Divorce and communion: why the Pope’s seeming inaction is appropriate

Home S&S Opinion Divorce and communion: why the Pope’s seeming inaction is appropriate
Divorce and communion: why the Pope’s seeming inaction is appropriate
This September 2015 poll reflects Catholics’ changing views on family, which have led the Pope to address the issue. (TNS)

Staff Writer

The 266th Pope, Francis, has been the most progressive Pope in recent history. He has made significant overhauls to the Catholic doctrine and has urged Catholics to dedicate themselves more to the core values of Christianity: love and forgiveness.

His latest push came in a 256 paged document entitled Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love,” which focused largely on marriage and clarifications of the Catholic Church’s current stance on it. In this document, Pope Francis urged priests and parishioners to be more lenient when conducting communion and asked them to allow divorced Catholics to partake in the ceremony.

Throughout the document, however, Francis seemed to skirt the topic of divorce, never asking to officially change the Church’s rules or to exempt divorced Catholics from their sin, and his reluctance to do so is not without reason. The Bible often emphasizes the sanctity of marriage and states that the violation of marriage through divorce (unless under special conditions) is a clear violation of Church law and is equivalent to adultery.

The reason that divorcees are restricted from communion is grounded in the Catholic belief that communion is a sacred ceremony performed only by Catholics who fulfill three main requirements. The first is simple: someone who wishes to partake must have been baptized. The second and third are slightly more convoluted. A Catholic must not commit any premeditated mortal sin. If he or she has committed a sin, he or she must repent before partaking in communion. Because divorce is considered adultery, and thus a mortal sin, divorcees are not to partake in communion.

Therefore, if Pope Francis were to allow divorcees to participate in communion, he would be going directly against the traditions and teachings of the Church. As such, his actions are completely in line with Catholicism. Pope Francis is simply encouraging priests to be more lenient in enforcing specific traditions – something that is completely within his power, and even duty, as Pope.

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