Abp. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2010. (CNS file photo)
Mark de Vries, who writes from the Netherlands, has translated and posted
recent letter from Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to recently retired Abp.
Robert Zollitsch, who is currently the Apostolic Administrator of the
the Archdiocese Freiburg im Breisgau.
The background: in early October, shortly after Abp. Zollitsch's retirement, as Michael J. Miller reported for CWR
the archdiocese "drew up its own guidelines for divorced and remarried
Catholics, allowing some of them to receive Holy Communion under some
circumstances." That led to Abp. Müller writing a lengthy article
the matter, entitled “The Power of Grace: On the indissolubility of
marriage and the debate concerning the civilly remarried and the
sacraments” (Oct 22).
The new letter reiterates and summarizes some of the same points:
Regarding the reception of the sacraments by divorced and remarried
faithful the proposal from the bishops of the Oberrhein area is
recommended anew as a pastoral direction: after a process of discussion
with the parish priests, people concerned can either reach the
conclusion to participate much in the life of the Church, but to
deliberately refrain from receiving the Sacraments, while others can in
their concrete situations achieve a “responsibly reached decision of
conscience” and be able to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy
Communion, Confirmation, Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, and
this decision is “to be respected” by the priest and the community.
to this assumption the Magisterium of the Church emphasises that the
pastors must recognise the various situations well and must invite the
affected faithful to participation in the life of the Church, but also
“reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not
admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried”
(cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio,
of 22 November 1981, N. 84; also compare the Letter of this
Congregation of 14 September 1994 about the reception of Communion by
remarried divorced faithful, which rejects the proposal from the
Oberrhein bishops; and Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis of 22 February 2009, N. 29).
position of the Magisterium is well-founded. Remarried divorcees stand
in the way of their access to the Eucharist, insofar as their state of
life is an objective contradiction to the relationship of love between
Christ and the Church, which is made visible and present in the
Eucharist (doctrinal reason). If these people were allowed to receive
the Eucharist this would cause confusion among the faithful about the
Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage (pastoral
Read the entire letter on de Vries site. And here is Miller's CWR article, "CDF Clarification on Divorced and Remarried Catholics".