Bishops leave door to communion for divorced Catholics open

New guidelines state that those who are remarried and “at peace with God” may receive communion

Archbishop Charles Scicluna (left) with Gozo bishop Mario Grech
Archbishop Charles Scicluna (left) with Gozo bishop Mario Grech

New guidelines issued by bishops Charles J. Scicluna and Mario Grech say that Catholics who have divorced and remarried cannot be prevented from participating in the sacraments, if with an informed and enlightened conscience, they believe that they are at peace with God.

In the document, the bishops urge priests to commit themselves “to enter in dialogue” with people who find themselves in “so called irregular” situations, and to “come to know them in a spirit of authentic charity.”

“If subsequently, they show a genuine desire or accept to engage in a serious process of personal discernment about their situation, we should accompany them willingly on this journey, with true respect, care and attention. They should be made to feel part of the Church,” the document says.

On those who have only been married civilly or have remarried following a divorce, the bishops say that these “situations call for pastoral care that is merciful and helpful” and that “in some cases, the choice of a civil marriage, or in many cases, of simply cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or a sacramental union, but by cultural or contingent situations.”

In total, the bishops make 14 recommendations to priests based on Amoris Laetitia, a communication by the Pope issued in April last year that follows the Synods on the Family held in 2014 and 2015.

In it, it is stated amongst other things, that “the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

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