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Archbishop Chaput: divorced/remarried must live as brother and sister to receive Communion

July 05, 2016

In new guidelines for the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Chaput has confirmed the traditional Church teaching that Catholics who are divorced and remarried may receive the Eucharist only if they renounce sexual activity.

“Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist,” the new Philadelphia guidelines state. Archbishop Chaput acknowledges that this is a "hard teaching," but says that "anything less misleads people about the nature of the Eucharist and the Church."

The Philadelphia guidelines were issued to follow up on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, released to summarize the work of the Synod on the Family. Archbishop Chaput took part in the October 2015 session of the Synod, and chairs the committee of bishops monitoring the implementation of Amoris Laetitia in the US. 

The guidelines stress that Catholics who undergo a civil divorce should seek an annulment from a Church tribunal if they intend to remarry. Annulments "cannot be granted informally or privately by individual pastors or priests," the document emphasizes.

The guidelines encourage pastors to provide support and encouragement for all Catholics who encounter marital difficulties, and especially those who honor their marital vows even after a civil divorce. "God is faithful to them even when their spouses are not, a truth that fellow Catholics should reinforce," the guidelines say.

The document suggests that when divorced and remarried Catholics agree to abstain from sexual intercourse, while they may receive the Eucharist, "they should do so in a manner that will avoid giving scandal or implying that Christ's teaching can be set aside." 

 
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  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Nov. 18, 2016 9:46 PM ET USA

    Dear Cardinal to be: 1) a valid marriage consummated is indissoluble except by death PERIOD. 2) a valid marriage unconsummated may, upon positive proof, may be dissolved by the Pope and only the Pope PERIOD. 3) An annulment may be granted upon positive proof that a marriage never existed PERIOD. 4) Married Catholics civilly divorced are married PERIOD. 5) Sexual activity in the new "union" constitutes adultery PERIOD. Hard but true teachings - and there are procedures.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jul. 08, 2016 8:38 PM ET USA

    Interesting that some priests, deacons, or lay people in Marriage ministry who repeat what Archbishop Chaput wrote would be rebuked by some priests or bishops in authority over them for insensitivity or a lack of pastoral empathy.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Jul. 05, 2016 10:07 PM ET USA

    You can count on Archbishop Chaput. He is one of the good guys.

  • Posted by: Sed contra - Jul. 05, 2016 9:11 PM ET USA

    Bravo to Archbishop Chaput for stating Catholic moral doctrine in sensitive but accurate terms. It may cost him a scarlet biretta, but I believe his crown in heaven will be all the brighter.

  • Posted by: mhains8491 - Jul. 05, 2016 6:47 PM ET USA

    Reassuring to see such clear teaching on the topic. So lacking of late.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jul. 05, 2016 5:31 PM ET USA

    I thank the good archbishop for stating this so clearly. The church needs this kind of leadership and not what we've been getting from clergymen who want things to go in a different direction.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Jul. 05, 2016 5:20 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Chaput has correctly provided the support and honor for the marriage contract demands according to traditional church teaching. Give the guidelines a read; they are a model for clarity.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Jul. 05, 2016 5:18 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Chaput is showing the leadership that is so vital to the Church. Let's see what the NY Times makes of it. And America (the magazine)...