The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Sometimes one side is simply right and the other side is simply wrong

The Archdiocese of Braga, in Portugal, has reported endorsed Communion for remarried after a period of discernment of about six months. If so, the Archdiocese is wrong—patently and gravely wrong.

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That’s the situation here.

It doesn’t matter what reasons might be offered by the storied Archdiocese of Braga for its plan to authorize the administering of holy Communion to basic divorced-and-remarried Catholics. If that is, as reported in the Catholic Herald, their plan, they are wrong. Patently and gravely wrong. Just like the Maltese. Just like the Germans. And just like a few others if only in terms of the wiggle room they allow themselves in these cases, as do, say, the Argentinians.

Of course, one more post here won’t convince the Lusitanians of this point, so I shan’t bother to make all the arguments that I (among many others) have already offered on this matter. We are right about this point and they are wrong about this point and that’s that.

I suppose, though, I could reiterate for others what “the point” is in its tedious but crucial substantial specifics:

Per Canon 915 (papally issued law, resting on divine law foundations, and, till the current crisis, uncontested by pastoral and canonical tradition in this regard), ministers of holy Communion may not offer that Sacrament (similar problems arise in regard to offering absolution in Confession, but one crisis at a time) to Catholics (who are generally the only ones eligible for holy Communion in the first place, per c. 844) who, having entered a marriage that enjoys the presumption of validity (c. 1060),then civilly divorce (or are divorced, in other words, regardless of whose ‘fault’ the divorce is), and, failing to obtain (because they never applied for or were refused) an ecclesiastical declaration of nullity (or a variant on the uncommon dissolutions of marriage as discussed chiefly here and here), purport to enter a new marriage (civilly or by some other mechanism, even one that looks religious, but which, as long as the first spouse is alive, of course, isn’t a “marriage”, but we call it that for convenience, and yes this applies also to single Catholics who purport to enter marriages with divorced persons as described above), but decline to live as brother-and-sister (as befits all people who are not married and which is necessary for them even to approach for holy Communion in accord with Canon 916)and, even if they do live continently (may God bless them), are nevertheless known (always if ‘actually’, and usually even if ‘legally’) to be divorced and remarried outside the Church and so(notwithstanding their arguable eligibility for the Sacrament in conscience) give objective scandal to the faith community (even if no one is surprised by divorce and remarriage these days, and they thereby occasion, moreover, the giving of scandal by ecclesiastical ministers who are thus tempted to disregard their certain obligations under Canon 915).

I think that’s everything.

(This post originally appeared on the “In the Light of the Law” site and appears here with the kind permission of Dr. Peters.)

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About Edward N. Peters 120 Articles
Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD has doctoral degrees in canon and common law. Since 2005 he has held the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. His personal blog on canon law issues in the news may be accessed at the "In the Light of the Law" site.


  1. It’s a common mistake amount political folks that their particular side is “right” about one issue and the other is “wrong” about it. There is no intrinsic right or wrong, they are merely different opinions. There exists a universe beyond the the current tax rate or the legality of same sex marriage which does not care about human affairs and will gladly end them entirely in an earthquake or some other disaster. Your concerns are frivolous and unimportant. Be wise to the world beyond your tunnel vision.

    • Oh my gosh. You actually believe all that stupid stuff they taught you in college? Silly boy. I realized my first year in college that half of my humanities professors were charlatans. It appears you swallowed the hook down to the gills.

  2. A good is achieved in repeating corrections of doctrinal transgressions because with the cascading effect of wrongful change as R Royal had forecast when AL first appeared, many as I perceive are becoming mentally numbed. A continuous repetition contrary to facts eventually has the strange effect of “well since I keep hearing it endlessly it must be true because it’s continuous” assumes a pseudo reality called under Communism brainwashing. This was also used by Nazis, that Jews are inherently subhuman and evil and the mind unless occasionally shocked back to reality [at least reminded back by Peters and others] falls into a subsmissive sleep. So we need more continued reminders that what’s transpiring around the world and Church is “patently and gravely wrong”.

  3. I wonder what PF would say if it were proposed to get rid of the Sacrament of Confession and just give the Eucharist to any and all whether they are murderers, thieves, fornicators….as long as the recipient discerned that they were right with God. I’m thinking PF would also endorse those convicted of crimes should also sentence themselves.

    Makes a Catholic yearn for the days of Alexander VI and Leo X.

  4. If the Braga story is correct, what is one to make of the Fatima promise that the “dogma of the Faith” will never be lost in Portugal?

    • Father Stravinskas: Our Lady did not promise that everyone in Portugal would live in the state of grace. Dogma has not been changed here, just undermined. And that’s a terrible thing of course. Our Lady did promise at Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph. When the Church is cleansed and without spot or wrinkle… That will happen when our dear Lord Jesus intervenes. As surely He will.

    • Our Lady of Fatima said that, “The Dogma of the Faith would always be preserved in Portugal.” Just like our Lord who promised to destroy Ninevah but then didn’t because they repented. So the Portuguese can change Our Lady’s assurance. Before the Servant of God Sr. Lucia Dos Santos died, she was asked about Our Lady’s promise. She responded, “One must realize that Portugal also has its sins”. The people of Portugal need to stop being complacent concerning Our Lady’s promise. They can easely change the prophecy and bring disaster upon themselves. The Portuguese need to rise up and publicly resist those in grave error, they must work to preserve the Dogma of the Faith in Portugal.

  5. Thanks for this Dr. Peters, please consider. Since it’s likely to be a long while before the remnant problems caused by Amoris Laetittia will be over with, even if the Pope were to publicly tear it up next week, there still are certain moves we could make simultaneously regarding the loosely practiced way of the Sacrament of Holy Communion in Church today. There are ways in which the reverence can be improved in such a way that reverence feeds off of itself. The resulting practice brought to a not so frequent reception in our life of prayer might bring hope and inspiration to those members of the congregation that just don’t or can’t receive for whatever reason at Mass. Of uppermost importance should be inclusion of all including baptized sinners. Communion isolated services and the overly liberal distribution of the Sacrament with serious thought of very much limiting them could be in the end a big spiritual plus too. It’s all a case where reverence becomes a winner over what can be mindless frequency.

  6. Materialistic atheism and a confused Picard aside, this situation is exactly what was predicted with the AL encyclical. And Pope Francis knows this.

    And the souls that pass who did as the parish priest advised…who in turn did as the local bishop advised…who in turn did as the Vicar of Christ advised….probably; maybe; could be…who knows

  7. nice one carl. see how easy that was? now tell me again how confident you are about you being “right” while those other guys are “wrong” about some “important” human issue such as how marriage is defined.

  8. Mr. Peters’ position sounds to me much like that of the scribes and/or Pharisees who judged and criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and for allowing his disciples to pluck and eat ears of corn on the Sabbath. He requires adherence to the letter of the “Sabbath/Canon Law” but forgets the merciful kindness of the LORD of the Sabbath.
    Certainly, even Mr. Peters would agree a priest confronted with the need and request of a sinner, even that of the most horrible – divorced and remarried – type of sinner, for a meal and some water, should certainly provide both to even THAT sinner.
    Yet, Mr. Peters would have the same priest deny THAT sinner’s needy request for the flesh and blood of Christ, which Christ himself said WHOSOVER (which must include these sinners of the worst kind) Eateth It, Shall Have Eternal Life.

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