Two Bishops Clarify Pope’s Words on ‘Divorce & Remarriage’

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  August 13, 2015   

"It cannot be said that Pope Francis said the divorced and remarried can receive Communion"

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BOGOTÁ, August 13, 2015 ( - Two Colombian prelates are attempting to clarify the Pope's recent comments on civilly divorced and remarried Catholics.

Last week, Pope Francis proclaimed that divorced adulterers — i.e., people who have entered into a civil remarriage without any annulment to their prior sacramental marriage — are not excommunicated and should still be welcomed into Church communities.

The two bishops, Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez of Bogota and Bishop José Falla Robles, auxiliary of Cali, agree with the Holy Father. Nevertheless, they are stressing that his words do not mean it's somehow permissible to give Communion to the civilly divorced and remarried.

Cardinal Salazar insists that such a practice would be wrong, and he maintains that "it cannot be said that Pope Francis said the divorced and remarried can receive Communion."

Of course, Cdl. Salazar also accepts that the civilly divorced and remarried remain part of the Church; however, he doesn't think there's anything new or groundbreaking in saying so. Indeed, he himself reaffirms, "The Church considers them as a member of her community," adding, "but the doctrine is constant and there is no innovation here."

Bishop Falla likewise states, "[T]he Catholic Church has never considered persons who are divorced and remarried to be excommunicated." He goes on to emphasize that "they are the sons of God and of the Church — therefore they should be provided with spiritual care and allowed to participate in the Church's life."

Following the Pope's comments, many media outlets implied in their reports that he had changed the Church's stance on divorce and remarriage. Nearly every headline from a non-Catholic source harped on only one aspect of the Pope's words: the part about being welcoming and accepting.

What many reports conveniently left out of their coverage, though — the part that these Colombian bishops want to make clear — is that the Holy Father said civil remarriage without annulment "contradicts the Christian sacrament." In other words, he hardly endorsed the growing notion that the Church has changed her millenia-old practice in that area.


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