By Staff Reporter
ALLOWING Catholics who have civilly remarried after divorce to receive Communion not only violates church law but is an affront to Catholics who live according to the law. the Vatican has said.
"The reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm" to the Church and to the faithful who obey it, said a declaration issued by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.
The only situations in which such couples may receive the Eucharist are if they separate or if they are committed to refraining from sexual relations, said the declaration released by the Vatican last week.The declaration was signed by Archbishop Julian Herranz, council president, and Bishop Bruno Bertagna, council secretary.
Reaffirming the prohibition of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, the declaration chastised "some authors" who have tried to show that the prohibition is not called for by canon law.
According to the canon in question, those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to he admitted to Holy Communion". Because divorce is not recognised by the church, civil remarriage is not recognised either, and the couple is considered to he living in adultery. Some authors, the declaration said, have argued that simply being divorced and civilly remarried is not enough to invoke the law.
For example, some writers have said, "given that the text speaks of those who 'obstinately' persist in that sin, it would be necessary to verify an altitude of defiance on the part of an individual who had received a legitimate warning from the pastor."
The Vatican declaration said those writers were making "improper use" of the canon's wording, "relativising the precepts or emptying them of their substance".
Archbishop Herranz wrote: "The phrase 'and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin' is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable."
His declaration said the canon should be invoked when an objective judgment would lead to the conclusion that the individuals are engaged in serious sin and that the situation is "obstinately persistent".