Zambia Archbishop: No Holy Communion to Divorced-and-Civilly-Remarried Catholics

News: World News
by David Nussman  •  •  December 15, 2017   

"The divorced-and-remarried are not allowed to receive the sacraments of penance and Eucharist."

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MUMBWA, Zambia ( - An African prelate has given a resounding "no" to the possibility of giving Holy Communion to the civilly remarried who do not live a life of chastity.

Archbishop Telesphore-George Mpundu of Lusaka spoke to Vatican Radio's English Africa Service on Dec. 3. The archbishop was making a pastoral visit to the town of Mumbwa to administer the sacrament of confirmation and had a question-answer session with the parishioners there.

One person asked Abp. Mpundu a question about civil divorce among Catholics. He replied by lamenting Zambia's rise of divorce among couples who are sacramentally married, adding:

When problems arise in marriage, they do not go back to the priests to seek guidance and counseling but run to the courts because they know that the Church does not permit divorce. However, as soon as the courts grant them divorce, they remarry and return to the Church and want to be re-admitted to the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist! The divorced-and-remarried are not allowed to receive the sacraments of penance and Eucharist.

He explained, "The Church does not recognize divorces granted by civil courts of whatever level granted to Catholic couples because a validly contracted Catholic Church marriage cannot be broken. In other words, it is indissoluble."


To deter the ongoing trend of divorce and civil remarriage, Abp. Mpundu recommended catechesis on marriage begin at an earlier age instead of waiting until the couple already has their engagement rings. One of the policies he recommended was beginning catechesis on matrimony for cradle Catholics in their early teens, shortly after confirmation.

Archbishop Mpundu is president of the Zambian bishops' conference. He was also head of the conference previously, from 2002–2008.

In other words, it is indissoluble.

The archbishop's words stand in the face of dissidents like Cdl. Kasper, who insist that immoral, heterodox interpretations of Amoris Laetitia are the new norm for the Church.

At the infamous Extraordinary Synod on the Family in 2014, Cdl. Walter Kasper had some disparaging remarks for the Church in Africa. During the synod, speaking about the synod's delegates from Africa in a now-infamous interview, he told Catholic reporter Edward Pentin that "they should not tell us too much what we have to do."

Archbishop Mpundu is not the only voice currently challenging the idea of giving Holy Communion to those living in an objective state of adultery.

Father Gerald Murray appeared on EWTN program The World Over recently and made similar points. He specifically addressed recent controversy surrounding the interpretation of the pope's exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Father Murray told host Raymond Arroyo, "In seminary, they used to tell us that the pope can't wake up tomorrow morning and say there's a fourth person in the Trinity. Now, in a moral teaching, it's a similar thing ... [Y]ou can't wake up and say there's a category of adultery that we no longer call adultery."

The priest and canon lawyer also said to the camera, "You really want to feel good about yourself? Be in a state of grace and don't publicly violate the Church's teaching. That's the message I think is getting lost here."

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