Pope Francis has reopened a debate that his predecessors had declared shut: that of remarried Catholics receiving communion. Current Church law prohibits divorcees who have remarried from receiving the sacrament. The pope is expected to weigh in on the issue in the coming days. He had previously called together bishops from around the world to discuss the topic, but they were unable to reach an agreement. While Pope Francis
’ reign has been marked by a desire to reconcile religion with the modern world, many Catholics aren ’t willing to compromise their practices. Rev. Wojciech Goralski of Poland refers to remarriage as “a sin against chastity ”, that “is just as bad as remaining in constant sin of other kinds, like stealing ”, according to . Other reverends, however, have been known to unofficially perform the sacrament of Communion for divorced and remarried parishioners. Rev. Hanspeter Heinz estimates that half of German priests do this. St. John Paul II was vehemently against relaxing Communion rules for the remarried. He wrote that, The Wall Street Journal “the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church ’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage ”, in 1981.
Even if Pope Francis allows the remarried to receive Communion, it will not challenge the Church
’s views on the indissolubility of marriage. “The family, founded on indissoluble marriage, unitive and procreative, belongs to the ‘dream ’ of God and of his Church for the salvation of humanity, ” the pope said, as reported by . Cardinal Walter Kasper, who gave the main address at the cardinals Crux ’ 2014 meeting on family questions, proposed that remarried Catholics could receive Communion only after repenting for their divorce. The pope called the speech “profound theology. ” This debate is representative of many others within the Church between those who believe life must be moulded to fit religion, and those who say the Church must bend to accommodate modern life. Those in the second camp have been known to flout catholic doctrines in order to support and bless progressive couples including same-sex partners and divorcees who have remarried. “If a gay couple came to me and asked me for a blessing, I would give them a blessing of course, ” said the Rev. Raimund Blanke. More conservative Catholics fear that relaxing attitudes will weaken the Church ’s morality in order to pander to the people. Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow Grzegorz Rys said, “The Church isn ’t here to say ‘everything is OK, ’ because that ’s not true. If you say there is no sin, you say there is no God. ” Pope Francis has criticised such conservatism, decrying “closed hearts that frequently hide even behind the Church ’s teachings, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families. ”
The only certainty in the debate is that no compromise can be reached. Pope Francis seems to be faced with a decision: to alienate himself from conservative religious heads, or to alienate the Church itself from its people.
Update 11/10/2016: In September 2016, a letter from the Pope to Argentinian bishops was leaked in which, in the guidelines to Amoris Laetitia, he describes how remarried people can receive Communion. Read more