Kiwi bishop challenges Synod to review communion ban for divorced
Archbishop John Dew of Wellington has told the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome that the Church should re-think its rule that bars divorced Catholics who remarry from receiving communion.
The Leading the Charge news agency reports that Archbishop Dew compared the plight of Catholics who wanted to receive communion but were barred from it to hunger in the world. Dew spoke on on Tuesday evening and the Vatican released the text on Wednesday.
The Church does not recognise civil divorce and only allows annulments, rulings by Church courts that say a marriage never existed because it lacked prerequisites such as free will or psychological maturity by one or both partners.
Millions of Catholics around the world who have divorced in civil courts and remarried outside the Church still consider themselves good Catholics. But they are banned from receiving communion, which the Church teaches is the body and blood of Christ, because they are considered to be living in sin.
"As bishops, we have a pastoral duty and an obligation before God to discuss and debate the difficulties burdening so many of our people," Dew told the synod of more than 250 bishops who will draft final recommendations to the Pope at the end of their three-week meeting.
"Our Church would be enriched if we were able to invite dedicated Catholics, currently excluded from the Eucharist, to return to the Lord's table," he argued.
"There are those whose first marriages ended in sadness; they have never abandoned the Church but are currently excluded from the Eucharist," he said.
While the late Pope John Paul was firm on their exclusion from the Eucharist, Pope Benedict has indicated that he might be more flexible.
He told priests in July that the plight of the divorced and remarried should undergo further "study" because theirs was "a particularly painful situation."
The Pope said at the time that such Catholics should be welcomed into parishes even if they could not receive communion.
Review communion ban for divorced, bishop says (Leading the Charge 5/10/05)
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6 Oct 2005