Thursday, July 6, 2000
Vatican reaffirms ban on communion
by divorced Catholics who remarry
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that
the Vatican on Thursday strongly reaffirmed its prohibition on divorced and remarried
Roman Catholics receiving communion.
The pronouncement restated that the only exception would be
couples who refrain from sexual relations. Catholics in the United States, Germany and
elsewhere have been pressing
the Vatican to loosen the restriction.
The Vatican said it issued the declaration because some
theologians "using a variety of arguments" had claimed there were loopholes in
church rules that would allow those who divorce and remarry to receive communion.
Church officials said the restriction is based on
"divine law" and cannot be modified.
The statement said pastors should avoid instances of public
denial of communion, explaining the reason to those couples "in such a way that they
would be able to understand it or at least respect it."
"In those situations, however, in which these
precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the
minister of communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly
unworthy," the statement said.
Civil divorce by Catholics does not require their exclusion
from the sacraments. But a person is excluded if he or she remarries outside the church
while bound in the church's eyes by a valid previous marriage.
The declaration was issued by the Pontifical Council for
Legislative Texts, taking into account the views of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith and two other Vatican offices.