Divorced People Are Not “Outside” the Church

[What follows is a clarification from the Holy Father that you might consider handing along to any of your Catholic friends who are divorced and remarried]

We sometimes hear from our friends who are divorced and remarried:  “I’m excommunicated.”  That’s not true at all.  During the World Meeting of Families held in 2012 in Milan, a Brazilian family raised the issue of divorced couples who have remarried and cannot avail themselves of the Sacraments. Pope Benedict XVI affirmed that “this is one of the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions. Naturally, one very important factor is prevention. This means ensuring that, from the beginning, the act of falling in love is transformed in a more profound and mature decision. Another factor is that of accompanying people during marriage, to ensure that families are never alone but find authentic company on their journey. We must tell people in this situation that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love.” Parishes and other Catholic communities “must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not “outsiders” even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist. They must see that they too live fully within the Church. The Eucharist is real and shared if people truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the “corporeal” assumption of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ.” It is important for divorced couples “to have the chance to live a life of faith, to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, because they also help others to defend the stability of love, of Marriage; theirs is a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith.”

As a canon lawyer, I do a great deal of ministry with divorced and remarried Catholics, especially in helping guide their cases through the Metropolitan Tribunal.  If you need my help, call me.  That’s what I’m here for!