Eucharist for the Civilly Unmarried


To the editor:

Regarding the civilly remarried receiving the Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists.” It goes on to say that “reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.” (CCC 1650). The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states that they are “exhorted to listen to the Word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to perform acts of charity and take part in community projects for justice and peace, to raise their children in faith, and to nurture a spirit of penitence and works of penance in order to beseech, day after day, the grace of God” (CSDC 226) but it also says that “reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance — which opens the way to the sacrament of the Eucharist — can only be given to those who, after repenting, are sincerely disposed to a new form of life that is no longer in contradiction with the indissolubility of marriage/ (CSDC 226) In the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, it states that “… 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.” (FC 84).

Perhaps the annulment process can be streamlined without jeopardizing justice for all parties involved. Perhaps the annulment process can be subsidized out of general church funds so no fee is charged to avoid any false perceptions about process fairness. But reversing long held church doctrine and practice connected with doctrine? I don’t think the Holy Spirit will allow that.

William P. McKenna