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Vatican is drafting document that could permit divorced, remarried to receive Holy Communion

Fewer Filipinos are reportedly getting married. (Photo by Angie de Silva for

The Vatican was preparing a document to address issues surrounding divorced and remarried people, as Cardinal Kevin Farrell disclosed in a speech on April 22.

Cardinal Farrell, prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, mentioned in his speech in Italian the importance of offering a hand to Catholics undergoing crisis in their marriage lives.

According to its teaching, the Church forbids divorced and remarried Catholics without an annulment from participating in the Holy Communion.

St. John Paul II reaffirmed this teaching in his Familiaris Consortio, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation officially promulgated on November 22, 1981. This exhortation promotes the sanctity of marriage and family.

"The dicastery is also working on the preparation of a text that will specifically concern men and women who, having a failed marriage behind them, live in new unions," Cardinal Farrel said.

The preparation of the document was a request from Pope Francis himself, he noted. 

"We cannot reduce a human situation to a prescriptive one," Pope Francis said in a recent interview. He invited Catholics to view the words of Pope Benedict XVI on issues surrounding annulments. He also affirmed that "a large part of church marriages are invalid for lack of faith." Pope Francis was responding to the question of whether divorced and remarried Catholics could take Holy Communion.

In an apostolic exhortation in March 2007, Pope Benedict described the issues surrounding divorced and remarried people as a "complex and troubling pastoral problem. "The divorced and remarried “continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern.”

Pope Francis also observed that some people go to a wedding and view it as a mere social event. "When young people say 'forever,' who knows what they mean by forever," he said.

The Pope mentioned in his pontificate the possibility of cases and situations where divorced and remarried Catholics could take the holy Communion. The cases cover spouses practicing continence within marriage.

Cardinal Farrel did not reveal a date for the release of the document.


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