Question of Communion for the Remarried Arises

Proposals of General Relator of Synod

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Whether the divorced-and-remarried can receive Communion is one of the issues touched on in the “report before the discussion” presented at the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, the general relator of the synod, today mentioned “the diffused tendency of the divorced-and-remarried to Eucharistic Communion, beyond what the teaching of the Church indicates.”

The patriarch of Venice acknowledged that at the base of this tendency “there is not only superficiality. Beyond the considerable diverse situations of the various continents, it should be recognized that — especially in countries of a long Christian tradition — there are not a few baptized who have been united in sacramental matrimony through a mechanical adherence to tradition.”

“Many of these get divorced and remarried” without annulments, the cardinal continued. “Following the practice of Christian life, some of these manifest serious unease and at times considerable suffering when faced with the fact that the union after the marriage blocks their full participation in sacramental reconciliation and Eucharistic Communion.”

Recalling the teachings of Pope John Paul II’s postsynodal exhortation “Familiaris Consortio,” the cardinal said: “Those divorced and remarried need to be supported by the whole Christian community in the knowledge that they are not excluded from ecclesial communion. Their participation in the Eucharistic celebration permits, in every case, that spiritual communion, if correctly lived, which mirrors the sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself.”

Sacramental bond

“On the other hand,” the relator observed, “the teaching of the magisterium on this theme is not only prone to avoid the spreading of a mentality contrary to the indissolubility of marriage and the scandal of the People of God. Instead, it places us in front of the recognition of the objective bond that unites the sacrament of the Eucharist with the entire life of the Christian, and, in particular, with the sacrament of marriage.

“In fact, the unity of the Church, which is always a gift of her spouse, continuously springs forth from the Eucharist. Therefore, in Christian matrimony, due to the sacramental gift of the Spirit, the conjugal bond, in its public, faithful, indissoluble and fruitful nature, is intrinsically connected to Eucharistic unity between Christ the Bridegroom and the Church as Bride.”

The cardinal added: “The mutual consent that husband and wife exchange in Christ and make them a community of conjugal life and love has, so to speak, a Eucharistic form.”

According to Cardinal Scola, the synodal assembly will have to delve further, however, into “the complex and diversified cases … in order to verify the hypothesis of nullity of canonical marriage.”

Such verification, he said, should aim to “respect the public, ecclesial and social nature of marital consent.”

Objectivity

“Therefore, the recognition of marital nullity must imply an objective instance, which cannot be lowered to the spouses’ individual consciences, not even when supported by the opinion of an enlightened spiritual guide,” the cardinal insisted.

Precisely because of this, “we must continue in the work of rethinking the nature and the actions of ecclesiastic tribunals, that they may be ever more an expression of the normal pastoral life of the local Church,” noted the patriarch.

“Beyond the continuous vigilance about times and costs, one should consider the juridical figures and procedures, simplified and more efficiently responding to pastoral care. There is no lack of significant experiences in regard to this in the various dioceses. The synodal fathers, in this same assembly, will have the opportunity to make known others,” he suggested.

“In any case, ordinary pastoral action in remote, close and immediate preparation of the engaged for Christian matrimony remains decisive, as well as the daily accompaniment to the life of the families within the grand ecclesial home,” emphasized Cardinal Scola.

He also noted the “appreciation and care for the many initiatives aimed at helping those divorced and remarried to live serenely within the Christian community, the sacrifice objectively required by their condition.”

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