NewsAre you divorced and living in a relationship? Here is Vatican's opinion

Are you divorced and living in a relationship? Here is Vatican's opinion

Pope Francis during the General Audience in St. Peter's Square. Vatican City (Vatican), September 20th, 2023 (Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Pope Francis during the General Audience in St. Peter's Square. Vatican City (Vatican), September 20th, 2023 (Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Images source: © GETTY | Mondadori Portfolio
ed. MCZ

8:58 AM EDT, October 4, 2023, updated: 8:57 AM EDT, October 5, 2023

The Vatican has presented its position on the admission of divorced people in new relationships to communion. "The possibility of admitting to the sacrament of communion people who have entered new relationships after divorce and do not abstain from sexual contacts is consistent with the authentic teaching" of the Church - we read.

The clarification was given in response to questions posed by the retired Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka, who spoke on behalf of the Czech Bishops' Conference. The Church's position on this matter was published on the website of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"There are limitations"

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez of Argentina, in his response, referred to Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia", which was promulgated seven years ago.

Cardinal Fernandez reminded that this document opens the possibility of admission to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist in cases where "there are limitations that diminish responsibility and guilt" of a divorced person in a new relationship.

On the website of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it can be read that the process of accompanying divorced individuals in new relationships "does not necessarily end with the granting of sacraments, but may lead to other forms of integration with the life of the Church." In this context, such forms of integration as a greater presence in the life of the church community, participation in prayer or reflective groups, and various other church activities were mentioned.

The Vatican emphasized that this is an invitation to follow the path of Jesus, the path of "mercy and integration".

Pope Francis, quoted by the Dicastery, reminded that his exhortation "Amoris laetitia" is based on the teachings of previous popes. These Popes "acknowledged the possibility of divorced people in new relationships receiving the Eucharist", provided that "they commit to living in complete abstinence, that is, to refrain from acts proper to married couples", as suggested by St. John Paul II.

Abstinence in a relationship? "Difficulties may arise"

It was also noted that Benedict XVI spoke of "commitment to living in relationship as friends".

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified that Pope Francis upholds the "proposal of complete abstinence for divorcees in new relationships, but acknowledges that difficulties may arise in practicing it. Therefore, he allows, in certain cases, after proper discernment, to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation also when it is not possible to maintain fidelity to the Church's proposed abstinence."

Additionally, it was explained that the exhortation "Amoris laetitia" is a typical document of papal teaching, to which everyone is called to approach with an open mind and will.

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