4.0 Sacred Scripture

This objection is that, as FC 84 bases its exclusion of the D&R from Holy Communion upon Sacred Scripture, the exclusion is of itself an unchangeable doctrinal proposition.

4.1 Doctrinal Background of the Objection

FC 84 does not indicate the Sacred Scripture to which it is referring, but merely states:

[T]he Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried”.   

As with “objectively contradict[ing] … the Eucharist” (refer 5.0 Objective Contradiction), this reference was reiterated in:

Further, the 1998 CDF Memo at 3 a) stated:

Epikeia and aequitas canonica exist in the sphere of human and purely ecclesiastical norms of great significance, but cannot be applied to those norms over which the Church has no discretionary authority. The indissoluble nature of marriage is one of these norms which goes back to Christ Himself and is thus identified as a norm of divine law. The Church cannot sanction pastoral practices – for example, sacramental pastoral practices – which contradict the clear instruction of the Lord. 

In other words, if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible. The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception”.

 4.2 Whoever Divorces and Marries Another Commits Adultery

However, in SC 29, the Sacred Scripture on which the exclusion of the D&R from Holy Communion is made explicit.

The Synod of Bishops confirmed the Church’s practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2-12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments”.  

Mark 10:2-12 is of course the dominical teaching which confirms the proposition that the D&R commit adultery:

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”.

Therefore, it can be seen the basis in Sacred Scripture only doctrinally precludes an approach which contradicts divine law, rather than any particular traditional sacramental discipline or pastoral practice. The reception of the Sacraments by the D&R would so contradict divine law if it for example denied:

  • The absolute intrinsic and extrinsic indissolubility, except by death, of a “ratum et consummatum” sacramental marriage between baptised persons which “can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause” (Canon 1141 and CCC 1638 – 1640).
  • That adultery is both an objectively grave sin and intrinsically evil, that is “per se … independently of circumstances … always seriously wrong” (RP 17 and VS 80).

As taught by the 1998 CDF Memo, the application of equity (i.e. epikeia and aequitas canonical) to the D&R would be such a contradiction, as equity posits the very exceptions based on facts and circumstances (ST 2-2 q.120), which are impossible in the case of absolute indissolubility and intrinsic evil.

Conversely, AL contradicts neither absolute indissolubility of marriage nor the intrinsic nature of the evil of adultery. The fact that AL upholds these truths is separately considered by this Apologia at 8.0 Indissolubility and 2.0 Intrinsic Evil respectively.

Accordingly AL does not contradict Sacred Scripture, as it is referred to by FC 84.

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