The head of the Vatican's council for the family, affirmed that the Catholic Church always embraces those who are divorced and remarried “with truth and mercy.”
“Those who are divorced and have entered into a new union cannot be admitted to the Eucharist and to sacramental absolution as long as they remain in a state of objective contradiction of the demands of Christian marriage,” Cardinal Ennio Antonelli explained. However, they “should be helped to find the mercy of God ‘through other means’.”
The Church is with them and encourages them to “remain humble, to pray to understand and follow ever more the will of God,” the cardinal said. He added that they should also commit to doing good works, reflect on the “meaning of moral norms” and always trust “in the infinite mercy of God.
Cardinal Antonelli spoke March 29 at a conference for Latin American bishops who are devoted to family ministry. The event will run through April 1.
He referred to a number of challenges that families today must confront, including secularization and the sexual revolution. The cardinal said these problems must be addressed by a decisive commitment to living lives of holiness.
This holiness will make them “more merciful toward Christians who are living inconsistently, toward those who are indifferent, those who are combative toward the Church, those who destroy or do not establish authentic family bonds, those who promote ideologies and laws that are contrary to family and to life, those who are violent and those who take advantage of the poor.”
“Obviously,” he said, “mercy is inseparable from the truth. What we want and desire is their well-being. God has sent us, as he sent Jesus, not to ‘condemn the world, but to save it’.”
“Apart from that, only God knows our hearts and to what degree a person is open to, or is a reflection of, Christ the Savior. For our part, we must be willing to dialogue and to embrace everyone, so that all might feel loved by the Church, and through her, by God,” the cardinal added.
The Church, “constituted to be an effective sign of salvation, should only give her cooperation to Christ, the only Savior, through prayer, sacrifice, testimony and the proclamation of the Gospel,” he continued. “The Lord will make use of her cooperation to draw men to himself through mysteries and innumerable means of grace,” he said.
As bishops, the cardinal told them, “Our duty is to lead our ministries to awaken the abundance of energy that is more or less dormant in the body of the Church.
“What should concern us most, as Leo XIII said, is not the strength of those who are evil, but the inertia of those who are good.”