COLOGNE (ChurchMilitant.com) - A top Vatican official is affirming that only chaste divorcees may receive the Eucharist, and remarried divorcees can participate in other ways in the life of the Church.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made these comments in a recent interview with Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, a newspaper in Cologne, Germany.
The cardinal spoke about the indissolubility of marriage, saying that according to the words of Jesus, "A second marriage or a second spouse isn't possible as long as the lawful spouse is still alive."
But emphasizing his good relationship with the Pope, he clarified that for such people there exists "other theologically valuable and legitimate forms of participation in ecclesial life" which don't include "the oral reception of Holy Communion."
The cardinal further cleared up the question raised at the Synod on the Family last October by Müller's German language group concerning the possibility of the divorced and remarried being admitted to Holy Communion.
Cardinal Müller affirmed that reception of Communion would only be allowed "if the spouses live together as brother and sister," meaning in sexual abstinence.
This reaffirmed Pope St. John Paul II's teaching in paragraph 84 of his 1981 apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio":
This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.
Pope Francis recently spoke to this same issue on his return trip from Mexico. When asked by a reporter about the reception of the Eucharist by the divorced and remarried, the Pontiff responded,
Integrating in the Church doesn't mean receiving Communion. I know married Catholics in a second union who go to church, who go to church once or twice a year and say I want Communion, as if joining in Communion were an award. It's a work towards integration, all doors are open, but we cannot say, "from here on they can have Communion." This would be an injury also to marriage, to the couple, because it wouldn't allow them to proceed on this path of integration.
To see the theology behind these questions, watch "Remaining in the Truth—Kasper's Broken Mercy."