Rule About Communion and the Remarried "a Law of God"

Cardinal Arinze Clarifies Ban in Cases Where There’s No Annulment

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2005 ( Cardinal Francis Arinze clarified that the prohibition against administering Communion to divorced-and-remarried persons is not a rule invented by the Church but rather is obedience to God’s law.

Addressing a press conference today, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments summarized the opinion of prelates who participated in the first phase of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, which opened Oct. 2.

Asked if the Church could administer Communion to divorced persons who have remarried without an annulment, Cardinal Arinze, a co-president of the synodal assembly, affirmed: “We do not see this as a law of the Church, but as a law of God.”

“If two persons have married and, if this marriage is valid before God and before the Church, even if the marriage fails, we do not have the power to dissolve a marriage that is valid before God and the Church,” explained the cardinal.

“What to do?” he asked. “It is one thing to have compassion for them because they suffer, and quite another to say that they can find another husband or wife and live together and receive Communion.”

“They are members of the Church, but in this state they cannot — adhering to the truth of life — accede to Communion,” Cardinal Arinze added. “We are no more than ministers, and we must answer to God.”

Paths of mercy

In his report after the discussion, delivered Wednesday, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the general relator, explained that this subject has been addressed by several synodal fathers, who stressed “the importance of a careful pastoral endeavor.”

“Two fathers requested that paths of mercy be explored,” the relator said. “In particular, a father invited the bishops to promote energetically the pastoral dimension of ecclesiastical tribunals, with possible simplifications of functions and procedures, favoring their creation where they do not exist.”

During today’s press conference, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, clarified that with this petition, less rigor was not being sought for the tribunals.

“The declarations of marital nullity must be done according to the canonical truth,” said the cardinal, a co-president of the synod. “What is requested is that there be no bureaucracy, so that processes take less time to help the people.”

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