CDF Clarification on Divorced and Remarried Catholics | Michael J. Miller | CWR
“God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church."
Recent headlines give the impression that the Catholic Church may soon change her discipline about divorce and remarriage. Pope Francis, in his interview with a Jesuit confrere, sympathetically described a woman who after a failed first marriage has happily remarried and now has five children. The Pope has called an extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops in October 2014 to discuss “the pastoral challenges of the family”. A German diocese drew up its own guidelines for divorced and remarried Catholics, allowing some of them to receive Holy Communion under some circumstances.
What is the average Catholic to think?
To promote a more in-depth understanding on “this pressing subject”, so that clergy may instruct the faithful “in a manner consistent with the truth of Catholic Doctrine”, L’Osservatore Romano published a lengthy article by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarifying the matter. The article, entitled “The Power of Grace: On the indissolubility of marriage and the debate concerning the civilly remarried and the sacraments”, appeared in the issue dated October 23 (actually published on Tuesday, October 22).
In the introductory paragraph Abp. Gerhard Ludwig Müller notes that “the problem concerning members of the faithful who have entered into a new civil union after a divorce is not new. The Church has always taken this question very seriously and with a view to helping the people who find themselves in this situation.” Given the increasing numbers of Catholics in this situation in recent decades, now “even firm believers are seriously wondering: can the Church not admit the divorced and remarried to the sacraments under certain conditions? ... Have theologians really explored all the implications and consequences?”
Of course this is not a matter of public opinion or evolving social norms.