Confusion in Telegraph story about Francis and divorce/remarriage

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the writer gets it wrong because he doesn’t know better or whether their mistakes are on purpose.

Perhaps you can chime in.

From The Telegraph:

Pope Francis tells divorced woman she should be allowed Communion [This is news?  No.  That was a trick question.  Is there more?]

In what would be a break from Catholic teaching, Pope said to have phoned remarried [That adds new information, doesn’t it?   You would think that something this important would in the headline, no?] Argentine woman Jacquelina Sabetta telling her ‘nothing wrong’ in her taking Holy Communion  [Next question: Who says?  Who claims that this is what the Pope said?]

Pope Francis has reportedly [!] told a divorced and remarried woman that she should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, in what would be a significant shift from current Catholic Church teaching. [And therefore we are all to be highly skeptical.  This is rumor.  The woman tells a reporter in Argentina, the wires pick it up, this article is written… how many times removed is this?  Did she, at the beginning, even grasp what the Pope might have actually said?  (I doubt it.)]

Jacquelina Sabetta, who is from the Pope’s home country of Argentina, wrote to him saying that she found it distressing that as a Catholic who had divorced and remarried, she was not allowed to take the Sacrament in church. [“Take the Sacrament” a turn of phrase redolent of… something.]

After divorcing her first husband, she had remarried in a civil ceremony.

In her letter she said she was worried that if she took Communion, she would be “violating Church rules”. [NO!  This is not just a “rule”! Rules are fairly easily changed.]

The Pope, who since being elected 13 months ago has established a reputation for calling ordinary Catholics out of the blue, then telephoned her at home on Easter Monday. [Maybe.]

He reportedly [!] told her: “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.” [That doesn’t pass the smell test.  I just don’t buy that the Pope would tell a woman who is in an improper marriage can receive Communion.  And I certainly don’t think he would have wanted this to be trumpeted around.]

The surprising exchange was recounted by Mrs Sabetta’s husband, Julio Sabetta, who wrote about it on his Facebook page.  [WOAH!  So, the source wasn’t the woman who allegedly received the phone call.  This is more information.  It was her “husband”.  And not just her husband, but his page on FACEBOOK!  This is a good source?]

“One of the most wonderful things in my life has just happened,” he wrote.  [And I suppose we are all supposed to be delighted for them. How you “feel” is all that matters these days.]

The phone call from the Pope reportedly [!] came six months after the woman wrote to him. Introducing himself as “Father Bergoglio” – a reference to his given name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio – the South American pontiff said he was sorry it had taken him so long to make the call. [“Father Bergoglio”… uh huh.  Sometimes priest friends have been known to make some pretty funny phone calls to me and mutual friends while imitating imitable priests or bishops.  Hilarity ensues.]

“It is an issue we are discussing in the Vatican, because a divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong,” the Pope reportedly [!] said.  [HERE is the big problem at the core of this article.  It is true that a “divorcee” can receive Communion.  In the last quote, that is the main element to attend to.  The problem enters when you add “remarried” to “divorcee”.  Get it?  So… what’s going on?  IF the Pope called, and I am not ready to buy that without a moment of doubt, and IF the Pope tried to explain her situation, did she actually understand anything he said after saying that divorce, in itself, isn’t the main problem?  I can very imagine her tuning out everything after that.  Then she recounts it in a scrambled way to her “husband” who may or may not get it.  He puts it on Facebook.  Somehow the press sees it… how did that happen, I wonder.  Then it hits the wires… then… get it?]

The Catholic Church currently maintains that unless a first marriage is annulled, [NO! NO! NO!  The Church does NOT annul marriages!   The Church can declare that a marriage was null from the beginning.  The Church cannot put asunder what God hath joined.] Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery.

Such annulments are often impossible to obtain, or can take years to process, a problem that has left many Catholics feeling rejected by the Church.

Since being elected in March last year, Pope Francis has on several occasions called for a more merciful approach to the problem, but had so far stuck to official Church doctrine.  [“Official” Church doctrine… is there any other kind?  Apparently there is the Church doctrine as reported by the MSM.]

In February he said divorced and separated couples should not be excluded from Church activities, in remarks which also raised speculation that he may one day lift the ban on divorcees receiving Communion.  [Again… sloppy and misleading.  AGAIN… the problem is not just divorce.  The problem is remarriage.]

He told a group of Polish bishops that priests should “ask themselves how to help (divorced couples), [HUH?  “Divorced couples”?] so that they don’t feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians, and the Church’s concern for their salvation.”

When asked whether the remarks attributed to the Pope were correct, a Vatican spokesman told The Telegraph: “We would neither confirm nor deny that – this was a private telephone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details.” [The Press Office doesn’t have to divulge all the details, but… sheesh!… at least uphold Catholic teaching!]

But the reported remarks were in line with the position taken by Pope Francis in recent months – that the Church should treat divorcees and their partners with more compassion. [When you look at what Francis has said in public, he talks about sinners and compassion.  Compassion does NOT mean violating the teachings of the Church.]

The remarks may indicate that the Pope, who has struck a much more inclusive tone than his predecessor, Benedict XVI, on issues ranging from homosexuality to same-sex unions, is testing the water with the intention of changing the Church’s position.  [Deceptive, this paragraph, no?]

The surprising exchange was first revealed by Mrs Lisbona’s husband, Julio Sabetta, who said he first answered the call from the Pope, before handing the phone to his wife.

“One of the most wonderful things in my life has just happened – receiving a telephone call from none other than Papa Francesco,” he wrote on his Facebook page.


The Catholic Church currently maintains that unless a first marriage is annulled, [ARGH!  A declaration of nullity is NOT “Catholic divorce”!] Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery.


Read the rest there.

Remember what Card. Kasper has said.

“Tolerated but not accepted.”

That’s the solution?  Create a tier system in the Church, wherein the divorced/remarried are clearly and publicly second-class?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Patrick-K says:

    “how many times removed is this?” you ask. Just to be perfectly clear, it seems to be:

    “Pope” -> wife (on phone, presumably in Spanish) -> husband (on Facebook, also presumably in Spanish) -> “news” article, in English

    In other words, this is what people used to call a rumor or gossip. Hasn’t the pope spoken against gossip on several occasions?

  2. catholicgauze says:

    Pope Francis calls me all the time. Strangely he speaks English, always wants me to buy Mystic Monk coffee, and buy things for you off your Amazon wish list. Weird.

    /The Telegraph’s Catholic reporter Thompson has been jumping up and down all day hyping this story. Sometimes I think people want to be upset.
    //Plus, no one bothered to call the Vatican for a comment?

  3. robtbrown says:

    Even if the story is not true, there’s little doubt that Pope Francis has set himself up for these situations.

  4. iowapapist says:

    Our beloved Holy Father uses very little discretion before doing and saying things that end up in the media. Although the conversation may not have been that which was reported, he should not chance further confusion of the faithful by making a phone call to someone who may not be able keep the conversation secret. Because of his propensity to go off script and speak his mind, he has become all things to all people (well, almost all people). The Holy Father’s comments have been hijacked for various and sundry unholy causes (including gay marriage). The fields may be ripe for the harvest, but the foremost earthly representative of the Catholic faith is causing those seeking conversions to explain the inexplicable.

  5. Jerry says:

    “Such annulments are often impossible to obtain, or can take years to process, a problem that has left many Catholics feeling rejected by the Church.”

    Alas, it is said Catholics who have rejected the Church, not the other way around.

  6. catholicgauze says:

    Semi-response from Vatican. Apparently the woman is not divorced nor therefore married. Her husband had a civil marriage before. Could this be a papal phone call recognition of annulment or radical sanation?

  7. ” The Holy Father’s comments have been hijacked ” unfortunately yes.I’m not sure there is any way to stop it.

  8. you should read the garbage the Huff Post put up about the canonization of Pope John Paul II. I responded and due to the sensitive nature(yeah right)of the topic they’re MODERATING the comments. Dimes to dollars my comment does not show up.It’s a horrible hit piece presented as real journalism.

  9. sw85 says:

    A few points to insist on for all involved:

    (A) Even if the story is true (a big “if”), it represents a personal dispensation by the supreme lawgiver of that particular woman. In that case, she would be excused from the canon — she, not anyone else. If you, personally, don’t have a dispensation to do X (where X = something forbidden by canon law) then you are not to do X.

    (B) We should be cautious about stressing that divorcees can receive communion. That “can” is conditional, not permissive. It is conditional on their not being at fault for the separation. If a man abandons his family because his wife got fat in her last pregnancy and the other kids are brats, he’s still sinned gravely.

    (C) If this story is true (again, a big “if”) then Damian is right and the prospect of the Church’s semi-official toleration of concubinage and material complicity in profanation of the Eucharist is very very very real.

  10. Paliakas1 says:

    The Francis effect – the faithful are bewildered, while the rebellious are emboldened.

  11. YorkshireStudent says:

    Mind you, for all it’s a spurious story OR semi-malicious gossip OR a complete misunderstanding the postscript does include reference to a very well respected Catholic clergyman – I’m sure you’re too modest to mention who, Father!

  12. jhayes says:

    According to Vatican Insider, the woman is not divorced.

    “It’s not me who’s divorced,” one of the female protagonists in this story said in an interview with Buenos Aires radio station La Red Am910. Lisbona said it was her husband, Julio Zabeta, who had divorced, but she never married in the Church. The two have been united in civil matrimony for the past nineteen years and have two daughters.


  13. pseudomodo says:

    President Obama called me and said I don’t need a passport, visa, green card or anything! I can just nip across the border anywhere and become a citizen! Really he did! Vaya con Dios!


  14. Bosco says:

    The Phone Ranger reputedly strikes again.

    I have to agree with robtbrown (above): “Even if the story is not true, there’s little doubt that Pope Francis has set himself up for these situations.”

  15. Joe in Canada says:

    “Taking the Sacrament” is a British English way of saying it.

  16. Gaetano says:

    From a legal perspective, the Facebook post is “double hearsay”. That means it’s two levels removed from what could be presented as evidence in a U.S. courtroom.
    As for the court of public opinion…

  17. snoozie says:

    Fr. Z, if, and I say a big IF this is true (and how on earth could the Vatican press office NOT deny the thrust of this???), then will the proverbial ?????? not have hit the fan?

  18. Ganganelli says:

    I think there is some real fire behind this smoke so we had better understand what may be coming. As Fr. Z pointed out in his comments, the Church doesn’t annul a valid marriage but only declares that a real marriage never existed. If that is the case, does it contravene some divine law if the Pope were to dispense with the requirement that someone go through the process of having a declaration of nullity from the Church? I’m not even sure if that will solve things because I thought the Kasper proposal was about allowing communion after a period of penance. But why would you need to do penance if there was no real marriage to begin with. I’m utterly confused.

  19. jacobi says:


    Yes, the usual distorted reporting for headline effect. But we, (on this side of the pond, that is), expect better of that paper.

    What is certain is that the Pope has not told a divorced and re-married woman still living in sin that she could receive Holy Communion. He cannot! It would be a mortal sin for her to do so and sacrilege if she persisted.

    One thing bugs me. I am all for care and sympathy for those who are in a situation of divorce and remarriage. But in this whole argument there is another group of people who are being totally ignored. That is those Catholic who have married and remain married in spite of the inevitable stresses and temptations that life throws in their way.

    What about a bit of support and recognition for them!

    This applies equally to those Catholics of homosexual inclination who heroically hold to the Church’s teaching in these matters.

  20. digitalcatholic says:

    When I was in a youth group in high school, we played the telephone game too. The message content as it was told into the ear of the first listener never arrived down the line of a dozen or so eager ears with its integrity intact. Sigh.

    I hated the telephone game.

    I still do. (Especially when I have to try to explain the message that comes out of the mouth at the end of the line to parishioners who would rather believe the half-digested vomit of the mainstream media.)


  21. SimonDodd says:

    I agree with RobTBrown. In the abstract, surely we could all say “I just don’t buy that a Pope would tell a woman who is in an improper marriage that she can receive Communion,” but this bishop of Rome? After all that has transpired in the last year? I have no trouble whatsoever believing that.

    have a feeling that the forthcoming synod on the family is going to be a rocky experience for those who today insist, as does Jacobi, that “[w]hat is certain is that the Pope has not told a divorced and re-married woman still living in sin that she could receive Holy Communion. He cannot!” He can! He might have! The history of the papacy is a sordid business in places. I don’t know why there is this idea that we will always be blessed with good popes. We cannot possibly say “it is certain that he didn’t say it because I know that it’s wrong and I’m sure he does too,” which is the gravamen of the argument. That’s pretty weak tea.

  22. robtbrown says:

    I have to wonder whether Papa Bergoglio gave the woman the impression that he was giving the OK even though he wasn’t–another “Who am I to judge?” moment.

  23. tcreek says:

    I have “had” 7 previous popes and cannot imagine any stories even remotely like the ones that have surfaced for the 8th. Is it a sin to pray for “my” 9th and soon?

  24. Long-Skirts says:

    “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy but here’s MY number, so call me, maybe!”

  25. kpoterack says:

    Thank you, Jacobi, well said!

    Digital Catholic, I agree. And the game of telephone does not take long to produce absurd results. In the 1980’s my mother, a physical therapist, was dealing with a patient with MS. As AIDS was new at that time and very much discussed, she comforted the patient, saying that, “you engaged in no risky behavior. You did nothing to deserve MS.” Almost the next day she was called into her supervisor’s office and accused of telling the woman that “she deserved MS because she engaged in risky behavior.”


    Anyway, this current story is just odd. We have things to be concerned about, but this sounds like hearsay passed on by confused people.

  26. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “Taking the Sacrament” is a British English way of saying it.”

    I’ve personally never heard the expression. We say ‘receiving Holy Communion’ or ‘receiving Communion’.

    “Taking the Sacrament” sounds more like a literal translation from whoever said it in Spanish.

  27. Maynardus says:

    “Hello, St. Bozo’s, Father Happy speaking…”
    “Hola padre, esto Papa Francisco. Paz!
    “Holy socks! Your Holiness, I… uh… ”
    “Padre, es obligatorio que la misa tridentina en su parroquia”
    “Hello? Can you hear me? We seem to have a bad connection!”

  28. anna 6 says:

    I can’t help it, but when I read this contrast barrage of controversial interviews and phone calls I get a pit in my stomach. It is really just too, too much for simple, ordinary Catholics like me who are feebly attempting to live the teachings of the Church.

    I guess I am just not a Holy Lios kind of girl.

  29. Robbie says:

    This story really upsets me. Among the hierarchy, there seems to be little interest in allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. Despite that, this story keeps coming back. It’s like Rasputin. It just won’t die.

    My guess is, and this just a guess, this is something Pope Francis wants to see happen, at least in some form. Otherwise, why mention the issue on the plane ride home from WYD? Why ask Cardinal Kasper to speak on the topic? Honestly, was this topic a big concern in the past years? I certainly don’t remember that being the case, but maybe my memory is faulty.

    Whether the story is even remotely true doesn’t matter though. The dissidents will run with it. Confusion among the faithful is back.

  30. anna 6 says:

    “constant” barrage …
    auto correct : (

  31. Some people who don’t self edit have chosen to foul the combox, thus ruining free discussion.


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  33. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, “According to Vatican Insider, the woman is not divorced.”

    It changes nothing. The man she’s living with is divorced. That makes her a party to the adultery of her “husband.” She should refrain from receiving communion.

  34. hilltop says:

    Is it a sign of the times or a sign of this Pontificate that such a news item/claim requires 23 paragraphs of rebuttal?

    No one ever accused Christ Jesus of talking too much. (Just last Friday we were privileged to witness the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ perfectly brief interview with Pontius Pilate.) This is just not the case with our current Bishop of Rome.

    Americans once had a useful, because truthful, saying: loose lips sink ships. Though His Holiness is likely not familiar with this turn of phrase, it might be usefully brought to his attention, for I recall that the Church has been spoken of as a “Ship” right down through the ages, and more recently, the Barque of Peter seems to be experiencing frequent trouble in the engine room.

  35. Sonshine135 says:

    I’m not buying this for a moment. The Pope has not said anything publically that would make me think he is changing anything. This article is dubious at best.

  36. greinkebs says:

    If this is true or not, the Pope or any Bishop needs to be careful of what they say. People look to these men as spiritual guides. The media and others who are happy to disrespect the Church and are looking for ways to disrupt or destroy it. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit guide our Pope and Bishops.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    Evil is behind this and he has a name, the ruler of Chaos, who is satan. The Pope’s name is being dragged into the mud and used by those who want to undermine the authority of the Church. This is out and out persecution of a particularly interesting kind. And, who invented the manipulation of the media?

    I pray for the Pope and his advisers to be strong against this trash coming from the media, which hates truth and goodness. As faithful Catholics, we must pray for the Pope to be protected. He is not the first one to receive calumny. Look at what the media has done to Pius XII and his so-called antisemitism. Francis does not have to do anything to get trashed, as the kids say.

    Even the last two popes were maligned, or do people have such short memories? The “Pope’s Rottweiler” was hated as well. And, many communists tried to dig up garbage against Bl. John Paul II regarding his underground activities and his talents.

    The trads may be building up years in purgatory, or worse, for joining the msm in hating this pope

    Personally, I am sick of trads bashing Francis.

  38. amenamen says:

    Mormons use the expression “taking the sacrament”.

    During hard times in Ireland, “taking the soup” referred to renouncing the Catholic faith in order to obtain free soup, redolent of Esau.

  39. Pingback: The Pope Is On The Line | The American Catholic

  40. StJude says:

    I think our Pope, sadly.. set him self up for manipulation when he said ‘who am I to Judge’. I think this is nothing more than the media dead set on manipulating him/our Church and his words for their wicked motives.
    I like this Pope.. he is probably so good to his core that he cant see that he is being used.
    One day.. he will put an end to this wild nonsense and the press will turn.

    Another thing that bugs me is in an effort to manipulate the Catholic Church.. they are using Pope Francis building him up with lies about what he says and bashing ‘the previous Popes’. Makes me sad.

    Lets say he did call her.. “ask themselves how to help (divorced couples),so that they don’t feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians, and the Church’s concern for their salvation.”
    I am divorced (not remarried).. I love those words.. I feel so alone at mass sitting there among married couples.. I feel like a loser so those words are touching. Isnt that enough? That was probably his point in the call (if he even made it). His loving concern got turned into a lie to manipulate the church. Thats evil at work.

  41. kpoterack says:

    OK, from what I have read, it seems that this is the situation: 1) the woman was never married before, 2) the man was married before, but in a civil ceremony – this would be a defect of canonical form, 3) thus the first marriage would be invalid (as well as the second, currently). 4) I could easily imagine Pope Francis mentioning radical sanation to her and then telling her that she could receive communion after that. She only heard: “blah, blah, technical phrase … and then of course you may receive communion.”

    Or, he said something as simple and casual as “your situation is not insoluble and (ultimately) you should be able to receive communion.”

    Again, she only heard the last part.

    It is my speculation, of course, but this is how it is shaping up to me.

  42. tominrichmond says:

    Gaetano, the purported statement is actually triple hearsay; the pope’s statement is related by 1) the wife; 2) the husband; and 3) the news report.

    It would be laughed out of a court of law.

    And yet, the Vatican’s non-denial makes one wonder.

    St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, martyrs for the sacrament of Matrimony, pray for us!

  43. Stumbler but trying says:

    “[The Press Office doesn’t have to divulge all the details, but… sheesh!… at least uphold Catholic teaching!]”

    So true!

    As to the rest of the story…sounds too fishy to be believed. I am not going to get upset over it but will instead, pray for “all involved.” ^^

    Like Papa Francesco has said, “who am I to judge?” I was not made privy to the “real conversation” therefore, I am in no position to speculate or judge these folks.

    Your take on this sure helps, Fr. Z and I had some good chuckles over some of the comments.

  44. jhayes says:

    Somehow, this quote from CNN seems even less likely to be accurate. Would the Pope give absolution by telephone?

    “She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong,” Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate

  45. traditionalorganist says:

    Well, no matter what the Pope says, someone is going to twist his words and make them into something they aren’t. In such cases, it’s good to go remember one’s own sins, go to confession, do penance, and then drink some Mystic Monk’s coffee. Now wouldn’t it be neat if the Monks came up with a “Penitent’s Blend?” Something that really cleans out the system…

  46. Daniel W says:

    When a Catholic teacher says that a person living in an adulterous civil marriage should be allowed to receive Communion, ask them what they teach their students about when a Catholic should not receive Communion … my experience is that the reply is never remotely compatible with the Catechism or for a respect for Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist!

    Current religious education in English speaking countries in particular seems to treat receiving Communion as some sort of right for everyone who turns up. I think part of the problem is in the vernacular translation:

    “Take this” ….This problem is still in the new English translation of Holy Mass …The Latin has Christ as saying “receive this….”
    ACCIPITE!!!! Receive… Accept this GIFT!!!!
    The same problem is in the translation of the marriage vow …. “Jack, do you TAKE Jill as your lawful wife …? Why not the obvious translation …”Jack, do you accept Jill …”

    N. Vis ACCIPERE N. hic præséntem in tuam legítimam uxórem juxta ritum sanctæ matris Ecclésiæ?
    N. Vis ACCIPERE N. hic præséntem in tuum legítimum marítum juxta ritum sanctæ matris Ecclésiæ?

    Marriage and Eucharist are so related, they are about someone giving themselves totally and bodily, to the point of death, and this sacrifice being ACCEPTED AS A GIFT not a right, something you can TAKE …

    It will be interesting to see what comes of the synods, but if their is no improvement in catechesis, lax Catholics will continue to rely on the media.

  47. BLB Oregon says:

    The woman is not herself divorced, but has been civilly married to a divorced man for 19 years. They have 2 children. The Pope has other information about this woman and this couple that we do not have, and we are not privy to exactly what was said in his conversation with this woman. We also do not know if he had any conversations about her case with his predecessor, Cardinal Poli. We don’t know if he called the woman’s pastor or if he is familiar with her pastor from when he was Archbishop. For all we know, this priest may be known to the Pope as someone who improperly discourages people who really are free to marry from seeking to have that legally confirmed by the Church.

    We only know that the Pope did not leap onto the phone when Jacquelina Sabetta’s letter arrived from Argentina last fall. That suggests this is not a simple case, but we will not know that until more facts come out.

  48. JamesM says:

    @Joe in Canada

    “Taking the sacrament” isn’t a British English (or as we call it, English) way of saying anything.

    It is simply a reflection of a misunderstanding of the relationship involved. Here at my parish in England (fairly traddy priest) everyone receives…nobody takes. One would be more likely to find people “taking the sacrament” at a Tablet reading parish.

  49. av8er says:

    Maynardus = hilarious!

    I saw this story on CNN Int’l. As a self proclaimed knucklehead, I freaked out for a few moments and checked to see if Fr. Z had posted… Thank God for Fr. Z. I feel silly now for having reacted instinctively as I did instead of realizing there is another common sense side to this with many questions left unanswered and to top it all off it was from a MSM source.

  50. Kirk O says:

    The real problem is that so many people have left the Church over their own sins while blaming the church for them. People really think that a sin would not be a sin if the Church would change Her stance.

  51. Father P says:

    Interesting that in the Vatican Insider article the woman mentions that now that the situation is public she can’t go to Communion “anywhere”. Usually in the “brother/sister” arrangement one of the conditions for receiving Holy Communion is that one receives in a place where the person’s marital state is unknown.

  52. LarryW2LJ says:

    I, for one, agree with Pat Archbold’s commentary on Fr. Lombardi’s “Statement on the Calls”.

    I understand that Pope Francis is making his pontificate as one that reaches out – to Catholics who have fallen away, feel marginalized, etc. as well as non-Catholics – to all people. This is admirable and all well and good. But times have changed. This is the “Age of Relativism”, and now more than ever, people will take words and bend them to what they want them to mean.

    What the world desperately needs is clarity. You can be pastoral and not be ambiguous. IMHO, Jesus was very clear in His teaching, and especially in this matter (marriage) He is as clear as crystal. I dunno, guess it’s just me that doesn’t get it.

  53. LarryW2LJ says:

    Sorry – forgot to mention that Pat Archbold’s commentary can be found in “The Creative Minority Report”.

  54. AngelGuarded says:

    Facebook = Fakesbook. I’ll stick with Faithbook.

    The Father of Lies is busy with social media and low information media; no doubt lucifer has embraced the “new” evangelization and is doing what he always does – attempting to push Holy Church through the gates of hell. That’s not going to happen. I remember the post from Fr Z about how we are all always being watched and how the demons know more about us than we know about ourselves and how they will act on that intelligence. To me, this sounds like one of the evidence exhibits to bolster Fr Z’s premise. I unite the Holy Father to the Holy Sacrifice of the Masses throughout the world and pray for his intentions and his consolation. St. Michael defend us in battle!

  55. jhayes says:

    What will her pastor do when she comes up to receive Communion next Sunday? According to the story, he has refused her in the past. The press will probably be there to report what happens.

    Must be some discussion going on between him and the chancery.

  56. HeatherPA says:

    The desecration of the meaning of the Sacrament of Marriage is what the great abomination that desolates is,IMHO- it is no surprise that weeds of confusion are being gleefully sown now regarding what the Holy See “thinks” regarding marriage. Anyone who is taken by surprise that this is happening needs to only regard the alarming swiftness the world, and especially the USA, has taken to homosexual unions and making homosexual unions and adoption to “be the norm”. Anyone who speaks against it is committing a “hate crime” and loses their business, friends, and standing in the community. Satan attacks marriage, and this is another prong of the attack, making those who stand firm with Holy Mother Church’s stance on the sacrament of marriage in regards to divorced and remarried Catholics being painted as “cruel, mean, hateful, out of date with the times”. Sound familiar? Come soon, Lord Jesus. It will soon be a crime to be a faithful Catholic in a sacramental marriage.

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  58. sw85 says (23 April 2014 at 1:15 pm):

    ‘We should be cautious about stressing that divorcees can receive communion. That “can” is conditional, not permissive. It is conditional on their not being at fault for the separation. If a man abandons his family because his wife got fat in her last pregnancy and the other kids are brats, he’s still sinned gravely.’

    I’m not sure this is as clear as it might be. If you are saying that people who are at fault in a divorce are barred from receiving communion in the same way as when there’s a remarriage, then that’s simply wrong. And that needs to be said very clearly, because there are people who say other Catholics told them this.

    If you are saying that someone at fault for a divorce needs to go to confession, well, that’s basically right. But then, in my experience, most people who have been divorced are ready to admit their own wrongs in helping to bring about a divorce.

    Which brings me back to point one. There seem to be many divorced people who think, merely the divorce bars them, ever after, from holy communion. Not so!

  59. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Fr. M Fox, Right!
    tcreek, “Is it a sin to pray for ‘my’ 9th and soon?” Yes.

  60. Justalurkingfool says:

    This is directed toward Father Fox and other priests here, especially Father Z:

    So, I divorce my spouse without justification and all of the horrors that are normal are released, unmitigated, against our children and my spouse; I can simply go to confession, then receive Holy Communion?

    Am I not required to undo what I have done? What about any irreparable harm I may have caused? I require answers! I require them, immediately! [You don’t give orders here. You don’t “require” anything.]
    Please, Father Z, either explain this fully, with very many specific examples, not cursorily, or remove Father Fox’s comments. To me, they are reprehensible because they are not complete and circumstances just like these are the cause of tremendous injustice in the real world. If you will not do this, then I can no longer trust you to be remotely objective as either a blogger or a priest!

    Thank you. I am appalled that you allowed this to occur. [Leave any time.]

    [Your rash tone opens you to the accusation of rash judgment. If you divorce your wife so unjustly, you will be told in confession to correct your situation, put things right. Penitents must have a firm purpose of amendment… as you should know. Finally, I and I alone determine who can post here and whose comments can remain or be removed.]

  61. William Tighe says:

    Such heavy weather on this thread about “taking the sacrament,” and almost all of stemming from ignorance, with irrelevant observations about Mormon phraseology thrown in to boot. “Taking the sacrament” is the common and longaeval English phrase for “receiving communion.” It long precedes the Reformation, and so is not Anglican in its origin, and probably would have been used by St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, and numerous blessed departed English Catholics, known and unknown, over the past millennium or more. My guess is (under Fr. Z.’ s correction) that it comes from, or is a translation of, the Latin verb “accipio” (from which comes “accept”), which in English can mean both “take” and “receive.” But the verb “receive” is itself a Latinate word, while “take” is a common, basic, Anglo/Germanic “four-letter word,” and would be the ordinary word to be used for “communicating” by illiterate (“unlearned in Latin,” that is) Englishmen.

    So, let the heavy weather disperse, and the calm tranquillity of sunshine take its place.

  62. trespinos says:

    Let me just focus on the only fact that has been confirmed, by Fr. Rosica: a telephone call was placed. Could there have been, should there have been, a better way, a more prudent way? Sure. The Holy Father, having formulated over those months the best pastoral advice he could give, could have entrusted that advice in written form to a trusted intermediary, a priest-friend in Argentina, to deliver in person to the woman. Written communication means precision, person-to-person contact conveys pastoral care as well as allowing more time for questions to be asked and resolved; a lesson needs to be drawn here.

  63. Does Pope Francis not think his “covert ops” telephone calls aren’t going to hit the news somehow? He is either naive or purposefully stirring the pot. My guess is the latter. Like he told Brazilians at the end of World Youth Day (July 25, 2013, Meeting With Youth, Cathedral of San Sebastián, Rio de Janeiro):

    “What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on ourselves.”

    Then that very evening we got this report from South America:

    Santiago, Chile, Jul 26, 2013 / 04:31 pm (CNA).- Abortion activists interrupted Mass at the Cathedral of the Chilean capital Santiago the evening of July 25, destroying confessionals and defaming several side altars with blasphemous graffiti.

    Then on September 25, 2013 we got this from Argentina: On the floor before the altar of the Church of St Ignatius with paint the text was written: “The only church that gives light is a burning church.”

    “Make a mess” ??? The enemy seem to be the only ones getting his “messages.”

  64. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Thanks to Daniel W for his very perceptive translations and explanations of the two Sacraments as gifts.

    This whole area just cries out for elucidation by our bishops and priests, from the pulpit and repeatedly. Talk to people in an understanding way, invite them to Confession, be clear about the requirements, but please do not leave all this confusion undisturbed. Maybe many of the people who need to hear it aren’t in church, but their relatives and friends are. Please just make a start!

  65. mrshopey says:

    He is a pastor and will always be! But, I do wonder if this will change how he pastors personally in the future?

  66. tcreek says:

    Mark 10: 6 – 12
    In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
    1 Corinthians 6: 9
    Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites … will inherit the kingdom of God.

  67. Justalurkingfool:

    Everything that often “needs” to be said, cannot always be said, or else every answer would be the length of a chapter in the catechism–and not very helpful.

    First, I would point out that what you say about divorce is true of sin in general. There’s a story associated with Saint Philip Neri, in which someone confessed to him the sin of gossip; he said, go take a pillow, take it up a tower, and rip it open and scatter the feathers on the breeze. Then come back. When the penitent came back and said, I did what you asked, the saint said, now go gather up all those feathers. The penitent said, but that’s impossible! And the saint said, and so it is when you say things about people.

    So it’s certainly true that each of us is called to repair the damage we cause…if we can. But the truth is, we can’t fix it all. That’s one of the reasons we needed to be saved.

    Which leads to my second answer to you. You say something like, and all you have to do is just go to confession?

    Admittedly, that’s a paraphrase of your words–but let me reply: there is not “only” or “just” about going to confession. It isn’t primarily about an encounter with the priest, but an encounter with God the Son, who is mercy incarnate, and whose shed blood speaks more eloquently than that of Abel. Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that any suffering of his, however slight, was enough to atone for all the sins of the world.

    In short, be careful that you don’t underestimate just how powerful “simply go(ing) to confession” is.” Certainly you didn’t mean to minimize the power of the sacrament–but realize the power of just one confession is the power of Calvary.

    So my advice stands. This is something I am quite sure about, because it’s something I have to be quite sure about. God help the priest who refuses what God does not refuse. (In other words, the circumstances under which a priest refuses to absolve are pretty limited, and carefully spelled out. This is very serious business.)

    You go to confession. Your confessor will do his best to advise you on how to proceed. But your absolution doesn’t depend on the priest giving good counsel. It doesn’t even depend on you being perfectly sorry — recall that imperfect contrition is sufficient. God has freed you from your sins, go in peace.

    And what happens to all the harm that our sins set in motion? What do we do about that? That’s a problem for all of us, not just divorcees. That’s why do penance, we make our daily offerings, and the offering of Christ is perpetuated, through time, in the Holy Mass. I can’t solve the mystery of iniquity. Thank heaven, I don’t have to; that’s what our Savior is doing; we just join in as we are invited to do.

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  69. KateD says:

    Some one made a comment about loose lips sinking ships…..and it struck me that the ones who should have kept mum were the ones who received the papal blessing to return to the sacraments….but really, how could one contain the joy of being given permission to receive again, and by the Pope, no less?!?

    It brings to mind the leper healed by Jesus: And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. (Mark 1:40-45)

    I see a very Christlike empathy for this couple being expressed by our Holy Father….which is appropriate, since it is his position to be the acting regent on Earth for Our Lord. Pope Francis exercises his authority to heal this couple and to give them the words of hope. And the people in prudence should have kept it private between themselves and their pastor……but they were, understandably, overjoyed.

    I agree with the need to hold the line on the sanctity of marriage and feel strongly that the church should continue in the way that it has in regards to divorce and remarriage. For a person who is faithful and devoted to Holy Mother Church, there are reasonable means for remaining in the sacramental life regardless of past errors. I have experienced this process first hand and there is always a way to return to the sacraments, in time, and God will bless one’s fidelity and patience, richly. The problem is not with the Church’s laws, but with our societal illnesses of lack of discipline, lack of appropriate prioritization and a need for instant gratification.

    Having said that, we also need to allow the Pope to be the Regent of Christ on Earth and to behave accordingly……that is to say, with healing in his wings. As Christians we should be overjoyed with this couple.

  70. McCall1981 says:

    Good news here, Francis may have responded to this. From his talk today to the African Bishops:

    “The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples. Christian matrimony is a lifelong covenant of love between one man and one woman; it entails real sacrifices in order to turn away from illusory notions of sexual freedom and in order to foster conjugal fidelity.” He pointed to the teaching of Blessed John Paul II on marriage and family as a “promising and indeed indispensable means of communicating the liberating truth about Christian marriage.”


    Pope Francis also addressed the challenges faced by the Church in southern Africa, mentioning the decline in Catholic families and a corresponding drop in vocations, as well as defections from the Church. The Holy Father dwelt on family issues, including abortion, separation and divorce, and violence against women and children. “All these realities,” he said, “threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole. In this sea of difficulties, we bishops and priests must give a consistent witness to the moral teaching of the Gospel.”

  71. Supertradmum says:

    Repeat-I think the whole thing was fake and a set-up, which could be why Lombardi answered as he did.

    And, is it necessary to make a clarification that Catholics who are divorced may receive Communion, but Catholics who are divorced and remarried without an annulment are not?

    Seems some are confused on this point. It is not, usually, a mortal sin to get a divorce. It is serious sin to remarry without the Church determining the validity of the marriage.

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