Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts…

…judges Francis’ idea on Christian marriage realized in a partial and analogous way by adultery

  • Pastoral action must aim to help Catholics in civil marriage to regularize their situation with religious marriage

In the case of Catholics who, for ideological and (or) practical reasons, contract strictly civil marriage, excluding, or at least deferring, religious marriage for diverse reasons – including those of scarcity of clergy and ignorance of the extraordinary form of the sacrament. In any case, pastoral action must aim to convince and help these persons to regularize their situation, in such a way that it it adapts itself to their faith and to Christian morals. The Exhortation Familiaris consortio recalls that: “While treating them with great charity and bringing them into the life of the respective communities, the pastors of the Church will regrettably not be able to admit them to the sacraments” (Familiaris consortio, n. 82). Obviously, in this case, the possibility must also not be excluded – since it does not involve faithful who have been excommunicated or interdicted –, of privately admitting them to sacred Communion if they commit to living in continence with a view to contracting canonical matrimony, and if rite dispositi y remoto scandalo. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

…judges Francis’ idea on divorcees as Godparents

  • The Church cannot promote scandal

In effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. That scandal exists even if such behavior, unfortunately, no longer arouses surprise: in fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the conscience that it becomes more necessary for Pastors to act, with as much patience as firmness, as a protection to the sanctity of the Sacraments and a defense of Christian morality, and for the correct formation of the faithful. (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration concerning the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, no. 1, July 7, 2000)

…judges Francis’ ideas on the norms of the Church

  • It is understandable that the Church establish a series of norms for the most exalted of all the Sacraments

Since the Eucharist is the most exalted of all the Sacraments – as in It, not only is divine grace received, but also the very Author of grace – it is understandable that the universal law of the Church establish a series of norms, some even of divine right, not only to protect and regulate the exercising of this right but also to limit it, when so required by the due veneration to the Body and Blood of Christ, the proper formation of consciences and the common good of the ecclesial society. (Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

…judges Francis’ idea on communion to divorced in second union

  • Obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin closes the doors of the Eucharist

The third condition set out in the canon – ‘those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin’- is known to have caused the most conflicting and even polemical commentaries, above all by those who, with reductive and merely positivist interpretation of the norm, have sought to contrast it with the doctrine of the Magisterium. Yet, the norm is clear in determining three requirements for the Minister of the Sacrament to deny Communion: that grave sin be involved, that the sin be manifest in the external forum – not hidden – and that the person persevere obstinately in this state. Among those who are in such an irregular situation are included: a) so-called ‘free unions’; b) those who contract only civil marriage; c) the divorced who enter into ‘civil remarriage’. (Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the Juridical Order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

…judges Francis’ idea on the access to the sacraments

  • Necessity of adequate dispositions in order to receive the Sacraments

‘The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments’ (CIC, can. 213; CCEO, can. 16). This fundamental right of all the faithful – clerics and lay persons, which is a public right derived from the same condition of ‘persona in Ecclesia Christi’ (cf. CIC, can. 96) – corresponds to a duty of the Hierarchy — an obligation of justice, and not just of charity —  that can. 843 formulates in the following manner: ‘Sacred ministers cannot deny the Sacrament to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.’ (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical system of the Church, November 12, 2005)

  • Frequent Communion – only without the awareness of grave sin

Anyone of the faithful, if duly prepared (rite dispositus), has the right – and the duty according to the words of Jesus in his discourse about the Bread of life in the synagogue of Capharnaum (Jn 6:55) – of receiving the Holy Eucharist (cf. can. 213; 912), at least once a year (can. 920). This is the minimal expression of a right-duty, which is linked to the obligation to participate each Sunday or feast of precept in the celebration of the Holy Mass, as well as the recommendation to receive Communion, if the soul is in grace due with no awareness of grave sin. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

  • Obstinacy in manifest grave sin closes the doors to the Sacraments

‘All baptized persons not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion’ (CIC, can. 912).  Since the Eucharist is the most exalted of all the Sacraments – as in It, not only is divine grace received, but also the very Author of grace – it is understandable that the universal law of the Church establish a series of norms, some even of divine right, not only to protect and regulate the exercising of this right but also to limit it, when so required by the due veneration to the Body and Blood of Christ, the proper formation of consciences and the common good of the ecclesial society. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

  • Cases of states of sin which close the doors to the Eucharist

The third condition set out in the canon – those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin’ – is known to have caused the most conflicting and even polemical commentaries, above all by those who, with reductive and merely positivist interpretation of the norm, have sought to contrast it with the doctrine of the Magisterium. Yet, the norm is clear in determining three requirements for the Minister of the Sacrament to deny Communion:  that grave sin be involved, that the sin be manifest in the external forum– not hidden – and that the person persevere obstinately in this state. Among those who are in such an irregular situation are included: a) so-called ‘free unions’; b) those who contract only civil marriage c) the divorced who enter into ‘civil remarriage’. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

  • Communion should be denied to the publically unworthy

Pastors must strive to explain to the faithful implicated the true ecclesial sense of the norm, so that they can understand it or at least respect it. But when situations in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or were not possible, the Eucharistic Minister must refuse to give It to whoever is publicly unworthy. This must be done with extreme charity, attempting to explain in a timely manner the reasons which obliged this. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

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