Cardinal Pell rules out Communion for divorced and remarried

Cardinal George Pell says allowing Communion for Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside the Church is impossible.

The cardinal said doing so would make pastoral practice incompatible with doctrine.

The former Archbishop of Sydney wrote this in a foreword to a book titled “The Gospel of the Family” by Professor Stephan Kampowski and Fr Juan Perez-Soba, due out next month ahead of the synod on the family.

Cardinal Pell challenged a proposal made in February by Cardinal Walter Kasper that the Church could find a “toleration” of civil marriages following divorce, in some circumstances.

“The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realise that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

He said that focusing on the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, was a “counterproductive and futile search for short-term consolations”.

Cardinal Pell continued: “Healthy communities do not spend most of their energies on peripheral issues and, unfortunately, the number of divorced and remarried Catholics who feel they should be allowed to receive holy Communion is very small indeed.”

“The pressures for this change are centred mainly in some European churches, where churchgoing is low and an increasing number of divorcees are choosing not to remarry,” he wrote.

“The issue is seen by both friends and foes of the Catholic tradition as a symbol – a prize in the clash between what remains of Christendom in Europe and an aggressive neo-paganism.

“Every opponent of Christianity wants the Church to capitulate on this issue,” he wrote.

Cardinal Pell emphasised the “essential links between mercy and fidelity, between truth and grace”.

“Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman who was threatened with death by stoning, but he did not tell her to keep up her good work, to continue unchanged in her ways,” the cardinal wrote.

“He told her to sin no more.”

Cardinal Pell is one of the nine-member advisory council of cardinals for Pope Francis.

But the president of Germany’s bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, told journalists the majority of German bishops favoured Cardinal Kasper’s proposal.

Pope Francis has said the predicament of divorced and remarried Catholics exemplifies a general need for mercy in the Church.


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