Nonetheless, there is another possible way: not being able to receive communion reminds them of the need to enter into a journey. To take this route the Church invites them to pray, to approach God. Only from closeness to Christ will they receive true mercy: the powerful grace that allows them to change their lives, to recognize the promise, accepting that they cannot be "one flesh” with someone else, and to be able to solve that situation.
Therefore the pastoral question that this discussion raises is this: could these baptized people receive communion without them thinking that their life choice is justified, that they do not need conversion in this field, that the wound can be covered without being healed?
Culture: How to Build it
In accompanying people, the Church always opens them more toward the good of all men. With the family as the foundation of society and the native place of human bonds, we cannot lose sight of the social aspect of the debate. Accordingly, the discipline of the Church also provides an opportunity for divorced people who have entered a new civil union to open themselves, beyond their particular problems, to the common good of men. Not receiving communion means to abandon the desire to have their situation recognized as good and so testifies, in a paradoxical way, to the indissolubility of marriage and the real possibility of a love which lasts forever. It is a testimony that they will pass on to their children. They will learn the power of God's faithfulness and the stability of his promises. The message is clear: it is we, not the Lord, who has changed.
In this way we understand another aspect of mercy: the "mercy toward culture,” by which young people are ensured that it is possible to love forever; by which it is said to the marriages in trouble to continue fighting for their love; by which the forgiving grace of Jesus is testified in front of the world.
Here comes, therefore, a third question: if the indissolubility of marriage would be affirmed and yet communion given to some divorced people who have started new unions, how do we prevent society from thinking that in practice the Church has capitulated to divorce? Even more, how do you avoid a snowball effect?
What is at Stake?
What it is at stake is not simply a marginal issue. In the face-to-face encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus knew how to put his finger on her wound, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.” Nor is it simply a disciplinary matter. The Pharisees understood it this way, always looking at exceptional cases. Jesus, however, cleared their hindered memory, and thus clarified the cultural dialogue. What is at stake is the original plan of the Father for each person, and the power of his grace to heal our wounds. When talking about the uniqueness of every person and every situation, and the fact that this may force us to identify and decide on a case-by-case basis, are we not following a different path from the one indicated by Jesus? Can this way be fruitful?
What can we expect from the Synod? Someone has dared to say that if the issue of communion for divorced couples in a new union were not addressed with new courage and frankness, it would be better to have no Synod. What a strange conclusion. Before the family’s wreckage in the West, does the Church not have a word of hope?
Yes, along with the Holy Father, we want a Synod on the Family: a Synod which engenders hope in young people because they know that they are accompanied on the adventure of saying ‘yes’ to marriage. A Synod generating hope in spouses when they see a living Church that does not leave them alone. A Synod drawing the Church close to parents in the most difficult task of rearing their children toward a great and beautiful life. A Synod capable of fostering, in the midst of the “Demographic Winter,” a culture of fruitfulness (generativity). A Synod that promotes a “battlefield hospital” where wounded families could find healing. Here there is fruitfulness. Because this is what it is at stake in the next Synod: either fruitfulness or sterility.
The article was originally published in Spanish in Revista Ecclesia, no. 3722, April 12, 2014. Posted with permission from the author.
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