Friday, November 4

The Question is Fundamentally Mis-Guided

It is not uncommon to see discussions of the reception of communion by the divorced and re-married franed as "they are not worthy to recieve communion."

Well, and of course, they're not. But they are not unique in their unworthiness, because we are all unworthy.

The dirty secret about a "divorced and remarried Catholic" is that the phrase, as used with reference to Communion, means "remarried, despite validly being married to another."

The issue at hand, then, is not THE MAN trying to keep poor Catholics down--that is, if by "the MAN" you mean the Pope, and by "down" you mean, "excommunicate them."

A cursory reading of the Gospels is pretty clear: it's more a matter of THE GOD-MAN trying to keep cohabitating Catholics UP. Teaching on divorce is explicitly Biblical in a way that few Christian doctrines are--it is more explicit than the Trinity, frankly.

There is no such thing as a sacramentally "remarried" individual, an individual who has truly "remarried" in a way that is compatible with the Gospel, so long as the other spouse is alive. That's a core Catholic teaching, and it is absolutely not the case that this teaching, written in every Bible on earth, could change.

The divorced and remarried aren't unique in their unworthiness. But, because they are living in a consistant and irregular situation (with someone who is not their sacramental spouse), they are unique in that they for them, to recieve the sacrament in a state of prolounged cohabitation would be an additional sin. They are unique in that to recieve the Eucharist would be sinful.

Since the entire purpose of the Church is to help us grow in holiness and to avoid sin, if we ask the Church "Can married people recieve Communion," the answer will always be "no." This is not a ban, it is a description. And the Church is obliged to give precisely this description each and every time the question is asked, just as we are obliged to give the moral description "lying is sinful" each and every time that question is asked.

Trying to avoid that teaching, as the article to which I link suggests, is disingenious: it is acting like we do not believe something which we clearly believe. And for some reason, an amazing number of cradle-Catholics (converts don't have this problem) are convinced that ingenious disingenuity is somehow a virtue: "If we only look at it this way, we can act as if the teaching doesn't exist!"

But this mindset will never mark a robust approach to Catholicism, because a robust approach to living a radically-committted life in Christ isn't interested in seeing what it can get away with. That's precisely what makes it radical.

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