Can Divorced Christian Catholics Receive Communion?
Divorce refers to putting an end to a matrimonial union, whereby, both couples may go separate ways. Christians use the Bible as a guideline when addressing issues of marriage (religiously recognized marital union) and Christian life, while in the union.
In the new testament, the book of Mark 10:19 forbids separation of couples who have been joined together in holy matrimony. This, therefore, implies that divorce is disallowed amongst the Christian fraternity. The same book chapter 10 discourage divorce and remarriage, as it cautions that it goes against God’s commandment.
In reference to the Biblical messages cited above, it is clear that God considers divorce and remarrying as a sin. Christians who have been baptized and allowed to partake in holy communion are supposed to be of good standing and have been forgiven by God of evil doing like divorcing a wife or a husband and getting married to somebody else, through perfect contrition.
This article will look into the circumstances under which divorced Roman Catholic couples, who have been baptized into the church and have received the sacrament of marriage can also receive or not receive the sacrament of Holy Eucharist.
According to Roman Catholic Churches, marriage is meant to last for a lifetime as long as the married couples are still alive. Roman Catholics do not allow a divorced spouse to get married again as long as one of the spouses is alive. The only time you are allowed to remarry according to Catholic doctrines is when the spouse is dead.
Death is considered to be the only logical reason for the separation of a married couple. Although the church will not lock out divorced spouses from taking part in church activities as long as they do not marry again. Remarrying is unheard of in the Catholic church.
However, civil divorce has never been an impediment to receiving Communion. As long as the main purpose of civil divorce is to settle civil lawful impacts of marriage like sharing of wealth and children custody. But it is not the same case for Roman Catholic Churches who believe that God is against such kind of divorce according to the bible.
The Roman Catholic Church strongly advises its members against divorce because once two people have been put together by God, then they should find ways to solve their issues and seek help from the church if the need arises. Couples therefore usually have no choice but to find ways of living with others as they try to solve their marital disputes.
According to Roman Catholics, if the couples separate, but still hold on to their marriage covenant, then that is still considered legal marriage by canon laws. The Roman Catholics have to bear with conditions where civil divorce becomes the only way to positive statutory justice, for example, the spouse in custody of the children, and wealth inheritance and protection.
In such cases, the Catholics will not consider such cases as an ethical violation. According to natural law, divorce is regarded as a big violation. This is because agreement the spouses made during their marriage is terminated before death(till death do us path).
The Roman Catholics do not give the sacrament to divorced Catholics because, during marriage covenant, the sacrament is the seal to long life marriage. The Catholics do not encourage either of the divorced couples to marry again or engage in any relationship even if done under civil law.
This is adultery according to the laws and doctrines of the Roman Catholics. In case a separated husband shows interests to another woman, he will be committing adultery at the same time making that woman commit such act too because his marriage despite separation is still valid.
Divorce is not moral since it creates confusions in the society and to the family. The children, as well as divorced spouses, get traumatized as a result of divorce. The children are left in a dilemma to choose between the two parents hence becoming a headache to the society.
However, those who are culpable for the marriage to be terminated and have failed to get back together becomes guilty of committing sin and have the liability to repent and concede their sin before they receive the Holy Communion just like any other sinner.
At times one of the spouses may fall a victim of innocent divorce ruling by Roman law. Such spouses are considered innocent because they have no conflict with the moral law. Spouses are required to remain faithful to the sacrament of their union.
If one of the partners remain faithful and is later left in a manner that is not justifiable, the Roman Catholic laws spare such people and the other remains guilty of destroying a legitimate sacrament.
The uninvolved partner is allowed to join other Catholics in receiving the holy communion as long as she/he is free from other immoral deeds, has gone for Confession or Eucharistic first if not gone for Confession.
Cardinal Walter Brandmuller and Cardinal Raymond Burke, confirmed to world Roman Catholic Churches that there is no Communion for divorced and remarried couples through civil law in a conference that was held in Rome on 7th of April 2019.
He advised those who have violated the Roman Catholic rules to denounce and repent according to six rules governing marriage including people who have divorced and marry again for such people are living contrary to the will of God.
According to Rev. Matthew Newsom (2016), the church’s doctrine treats the issue of divorce and remarriage like any other mortal sin. In his argument, couples terminating their relationships is not a big deal. However, if each individual from the union, after separation, gets married to another person, he/she commits adultery, a sin regarded as a mortal by the church.
The individuals cannot be allowed to receive holy communion unless they repent and promise to abandon their sins through the sacrament of confession.
After repenting with a contrite heart, they will be forgiven at that particular point in time, but forgiveness and reconciliation will be expedited if, they quit their evil ways. This suggests a change of behavior, in this case, halting remarriage plans will be imperative.
Pope Francis through Amoris Laetitia, set rules for communion to some remarried Catholics only after they have undergone discernment process. Apart from Brandmuller and Burke other Bishops, Athanasius Schneider of Atanas and Kazakhstan are calling on the Pope to withdraw any rules that are set by local churches in favor of divorced Catholics to receive communion.
Some divorced Catholics may be asking their priests if they are allowed to receive communion during confession and some priests may give answers according to their own options but not according to guidelines published in Amoris Laetitia.
Many Catholic believers are misinterpreting the laws set by the church on divorce. Any divorced spouse as long as he/she has abided by the marriage vows can still receive Eucharist. Divorce does not discriminate anyone from attending church or taking part in church activities because some of the divorced victims are innocent of the act.
Any divorced spouse who have confessed their sinful acts or whatever deeds assumed to terminate the marriage through the liturgy of penitence, is allowed to receive holy communion. Divorce will not restrict anyone from making friends regardless of gender.
But the Roman Catholic Church prohibits any divorced spouse to engage in a sexual relationship with someone they are not legally married in church. If that is the case then the church bans you from receiving the Eucharist because that is sin (adultery).
According to most Christians, marriage is a permanent covenant that can only be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses as long it is a wedding between two baptized couples with legitimate reasons to marry. Such couples are not free to get married again because there is no authority on earth that can proclaim such a wedding as invalid.
In Roman Catholics, a person is free to marry again in church only if the church has issued that person a Decree of Nullity(marriage tribunal of the Catholic Church). Therefore, an individual who weds in the church after being issued with Decree of Nullity is free to take part in the Eucharist under normal circumstances.
Not all Christians abide by the marriage rules, there are couples who have remarried without Decree of Nullity but still receive holy communion. Such individuals are left to judge their actions in their own conscience. Christian marriage is a covenant between two spouses at the same time shows the relationship between Christ and the church as well as an essential factor in society.
The Roman Catholics still choose to abide by their rules concerning remarriage and divorce. Any divorced spouse who remarries without seeking for Decree of Nullity for the previous wedding (whether married in the Catholic Church or outside the church), is committing adultery. Such sinful acts prevent them from receiving Eucharist, confessing their sins, even though penitence.
The involved couples will be denied communion until their marriage case is settled by a marriage tribunal or any other procedure that goes hand in hand with the Roman Catholic rules regarding divorce and remarriage.
If the said spouses repent and remain committed to their marriage, then the Roman Catholics will spare them hence allowing them to take part in the Eucharist apart from attending normal mass. That is if they choose to remain together for the sake of raising children together.
On the other hand, the Catholic priest may allow the couples to take part in the Eucharist if they were ignorant of the marriage doctrine. Many Catholic faithfuls are not well educated about the doctrine and the individuals involved are spared and allowed to receive the communion.
In other cases, some churches will allow the couples to live together as siblings meaning they are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse but still considered married couples. But if the situation is avoidable, then the spouses are required to separate or else the church will not allow them to take part in the sacraments, but won’t be excommunicated from the church.
But some arguments point out that Catholic believers who are either divorced or separated or those who have married in the church, can receive Eucharist as long they stick to Catholic rules and regulations as well as attending church in a weekly basis.
They are allowed to take part in all parish activities including serving in the ministry. Most of them willingly become Godparents, others support those taking part in Baptism and Confirmation.
Divorced Catholic spouses who obtained their divorce through civil, and have married again without a Catholic annulment, are allowed to take part in all the Roman Catholic Activities including Mass but are ceased from receiving the Holy Communion since they did not abide by the Catholic rules concerning marriage.
They are therefore allowed to baptize their kids in Roman Catholic belief but can never serve in the ministry as sponsors at the baptism or confirmation.
The Roman Catholic Church does not forbid them a Catholic funeral mass ceremony as well as buried in their cemeteries. The Roman Catholic does not lock out them also in the Sacrament of Anointing of the ill.
Note that a Catholic Annulment that is issued after obtaining a civil divorce is not a Catholic divorce. One can obtain an Annulment even if their marriage has lasted for many years and have children.
An individual can still obtain a Catholic Annulment even if one of the spouses refuses to be part of it. It is cheap to obtain one and takes the shortest time to obtain it since they are not processed in Rome.
From the above discussion, it is clear that the Catholic church may not, so much, take issue with divorce, but an act of remarriage after separation as a result of the same, which according to them is a grave sin which requires genuine restitution, as a requirement for receiving holy communion.
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