Missing the real point: the debate on Communion for remarried divorcees

The deeper issue beneath the debate on the admission of remarried divorcees.

Synod or no Synod, I still believe this.


6 thoughts on “Missing the real point: the debate on Communion for remarried divorcees

  1. Thus spake King Cnut.

    Pax to you too father, and I fervently hope that the Synod will hear Pope Francis’s call to listen to ordinary people’s hopes and sadnesses and to work creatively to find a way in which the Church can begin to heal it’s own and world’s wounded family.


  2. I wish you were our chaplain. On Monday we had a “homily” on the Synod and how “the good guys – Pope Francis, Card. Kasper and the other liberals (i.e. “good guys”) were finally going to put “the bad guys” – Card. Burke and the other conservatives in their place and we would have a true Church of Mercy where everyone would be treated mercifully and all the harsh doctrine would be pushed out the window. Today (Wednesday) we had yet another rant (we’ve had many in the last three years) about how bad the translation of the new Sacramentary is and how today’s Gospel shows that the translation of the Our Father that we use at Mass is wrong and should be changed to match that of the one in Matthew. Of course, other bits of the Mass are also changed so we get countless “I” invite you to pray and dismissals that are made up from where I do not know. We’ve even had the response: “And with your spirit” replied to with “thank you”. Dare I write to the Bishop (Alan Hopes)? Or should I just keep quiet?


    1. Oh dear. Has anyone actually asked him to stick to the book and to the Church’s teaching when celebration Mass? You have the right to the approach the bishop, but the decent thing would be to raise the issues with him. It may be that he would accept your legitimate concerns and adapt accordingly. If he refused, then by all means take it higher.

      For now, just offer it (and him?!) up. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.



  3. Dear Fr. Hugh,

    What about what St. Augustine teaches regarding Communion: that it is a way for the forgiveness of sin in itself.

    (St. John Chrysostom also points out several paths of repentance for forgiveness such as forgiving those who harm us, humility, modesty, prayer, almsgiving et al. Jesus also mentions the woman whose many sins were forgiven because she loved much.)

    I am not an Augustinian scholar, but have been told this (I won’t get anyone in trouble by saying who), and would like your take on this aspect, which seems to be missing here. Or, point out the error of this thought, if, indeed, it is erroneous.

    Now that I have written this, I get the gut feeling that I am looking for any path to forgivenes of sins, ‘except’ Confession / Reconciliation. Is that a prevailing attitude? Why? Can there be some good in it?

    Dan …seeking


    1. Dan, pax!

      Alas, I am no expert on St Augustine. However I do know that in his Sermon on John 26:11 he taught “Accordingly, eat the bread of heaven in a spiritual way. Come to it freed from sin.” This rather suggests that he saw the need to be free from grave sin before approaching the altar.

      Nevertheless, and more fundamentally, even the greatest saints’ teaching is subject to the magisterium of the Church. St Thomas Aquinas was not too hot on the Immaculate Conception of our Lady; that is now a dogma of the Church. St Augustine himself tended to a view on predestination that the Church’s teaching authority has not accepted. The great saints must alwaysd be read in the context of the ongoing teaching authority of the Church.

      The Eucharist forgives venial sins, which is to say those sins that do not sever our relationship with God. It also strengthens us against mortal sin (though it is not a magic antidote, of course!). The grace of the Eucharist is impeded by mortal sin. The grace of Holy Communion is received only in the context of a real, however weak, communion with God in grace already existing. Otherwise, as St Paul teaches, to receive Communion would be to eat and drink judgment on ourselves.

      The necessity for confession as the only ordinary way to forgive mortal sin and restore a communion of grace with God comes from Christ’s own mouth, when he gave the Church’s ministers the power, and the duty, to forgive and retain sins. It is possible (though very difficult) to make an interior act of perfect sorrow, but this still must be validated and confirmed in confession as soon as possible, unless death intervenes, in which case ecclesia supplet, the Church supplies what was intended but not achieved.

      A principal reason that confession is necessary is that grave sin not only breaks communion (that phrase is so important in this context) with God, but it breaks communion with Christ’s Body, the Church, as well. So reconciliation with God is bound up with reconciliation with the Body of Christ in the one sacramental act of confession to Christ’s and the Church’s minister. Before confession took its final shape, the Church imposed public, and often long and arduous, penances on those who had gravely sinned. Only when these penances were completed were grave sinners welcomed back to the altar of God. That has developed into confession, and how easy we have it in comparison! Those who romanticize the early Church rarely mention this truth.

      Is what I am saying clear to you?



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