The Dicastery notes that there are “difficult situations” that need to be discerned and accompanied pastorally

Vatican Explains That Single Mothers Can Go to Communion

Letter to His Excellency, The Most Reverend Ramón Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera, Bishop of the Diocese of San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic, on single mothers’ access to Eucharistic Communio.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 14.12.2023).- The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith published a new answer to a consultation of a Bishop of the Dominican Republic, on single mothers’ access to Communion. The Bishop explained in his consultation that “some single mothers ‘abstain from going to communion out of fear of the strictness of the clergy and of community leaders.’” The Prefect of the Dicastery of the Faith said that “It’s noted in some countries that both the priests as well as some lay people, in fact hinder mothers’ who have had a child out of wedlock from access to Sacraments, including from baptizing their children.”

In his answer to the consultation, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, points out that to “women who, in this situation, have chosen  life and have a very complex existence because of that choice, should be encouraged to have access the healing and consoling power of the Sacraments.”

The issue of single mothers and the difficulties that they and their children face in accessing the Sacraments was already addressed by the Holy Father when he was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He recognized the courage of these women in going ahead with their pregnancy: “I know that it is not easy to be a single mother. I know that people can sometimes look down on you. But I want to tell you something: you are a brave woman because you were able to bring these two daughters into the world. You could have killed them in your womb, yet you respected life: you respected the life you had inside you, and God will reward you for that, and He does reward you. Do not be ashamed; walk with your head held high: ‘I did not kill my daughters; I brought them into the world.’ I congratulate you; I congratulate you, and may God bless you.”

Moreover, the Dicastery responds that “pastoral work should be done in the local Church to make people understand that being a single mother does not prevent that person from accessing the Eucharist. As for all other Christians, sacramental Confession of sins allows the person to approach communion. The ecclesial community should, furthermore, value the fact that single mothers welcomed and defended the gift of life they carried in their wombs and struggle, every day, to raise their children.”

The Dicastery notes that there are “difficult situations” that need to be discerned and accompanied pastorally. It can occur that one of these mothers, given the fragility of her situation, sometimes resorts to selling her body to support her family. The Christian community is called to do everything possible to help her avoid this very serious risk rather than judge her harshly. For this reason, “the Church’s pastors, in proposing to the faithful the full ideal of the Gospel and the Church’s teaching, must also help them to treat the weak with compassion, avoiding aggravation or unduly harsh or hasty judgements.”

Finally, The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith recalls the Holy Father’s words in his message to the Synod. He emphasized the feminine and maternal face of the Church and denounced the “machismo and dictatorial attitudes” of those ministers who “go too far in their service and mistreat the people of God.” It is up to you to ensure that this type of behaviour does not occur in your local Church.


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