May divorced people, living irregularly together, receive communion?

In its Nº 1650, the (Universal) Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Today, in many countries, Catholic people who resort to divorce according to civil laws and who also legally contract a new union are numerous. The Church, faithfully following the words of Jesus Christ, claims that, the first marriage being still valid, this new union cannot be accepted. (“Whoever repudiates his wife and marries another woman is committing adultery against the first one; and if she repudiates her husband and marries another one, she is guilty of adultery” (Mc 10, 11-12) ).


If divorced people legally remarry, they put themselves in a situation which objectively contradicts the Law of God. Therefore, they may not receive communion while they remain in such a situation and, for the same reason, they cannot perform certain ecclesiastic responsibilities.


Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penitence can only be conceded to those who repent for having violated the sign of Alliance and of fidelity to Jesus Christ and commit themselves to a life of absolute continence”.


A wrongly understood compassion is sometimes invoked, in order to accept that divorced people who live irregularly may have access to communion: It is a wrongly understood compassion because, if they are fully conscious of their situation, they would be induced or allowed to commit a sacrilege, for every deadly sin from which one does not repent prevents one to honestly receive the body and the blood of Our Lord and brings still more danger to eternal salvation and there is no higher love than the one that looks for such salvation for ever.


Saint Paul says:“Therefore, whoever eats this Bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty in the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup; for he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body of the Lord, eats and drinks a judgment to himself”.(1 Cor 11, 27-29)


And it is presumed that he who lives with another woman who is not his wife, if he commit this advisedly, lives in deadly sin and, therefore, his communion would be sacrilegious if he not does not repent and changes his situation accordingly. And such a sacrilege would be even heavier for his conscience (although through the infinite mercifulness of God even sacrilege can be forgiven).


In order to honestly receive the Eucharist, he who has committed a deadly sin must take confession with the firm purpose of correcting his mistake, without which there could not exist a sincere repenting. If a divorced person who lives in an irregular state repents, it is logical that he stops living with the person with whom he committed adultery.


But, as the Italian Bishops Conference says in its Matrimonial Pastoral letter for exceptional or difficult cases: “In case that the situation does not allow a factual reversibility, due to the advanced age or to the sickness of one or both, to the existence of children needing help or education or other similar reasons, the Church allows their sacramental absolution and reception of the Eucharist if, sincerely repented, they decide to discontinue their sexual relation and transform their relation to mutual friendship, esteem and support. In such a case they may receive sacramental absolution and Communion, in a church where they are not known, in order to avoid scandal”.