.- Pope Benedict XVI today addressed the “painful situations” of those who have been married in the Church and have been divorced and remarried, an issue he called a “complex and troubling pastoral problem.” The Holy Father recalled that although divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion, they are still called “to live as fully as possible the Christian life.”
Addressing the issue through his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” the Pontiff underlined the relation between the Eucharist and indissolubility of marriage.
“If the Eucharist expresses the irrevocable nature of God's love in Christ for his Church, we can then understand why it implies, with regard to the sacrament of Matrimony, that indissolubility to which all true love necessarily aspires,” Pope Benedict explained.
“There was good reason for the pastoral attention that the Synod gave to the painful situations experienced by some of the faithful who, having celebrated the sacrament of Matrimony, then divorced and remarried,” he said.
The situation, he continued, “represents a complex and troubling pastoral problem, a real scourge for contemporary society, and one which increasingly affects the Catholic community as well.”
The Holy Father added that the Synod of Bishops, who met to discuss issues surrounding the Eucharist, “confirmed the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist.”
“Yet,” he emphasized, “the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion, listening to the word of God, eucharistic adoration, prayer, participation in the life of the community, honest dialogue with a priest or spiritual director, dedication to the life of charity, works of penance, and commitment to the education of their children.”
Considering further the tremendous pain which divorce can cause the Holy Father said that, “the Synod also recommended devoting maximum pastoral attention to training couples preparing for marriage and to ascertaining beforehand their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the sacrament of Matrimony.”
“Serious discernment in this matter will help to avoid situations where impulsive decisions or superficial reasons lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they are then incapable of honoring. The good that the Church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area,” he said.
Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself,” the Pope concluded.