3.1 Doctrinal Background of the Objection
“Those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the Divine Eucharist“.
Similar prohibitions also apply to the:
- Denial of ecclesiastical funerals (Canon 1184) to “other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful” unless they provide “some signs of repentance before death”.
- Conferral of anointing of the sick (Canon 1007), which is “not to be conferred upon those who persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin”.
As outlined at 1.0 Mortal Sin, mortal sin under Canon 916 did not prior to AL constitute an absolute ban on the reception of Holy Communion by the D&R. However, in accordance with the 2000 PCLT Declaration, an absolute ban was provided by Canon 915:
“The Code of Canon Law establishes that “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” (can. 915). In recent years some authors have sustained, using a variety of arguments, that this canon would not be applicable to faithful who are divorced and remarried. It is acknowledged that paragraph 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, issued in 1981, had reiterated that prohibition in unequivocal terms and that it has been expressly reaffirmed many times, especially in paragraph 1650 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992, and in the Letter written in 1994 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Annus internationalis Familiae”.
- FC 84.
- RP 34.
- CCC 1650.
- 1994 CDF Letter at 5.
- 1997 Pontifical Address.
- The 2000 PCLT Declaration.
- SC 29.
This can be seen for example in CCC 1650, which states:
“If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence”.
The 2000 PCLT Declaration further provides that the reason for the absolute exclusion of the D&R from Holy Communion, was that admitting them would be a cause for public scandal, given their objectively grave, enduring and public state of sin:
“The prohibition found in the cited canon, by its nature, is derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes which would oppose the doctrine of the Church …
In effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage …
Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon’s substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading. One cannot confuse respect for the wording of the law (cfr. can. 17) with the improper use of the very same wording as an instrument for relativizing the precepts or emptying them of their substance.
The phrase “and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable. The three required conditions are:
a) grave sin, understood objectively, being that the minister of Communion would not be able to judge from subjective imputability;
b) obstinate persistence, which means the existence of an objective situation of sin that endures in time and which the will of the individual member of the faithful does not bring to an end, no other requirements (attitude of defiance, prior warning, etc.) being necessary to establish the fundamental gravity of the situation in the Church.
c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin …
their condition as persons who are divorced and remarried is per se manifest”.
In particular, unlike other objectively grave and enduring sins, the application of Canon 915 was considered to be always attracted given the public nature of civil divorce and remarriage. The precedents in relation to these other sins are separately considered by this Apologia at 7.0 Slippery Slope, particularly at 7.3 Public Scandal and Canon 915.
This can be seen more clearly in for example CCC 2384, which states:
“Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery”.
In other words, under the interpretation of manifest (i.e. public) used by the 2000 PCLT Declaration, the civil legal recognition of divorce and remarriage was deemed to be “per se manifest” (i.e. by itself without reference to circumstances). Accordingly, it followed that Canon 915 was always required to be applied to those whose divorce and remarriage was recognised by civil law. In the words of the 1994 CDF Letter at 5:
“The structure of the Exhortation and the tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations”.
3.2 Pre-Existing Exceptions
“Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples””.
“Those faithful who are divorced and remarried would not be considered to be within the situation of serious habitual sin who would not be able, for serious motives – such as, for example, the upbringing of the children – “to satisfy the obligation of separation, assuming the task of living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses” (Familiaris consortio, n. 84), and who on the basis of that intention have received the sacrament of Penance”.
“Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches”.
While a schism (i.e. a lack of full communion) exists between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches referred to by this Canon, it does not follow the members of these Eastern Churches have committed the objectively grave sin of schism as outlined in Canon 751:
“[S]chism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him”.
By this canonical definition, someone who was baptized into an Eastern Orthodox Church will not always be canonically considered a schismatic, as they will not have necessarily withdrawn (i.e. detrectatio in the Latin of the Canon) any submission to the Supreme Pontiff, because they were never in submission to the Supreme Pontiff in the first place.
These exemptions do not however provide a precedent for admitting the D&R not living in complete continence to the Sacraments, as objective grave sin is not absent, as acknowledged by AL itself:
- AL 295 – “[A]cts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law”.
- AL 297 – “Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal … this is a case of something which separates from the community”.
- AL 302 – “For this reason, a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved”.
- AL 303 – “Recognizing the influence of such concrete factors, we can add that individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage … Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel … It can also recognize … what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal”.
- AL 305 – “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace”.
3.3 Teaching of AL
This objection arises because AL teaches that there are circumstances where the objectively grave and enduring sins of the D&R will not be public, such that it is possible for them to be admitted to Holy Communion without causing public scandal. Which is to say, the irregular nature of civil remarriage is not required to be considered to be “per se manifest”, and accordingly Canon 915 is not always required to be applied to the D&R.
“However, it is necessary to avoid understanding this possibility as an unrestricted access to the sacraments, or as though any situation might justify it. What is proposed is a discernment that adequately distinguishes each case. What is proposed is a discernment that adequately distinguishes each case. For example, “a new union that comes out of a recent divorce” or “the situation of someone who has repeatedly failed in his family commitments” (298) requires special care. [This applies] as well when there is a sort of defense or flaunting of the particular situation “as if it were part of the Christian ideal” (297). In these more difficult cases, the pastors must accompany with patience, seeking some way of integration (cf. 297, 299) …
It might be convenient that an eventual access to the sacraments be brought about in a reserved way, above all when conflictive situations are foreseen. But at the same time one must not cease to accompany the community, so that it might grow in a spirt of understanding and welcoming, without creating confusion regarding the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage”.
These sections of AL, being AL 297, AL 299 and also AL 300, demonstrates that the basis for the possibility of access to Holy Communion is a reinterpretation of when the objectively grave sin of the D&R is considered to be manifest / public.
In this regard, AL 299 makes clear any admission of the D&R to Holy Communion can only occur when any occasion for public scandal is avoided:
“I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that “the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal”.
AL 297 then provides the circumstances in which the D&R cannot be admitted to Holy Communion, due to the risk of public scandal:
“Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17)”.
AL 300 further provides the circumstances in which the D&R can be admitted to Holy Communion, without risk of public scandal:
“When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard”.
Finally, AL 300 also confirms it intends to provide for greater flexibility within with existing canons, rather than replacing them:
“If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases”.
3.4 Reinterpretation of Manifest
The understanding that the objectively grave sin represented by civil legal recognition of divorce and remarriage is “per se manifest” in the 2000 PCLT Declaration might be thought to be due to a public nature being intrinsic to marriage, in accordance with its characteristics set out for example in FC 11:
“The institution of marriage is … an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator”.
However, being public is not intrinsic to even the Sacrament of Marriage, as for example:
- Chapter 1 of the Decree Concerning The Reform Of Matrimony of the 24th Session of the Council of Trent – “Although it is not to be doubted that clandestine marriages made with the free consent of the contracting parties are valid and true marriages so long as the Church has not declared them invalid, and consequently that those persons are justly to be condemned, as the holy council does condemn them with anathema, who deny that they are true and valid”.
- Canon 1130 – “For a grave and urgent cause, the local ordinary can permit a marriage to be celebrated secretly”.
Rather the objectively grave sin represented by divorce and remarriage has been deemed to be manifest due to the civil legal recognition inherent in its acknowledgement by the relevant State authorities. This is shown for example by:
- FC 82 – “Catholics who … contract a merely civil marriage … cannot of course be likened to that of people simply living together without any bond at all … By seeking public recognition of their bond on the part of the State, such couples show that they are ready to accept not only its advantages but also its obligations”.
- CCC 2384 – “Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery””.
- The 1994 CDF Letter at 7 – “Marriage, in fact, because it is both the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his Church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality”.
That this deeming arises purely from the civil legal recognition of both divorce and remarriage, rather than say the mere fact of a person cohabiting in a de facto relationship, is also shown by these precedents. The Church when speaking of these situations refers to the D&R, rather than for example the divorced and cohabitating (refer FC 84, RP 34, CCC 1650, 1994 CDF Letter, 1997 Pontifical Address, 2000 PCLT Declaration and SC 29). Further CCC 2384 makes clear it is the “Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law” that means “the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery”.
This focus on civil recognition was necessary in order to deem the sin of the D&R to be “per se manifest”, as cohabitation in itself does not manifest an objectively grave sin, given it could be occurring in the course of a valid sacramental marriage. It is the irregular nature of the cohabitation which represents the objectively grave sin, which can only be “per se manifest” if the both divorce without an annulment and the subsequent civil remarriage are considered to be always public.
Accordingly, it can be seen the treatment of civil divorce and remarriage as “per se manifest” is an assessment of empirical fact to which the doctrine underlying Canon 915 is applied, rather than an intrinsic doctrinal reality itself.
However, the assessment of empirical facts to which doctrine are applied, cannot of itself be doctrinal. This is shown for example in:
- VS 27 – “Within Tradition, the authentic interpretation of the Lord’s law develops, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who is at the origin of the Revelation of Jesus’ commandments and teachings guarantees that they will be reverently preserved, faithfully expounded and correctly applied in different times and places. This constant “putting into practice” of the commandments is the sign and fruit of a deeper insight into Revelation and of an understanding in the light of faith of new historical and cultural situations. Nevertheless, it can only confirm the permanent validity of Revelation and follow in the line of the interpretation given to it by the great Tradition of the Church’s teaching and life, as witnessed by the teaching of the Fathers, the lives of the Saints, the Church’s Liturgy and the teaching of the Magisterium”.
- Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 Christmas Address – “It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within … On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change … Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change”.
Therefore, by itself, a different approach to the assessment of empirical facts cannot provide a doctrinal impediment to a novel pastoral practice.
3.5 Authentic Interpretation
“The legislator authentically interprets laws as does the one to whom the same legislator has entrusted the power of authentically interpreting …
If it only declares the words of the law which are certain in themselves, it is retroactive; if it restricts or extends the law, or if it explains a doubtful law, it is not retroactive …
Ecclesiastical laws must be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places, if there are such, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator”.
However the fullness of this power is, in accordance with Canon 16, only exercised where:
“An authentic interpretation put forth in the form of law has the same force as the law itself and must be promulgated”.
In this regard, it is commonly understood that an apostolic exhortation such as AL does not constitute an authentic interpretation under Canon 16. As noted by canonist Francis G. Morrisey in his article Papal and Curial Pronouncements: Their Canonical Significance in Light of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (50 Jurist 102 1990):
“One form of document which the popes use frequently is the apostolic exhortation. More recently, these have been used after the meetings of the Synods of Bishops to put forward the teaching that was studied at the synodal sessions … These documents, as the title explains, are exhortative in nature, and not legislative texts”.
Further in the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (2000), commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, it is noted (Page 72):
“Interpretations not given in the form of law do not bind juridically. The pope often interprets laws by his comments on them in non-legislative texts, such as his allocutions to the Roman Rota. Although these interpretations have great doctrinal value, they are not authentic interpretations of the law. While an authentic interpretation given in the form of law resolves a doubt and closes the debate, other interpretations (even those of the pope himself) allow insights in jurisprudence and canonical doctrine to continue developing within general parameters established in law and church teachings. The legislators of the Church also have teaching authority, but legislative and magisterial acts are distinct and should not be confused”.
However, while an apostolic exhortation is not an authentic interpretation, it may nevertheless be an expression of the mind of the legislator under Canon 17 which must be given legal effect. For example, in response to Pope St John Paul II reiterating the teaching of FC 84 in his 1997 Pontifical Address, the canonist Patrick Travers stated in his article Holy Communion and Catholics Who Have Attempted Remarriage after Divorce: A Revisitation (57 Jurist 517 1997):
“It is plain that the teaching of the Holy Father in his Pontifical Address concerning the exclusion from Holy Communion of Catholics who have attempted remarriage after divorce governs the interpretation of canons 915 and 916 … The Holy Father’s pronouncement did not take the form of an authentic interpretation of canons 915 and 916 and, in fact, did not even refer specifically to those canons. As, however, a direct, formal, and public intervention of the Supreme Pontiff in a matter that necessarily involves the application of these canons of which he was the legislator … the Pontifical Address plainly binds pastors under both general law and under the profession of faith and the oath of fidelity that they have taken upon assuming office”.
Similarly, while equally not contained within an authentic interpretation, legal effect has been given to the restriction of the application of Canon 915 to the D&R who live in complete continence by the apostolic exhortation FC (refer 3.2 above). Further while this easing in the application of Canon 915 has been reiterated by the PCLT, which is empowered to provide authentic interpretations, the 2000 PCLT Declaration was in the form of a declaration rather than an authentic interpretation. In this regard, the canonist John M. Huels has confirmed in his article Classifying Authentic Interpretations of Canon Law (72 Jurist 605 2012):
“The PCLT is the only Roman dicastery that has the power to make authentic interpretations per modum legis. A few Roman congregations occasionally publish responsa or declarations which interpret the law. These are not, however, authentic interpretations given in the form of law but the interpretations of canon 16 §3 given in the form of an administrative act … The PCLT itself at times issues declarations and notifications clarifying a law’s meaning and applicability. These, too, are not authentic interpretations”.
The ability to, and importance of, understanding Canon Law in light of magisterial teaching (rather than only legislative acts) was also confirmed by Pope St John Paul II in his 2003 Canon Law Address at 3:
“A more dangerous reductionism is that which claims to interpret and apply the laws of the Church in a manner that is detached from the teaching of the Magisterium. According to this view, only formal legislative acts and not doctrinal pronouncements would have disciplinary value … At the root of such a conception is an impoverished idea of canon law that identifies it only with the positive dictate of the norm. This is not right: in fact, since the juridical dimension, being theologically intrinsic to the ecclesial reality, can be the object of magisterial, even definitive, teaching”.
Accordingly, prior to AL, the application of Canon 915 to the D&R was already interpreted by reference to the “mind of the legislator” expressed other than via an “authentic interpretation put forth in the form of law”. Therefore:
- The meaning of Canon 915, with reference to the D&R, is sufficiently “doubtful and obscure” as to justify recourse under Canon 16 to the “mind of the legislator” for its interpretation.
- Canon 915 can be reinterpreted by the papal magisterium with canonical effect, without an “authentic interpretation” or even direct reference to the Canon.
- The reinterpretation of Canon 915 provided by AL is in a form which is both canonically valid and binding.
3.6 Substantive Content of Canon 915
Despite this, it could still be objected that while it may be doctrinally possible to reinterpret Canon 915, as noted by the 2000 PCLT Declaration the scope to do so is limited by its substantial content:
“Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon’s substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading. One cannot confuse respect for the wording of the law (cfr. can. 17) with the improper use of the very same wording as an instrument for relativizing the precepts or emptying them of their substance.
The phrase “and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable”.
In this regard, the substantive content of Canon 915 is, in accordance with the 2000 PCLT Declaration, to prevent “scandal … understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing”. That the purpose of Canon 915 is to prevent public scandal is also confirmed by the precedents on which the modern canon is based, some of which are are separately considered by this Apologia at 6.0 Unchanging Practice.
This understanding of Canon 915‘s substantive content is shared by a prominent critic of reception of the Sacraments by the D&R, Raymond Cardinal Burke, who in his article in Periodica de Re Canonica, Vol. 96 (2007) stated its purpose is to ensure “that scandal not be given to the faithful by a careless administration of the Holy Eucharist”.
In light of this substantive content, it can be seen the reason Canon 915 refers to “manifest grave sin”, is that a grave sin must be manifest / public in order for it to create the risk of creating the scandal Canon 915 is intended to prevent.
Accordingly for an interpretation of “manifest” to be consistent with the substantive content of Canon 915, it must include grave sins which are public in a way which gives rise to a risk of scandal, rather than public in any other sense.
What this means can be seen in how “manifest” in Canon 915 has been applied to sins other than of the D&R before the pontificate of Pope Francis. The precedents in relation to these other sins are separately considered by this Apologia in more detail at 7.0 Slippery Slope, particularly at 7.3 Public Scandal and Canon 915.
For example, the notable conservative canonist Dr Edward Peters has advised a same sex relationship without civil recognition would not automatically engage Canon 915 as “However sinful it might be, conduct that is not already widely known in the community is not manifest as canon law understands that term in this context”.
“A manifest sin is one which is publicly known by a large part of the parish or other community; if the sin is not publicly known, refusing communion would be a violation of a person’s right to a good reputation (c. 220)”.
In this regard AL’s reinterpretation of “manifest” is absolutely in accordance with this substantive content of Canon 915, as it is aimed at behaviours which make it more (flaunting the sin) or less (being tactful) likely the objective grave sin will be “widely known in the community” (i.e. public) in a way which cause scandal.
Conversely it is arguable that deeming the irregular nature of civil divorce and remarriage to be “per se manifest” goes beyond that required to be consistent with the substantive content of Canon 915. From an empirical and factual perspective, while the fact a couple are living as man and wife may be obvious, it may not be that the irregular nature of their civil marriage is always relevantly public. For example in New South Wales, Australia, the jurisdiction in which my own marriage was civilly recognised, generally speaking access to marriage records is not available to the general public until 50 years after the wedding.
- Where the irregular nature of a civil remarriage without an annulment is not manifest / public from a pastoral perspective, despite being recognised by civil law, Canon 915 is not always required to be applied to deny access to Holy Communion.
- In accordance with the sacramental discipline of the Church prior to AL, this was not possible, as the irregular nature of civil remarriage without annulment was deemed to be “per se manifest” such that Canon 915 was always required to be applied.
- While the teaching of AL in this regard is therefore a novelty, which changes the sacramental discipline of the Church, it neither contradicts nor even develops the doctrine of the Church.
3.7 Rarity of Mitigating Circumstances
As outlined at 1.0 Mortal Sin in relation to reduced culpability (particularly at 1.7 Rarity of Mitigating Circumstances) it may be further objected while circumstances where the irregular nature of a civil remarriage is not manifest exist in theory, they are in practice extremely rare, and thus insufficient to justify a case by case approach.
However as with reduced culpability, to justify case by case discernment, it is only necessary to establish that valid exceptions exist (even if rare).
3.8 Contradiction of the CCC
- CCC 1650 – “Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions … If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence”.
- CCC 1665 – “The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion”.
- CCC 2384 – “Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery”.
- CCC 2390 – “In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy … The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments … They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion”.
“The Doctrinal Value of the Text … The Catechism of the Catholic Church … is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion”.
“All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate …
In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities”.
Accordingly, while the CCC will need to be revised to reflect the change in the sacramental discipline of the Church introduced by AL, by itself this requirement cannot provide a doctrinal impediment to a novel pastoral practice.