdom of the faith. But the smoke of satan was rising and these officials started passing annulments out like party hats. A vain shepherd may honestly believe he has liberated the sheep when he sets them to roam where he should know wolves lurk, but it will not release him from his responsibility to the Master when sheep are slaughtered. The faithful were not liberated from the constraints of faith, but exposed to wolves bent on shredding a culture by unrelenting assaults on marriage and family.

Those who appeal to the law are right that it was an unwarranted permissiveness that opened the gates to the wolves. But what a vanity it is to berate the sheep who were wounded when shepherds charged with defending them helped open the gates to the wolves! Pope Francis has two great charges in this. First, he must care for the wounded and try to nurse them back to health. Second, he must re-erect the fences that keep them safe.

Several generations have been deluded into believing marriage a provisional contract rather than an enduring covenant. To continue the delusion would be to continue the disorder and the pain it entails. But what sort of impoverished piety would only minister to those left unravaged when the gates were thrown open to the wolves? When an entire culture abandons the knowledge of what marriage is and entails, most of the marriages contracted are just that – contracts that are sacramentally deficient. When people wounded by that rampant cultural disorder are barred from communion, it impoverishes the Church and further wounds the faithful. But to offer a blanket amnesty would merely invite more disorder.

Pope Francis is working with the grave and charitable view of a truly faithful shepherd. St. John Paul the Great began a crackdown on the abuse of annulment in marriage tribunals, a crackdown that continued under Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis has shown no hint of backing off from those reforms. These popes have been consistent with all their predecessors that marriage is an enduring sacramental covenant. They have acted boldly to insist that those ministers under their direction who had lost that sense once again live it. Having insisted that the downed fences be re-erected, I think Pope Francis is now seriously working to bring those who were wounded by the abuses back into full and joyful communion with the Church. For me, a priest should rigorously examine a couple contemplating marriage to ensure that they are serious and understand the covenant they are entering. Once entered, it must not be sundered unless it legitimately is determined to have been invalidly entered – which, with sufficient vigor before approving a marriage ceremony in the first place, should be rare. But I deeply pray that a process is put in place that will bring back all those wounded by the last few generations’ errors with generosity. It probably must be handled on a case by case basis. If penitents seeking full communion with the Church are treated as victims of the cultural disorders of the last few generations and welcomed back, provided that they understand and acknowledge that any present or future marriage must be valid, I think that would be the equivalent of Christ’s gentle forgiveness of the woman taken in adultery when others wanted to stone her. The rigorous treatment of marriage going forward from this point as the enduring sacramental covenant it is would be the equivalent of Christ’s commanding the same woman to “…sin no more.” If Pope Francis can develop a solid way to accomplish both these things, he will be in good company, indeed.

Never forget, God calls all men to salvation. Man was not made for rules, but rules to bring men to salvation. It is a joy to me to see Pope Francis constantly thinking of how best to invite broken men back to salvation. We live in a time of great darkness, but the light is dawning and the darkness cannot overcome it.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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23 Responses to Pope Francis and Communion for the Remarried

  1. Georgia Dunlap says:

    Charlie, thanks for the note and mostly for thinking about me when you sent it. Our little church had its last service Sunday, so we are in the process of finding a new church home. Please pray that God leads us where we need to be. God bless you always, georgia 👼


    • charliej373 says:

      I am terribly sorry to hear that, Georgia. Your little congregation was so kind to me on that hot morning in Beaumont – and the little show you put on for the kids was an absolute delight. It is one of my very delightful memories from my pilgrimage. I both pray that God will lead you where He wants you and know He will – for the spirit of authentic joy was abundantly present in your little church. God bless you!


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  3. charliej373 says:

    Reblogged this on The Next Right Step and commented:

    I wrote and published this in early June, before the readership on this website exploded. I think it might be useful given some current controversies.


    • David says:

      Well, I’m glad you have re-posted this excellent article. I get dismayed when I see ‘thinking’ Catholics immediately jumping in on this topic and warning of heresy, apostasy, schism etc etc. As you say, they could, instead, “try listening, rather than judging everything he says through our own a priori set of assumptions”. This is the first article I’ve seen that attempts to look at the problems as, I believe, Pope Francis does. Well done.


  4. MM Bev says:

    This blog or re blog is of such importance today. With all hell breaking loose (pardon the pun) there are many Catholics stuck in situations that make it impossible to return to “full” members of the Church and immobilizes them. My oldest brother is one of them. His first marriage has valid conditions to move forward for an annulment (under today’s proper strict conditions), Alas, all the witnesses are dead. I don’t count because I was too young at the time of his marriage, and although I know the truth, it wouldn’t be accepted by a tribunal. Sensing over a few emails his desire and longing, I took the plunge. I emailed him, told him he was a Catholic and had never stopped being one. I said you know have an impediment that means you can’t receive communion. OK, when we were kids and had no car, fasting from midnight meant that we usually only went to communion about once a month because of the distance we had to walk. My Dad pulled the youngest on a toboggan. So, I told him to do what we did then. I said to go to a parish priest and talk, letting him know the position you are in, and that you want to return to Mass and at least participate as fully as you can….making Spiritual Communions. And fill him in about the other two civil marriages and that you are living with another woman now. And any other things that need to be said. He can’t give you absolution, but Jesus and the priest will know that you are serious. Then tell Jesus it’s a mess, you don’t know how on earth to fix it, and you’re sorry for the sins and since you don’t have any idea how to fix things, would He please do it for you. Then, get back to Mass. Even daily if you can manage it. Well, he did, and he has a lot more peace and a relationship with Jesus, and sings in the choir.
    My sick son also made an invalid marriage. His divorced wife ceased their marriage after ten years. I agreed to pay for counseling for ten sessions for each and then for couple session if they wanted. The shock made him sick. As soon as he left for the hospital in Vancouver that can treat him, she informed both his brother and I that she felt that they should live separately while working on patching things up. She tried to rent an apartment for him, and was refused (sh e said she was his sister) and phoned me. I rented the place, sight unseen, and paid two months rent and damage deposit. He would have to wait three weeks before he could move in after he got back from the hospital. While he was in there, both my eldest and I became aware that she didn’t want anything to do with him. He picked up another bacteria when they checked him, and that is when I became aware of how afraid she was of his disease. There had been no marital relationship for more than half of the marriage – not even physical touch like a hug. Tom picked him up in Vancouver, and drove him home (houses two apart) and was unable to get him to stay with them. He sprinted to his house, rushed in t discover that 4 housing agents has assessed the house, and all his stuff was packed. Although she was not baptized, Pauline Privilege probably wouldn’t apply. But confirmation from friends and family doctor that they had planned deliberately to not have children before they married should qualify because it is provable. Over the next four months he became so sick he was dying twice. Once evacuated by air, and the second bleeding badly into the small amount of lungs left and drowning. (God wins.)
    I am friends with the Canon Lawyer here (parish priest previously) and he suggested your route. Thanks to you, should he ever contemplate an annulment, that is NOT the route of choice. Anyway, until Our Lady gets through with him, he may or may not want one, when he returns to the Church..
    And we can throw in my sister who have received two annulments, but has been refused marriage in the Church by quite a few priest, and opted for a civil ceremony and has refused to enter a church since then except for things necessary for the death of our Mother. That marriage has lasted over fifteen years.
    Tell me things are a mess. I am in a fairly sedate, nondescript, rather boring family. I would NEVER dreamt in a million years that these things would have happened. Five kids, two religious, two in multiple marriages and in a mess, and me trying to hold the reins which I promised my mother I would after her death….and a grandson in a mess too. We’re so innocuous that we don’t even count. What on earth are all; those other people struggling with! and No Way to sort all of it our. (And my husbands and my marriage prep? Well, the first thing that Bill (I know, but he didn’t like Father) gave me to read was “The Feminine Mystic” by Betty Friedan. Roll my eyeballs! Gary and I lasted despite the prep, and Bill and a nun left to be married.(I chose my parish priest to marry us. He was Polish and had survived Auschwitz and Dachau.). Pray for Bill and his wife.


  5. Jim says:

    Our beloved Pope is not shy about tackling issues that have defied resolution.

    Dogma, tradition and doctrine. That has served well as the Church’s compass. So long as you had competent navigators.

    I tend to be a by the book kind of guy. At the same time, one size does not necessarily fit all.

    Pope Francis recognizes, perhaps more than anyone in this day, the Church’s pastoral responsibilities over the flock. Certainly, divorce is a matter of personal responsibility, but there is also the question: Where has the Church been since the 1970’s?

    The Church has certainly been there to condemn divorce, but I believe has ignored its own role in this terrible trend. We sin through our actions. But we can also sin through our inactions.

    I recall reading an article quoting a Vatican Cardinal about 12-14 years ago when the whole abuse scandal was starting to come out into public view. I am paraphrasing, but the Cardinal said pedophile priests could confess their sins and be forgiven, unlike divorced and remarried Catholics who could not be forgiven. The comment stunned me, and has gnawed at me for a long time.

    Half of all marriages in the US end in divorce, and Catholic marriages are no different. Was it the Church’s intention to condemn close to half of the adult Catholic population? And what about their friends., relatives and children? They see their loved ones being “persecuted” in their view by the Church. That kind of message tends to push people away from the Church.

    When in doubt, I always look to the Bible for guidance.

    Luke 16:18 the most often quoted passage by those arguing for a strict policy on divorce:

    “18 Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery.

    But there is a second passage that goes into a bit more detail Matthew 19:

    “They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
    8 He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
    9 And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.”

    On the surface, that passage appears to provide some room for the Church. But the Church interprets this section to be extremely limited. First, that while you can divorce, you can never remarry, and second, the word used in the Greek text for adultery is not consistent with the meaning. The original Greek word, the adherents argue, really means incest. And by the way, that only means you can live apart from the incestuous spouse, not to divorce them.
    At one point, I actually researched that mysterious Greek word to find a definition. What I found was that the Greek word “Porneia” (πορνείᾳ) was not more limited than our use of the word adultery, but actually more inclusive. Protestants for the most part interpret πορνείᾳ (porneia) to mean “adultery” and hold that the Lord permits divorce in the case of adultery. The Catholic position is that this is unlikely since Jesus could have easily used the Greek word μοιχάω (moichaó) – Adultery – had he meant that.

    But taking a step back, adultery can indeed include adultery. Porneia includes fornication (premarital sex), incest, homosexual activity, bestiality, prostitution, indulgence of sexual passion, and in some passages in the Bible, is used to refer to adultery.

    Unfortunately, people seem to be dug in so deep on their positions as to the meaning of one word that the Church is unlikely to embrace another look at the meaning of the word as used in the New Testament. That and despite the fact that while no where does Matthew say the divorced cannot remarry, the notion of the barring of remarriage is also deeply rooted in Church thinking and teaching.

    Sacraments are indeed Sacraments. And the rules surrounding the Sacraments must be followed. At the same time, we have a situation where strict doctrine (or is it tradition) of the Church is denying mercy to close to half the adult Catholic population. Younger generations see this, and their solution appears to be to avoid marriage. There was a study that same out this week that said over half of the US adult population is not “single”. The position is certainly not conducive to gathering the flock, but more so to scattering it.

    The divorce situation in the Church is one of Satan’s best works – an ecclesiastical Gordian Knot that defines untying. And will only become tighter the more the Church struggles with the issue based on the resolve of both sides on this issue.

    The continued discussion of which only creates deeper divisions within the Church and the laity. The more they struggle , the deeper they sink, as if mired in doctrinal quicksand.

    The only solution I can think of is to bring in an expert on untying knots. That would be our Mother. Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots. We need to pray to Her to guide and enlighten the council on marriage, for She is our hope in this situation.

    I certainly have no clue how to fix this. What I do know, however, is that as we have a duty to follow the Church’s rules, we are also responsible for helping others to Christ’s Mercy. And we always need to remember, the standards we use to judge others will be used by God when he judges each of us.



    • charliej373 says:

      Jim, God gives us all the personality traits we need to live the work He intends for us. Your rigor for the rules does not seem to cause you to lose sight of the fact that our fundamental call is to bring people into the faith rather than drive them away. Keep to both those things and you will find your way to all He wills for you, I think.


      • Jim M. says:


        Our Mom has been working with me to understand that! Charity is not merely almsgiving, it is opening our hearts to love others and in that love bring them into God’s world.

        The words of St. Peter keep coming to the forefront as a step by step guide for how we become closer to our brothers and sisters and to God:

        “3 As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.
        4 By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.
        5 And you, employing all care, minister in your faith, virtue; and in virtue, knowledge;
        6 And in knowledge, abstinence; and in abstinence, patience; and in patience, godliness;
        7 And in godliness, love of brotherhood; and in love of brotherhood, charity.
        8 For if these things be with you and abound, they will make you to be neither empty nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”



  6. Rich DiClaudio says:

    Thank you for this repost and also your blog on Cardinal Burke. Both have been helpful to me and given me peace. I realize I may be acting like the brother of the prodigal son. I don’t want to sit outside the feast while God the Father wants me in to help Him welcome home my brothers and sisters. I must wait, listen, trust, and love, always love. I’m not sure why this is so hard for me but I’m keen to receive the grace I need to live in that peace. Thank you again. TJtM


    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you, Rich. I think I have mainly been upset because I have seen so many we need to call people back to the safety and joy of the ship instead so seemingly eager to cast other into outer darkness. In that context, Jesus’ admonition that the judgment we give is the judgment we shall receive is fearful, indeed. But God truly does call all men to salvation!


  7. Luis says:

    I’m a divorced re-married.

    My ex-wife left me for a priest (he was a still a priest when he dated her), we had 3 children at the moment. I have to be honest the marriage was falling apart (we BOTH have a big responsability on this), in the end I tried to rebuild, but was late.

    Years later I meet another woman and I marry her, and have 2 children now.

    I try to go to mass, to have spiritual communion, I used to have a spiritual director, he could not absolve my sins, but we talked a lot, and he helped very much in understanding that this was only one priest, no the Church who commited that.

    At the moment I try to do my best, praying with my family, going to mass, praying the rosary and the mercy chaplet many times a week.

    I pray a lot for our Mother to give us a “wayout” a path of hope in order to solve all.

    I never feel so close to Christ and our Mother in my life.

    But the guilt is there and many times I ask for forgiviness (weeping) and then the words come out “Jesus I love you, I trust in You, in your infinity Mercy”. and I feel at peace.


    • charliej373 says:

      Stay steady, Luis, my friend. The Lord of Hosts calls all men to salvation – and he works even now to untangle the many knots and tangles we get ourselves into. When He sees we have fallen into a snare, He does not look with blazing anger so much as a sort of amused exasperation. Have patience. He sends His dear Mother to help us entangle these knots. As Oliver says to Stanley, “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.” The Lord knows the mess we have gotten ourselves into – and what is impossible to untangle for us is effortless for Him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fran says:

      Luis, your words brought tears to my eyes as well. I am imagining what you are feeling, and your longing for the Eucharist. Jesus and Our Mother are close to you. Charlie is right, be patient, keep doing everything you are doing with your family, and Our Lord and Our Lady will somehow untangle these knots, my friend. I am including you in my “territory” of people to pray for.


  8. Connie says:

    I don’t know how this divorced/remarried Catholics issue will play out but I keep looking for the word “annulment” to enter into the dialog somewhere. I say this, because when I got an annulment so that I could remarry in the Church and receive the sacraments, my understanding of why one may have a previous marriage annulled was because for one reason, sometimes one or both persons was unable to live out that sacramental marriage. With most people marrying for the wrong reasons or not properly catechised as to what a sacramental marriage should be, I would think that annulment of a first marriage would be the next logical step. Perhaps this annulment can be done even during a second civil marriage IF the married couple attend RCIA and marriage prep classes assuming that the couple both agree to living out the current marriage sacramentally ( hopefully they would be properly catechised/prepared this time around). This may seem a stretch for some, but I consider it a logical and creative solution. Yet I admit I certainly don’t know cannon law? or whatever rules the Church may have regarding marriage and annulments. Does this make sense to anyone or am I missing something?


    • charliej373 says:

      Connie, in my article on remarriage I provide a link to a very good article, simply and clearly written, given the basics of the proper criteria. I will repeat the link here and encourage you to read it. I think it will clear up a lot of confusion. You still won’t be a canon lawyer, but you should come away with a basic grasp of the matter.


  9. MM Bev says:

    Once finished with this reply, I intend to read the link. But I wanted to say something about the word “porneia”. I discussed this with my brother who had a doctorate in both theology and philosophy. He said that in the New Testament it is only used in two places. The first is in Matthew 9, and is the verse that the Eastern Orthodox use for divorce. The second place is in 1st Corinthians 5: l. It is there that Paul freaks about the way they are behaving and what they are allowing to happen. It is mistranslated in most bible translations, because, correctly, porneia refers to an illicit marriage. Paul says: “It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among the pagans–a man living with his father’s wife.” Paul was less than happy. (Matthew is also mistranslated. “Immorality: as is “adultery” are both mistranslated as are quite a few other words.) When looking at what Jesus teaches we cannot select only one verse that suits our purpose, but must look at all He said, and all that His Body, the Church says. (Not just statements made in the first 300 years even by saints) Gotta come from the Pope’s mouth in the infallible way. Checking four years ago with regard to the Easter Orthodox Church, I learned that the number of Patriarchs has expanded from five at the split in 1054 AD, to 15 now….as might be expected with population growth. Each Patriarch determines for his flock what the rule is. So some have increased the reasons for divorce. If you live in the right one, there are now 21 reasons, you may divorce four times, but blow that fourth marriage and you strike out. Three marriages only. That is why I think there might be some problems joining, but Jesus will fix it up (by 2017 ish). Meanwhile, back at the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will need the Holy Trinity big time along with Our Lady Mother to figure things out.
    Also from what I have been able to research re sexually abusive priests: they are homosexual, not pedophiles, and there are fewer of them in the priesthood than in Protestant (combined) denominations, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals where research can determine. Of course, they have received the most attention thanks to the sick culture.
    Interestingly, I married during the Sixties. I could not find a Catholic man who was willing to accept and live according to Pope Paul XI’s encyclical. Not one. Nada. However, I found a non catholic man who was. Still blows my mind. And just to make sure he knew what he was getting into the best I could, he had to remain celibate for two years, while I told him what I would be teaching our children. Alas, some of the commitments he made before marriage, he did not keep after. His reply was, “I don’t remember saying that.” End of conversation. The marriage breakup at the time of my marriage among Catholic couples was 54 % at that time, so all things considered, we’re hanging in there. The biggest change is that a lot of Catholics don’t even bother to get married; they just live common law. Keeps the statistics lower.
    I am glad this is NOT my task. (I’d probably try to escape to somewhere and keep a low profile, which is why, even if I were a man, I would never get a chance at Pope. Not even Pope for a Day.)


  10. Linda says:

    I’m happy to see such a good article, although I know of a couple points I didn’t see listed (maybe I missed them), those being (1) the primary reason that invalidates a union: being too closely related — “incest”; and (2) that of one person in the couple being incapable of carrying out sexual relations. I always thought that in that case, there probably is no need to worry whether it’s valid or not, it would be more of a civil union than sacramental.

    I had to learn about this subject when I became Catholic, as my husband and I were each remarried, and within my former realm of Protestantism, criteria for remarriage was pretty loose. I know many Protestant couples who divorced and remarried simply because they were “unhappy” in their former marriages — they didn’t even cite adultery, which was the reason I had grown up hearing was a case for divorce and remarriage. It isn’t.

    Because even well-intentioned Protestants just about never hear that the term Jesus used, “porneia”, means incest, divorce and remarriage has become commonplace. And watching Protestants get easy divorces, has affected the mindset of Catholics.

    It needs to be taught all over Catholic and Protestant worlds alike, that divorce and remarriage is not about being “forgiven”. Past sins are repented of, and forgiven. A sacrament is life-long, and one may repent deeply, but the first marriage is still in existence, if it ever existed in the first place.

    It’s not about rules to break, or rules to put aside in mercy. It’s just sacramental reality.

    As Jesus told us, to go forward with someone else, becomes perpetual adultery, and if one is living so, there is no repentance being shown for that continuance of sin. It’s hard to make a case for forgiveness, in a continuing state.

    That’s the nuts and bolts, and while they hurt, they are true. Believe me, I have full, heart-rending sympathy for everyone who was abandoned, or suffering any state where they truly had no choice in the matter. God bless us in our pain and confusion.

    I believe that we, in our society, place more emphasis on our “rights” to remarriage — especially even our “rights” to sexual fulfillment, in general — than we can rightfully claim. I think this is a subject we’re going to have to relearn completely from scratch: we’ve got the wrong picture on holy sexuality, even within marriage.

    The only addressing I can see that can possibly be done, is for millions of Catholics the world over to line up and have their cases heard, to find if each one had invalidating issues at the time of first, or subsequent, marriages.

    Our Catholic priests have been given the power to “loose” what is bound on earth, so that may be done with many, but still, if it is done carelessly, the priests will have to answer for it. It’s serious.

    If our Pope, who I love and support dearly, was to offer “forgiveness”, as though that was all that was needed to start over and receive holy communion while continuing what constitutes adultery, I could not see it being right. It would just make for a lot of sinful communions.

    I’ll leave that judgment up to God, as I certainly have my own problems, but I would squirm very uncomfortably, and be forced to question… Surely he won’t do that.


    • charliej373 says:

      Yes, Linda, you are absolutely right you can’t just hit a reset button and “forgive.” Of course, the point I was making was that, when the culture is so blinded that many – maybe even most – go into marriage as a conditional in the first place, that invalidates the marriage sacramentally for the intent was deficient from the start. Each case must be considered individually, though. There cannot be some group forgiveness ceremony.


    • Laura Y. says:

      Thank you, Linda.


  11. Observer says:

    I too don’t know what the solution to this problem is now or what it should be. There are so many circumstance to weigh beyond just the law. For instance, someone who, while not yet brought into the Catholic Church may have been married and divorced perhaps for the same circumstances that an already “full fledged” member of the Church underwent….perhaps with the same conscious understanding of marriage and divorce in their seriousness….and yet once the non-Catholic is brought fully into the Faith their former circumstances are not weighed the same and they are permitted to receive Communion….at least to my understanding.

    Also we have the signs of Communion in both the Old and New Testaments….the feeding of ALL with manna after a good number had complained about their rescue from slavery, even willing and prefer to return to it. And then the miracle of feeding ALL the hungry by the Lord Himself, knowing that many had come just out of curiosity, and with their private sins intact and ongoing. Then there is the banquet given for the invited who were not dressed properly so that they were thrown out to be replaced by those from the street who also weren’t likely to have been dressed properly at least in the idea of outward appearances. So just what does “dressed” mean here? There was a sincerity of spirit, appreciation of being considered, honestly understanding what they were offered and thus humbly prepared to receive “properly” in this second group, even though not trained in the same niceties/legalisms as the first? And then we have the offering of “spiritual communion” for the divorced and remarried who then today are not considered “properly dressed” to receive the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Is it then the soul that is considered worthy to be united spiritually with Christ but not the physical body of the human person in such circumstances? That’s what it appears to be. And within scripture it also appears that those who confess their guilt or unworthiness before Jesus (either spontaneously or forced to by the situation that displays itself before Him) who then seem to be welcomed completely into His Divine Presence with even a greater understanding of that forgiving Love than the purely legalistic. Why then, with a true Confession where the conscience of the individual comes to a full realization of their past mistake, even after a remarriage that occurred with the maturity of reason that the first lacked, but without the legal tickets permitted to be punched in a tribunal for whatever reason, should Christ’s body be a material for bartering? Why do those who act as though they are married while committing in reality merely fornication and perhaps with resulting children….and for some time, be forgiven within the Sacrament, be permitted to receive Communion after separating from the situation or attempting to make it “regular”? So much is left to human reasoning, and human limitations within these tribunals anyway. As they say…..just sayin! So shouldn’t all of these questions be given a thorough examination before the various opinions are publicly offered by those who should be open to the fact that more information and openness to the Spirit’s actions, in this time of Faustina’s Mercy, could be experienced in this special Synod?


  12. Luis says:

    What is more worrying for me (regarding the Synod) is the feeling of “bishop against other bishop” , I really hope that I’m wrong… but Akita’s message was broght into my mind.

    But maybe is just another sign of the times…


  13. Pingback: Rebuilding the Fences | The Next Right Step

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