Pope Francis on Holy Communion for the Divorced and Remarried and the Motu Proprio

Photo Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.
Courtesy of Vatican Radio

Jean Marie Guenois, Le Figaro
Holy Father, you obviously cannot anticipate the debate of the synod fathers, we know that well.
But we want to know just before the Synod, in your heart as a pastor, if you really want a solution for the divorced and remarried. We want to also know if your ‘motu proprio’ on the speeding-up of annulments has closed this debate. Finally, how do you respond to those who fear that with this reform, there is a de-facto creation of a so-called 'Catholic divorce.' Thank you.
Pope Francis
I’ll start with the last one. In the reform of the procedure and the way, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have entered. You could say that those who think this is 'Catholic divorce' are wrong because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path. Continuing with the third (question): the document…. I don’t remember the third but you correct me.

Jean Marie Guenois, Le Figaro
The question was on the notion of Catholic divorce, if the motu proprio has closed the debate before the synod on this theme?
Pope Francis
This was called for by the majority of the Synod fathers in the synod last year: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there's an appeal, there's the appeal then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Papa Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country, there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it's not something essential to the process. 
The procedure changes, jurisprudence changes, it gets better. At that time it was urgent to do this, then Pius X wanted to streamline and made some changes but he didn’t have the time or the possibility to do it. The Synod fathers asked for it, the speeding up of the annulment processes. And I stop there. This document, this ‘motu proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It's doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn't a sacrament, for lack of freedom for example, or for lack of maturity, or for mental illness.
There are so many reasons that bring about (an annulment), after a study, an investigation. That there was no sacrament. For example, that the person wasn't free. Another example: now it’s not so common but in some sectors of common society at least in Buenos Aires, there were weddings when the woman got pregnant: 'you have to get married.'
In Buenos Aires, I counselled my priests, strongly, I almost prohibited them to celebrate weddings in these conditions. We called them “speedy weddings”, eh? (They were) to cover up appearances. And the babies are born, and some work out but there's no freedom and then things go wrong little by little they separate (and say) 'I was forced to get married because we had to cover up this situation” and this is a reason for nullity. So many of them.

Cases of nullity, you have, you can find them (the reasons) on the internet there all there are many, eh? Then, the issue of the second weddings, the divorcees, who make a new union. You read what, you have the “instrumentum laboris.” what is put in discussion seems a bit simplistic to me to say that the Synod is the solution for these people and that they can have communion. That's not the only solution. No, what the “Instrumentum laboris” proposes is a lot more, and also the problem of the new unions of divorcees isn't the only problem. In the “Instrumentum laboris” there are many. For example, young people don’t get married. They don’t want to get married. It's a pastoral problem for the Church.
Another problem: the affective maturity for a marriage. Another problem: faith. 'Do I believe that this is for ever? Yes, yes, yes, I believe.' 'But do you believe it?' the preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there's a preparation for 8 years, and then, its not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses! 4 times… Something isn't right. It’s something the Synod has to deal with: how to do preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things.
There are many problems, they're all are listed in the “Instrumentum laboris." But, I like that you asked the question about 'Catholic divorce.' That doesn't exist. Either it wasn't a marriage, and this is nullity -- it didn't exist. And if it did, it's indissoluble. This is clear. Thank you.

Comments in the box, if you have any thoughts. I think you might just have some! Let's have some 'parrhesia'.

There is a lot in there and the stand-out quote centres on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. The answer to the question of a 'solution' that involves the divorced and remarried receiving Holy Communion is the thinly disguised non-answer of...

"That's not the only solution."

However, our survey of 2,000 years of Catholic teaching from the beginning said

'Far from a 'solution', that's not a possibility at all.' 

His Holiness discusses other issues arising from his trip to the US. The full interview with Pope Francis can be read here.

Update; Ed Peters of In the Light of the Law has made some headway through the thicket of these interview responses. His review of His Holiness's comments can be read here.


Anonymous said…
It seems as though the Holy Father is confusing sacramentality and validity. Or is it I who am confused? Perhaps there was something in the context that I missed, or some problem in translation? Nonetheless, the use of "sacramental" rather than "valid" is unfortunate.
Lynda said…
He is trying to veil the evil of the Motu Proprios and the Synod by confusing issues, obscuring the truth, creating false problems to which he has solution, etc. logical fallacy after logical fallacy. Obscurantism. The truth of marriage and adultery is simple - a child can understand it. The Pope is creating general doubt about the validity of marriages generally (not to mention promoting mortal sin and sacrilege as standard) - which is diabolic.
Anonymous said…
This is not the speech of mountain, it's a mountain of speech, a chumpatz, nothing more, nothing less, and after all there's nothing Catholic in it, a total hagan lìo. Mercy on us, oh Lord. God bless+
WakeUp In-Deed said…
"It seems as though the Holy Father is confusing sacramentality and validity." Not surprising w/VC2ers - apply this statement to the rest of the sacraments (not only marriage): mass/holy communion, confession, baptism (which doesn't mention 'faith'), holy orders, "sacrament of the sick", confirmation. Seems to me what people who are calling themselves "Catholic" should be asking here is did VC2 change sacramental theology so much, that not only are these so-called'priests' (who don't sacrifice, but evolve dinner w/a big bang and probably never had even a valid sacrament of holy orders conferred on them) not conferring the 'sacraments' (i.e. grace) on anyone, they don't even have the intention. And thus NOT even valid.

Also surprises me his offhand tossing off of marriages due to pregnancy. He states they are for "appearances" (shows what his motives are). I always understood these marriages were for the sake of the CHILDREN. Obviously, children do not figure in his universe except as objects of sexual desire and corruption for pedophiles and perverse servants of Satan. Or he believes children don't need a mother and father (or he figures more fodder like JP1 for the sodomites to get their hands on through 'adoption'). He doesn't recognize serious irresponsibility, because he is gravely irresponsible himself. That's why he can disport himself in front of the U.S. Congress and United Nations that have legalized the brutal murder of these same babies ('pregnancies') and promote the candidacy of Liar Joe Bork Biden w/out ever standing up against funding for planned parenthood or CRS or Caritas when they are promoting baby murder.

I also note how he metioned St. Pius X. How he wants to co-opt any criticism/opposition. And how (check out the remnant web site) eager the SSPX seems to want to fall right in w/his wickedness. Bishop Lefebvre must be turning over in his grave to see Fellay wanting to come under the N.O. just as they accept open sodomy, fornication, adultery, abortion, and the complete corruption of marriage (as they already did the mass).

"but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament."

I agree with Simon Platt and wonder whether this is where the HF struggles with his Catechism: marriage is indissoluble when it is valid, whether that be a natural or a sacramental marriage. It does not have to be a sacrament in order to be valid. Perhaps because he comes from a country which is nominally Catholic, he has never encountered the phenomenon of natural marriage.
Nicolas Bellord said…
This is truly amazing as Simon Platt and Deacon Augustine have pointed out. Is a valid marriage indissoluble or not? Whether or not it is sacramental is irrelevant in my understanding. This is a truly fundamental point. Is nobody going to clarify this for us? Just where is all this going to end?
Liam Ronan said…
"Glossolalia or (speaking in tongues) is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning, in some cases as part of religious practice. Some consider it as a part of a sacred language."

Sorry, Bones. Got a bad case of Bergolio burn-out.

A Bastard said…
I have to make this comment anonymously, because my mother is still alive. Perhaps I would still be anonymous even if she were no longer living. (I mean, for her sake, not for the sake of making strong comments anonymously.)

I am a bastard. At least, I was born so. My parents married shortly after my birth. Of course I have never discussed the circumstances of this with either of them, but I suppose that their marriage was mostly for my sake. I am grateful to them for that, especially grateful to my late father, and shan't say any more here about the circumstances of my parents' youth or of their marriage. But I shall offer this bit of parrhesia: it's an absolute disgrace for prelates, however high, to cast aspersions on the validity of my parents' marriage, or of marriages like it.

Furthermore, I have absolutely no doubt that my parents were faithful to each other throughout their life together, despite some difficulties.

In addition, Lynda says "The truth of marriage and adultery is simple - a child can understand it." My experience with my own children suggests that she is quite right.
Mark Thomas said…
I appreciate very much His Holiness Pope Francis' statements in regard to his reform of the annulment process. I reject the notion advanced by certain folks that Pope Francis has the evil intention of destroying marriage via the reforms in question.

Such claims are, to me, preposterous and, far more disturbing, anti-Catholic. The claims in question are the result of people who believe that they are able to read Pope Francis' mind and heart. In turn, the "clairvoyants" have ascribed evil intention to Pope Francis' reform of the annulment process.

I have every reason to ascribe good will to Pope Francis' reform of the annulment process. In turn, I have every reason to reject the anti-Catholic "mind-reading" process that his critics have employed in

Now, a Catholic has every right to make known his or her concerns to Churchmen. His Holiness Pope Francis has stated that he's open to criticism (offered in respectful Catholic fashion). He exhorts people to make know their concerns.

Therefore, discussion in regard to the Pope's reform of the annulment process is valid. Again, what isn't valid is to attribute evil intention to the Pope's reform in question.

Finally, only time will tell as to whether Pope Francis' reform in question succeeded as he has hoped.


Mark Thomas
Barbara Jensen said…
A very trusted spiritual advisor told me once, 'the Truth is very simple. Mistrust complications.' Perhaps this is why I am so distrustful of the present 'bishop of Rome'. What he speaks is indeed a thicket of logical fallacies and obscurantism. Through his verbal meanderings this prelate creates doubt and that is truly of the devil Thanks Lynda for saying it so well.
Pope Peter Pan said…
"I always understood these marriages were for the sake of the CHILDREN. Obviously, children do not figure in his universe except as objects of sexual desire and corruption for pedophiles and perverse servants of Satan. Or he believes children don't need a mother and father (or he figures more fodder like JP1 for the sodomites to get their hands on through 'adoption'). He doesn't recognize serious irresponsibility..."

Obviously since Peter Pan's minimized the gravity of the sin of abortion, these parents shouldn't get married, but abort "the pregnancy" (maybe their grade school teacher can transport them w/Planned Parenthood w/out their parents knowledge), confess they did it to spare "mother earth" taking care of so many babies which are causing her to overheat w/climate change of life due to over population and get on to their next partner maybe of the same gender (or pre pubescent) to save any more "pregnancies" being conceived.
Anonymous said…
It is my understanding (under correction from experts and better informed commenters) that a Catholic is obliged to marry according to the sacramental form of marriage prescribed by the Church, and that this is a matter of validity (ie. marrying in a registry office is not valid for a baptised Catholic). However, if someone is not a Catholic but is a baptised Christian, then they are not obliged like that, so no matter where or how they get married it is valid and binding as long as it is free, consummated and with the right intention. If someone is not baptised at all, then their marriage may not be bindingly valid in all circumstances. This does make for some confusing outcomes in some cases.
Nicolas Bellord said…
The Bones has referred to Ed Peters blog at:


which explains a lot. He finishes by saying:

"those discussing the canon law of marriage must know what those terms mean and don’t mean, as the case may be, for the discussion to be useful."

Hear, hear and I wonder whether he was thinking of Pope Francis in saying that!

Peters says that natural marriage is indissoluble i.e. it does not have to be sacramental to be indissoluble. I am not clear as to when marriage became sacramental - was it when Jesus spoke about it? Presumably it is all baptised Christians who marry who get the sacrament.

As to the remarks about women pregnant at the time of the marriage I can see the need for caution in marrying them to make sure there is proper consent but to almost prohibit them is going too far.

As usual muddle and confusion; better just to ignore him until he defines something ex cathedra.

Anonymous said…
Another canon lawyer, Fr. Gerald Murray has written a post entitled "Scrap the New Annulment Rules" on "The Catholic Thing" blog. Fr. Murray consulted with other canonists, and has written about this consultation. I quote the last three paragraphs of his essay below, and also provide the link.

"This new shorter process cannot be described as impartial set of rules aimed at arriving at an informed and fair determination by the diocesan bishop as to whether a petitioner’s claim that his/her marriage was null is proven or not proven. If the rules were impartial, then either outcome would have equal legal force. That is not the case here.

The unmistakable aim of this kind of legislating is clear: declare marriages null whether it takes a shorter time or a longer time. The shorter process is clearly not thought of by its authors as possessing sufficient integrity to arrive at a determinative finding upholding the validity of a marriage, since such a finding has no legal effect, but is rather simply an automatic cause for re-hearing the case in the ordinary process.

One is left to ask: why should the Church institute a process that can only be trusted when it produces one outcome – a declaration of nullity? In fact, such a process does not respond to the demands of justice, and does harm to the Church’s effort to uphold the indissolubility of marriage. This flawed innovation is just one of many reasons why it would be best simply to set aside this new legislation."

Here is the link:http://www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/09/23/scrap-the-new-annulment-rules/

viterbo said…
"The Synod fathers asked for it, the speeding up of the annulment processes. And I stop there."
What is the Vicar of Christ? The "pushmi-pullyu"...?
If Mr Bones posts this wee comment, would be interested to here if folks think, that, in the time of the Great Apostasy, the "pushmi-pullyu" is the Universal voice of Christ through His Vicar (this stuff ain't private...it is, because of 'aggiornamento media = universal).
Unknown said…
Frank doesn't need to be pushed or pulled, Viterbo. He may hide behind the synod fathers' machinations, but he is every bit the apostate and heretic that they are.

Seattle kim
susan said…
"Holy Father, you obviously cannot anticipate the debate of the synod fathers, we know that well...."

Uhhhhhhhh.....not so well....

"Document ALREADY being drafted by Jesuit group to allow communion for divorced and other aberrations"...

viterbo said…
@the bastard (although I prefer the French pronounciation). I grew up in an 'adoptive' family where that word could have a real punch - not for me, but for a sibling. Your witness to marriage and its generational impact is all too necessary.
Annie said…
The word "vow" comes from the Latin "votus" meaning "a solemn promise to a god, a solemn pledge". When two people exchange marriage vows they are calling on God to witness their solemn pledge to be faithful to each other - to the exclusion of all others - until death parts them. People marry each other and God, the priest/minister/rabbi/judge/county clerk/ship's captain, etc. simply witness it. Even if there is no human witness to preside over the marriage ceremony - which is a quite likely scenario in parts of this world - the two people exchanging vows still will be validly married because there is a Divine Witness to their marriage. Again, it is in the very nature of a vow that you are calling on God to witness what you are pledging to do. Another example would be in days past when you gave testimony in court, you would place your hand on the Bible and "solemnly promise" to tell the truth - that was a vow and to lie was considered blasphemy because you were lying not only to everyone else but to God. God looks at marriage vows the same way - they are said in His Presence and so to break them is an act of blasphemy (along with a possible act of adultery - there are other ways of breaking one's marriage vows, such as abusing one's spouse, or deserting them).

Anyway, that's what the nuns taught back in 1961. They called it a "natural marriage" and said it's a real marriage. I remember running it by my parents who said, "Of course that's true". It seems Catholics back then had a clarity regarding marriage that is sorely lacking today in our Church, of all places.

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