Tuesday, February 23, 2016

NOW THAT POPE FRANCIS HAS RULED OUT HOLY COMMUNION TO THOSE IN A SACRAMENTAL MARRIAGE BUT LIVING IN AN ADULTEROUS CIVIL UNION WITH SOMEONE ELSE, IN WHAT WAYS CAN WE INTEGRATE THEM INTO THE CHURCH APART FROM RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION?




To those who thought that he was going to overturn the Church’s doctrine on admission to the sacraments for the civilly divorced and remarried, Pope Francis responded that “all doors are open, but we cannot say they can receive Communion. It would be a wound to marriage.”

We do know that Pope Francis has streamlined the annulment procedure which I wholeheartedly endorse. We also know that in the internal forum if a penitent indicates that they are living with a person who isn't their spouse but it is a civil union, but they aren't having the marital act in any way, that they may be readmitted to Holy Communion if no scandal to the parish or community is given.

We also know that there are some circumstances where a person's presumed sacramental marriage that has been interrupted by a separation for good cause that has led to a civil divorce and has since tried unsuccessfully to receive a Catholic annulment can be considered for the internal forum under the following circumstances:

The external forum has been exhausted and no decision can be reached not because there aren't grounds for an annulment but because of the lack of cooperation of the other spouse or there are no witnesses available to corroborate the spouse's testimony. Otherwise, if there were witnesses the annulment would have been granted. So it is a procedural issue, a canonical or legal issue, but if witnesses were available, and they aren't, this couple would have been granted an annulment. 

In this situation and within the context of confession, and its seal (internal forum) and if no scandal is given, the person may be told by the priest that if they return to Holy Communion, it is dependent upon their decision of conscience and the presumption that they could have been married in the Church if not for the fact no witnesses could substantiate their testimony. The priest of course cannot bless this union--it is a decision of conscience of the Catholic and they and they alone will be held accountable by God at their personal judgement if there is any dishonesty involved in this situation.

 But what about those Catholics where it is abundantly clear that their marriage in the Church was sacramental and their second civil union is clearly adulterous? Can they be integrated into the parish in any way apart from the Reception of Holy Communion?

1. Yes, they are still obligated to attend Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation even if they are not allowed to receive Holy Communion.

2. They may present themselves for a blessing at Communion time.

3. In the Extraordinary Form of receiving Holy Communion, they may approach the altar railing for a "Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament by the priest" as the priest in distributing Holy Communion makes the Sign of the Cross with the Sacred Host in front of the person who is to receive. In the case of one who is not allowed Holy Communion, he simply receives the Benediction! How cool is that?

4. They are still encouraged to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, adore the Lord in Solemn Exposition and participate fully in Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Currently (and please correct me if I am wrong) a Catholic in an adulterous civil union is not allowed to teach in our Catholic schools or CCD programs. They are not allowed to be godparents. Should the pope change this and allow them to do these things?

However, are they allowed currently to lector at Mass and other sacramental services or at the liturgical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours or other public devotions such as Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "know that Pope Francis has ruled out communion for the divorced and remarried"? He has done no such thing. It was just another one of his off the cuff, imprudent, undisciplined comments. If we go by that logic then we are to believe he approves of using contraception. Which is probably true, but anyway. Wait until the document is released next month. Just wait. People who have seen it have already said they are deeply troubled and that it actually calls into question the Natural Law.

Dialogue said...

Which EF rubric allows for such a blessing during administration of Holy Communion? I don't think Gagliarducci knows what he's talking about.

The CDW says that for those "who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing" (Protocol No. 930/08/L). So, his second proposal seems like nonsense, unless the CDW has changed its stance.

John Nolan said...

In the Extraordinary Form the priest makes the sign of the Cross with the Host before placing it on the communicant's tongue. The only one who might only get a blessing would be a small child taken up to the rail with a communicating parent.

This 'going up for a blessing' is to my mind ridiculous. Everyone is blessed at the end of Mass, so what's the point?

Sybok said...

" It was just another one of his off the cuff, imprudent, undisciplined comments. If we go by that logic then we are to believe he approves of using contraception'

or that souls ceae to exist upon bodily death if person going to hell, or etc etc etc

Jusadbellum said...

I'm not quite sure I follow the logic here. If I were actively - consciously - living in an adulterous union - a mortal sin - of what point would there be for me to "get a blessing"?

Would that blessing alter the state of my soul? Would that blessing save me from hell fire? In what way would that blessing and my presence in Mass itself be beneficial to my soul if simultaneously I'm committed to my adulterous relationship?

You can substitute "adulterous relationship" for sodomy or fornication too and the question remains the same: of what benefit to my soul is participation in Mass if I'm happy in my mortal sin and have no intention of changing my ways that are at odds with God's ways?

What of the man who loves porn and masturbation and will not go to confession or make any changes to his lifestyle? Of what good is going to communion or getting a blessing if again, he does not want to change?

This all makes me think that "theologians" (yes, scare quotes) are more concerned with FEELINGS than with objective reality - the spiritual destiny and current health of a soul with respect to their creator.

How much do you have to despise God and fellow man to focus more on feelings than reality?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

A blessing may (as with persistent prayer) change the heart of a sinner and lead them to conversion and a changed lifestyle. So yes, we should bless sinners, mortal sinners. Sinners are not prevented from receiving blessings, blessing themselves with Holy Water or receive ashes in the Sign of the Cross, etc.

Now that the EF Mass has been freed from the museum of liturgy's dungeon, there is going to be organic development with it, like new prefaces and the such to include popular things arising from the laity such as seeking a blessing at Holy Communion time if one is not in a state of grace to receive or is not Catholic.

This is called "mutual enrichment" which Pope Benedict desired.

Now that our EF Mass is at our normal OF Mass there are a slew of people receiving blessings at Holy Communion. I think it is grand.

John Nolan said...

Mutual enrichment does not mean importing some of the more dubious OF add-ons which I suspect did not originate with the laity, and are in neither the MR nor the GIRM. What next - EMHC? Female servers?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John, now that this liturgy is in the Church again and any priest with a knowledge of Latin can celebrate it, yes, what you describe could happen along with guitar accompaniment which in fact occurred (guitar music) with the Tridentine Mass during that odd period of 1965 to 70.

This form of the Mass is no longer shackled to a museum, thus abuses or legitimate development will take place. I don't see the blessing at Communion time an abuse, but I would not like to see guitars at an EF. I have heard that in a packed Church (not mine) and from reliable sources that an EMHC assisted a lone priest at Communion time and at an EF. I've also heard of Communion in the hand at EF Masses.

This is what happens when the unwashed masses get a hold of a Mass once relegated to a museum.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous said..."What do you mean "know that Pope Francis has ruled out communion for the divorced and remarried"? He has done no such thing. It was just another one of his off the cuff, imprudent, undisciplined comments."

Pope Francis, during a situation that was definitely not off-the-cuff, made it clear that divorce and remarriage is 100 percent in violation of the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. Such a person is in need of conforming to the Church's teachings should he or she desire to receive Holy Communion.

The Church's teachings on divorced and remarried Catholics and their status to receive Holy Communion have remained in place throughout Pope Francis' Pontificate.

POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday, 5 August 2015 A.D.

The family - 21. Wounded families (II)

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

"With this catechesis we return to our reflection on the family. After speaking the last time about families wounded due to misunderstandings between spouses, today I would like to focus our attention on another reality: how to take care of those who, after an irreversible failure of their matrimonial bond, have entered into a new union.

"The Church is fully aware that such a situation is contrary to the Christian Sacrament."

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Request for any change should be made and granted before it is implemented in the EF or the NO. If not, this is how the faith is lost for future generations as well as our own.
Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle...

Mark Thomas said...

"John, now that this liturgy is in the Church again and any priest with a knowledge of Latin can celebrate it, yes, what you describe could happen along with guitar accompaniment which in fact occurred (guitar music) with the Tridentine Mass during that odd period of 1965 to 70. This form of the Mass is no longer shackled to a museum, thus abuses or legitimate development will take place."

Father, what does that mean for TLM societies who, with Rome's approval, are attached to the liturgical books and regulations that were in force in 1962 A.D.?

Is the following possible?: Some day, Father X, at his parish, in accord with Rome's then-new regulations, will offer the TLM with EMs, Communion in the hand, and altar girls.

Conversely, across town, at the FSSP parish, a very different TLM is offered. The TLM offered there is according to the Rome-FSSP agreement, which conceded to the FSSP the use of the liturgical books in force during 1962 A.D.

Is such the future of the TLM? We will have approved "mutual enrichment" Novus "Ordoized" TLMs along with approved "1962-only" TLMs?

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Charles G said...

I wish I could share your confidence that the Pope has rejected the Kasper proposal. I suppose we'll know on St Joseph's day. My guess is it will be some sort of ambiguous fudge that the German heterodox dissenters amid others will use to justify doing what they are already doing.

Joe Potillor said...

One could always borrow the tradition of blessed bread from the Easterns, A foretaste of Holy Communion, for those that are unable to receive, for whatever reason.....It's an inclusive activity, anyone can do so....

Anonymous said...

Good point, Jusadbellum. I have long thought that the current dissent regarding divorce and remarriage was birthed in the appeals for "active participation" of the divorced and sexually active remarried in the Church. For too long clerics, including many bishops and above, have treated this group as being in a mere difficult canonical situation with the Church and not in objective sin. Only this attitude could make sense of appealing to their adoration, lectoring, and otherwise meritorious activity in the Church, just as only this makes sense of the current push toward resolving this canonical situation a la Kasper-style. As you pointed out, we don't extend similar invitations to other objective sinners. We don't do this precisely because we generally maintain a Catholic consciousness toward these other sins, while we have semi-officially carved out a place for the divorce and sexually active remarried that is somewhere between objective sin and full canonical communion with the Church.

George said...

Jusadbellum:

"I'm not quite sure I follow the logic here. If I were actively - consciously - living in an adulterous union - a mortal sin - of what point would there be for me to "get a blessing"?

I agree that the divorced and re-married should not be given communion, but attending Mass and receiving blessings can do no harm and perhaps convict their hearts to either separate, or cohabit together only as brother and sister.

The greater the sinner, the greater need for God's mercy. It is through the grace of God that conversion will come about. Great sinners have been converted through the effect of Divine grace channeled through a a Blessed object, a sacramental, such as the Miraculous medal