Fr. Z Was Asked: In what scenario would you give Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried?

Fr. Z Was Asked: In what scenario would you give Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried?

I created this post because I believe, once again, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf offers amazing insightful clarity on all things Catholic. And, Fr. Z has done it, once again. But, the bigger reason I placed the first half of his article here at Roman Catholic Man is because his article wasn’t showing up well when shared on social media.

Here is the start of his wise words …


You wrote in a recent post, “Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried (which in 99.99% of cases would be sacrilege).” Can you tell me what scenario would permit your conscience to give communion to the remarried? I can think of a couple, perhaps; curious what you’re thinking, esp. as I teach a marriage class every semester.

Okay, I left myself open to that fair question.

First, before anyone tunes out… I have to ask: Has reception of Holy Communion in most places come to be about something other than getting to heaven?  I have a strong impression that, in many places, if you were to quiz people about Communion, the answer would be along the lines of, “That’s when they put the white thing in your hand before you sing the song together.”  Seen that way, why shouldn’t everyone go up and get the white thing?  Excluding people would be mean!

If, however, Holy Communion is known to be the reception – in the state of grace – of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, who is Savior, King of Fearful Majesty and the Just Judge, then there are going to be limitations on how and when we receive.

Amoris laetitia is objectively vague.  I have little doubt that this is intentional, so that priests who have been inclined to do whatever heck they want with distribution of Communion can now have some official “cover”.  Amoris is being taken by some to mean that Communion can be received by people who are, at the time of Communion, not in the state of grace and who don’t have a firm purpose of amending their sinful ways.  I think that that is a reduction of the Most Sacred Host to “the white thing”.

A priest who allows or prompts the reduction of the Eucharist to “the white thing” is probably going to go to Hell.

However, those who are faithful to the Church’s perennial teaching can interpret Amoris in a way that is harmonious with the Church’s perennial teaching.  That’s how I choose to work with Amoris.

Now to the question about the .01%… which is an arbitrary number, of course, chosen to show that the scenario would be rare.

If a couple who are civilly married, etc. etc., have entered into a process with a priest who has helped them to see what their situation truly is (according to the teaching of Christ and His Church), then they know that what they are doing is wrong.  They know that they are in an adulterous union and that they have committed mortal sins.  Therefore, they know that are not properly disposed to receive Communion.  They also know that Communion is not “the white thing”.

That is what the priest must help them to understand.  That is his duty, at the peril of his own immortal soul and theirs.

If they then choose – for whatever compelling reason suggested by the objectively vague Amoris, etc. – to stay together, then the priest must help them to make a choice.  After Father lays out the options, they will tell the priest either that …

1) they will not live in continence as brother and sister, or
2) they will try to live in continence as brother and sister.

If they say they won’t, and they don’t, they cannot be admitted to Communion. They must be toldnot approach to receive Communion, for that would be a mortal sin and a sacrilege.

If, on the other hand, they say that they will try, and if they confess their sins and intend to live in continence, they probably can be admitted to Communion – remoto scandalo – provided that scandal is avoided.

HENCE…. and here is my answer…

(You can read the rest of this great article at Fr. Z’s blog HERE)

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