22 Oct 2013


Archbishop G. L. Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In response to mistaken expectations that the Catholic Church might review and relax her stand on the issue of receiving Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics, Archbishop G. L. Muller (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) officially reaffirms the church’s teachings contrary to the wrong expectations. He acknowledged that many Catholics' first marriages might be invalid, and thus eligible for annulment, if spouses had been influenced by prevailing contemporary conceptions of marriage as a temporary arrangement.
Here are some extracts from his write-up to this regard:

A "case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy," but such an argument "misses the mark" in regard to the sacraments, since the "entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same."

"An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive… The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice. If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God's mercy to man."
"This practice (of allowing second or third marriages even when the first is sacramentally valid) cannot be reconciled with God's will, as expressed unambiguously in Jesus' sayings about the indissolubility of marriage,"
"If remarried divorcees are subjectively convinced in their conscience that a previous marriage was invalid, this must be proven objectively by the competent marriage tribunals. Marriage is not simply about the relationship of two people to God, it is also a reality of the church, a sacrament, and it is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the church, into which the individuals are incorporated by faith and baptism." 

"Today's mentality is largely opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage, with regard to its indissolubility and its openness to children. Because many Christians are influenced by this, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than they were previously, because there is a lack of desire for marriage in accordance with Catholic teaching, and there is too little socialization within an environment of faith."
"Therefore assessment of the validity of marriage is important and can help to solve problems."
"But where the requirements for an annulment are lacking, he wrote, civilly remarried Catholics may receive communion only if they promise to abstain from sexual relations, living together "as friends, as brother and sister." Archbishop G. L. Muller (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).
< By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service