VATICAN CITY (CNS): Divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who suffer because they cannot receive Communion must be welcomed in parishes as Catholics who witness to the importance of the Eucharist, Pope Benedict XVI said.
At the same time, he said, if a priest, acting out of compassion for their suffering, gives them the Eucharist, he risks undermining the dignity and indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage.
“We all know that this is a particularly painful situation,” the Pope said on July 25 during a meeting with about 140 priests, religious and deacons from the Valle d’Aosta region where he was vacationing.
The Pope added that he knew the issue could get complicated and said, “Given these people’s situation of suffering it must be studied”.
The meeting, which was closed to the media, lasted about two hours.
The Pope’s opening remarks and responses to questions from the priests were published on July 27 in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Asked specifically about ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Pope Benedict told the priests, “None of us has a ready made solution, including because each person’s situation is different”.
He said that when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he asked several bishops’ conferences and experts to study the problem, which in effect was “a sacrament celebrated without faith”.
Pope Benedict said Catholics must keep two things in mind: First, that even if divorced or civilly remarried Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist, they are part of the Church and are loved by Christ; and second, that suffering out of love for God and the Church is “a noble suffering”.
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