“The Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin.”

I was alerted to a piece in The Spectator by Louise Mensch, a divorced a remarried Catholic who knows that, in her present situation, to receive Holy Communion would be a mortal sin.

It is a pleasant change of pace to read something by someone who isn’t sugar coating her situation or trying to twist doctrine (and us readers) through emotional manipulation.

Louise Mensch: I’m a divorced Catholic. And I’m sure it would be a mortal sin for me to take Communion

Accept liberal arguments for the convenience of people like me, and you threaten the foundations of the Church

I am a divorced and remarried Catholic. I attend Mass every week. When my children want me to take them up to Holy Communion, I walk along behind them and cross my arms over my breast. My youngest is particularly keen on going up for a blessing, although he wants to know when he can get ‘the bread’. I say, ‘When you understand why it isn’t “the bread”.’ [Well done.]

It has never occurred to me to present myself for Communion when I have not sought — for various reasons that I won’t discuss here — to have my first marriage annulled. I know I am not a good Catholic, and I am living a life that the Church considers to be adulterous. Yet I am in good spirits, as I hope in God’s mercy. But I do not presume upon it. My Catechism says that is a further mortal sin, as would be the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

People in my state are explicitly encouraged, in the Catechism, to attend church, and to make a spiritual communion, as I do each week. [But apparently we have to spend a lot of time on this issue.] I have the hope that one day I will be in a state of grace and able to receive Holy Communion again. I hope that, despite my ongoing sin, God nonetheless hides me in the shadow of his wings; that Mary, hope of sinners, has her cloak of mercy cast about me. I am a poor Catholic but I am also a believing Catholic. Yet there is a faction within the Church that evidently considers ‘believing Catholic’ to be a hopelessly old-fashioned clique that they must get shot of, alongside lace mantillas and kneeling at the Communion rail.

Holy Communion, for most of the bishops of England and Wales, appears to have become Protestant by default. [OUCH!] Instead of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist — a presence we should tremble to receive at the best of times — Communion is now a sign, a symbol, a mere shared meal, an ‘expression of community’. [Sadly, I think she’s right.  And that’s not only in England.]

Next week [this was published a week ago] an Extraordinary Synod of Catholic bishops, summoned by Pope Francis, will meet to discuss the family. Catholic reformers are full of hope that, under his guidance, the bishops will liberalise the Church’s teaching on divorced and remarried Catholics. The liberal Tablet magazine devoted a cover story to the subject. It filled me with dismay. The article began by quoting Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leading liberal cardinal: ‘The church’s blanket ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion…’.

Where to start? The Church does not ban anybody from receiving Communion other than non-Catholics (and there may be exceptions) and those too young to understand what they are receiving. Rather, nobody may receive God in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Even before I remarried, and I use the term in a legal sense, since I cannot sacramentally remarry, I did not always present myself for Communion. Often I would be in a state of serious sin and had not found the time or organised myself enough to go to confession. The fact is that nobody in a state of serious sin — whatever that sin may be, in this case, adultery — is able to receive Christ worthily. To receive him unworthily is to commit a further mortal sin.

The Tablet article was called ‘The Case for Mercy’ and, reading it, I felt like pleading for us suckers who actually believe the basics: sin, confession, absolution, the Real Presence and the like. [Yes, we are soooo behind the curve, aren’t we?] What Cardinal Kasper appears to want to do is to tempt a generation of people into weekly mortal sin. How is that merciful? How is that helping? Is it impossible for liberal theologians to combine their reforming fervour with actual logic? [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Holy Communion and you are saying one of two things: either that it is not adulterous to have sex outside the marital bond, or that one may harmlessly receive the Most Holy Eucharist while in an ongoing state of mortal sin — a sin one firmly intends to commit again as soon as convenient.

There is no way that either of those things can be true, and the Church’s teaching be true. If sin doesn’t matter, what was the point of the Crucifixion? Why did Christ not stop with a ‘community meal’ on Maundy Thursday and skip that whole bothersome deal the next morning?

There are ways that those civilly divorced and remarried can be admitted to Holy Communion. Make it easier for them to obtain a declaration of nullity. Here is an area where the Church could be more sympathetic, could grant dispensations and exemptions in matters of process. The power of ‘radical sanation’ — granted for various reasons — to make a marriage whole could also be administered more often. That power does actually exist. Where the Church can legitimately change is in matters of tradition and practice — but not doctrine or dogma. Here, we sinners are protected from the human failings of individual priests and bishops by the infallibility of the Church. Some traditionalists protested when altar girls were permitted; [Yes, that was wrong then and it is still wrong now.] I remember asking in one forum if the Bishop had the right to do this (yes), then if it had been done to say it was wrong was — equally as much as in the other direction — to say the Church was wrong. [Well… I think that was a mistake, but it is apples and oranges when it comes to altar girls and Communion for the remarried.]

Theologically, the Church is like a giant tower in Jenga; pull out one brick and you topple all the others. We cannot admit that sex outside marriage isn’t adulterous, nor can we say that mortally sinful people can receive Holy Communion. But we can look harder at the powers given to the Church to declare and discern when somebody is in a state of sin or where, for genuinely merciful reasons, a union can be made whole, by powers already granted to our bishops by the Holy Spirit. [Who knows.  We also have to avoid the suggestion that the Church is changing doctrine.  Some people are bound to get it wrong and there is nothing we can do about that.  We need to avoid wide-spread confusion.]

Nothing will ever persuade me to receive Holy Communion in a state of grievous sin, unless for a serious reason. I once did so, when I discovered that a Protestant at my sister’s wedding had approached the priest, taken the Host and put it into his pocket. The poor priest hesitated but the man had walked away. He was foreign and hadn’t understood. I went to find him at the reception and he said ‘I didn’t want to interrupt the line’. I asked if I could have the Host from his pocket, I made a quick act of adoration and contrition and I ate it, despite being at that time not fit to receive. It seemed the lesser of two evils, and certainly that was my intent. I believe that under the circumstances, it was valid to consume the Host (although I am not sure).  [I think she did the right thing in that case.] One day I hope to do so again. But I understand that the Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin. Communion is not, as the Tablet journalist I Twitter-debated this with said, just ‘for the saints’, that is true. But nor is it, as he put it, ‘a help for the journey.’ It is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However unfashionable that may be, it remains true.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 4 October 2014

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33 Responses to “The Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin.”

  1. Vincent says:

    Wonderful piece. And yes, sadly, we are protestants in England now, as my parish priest kindly shows with his replacement for the “Lord, I am not worthy” being “Holy gifts for holy people”. The bishop has made no attempt to solve the priest’s behaviour, despite certainly having been informed… It is all very sad.

  2. tcreek says:

    Fr Hunwicke yesterday in his blog –

    [I posted on this HERE! Hard hitting post.]

  3. mamajen says:

    “Mensch” in Yiddish means a person of integrity. How apt.

    I have great respect for people like this. They may not have all their ducks in a row, but they respect the Church, and don’t seek to change it to suit their needs. I hope she is able to resolve her situation so she can receive communion again. I loved the bit about her child and “the bread”.

  4. iPadre says:

    God bless this courageous woman!

    We need a few Catherine of Siena’s today! She had no fear of telling clergy of all ranks to knock it off and do what is right.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Wonderful and everyone in the Synod should read this. Breaks my heart so many people really do not love Christ or His Church enough to want to support the Truth.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Wonderful and everyone in the Synod should read this. Breaks my heart so many people really do not love Christ or His Church enough to want to support the Truth.

  7. Ray says:

    It certainly appears that this author was well catechized at some point in her life. Most fellow Catholics in my parish/milieu are light years behind this lady. God Bless her. Now that I think of it, she is as much a part of the Church Militant as the rest of us. We all need to pray for folks and there are legions of them in this very predicament.

  8. colemanmd says:

    My wife and I will pray a Rosary for this woman and skip a meal, she is obedient to God in one sense and desires to be in her post marital life. Her suffering is apparent after reading this post, although difficult. I hope she can fix her current state with much discernment and prayer and confessions her state can be reconciled.

  9. SimonR says:

    I saw an interview with the excellent Cardinal Burke on EWTN. It is the closest I have ever seen to a faithful orthdox Cardinal offering criticism of a Pope and speaking out in opposition to Pope Francis.

    I am not one for melodrama, but I can see a schism approaching if the Pope is determined to push through a change in admission of the divorced and remarried to communion. Vaticanista John Thavis has reported that six additional prelates have been appointed by the Pope to assist with writing the revised relatio for the Synod of Bishops, to be released Monday.

    Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.
    Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.
    Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and one of the pope’s top theological advisors.
    Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico, president of CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ council.
    Archbishop Peter Kang U-Il of South Korea.
    Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón of Spain, superior general of the Jesuit order.

  10. CatholicMD says:

    Poor Cardinal Burke. I watched the interview on EWTN last night and was heartbroken. He reminds me of Faramir and his men being forced by Denethor to recapture Osgiliath only to be slaughtered.

    Alia iacta est…

  11. thomas tucker says:

    I think we have to admit that it all really comes down to sex. Contemporary man (and woman) clearly prizes sex over everything else, and nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of our having sex however we want. Not holiness, not purity, not fidelity, and not even God’s laws should interfere with our sexual desires. That is where we are, and it appalls me to see so many in the Church hierarchy endorsing that worldly view.

  12. acardnal says:

    Fr Z and SimonR, the most recent video interview with Cdl. Burke from EWTN October 9 is available for viewing. Everyone should watch an accurate representation of Christ’s and the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage HERE

  13. Kerry says:

    Wow. Nothing wrong with the truth. In my life, (not raised Catholic) are similar difficulties to the writer here. It’s frightening on Ash Wednesday to approach the altar. If the synod goes with Kaspar, I will not go along with the change. It’s not just bread; I have “just bread” at home, thank you.

  14. dp0p says:

    One of my earliest experiences as a priest was a parking lot encounter with a woman in tears, leaving Sunday Mass early. She was distraught because the more senior priest, who had just finished preaching at the Mass he was celebrating, had scolded those who refrained from Holy Communion, “regardless of their excuses.” He had said true faith meant receiving Communion, no matter such things as remarriage after divorce. The woman, divorced and remarried, despaired: She felt she had no hope of mercy receiving Communion, no hope of mercy for refraining from Communion. The experience sheds a different light on “mercy.”

  15. Bea says:

    I wish this woman would have been allowed to speak at the Synod.

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    This is not 1962. A larger number of people are better informed about liberal ideology today then back then and they are much more vocal. If we had had the Internet, real-time tv, and the modern apologetics revival back then, Vatican II might have been a much different thing. As it is, there is a great deal more pressure in the cooking pot than back then.

    You know, back in 2008, when the Large Hadron Collider went on-line, many people thought it would create mini-black holes. Hmmm…maybe we were too quick to dismiss those claims :) Could it be that that is why the Church looks like different intersecting parallel universes?

    The Chicken

  17. tcreek says:

    Some personal thoughts:
    I have been divorced and celibate for 40 years but not by choice. My wife wanted the divorce and I was devastated and shocked to say the least. At wits end and nowhere to turn, I simply got on my knees and left the problem to the Lord. I have remained close to the Faith and parish life and, unbelievably to me, the single celibate life is no problem, almost as if it were meant to be. I get a lot of strength from the lives of the many celibate saints of our Faith.

    My (ex) wife had previously been married in the Catholic Church and had been granted an annulment (1970) before we were married. She has since married twice again.

    Maybe I could have requested that the church annul her annulment so our marriage wouldn’t have counted and I would have been free to marry in the Faith. I am kidding of course but it sort of happened with Joseph Kennedy. In 1995 Joseph Kennedy was granted an annulment from his marriage to Sheila Rauch after 16 years of marriage and twin sons. In 2005 the Roman Rota reinstates Kennedy-Rauch marriage. What a mess our non-teaching bishops have made of married life and the Faith.

    Pope John Paul II in his address to the Roman Rota in 1987 warned of “… the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties.”

    Pope Benedict XVI used the quote in his address to the same tribunal in 2009.

    If those in an (irregular) relationship were truly concerned about fully living the life of Faith and receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist they could do so on the advice of the two popes above, live a life of continence. But then most everyone reading that sentence will think it ridiculous to even mention putting the reception of the Sacrament above sexual pleasure. I did once.

  18. The Cobbler says:

    “Now that I think of it, she is as much a part of the Church Militant as the rest of us. We all need to pray for folks and there are legions of them in this very predicament.”

    Perhaps the worst thing about modern proposals to overlook Christ’s law and its relationship to the Church is that they tend to overlook the very people who refuse to abandon the Faith even when they fail to fulfill its precepts. At the end of the day all of us who sin yet seek God’s mercy according to the traditions handed down from Christ’s Apostles are not really any different, however great or seemingly small our sins may be: we need both justice and real mercy, assistance living up to our calling, not a pat on the back and assurances that it doesn’t matter. Why try only to get the strong to Heaven and make excuses instead for the weak?

    (And now hoping Long-Skirts doesn’t mind if I jump in here…)

    Two thousand years we labored long upon
    This bloodstained Earth, cast out from paradise,
    To keep a port amid these shores of ice
    From whence poor sinners homeward bound have gone.
    Through silent watches of the darkened night
    We guarded broken men, their children small
    And wives with strength like iron, sinners all,
    Until the path was clear in day’s cold light.
    Then pride, our folly, sought to cause us pain,
    And broke all that we built ‘neath Heaven’s dome.
    We fought with fire, we fought with storm and rain,
    But ne’er this world could we win back again.
    Yet still a wand’ring sinner wanders home
    And shows our labors never are in vain.

  19. The Cobbler says:

    P.S. The Masked Chicken, would that be consistent with the findings of the International Earth-Destruction Advisory Board?

  20. I read this article in the Spectator on Monday too; I was so thrilled.

    I wanted to cry when she consumed the Host; it was such a beautiful gesture of love from both Jesus and Louise Mensch.

  21. Lori Pieper says:

    This lady’s heartbreaking story reminds me a lot of my grandmother. She was a very devout Catholic whose husband abandoned her, leaving her with 5 kids (my Mom, the oldest, was 13 at the time). She struggled mightily raising the kids alone.

    After they were mostly grown, she married another man civilly. I don’t know exactly what went into that decision, but she stayed with him for 25 years, though it must have been unpleasant at times, because he had a bad temper — though that’s another story. She remained a devout Catholic, and even went to daily Mass, but for 25 years she could not receive Communion. I think people were not so encouraged to seek annulments back then, but for whatever reason she didn’t apply for one. When he died, she went to Confession and returned to Communion and remained a daily Mass-goer and communicant the rest of her life.

    I always found this a bit puzzling. When I was young, I often said to myself, “She chose this guy (I did not like him at all, no one in the family did) over the Holy Eucharist?” On the other hand, though I’ve never been married myself, I know that being in love makes anything seem reasonable, however unreasonable it might be. And yet she seemed very close to God, though habitually breaking a major commandment for many years. I believe she must have suffered a lot, being deprived of the consolation of receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist, even if she didn’t speak about it much. Mom insists her mother was a saint, and seemed offended at the very idea that she might have spent time in Purgatory. (I pray for her all the same).

    Yes, the whole thing is a mystery. How do you untangle it? But there are people like this in the Church, and it’s not right to dismiss them and their suffering. I truly hope for a good solution consonant with the teachings of Christ, one that won’t scandalize those struggling like this woman and like my grandmother, who are trying to do right in their difficult situation.

  22. Norah says:

    “I am a divorced and remarried Catholic”
    Most non-Catholics and some/most poorly catechised Catholics would understand from this that Catholics can’t receive Holy Communion if they are remarried. Catholics can’t receive Holy Communion if they are remarried without an annulment.

  23. lana says:

    This brings me tears. What a beautiful witness to the truth. What she wrote about Hope was perfect. More people need to learn how to hope. God has promised graces of salvaatiin to each. Our Lady, Untier of Knots, pray for us!

  24. ts says:

    Louise Mensch. Thank you for your example of accepting and living the Truth! And for loving our Lord so much that you would rather put your own soul in peril by consuming Him in the consecrated Host rather than to see Him dishonored and abused. Someone once said to me, “Jesus is a big boy, he can take care of (defend) himself” when I was conflicted on what to do or say when at an ‘ecumenical’ Bible study that was skirting the teachings in John 6.
    Thank you Louise Mensch for defending and loving the Lord more than yourself. Is this not what we are called to? Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us! Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

  25. Imrahil says:

    Good points. Btw. (dear mamajen), Mensch is of course principally just German for human being…

    That said – as an illustration of the thing which this is in a sense really about -,

    I don’t think anyone here would have the heart to positively suggest (beyond the “you may never know” fitting to a good non-presuming Catholic) that if Mrs Mensch had a stroke and died suddenly, she would surely be sent straightways to Hell.

    Which is what I do think is the real issue. It’s not so much exclusion from Holy Communion (around here, there are always people remaining seated and noone, indeed noone, gives frowns). It’s the reason given for said exclusion, which is “lack of the state of grace and being in a state of perpetual mortal sin”, while what to do (note: now – that originally entering a remarriage after divorce is sinful cannot in any way be doubted, it goes clearly against St. Paul’s directives in Scripture) to break out of this state would seem, in many cases, heartless and cruel to the people involved.

    It is, however, a firm Catholic moral principle that “there is no such thing as perplexity”. In all choices, no matter what a person did to bring himself into a situation, there is at every instant at least one possible choice that does not add another sin.

    It may be, for all I know, that this solution would be throwing the partner out of the house and leaving the common children, sending a cheque or so now and again from a safe non-temptationary distance; but if it is, it surely goes against our moral instinct – which may be wrong, but is not generally irrelevant.

    They don’t receive Holy Communion because they don’t know or don’t care about Holy Communion being reserved for those in the state of grace. They don’t receive Holy Communion because they are pushed by peer pressure. They receive Holy Communion because they don’t think what they keep doing is a mortal sin – and cannot bear the constant doubt that it just may be one nevertheless.

    Or they piously bear that doubt, pay what they may perceive to be the price for what is at least their past objective sin and present disordered state and obey the rules of the Church for Communion. As Mrs Mensch here does, although she is in good spirits, as [she] hope[s] in God’s mercy.

    [Note: the helpfulness of the “objective – subjective” sin distinction has limits. At least as being understood, a subjective sin means an objective sin committed in ignorance or involuntarily. What people ask for, though, is what to do in a concrete sense – and that seems to me an objective, not a subjective question.]

    What I quite likewise perceive to be the answer among orthodox circles around here is that the divorced-remarried has to bear exclusion from Communion by reason of his state, without, however, seriously considering eternal consequences (for those that do the right thing w.r.t. Communion). [The unorthodox, of course, just generally disregard the teaching.]

    By the way I consider “exclusion from the Sacrament of Penance” an even greater problem than exclusion from Holy Communion.

    It does speak some volumes, though, that there is not any complaint at all about lack of admission to Holy Penance.

  26. I am reminded here of the centurion whose faith impressed Jesus when he said, “Lord, I am not worthy…” This should be required reading for the synod participants.

  27. marcelus says:

    Relax….please take some time to dedicate some attention to the official !!!!!!! reports and /orcomentaries from the Vatican, or wait to have reports from reliable sources such:: these are the highlights from the day of the 7th Synodal congregation , the one that dealt with the issues of contraception, SSM and divorce, the much dreaded scarecrow:

    “Afterwards, the issues of the responsibility of the parents in the education of their children in the faith and its teachings were addressed. That responsibility is paramount – it has been said and it is important to pay due attention. Among other things, it has been observed that the pastoral care of children can create a point of contact with families in difficult situations”

    “Speaking of children, the negative impact of contraception on society, which has led to a decline in the birth rate was stressed. Faced with such a scenario – it has been said – Catholics must not remain silent, but give a message of hope: children are important, bring life and joy to their parents and strengthen faith and religious practices.”

    “ Similarly, reiterating the impossibility of recognizing marriage between same sex!!!!, the Synod Fathers stressed the need for a respectful approach that does not discriminate against homosexuals”

    “Thus, in the first part, the Synod Fathers resumed the debate on the issue of access to the sacrament of the Eucharist for divorced and remarried, primarily reaffirming the indissolubility of marriage, without compromise !!!!, based on the fact that the sacramental bond is an objective reality, the work of Christ in the Church. This value must be defended and treated with proper prematrimonial catechesis grooms and bride married must be fully aware of the sacramental character of the bond and the nature of their vocation. It would also be appropriate to accompany pastorally couples after the wedding.”

    ” At the same time, individual cases-some concrete situations of great suffering-distinguishing, for example, among people who have left their spouse and who has been abandoned must be considered.. The problem exists – has been repeated several times in the room – and the Church does not leave it aside. The ministry should not be exclusive, “all or nothing” but merciful, because the mystery of the Church is a mystery comfort.

    “However, as was pointed out, for those who are divorced and remarried not being able to approach the Eucharist does not mean they are not members of the church community. Instead, they were invited to reconsider that there are several responsibilities that assume “.

    MonkChanan says:
    10 October 2014 at 6:00 pm
    It was a grave mistake to elect this pope,
    just as it was to elect Paul VI, who should not be canonized.

    SimonR says:
    10 October 2014 at 4:57 pm
    I saw an interview with the excellent Cardinal Burke on EWTN. It is the closest I have ever seen to a faithful orthdox Cardinal offering criticism of a Pope and speaking out in opposition to Pope Francis.

    I am not one for melodrama, but I can see a schism approaching if the Pope is determined to push through a change in admission of the divorced and remarried to communion. Vaticanista John Thavis has reported that six additional prelates have been appointed by the Pope to assist with writing the revised relatio for the Synod of Bishops, to be released Monday.

    Youare taking the wrong path, definately.. Happy to see a Cardinal speaking “against” the Pope or so?

  28. rodin says:

    Mrs. Mensch has described a situation similar to my own and her views I heartily support. I only wish I could express it as well as she has. One difference in my case is that I did seek an annulment, but the monsignor refused to forward it to Rome.

  29. JARay says:

    My wife divorced me more than a decade ago. Neither of us have ever attempted to “marry” another person. We each have lived in celibacy but only a week ago we had words about the situation. She told me that I am not her husband and I told her that she is still my wife! Silly woman! I don’t suppose that I will get to see her arguing that before Jesus himself!

  30. StWinefride says:

    Dear Imrahil, thank you for your comment. I had wanted to say something along similar lines but was unable to find the right words. So for what it’s worth because I think it does need saying, here is, in part, some of what I had intended to say:

    Louise Mensch says: I know I am not a good Catholic, and I am living a life that the Church considers to be adulterous. Yet I am in good spirits, as I hope in God’s mercy. But I do not presume upon it.

    Jesus was very clear in His teachings and we ignore them at our peril. We know not the hour. It is good that she has spoken out about not receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin but I worry that she appears to be throwing caution to the wind as far as her salvation is concerned.

    Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few”. Matthew 7:13-14

    Praying for her.

  31. incredulous says:

    JARay, I’ve heard that statement ‘we aren’t married anymore” myself. I applaud you for your love of Jesus and obedience to His word. My reaction of silly woman is similar although I think of Father Z writing that there are just some mistakes you can’t fix. Pray for your wife and her acceptance of Catholicism.

  32. +JMJ+ says:

    Kudos to Mrs. Mensch for discussing this. I’m sure it had to be a painful article to write.

    I’m always impressed when people make the hard choice like this. A few years ago, a couple in our Parish chose to be civilly married before his earlier marriages (from before he was Christian, much less Catholic) were annulled (or did only the first one have to be annulled, since the subsequent marriages were presumably not valid? this is something I’m not clear on…). They chose to not receive Communion until such time as his annullment(s?) went through and they could regularize their situation. It’s a small thing (yet it’s so big), and I was quite impressed at the time that they were at Mass every Sunday, yet went up to Communion with their arms crossed.

  33. Imrahil says:

    yet went up to Communion with their arms crossed.

    Which is why I’d advocate for a lax adhering to liturgical norms in this. They cannot communicate; but including them in the Communicants’ procession and giving them a personal blessing – which apparently is against some law – can be tolerated.

    By the way, dear StWinifrede, thanks very much!