UK cardinal sees progress for divorced and remarried

An English cardinal says that during the synod on the family, he developed his thinking on ways towards Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said he had developed his understanding of how the divorced and remarried could undergo a penitential path.

This in turn could lead them being re-admitted to the sacraments.

Something was “opened up in me”, he explained, when he looked at proposals for penitential pathways for the remarried.

These included individuals exploring with a spiritual director the breakdown of their marriage and the impact it might have had on their children.

Cardinal Nichols said the next synod – to take place in October 2015 – needed to continue to see the “goodness in every person, whatever their sexuality, whether they’re cohabiting or in a second marriage, [that] their lives continue to carry the hallmark of the work of the Holy Spirit”.

In many ways he said this is the “practice of priests”, but it was “important that it is reflected at this kind of level at the Church”.

A document issued half way through the synod said there were “seeds of the Word” in cohabiting couples and those divorced and remarried.

It also praised elements of same-sex relationships.

The synod’s final document backed away from this language, but Cardinal Nichols said it is a work in progress.

Meanwhile, the theologian closely involved in writing the mid-point document, Archbishop Bruno Forte, said Pope Francis is calling for further reflection on such issues.

He said there are pastoral situations when civilly remarried divorcees can receive the sacraments, such as serious illness or being in danger of death.

“Can these sacraments be granted in any other special situations?” he asked.

“We will have to wait and see what the local Churches have to say in order to work out which of these cases are most urgent.”


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