Cardinal Mueller on Communion for the Divorced and Remarried

The prefect of the CDF has made public comments on Communion for the divorced and remarried:

“It cannot be said that there are circumstances according to which an act of adultery does not constitute a mortal sin,” Mueller said in an interview with Italian publication “Il Timone.” ”For Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace” necessary to receive Communion. [Yahoo! News]

The Cardinal errs in the above statement by not distinguishing objective mortal sin from actual mortal sin. Adultery is always an objective mortal sin, regardless of intention or circumstances. But only unrepented actual mortal sin is incompatible with the state of grace. A person might commit an objective mortal sin, without the full knowledge and full deliberation needed to make that sin also an actual mortal sin. In such a case, the objective mortal sin would not cause the loss of the state of grace.

Furthermore, the discipline of the Church has always been that an objective mortal sin which is not also an actual mortal sin does not prohibit from Communion. For example, if a man looks at a woman “so as to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart” [Mt 5:18] — but not if his impure thoughts lack the full consent of the will (full deliberation). So here is an example of a type of adultery which is objectively immoral, but not necessarily always an actual mortal sin.

Now the Church has the full authority given to Her by Christ, including authority over who may receive Communion. And the Pope is the head of the Church on earth. Peter holds the keys. If Pope Francis wishes to permit Communion for any Catholic not conscious of actual mortal sin, he may do so. And no person in the Church, who holds lesser authority than the Pope or no authority at all, can claim that the Pope has gone astray. For the discipline of Communion is not unchangeable.

My preference for Communion discipline, in ordinary cases, is that every Catholic must go to Confession at least once every 3 or 4 months, in order to receive, and that each communicant must not be conscious of any unconfessed objective mortal sins, even if those sins are not also actual mortal sins. I would like the rule to be that the divorced and remarried may not receive Communion, unless they either separate, or live together chastely, or obtain an annulment and marry.

But Pope Francis has the authority to loosen or tighten the discipline. He is the Rock on which the Church is founded. And all the many papal critics are like grains of sand.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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5 Responses to Cardinal Mueller on Communion for the Divorced and Remarried

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    I would guess I go to Confession around once a month, more or less.

  2. Dora says:

    Some people get so much conflicting input they can see it really IS up to their own conscience. For a gay couple (or anyone, really) who is welcomed to Mass it may seem “obvious” that they should receive, especially if they grew up in the church. In more “judgemental” times (the recent past?), they would not bother to even come, but it looks like Francis wants them there with the rest of the sinners. Maybe because of coming chastisements? But in regular times, it seems like the priest would have to “propose” rather than preach to them morals, for their consideration, which is actually better than the ZILCH they are hearing now. It gets tricky for me though, because the bishops are saying the gay couple doesn’t want to be called out as “disordered” yet still the kids have to learn that it actually is. Don’t they?

  3. Dora says:

    Ron, I didn’t mean to digress from your topic, but I was trying to generalize what this “new” kind of Francis church would look like.

  4. Dan says:

    Mueller is aware of the distinction between objective mortal sin and ones’ personal moral culpability. Given this, the quote above is likely in reference to those bishops he views that are interpreting Amoris Laetitia in a way that contradicts Veritatis Splendor regarding intrinsic evil and the role of conscience.

  5. Dan says:

    Full interview of Cardinal Mueller. Unofficial response to the dubia by the CDF?

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