Communion for the Divorced and Remarried: a Defense of Amoris Laetitia
February 7, 2018
This article is a systemic summery of the most controversial section in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. In doing so it addresses all of the major questions and objections that people have regarding the pope’s teaching on divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion.
My desire is that this article will bring needed clarity to a nuanced and controversial topic. Please read and share it with others.
What does Amoris teach about divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receiving Communion?
In chapter eight of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis teaches that individuals in objective situations of sin (being divorced and remarried), but who are not subjectively culpable because of mitigating factors (insufficient knowledge and/or consent) may, in certain cases, receive Communion. (See paragraph 305 including footnote 351 in the appendix of this article.)
This is entirely in line with the Church’s teaching concerning mortal sin. The Catechism says that mortal sin prevents one from legitimately receiving Holy Communion (CCC 1415). However, the Catechism also says that “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice” (CCC 1859). Further, the Catechism states that, “Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors” (CCC 1735).
Here are a couple of examples of individuals who may fit this situation. Also, it is worth keeping in mind that we are blessed in the United States to have a functioning tribunal in every diocese and that many areas in third world countries don’t have tribunals at all.