In an interview published Thursday in the Italian daily La Reppublica, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said the issue of no Communion for the divorced and remarried is closed.
“The case is closed. There is no doubt. The divorced and remarried cannot receive Communion. It makes no sense to raise hopes that the position will be changed,” he said.
The cardinal noted that these cases represent “painful and dramatic situations, and they are a wound that we make our own. But everything has been considered with pastoral prudence and clarity of teaching.”
Those who have divorced and entered into a new union do not have “ a true marriage,” the cardinal maintained, “and they are in an objective situation that is against the will of God and does not allow for them to approach Communion. Therefore I don’t think it is acceptable to discuss this issue as if it were an open question, as if the doors were left open for the future, creating hopes of a possible change.”
The cardinal said that from a doctrinal perspective the reason is clear. He noted the different biblical passages on marriage and referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states, “The Church does not have the power to go against divine wisdom.” He also recalled Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, in which he called for greater pastoral care for those in such situations, while at the same time reiterating that such unions are a violation of the commandments.
Cardinal Lopez Trujillo’s comments came on the heels of statements by Cardinal Waltar Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, who said that more discussion was needed on the issue.
“Cardinal Kasper is an important person, a theologian. I think he wanted to discuss the pastoral needs of divorced and remarried couples and what he said was not well understood.”
Cardinal Lopez Trujillo noted that Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent a letter to Cardinal Kasper and two other German bishops in which he pointed out that “no modification of this doctrine is possible.”
“The letter was signed by Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by John Paul II. You cannot put the current Pope in contradiction with Cardinal Ratzinger. No modification of this doctrine is possible. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith never left a door open. It is not a disputed or disputable question,” he stated.
For this reason, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo does not believe the Pope will reverse the prohibition of Communion for the divorced and remarried in his expected post-synod exhortation. “The Pope has stated with great clarity that it is not possible for them to approach the Eucharist. He has said that they should be attended to with mercy.”
Cardinal Lopez Trujillo also explained that the recent Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist “left no room for doubt about the teaching of the Church in their approved proposals. It is not an open question. When the Lord commands, the bishops and the faithful must obey. One should not expect Benedict XVI to go against Pope Wojtyla or against the teaching that has been calmly accepted by the Church, and known to us all.”
Those who have divorced and remarried can receive Communion, the cardinal clarified, “if they promise to live as brother and sister and refrain from sexual relations.”