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Italian prelates favor opening possibility of Communion for divorced/remarried Catholics

October 09, 2014

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Three influential Italian prelates have indicated their support for policies that would allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion under some circumstances.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (the Vatican’s top body for interpreting canon law) said that divorced and remarried couples should be admitted to Communion in cases of “urgency and necessity.”

Speaking to reporters covering the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Coccopalmiero said that the commission appointed by Pope Francis to consider simplifying the annulment process—of which he is a member—is weighing several possible steps. He mentioned removing the requirement for a second examination of all annulment cases; and allowing bishops to grant annulments in clear-cut cases through a quick administrative process.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the retired Archbishop of Milan, voiced his support for steps to accommodate divorced and remarried Cathoilcs in an interview published by the daily Corriere della Sera. Although he is not participating in this month’s Synod, Cardinal Tettamanzi—who spent 10 years as leader of the largest archdiocese in Europe, and was widely regarded as a likely choice for the papacy—still carries considerable weight in the Italian hierarchy.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, told the Vatican Insider: “I haven’t heard one single speech that calls the indissolubility of marriage into question. The dilemma is a pastoral one.” He saw the problem as an emphasis on “the canonist, or legal dimension of marriage that has led us often into the waters of legalism.” The solution, he said, was a “return to the primacy of conscience.”


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  • Posted by: feedback - Oct. 11, 2014 3:12 PM ET USA

    It all comes down to the basic Catechism: to the definitions of sin, and the Sacraments of Marriage and of the Holy Eucharist. If Marriage vows are hollow, and the Eucharist is to be regarded only as a kind of meaningless placebo and not the Real Presence demanding the State of Grace of the recipient, then Cardinal Kasper and the three Italian prelates are correct. Now I began to see why Pope Benedict decided to resign.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 10, 2014 4:39 PM ET USA

    I too was disturbed to see those words, "primacy of conscience". How many babies have died in their mother's womb thanks to the intellectual subterfuge associated with this notion? How many couples have decided sin is after all not sin thanks to this phrase? We all know what "conscience" has done to Catholicism since the 60s. Why is the poison being bandied about Rome these days? Why does our pope think this kind of exercise is in any way healthy?

  • Posted by: ILM - Oct. 10, 2014 12:11 PM ET USA

    If we look the other way on divorce, I guess we can re-admit the Church of England to the Roman Church. But we better apologize to all those priests that were hanged, drawn, and quartered standing up for what the Church has taught from the beginning.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 10, 2014 8:08 AM ET USA

    The issue is one of baptismal rights. Over decades many priests, religious, and even prelates have exhibited the setting aside the inflexible, top-down traditions of the past for a more friendly, compassionate, "real" etc. approach. Ironically, in the interests of compassion important baptismal rights- proper catechesis, moral principles, enriching and reverent liturgies etc- have been trampled despite pleasant pastoral smiles. The difficult pastoral challenges are largely of our own making.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Oct. 09, 2014 6:47 PM ET USA

    "Primacy of conscience". All the pro abort politicians will love that.

  • Posted by: florentine - Oct. 09, 2014 5:56 PM ET USA

    Watching the Catholic Church DISSOLVE into secular culture is disturbing ...

  • Posted by: - Oct. 09, 2014 5:03 PM ET USA

    It seems to me that these 3 prelates are just letting the Pope know that if he, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can find a way to bring divorced/remarried Catholics back to the sacraments, then the Pope should do it. After all, the pressure of continuing Tradition would be difficult to overturn. I personally, after lots of Catholic research, don't see how Francis could re-admit remarried Catholics, but he's the Pope, not me, he's the only one who could find a way IF a way does exist.