Cohabiting Couples Cannot Receive Communion

Times of – Cohabiting couples should not receive Holy Communion, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo said in a joint statement today.

Reacting to questions raised recently in the media, the bishops said the Church loved such couples in the same way as it loved all its members. It would continue to offer them spiritual help and it encouraged them to go to Mass and participate in the life of the Church.

“However, the Catholic Church insists that couples who live together without being married should not receive Holy Communion.

“The Church does not impose this as a punishment, but because the way of life of such people goes against the sacrament of marriage,” the bishops said.

Furthermore, the bishops said, such behaviour went against Church teaching that those who received the Eucharist had to be one in unity with Christ and the Church.

The Church set up by Christ, had to be a faithful witness of such teaching through its members, the bishops said.

They added that some people were paying a high price to remain in communion with the Church despite having suffered marriage breakdown, and they had stayed away from a relationship with another person outside marriage.

Therefore, separated persons who were not in a relationship with someone else, could still receive Holy Communion.

The Bishops said they were urging couples who were cohabiting without being married to look at the teaching of the Church, renew their confidence in God’s mercy, and seek conversion.

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45 comments to Cohabiting Couples Cannot Receive Communion

  • Irene

    People have you talked to your own priest about this. A priest will not tell these kids that they are in the state of Mortal Sin. How are they being evil or in the state of damnation. I live in a college town and I would bet that there is not a priest in this city that would tell them not to receive communion or that they are living in the state of mortal sin. And, furthermore I do believe they know who is living with whom and etc. Here, kids today talk with the priest and he has a weekly mass just with them with dinner and a talk session. They do not leave out much. It is important to work with these kids and let them know that Jesus loves them, is walking with them on their journey, and support them as they are our future, your children who love you and depend on your support and will be having your grandchildren. Yes, there is so much evil and hurt in this world today; but, they are not part of it. And, all the priest here work with and support all types of marriages with these college students. So, I think you parents need to talk with the priest as I would bet the kids already have.

  • Gladys Njeri

    Its good to read everybody’s comments, but I don’t find an answer t o my question, I am 39 going 40, and since I met my partner who is a none Catholic at 23, he does not understand what communion means to me, church wedding is old school to him, I have not missed mass and am still committed to my church,
    Do any one understand what pain i go through when i sit and hope for that miracle to receive Christ, I need help, if its suffering I have gone through it.

    • James

      See if your husband is willing to have your civil marriage blessed (convalidation) as a sacramental marriage. Then you can receive communion. Talk to your priest.

      • Michelle Parker

        I have been married twice booth three justice of the peace. I was young on marring booth times and the relationships were booth abussive. At that time I was not attending church and didn’t follow and know all the rules. I was divorced booth times I’m now remarried for the third time threw justice of the peace and we have been together for a very long time. I’m now going back to church and went to coffession. I have received holly communion twice now and just found out it was a sin because I wasn’t married threw the church. What do I need to do to make this right.

        • Welcome home Michelle,

          It is so exciting to hear your coming home story. Please go to your priest and ask about getting your marriage validated by the Church. If your husband is on board, then it is an easy process.

          God bless,
          John Quinn

        • Michelle

          I spoke to my priest at church and I’m at peace with what he has said. I like how gentle he is in explains stuff he was very compassionate. Thank you.

  • Charles k nyambre

    As a Catholic member who has been baptize and receive the holy communion. In case u travel to somewhere to make a life stayed over there,if there’s no a Catholic church there. If it is a different church i attend there, am i allowed to receive the communion in that church.

  • Theresa

    Thank you so much for the reply
    We have been married for 6years and have a child cause we see each other once a year.. Ever since I stopped receiving the holy communion cause we weren’t married in the church. I really want to go back to receive.

  • Theresa

    I and My husband are not leaving but married. We see ourselves once a year. We are not married on the church though but can’t I receive holy Communion?

  • frank o'shea

    Grace needed in this matter, so please note;

    “Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.”

    (Words of Jesus to St. Faustina)

  • Gloria

    Brothers and Sisters who are hurting I feel thee pain. Please join me as we summon ( call together) on the Holy Mother of God with our prayers.

  • David

    In my own opinion, I believe one should receive Holy Eucharist if they believe that that is the right thing for them to do and that decision should be between them and GOD. Your relationship with GOD is no one’s business but your own unless you choose to share with others.

    I am no longer a member of the Catholic Faith because I finally realized that I could not be honest with myself and still be a practicing Catholic. After leaving, I felt liberated and closer to GOD than ever before!

    • Blossom Sanders

      It’s understandable, becsuse we are all at risk of creating a God that is a result of what we would like Him to be.

      But God has told and shown us who He is directly in the OT and thr Jesus in the NT.
      And Jesus Himself has founded the Church and promised to His Church, the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.

      When our desires and will lead us away from His holy precepts as inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit and taught by His holy Church, and toward our own inclinations and decisions which contradict those of His Church, then we cannot grow closer to God as He really is.

      Instead we grow closer to a God of our own making who is surprisingly much more like us.In other words we deify ourselves in place of Him

      Also Re: Holy Church, the Church is always holy in that it is the body of Christ, in that it is filled with the living presence of the Holy Spirit. This state of holiness is not diminished by the sinfulness of it’s human members .

    • Mari

      You feel closer to God because you meet him on your worldly terms and not His. This is not freedom, it is slavery of pride.

  • Eleanor

    Please forgive the couples receiving the holy Eucharistic mortal sin show them how much danger they are in Get your holy priests on that pulpit and teach Gods childrenShout it out God Bless us all Father in heaven

  • Sharon

    I suffered though a horrible marriage for 50, yes 50 years.My husband was cruel, mentally abusvive ,cheating bully. four years ago I walked out. I am now living with a man. I can not and will not go back.I think I have suffered enough. There is no sex involved we are both in our 70’s. .just enjoy each other’s company. If I am wrong I don’t want to be right. Can
    I still recive communion ?

  • zaldy puntual

    my neighbor took the Holy Communion when they attended a mass,they were civilly married but not married in Church?do they need an advise from our parish priest?

    • Blossom Sanders

      Pray for them that they will be open to God’s word. And absolutely they need yo talk to a holy and orthodox Catholic priest. Prsy for me and slso fir yourself that you do not judge them, “lest u too be judged “

  • Alex

    My husband and I are Catholic and are legally married but not through church, can we still receive the holy Eucharist?

    • Patricia A. Gallagher

      No, you should not receive Holy Communion until you correct your (what the Church calls) “irregular” marriage situation. (Please see my post dated January 10, 2015.)

      You can and should seek advice and assistance from your parish priest to marry according to Church law.

      If either or both of you was previously married and divorced, you need to contact a diosesan tribunal about seeking any necessay decree(s) of nullity (“annulment”).

      You can seek an annulment in only ONE diocese of “competent jurisdiction” (no “shopping” for a better outcome). However, you may choose from among several dioceses that have jurisdiction:
      (1) where the marriage that ended took place, OR
      (2) where you are living now (if different), OR
      (3) where your former spouse lives (if different).

      Also, I maintain a Yahoo!Group called “CatholicsRemarry” (all one word) where several judicial vicars and canon (Church) lawyers can answer questions and offer suggestions, and where other Catholics can share their experience and support. Anyone with questions about Catholic “annulment” will find it helpful. Our help is free.

  • Bill jones

    I am a 36 year old catholic that is collecting adult child disabilty (ssid)for metal illness scince I was 14 years old,I have been living with my best friend for16 years and have two children together. We have been 100% faithful to each other and would love to get married many years ago. But there is a law called ssi marriage penalty where any and only people reciving adult disabled children will lose all medical and any cash benifits. We live almost in poverty now, please help spred the news of this alfull law , it’s not that we don’t want to get married but can’t and there many people like us that help getting the word out to congress to over turn this, thank you and may The Lord bless !

    • Patricia A. Gallagher

      I am Catholic who helps lead RCIA in my parish, AND retired from the Social Security Administration after nearly 30 years as a claims rep and paralegal advisor to SSA judges, AND abstained from sexual activity until my husband got his annulment and we were married in the Church. I am well qualified to offer informed opinions — and counsel — on the issues raised by Mr. Jones and others who’ve commented on this article.

      Note this legal SSA definition: a “disabled adult child” is an adult who became disabled before age 22 and is unmarried. Such a person, who (at least theoretically) is and continues to be dependent on his/her parent(s), is rightfully entitled to benefits on his/her parent’s Social Security record.

      The benefits cease upon the “child’s” marriage because, logically as well as legally, a married person is no longer a “dependent” of his/her parent(s).

      Once a couple marries, they form their own mutually-supportive ADULT relationship *and* an economic unit separate from their parents.

      As a practical matter, if one is still dependent on one’s parent(s), one is still a “child,” at least economically, and might not be ready to take on the adult responsibilities of marriage.

      Furthermore, financial “need” is not a factor of entitlement for the Social Security benefit you receive, Mr. Jones. The law is clear and based on common sense.

      Similarly, the Catholic Church has set down certain rules in accordance with with Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition (not “religion’s or customs), and BY the Magisterium (teaching authority) established by Jesus Christ Himself before his Ascension into heaven.

      One can receive Holy Communion if one is in a state of grace, having confessed any mortal sins with a “firm purpose of amendment” — an honest commitment to avoid repeating the same mortal sin(s). It is assumed that one has sufficient understanding about the mortal sin, that it concerns a “grave matter,” and that the person is acting out of his/her free will,

      Thus, ANY unmarried person (regardless of sexual orientation), or a Catholic in an “irregular” (non-Catholic) marriage, MUST refrain from sexual activity in order to remain in THE state of grace required to receive Holy Communion “worthily,” or else they are liable for the shedding of the Body and Blood of the Lord. [1Cor]

      No excuses (“they’re young,” or “let’s be realistic” or “charitable” or “understanding”). Mortal sin is mortal sin, and no one does anyone a favor to sweep it under the rug or ignore Catholic law and teaching about it.

      If one receives Holy Communion while in a state of grave (mortal) sin, such as fornication or adultery, one *compounds* that sin by committing sacrilege against the Body and the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      To do such a thing is to risk losing one’s immortal soul and spending eternity in HELL if one dies in a state of mortal sin. Are a few moments of physical pleasure worth that risk?

      You have free will. You choose: Behave like a saint and merit eternity with God in heaven. Behave like a demon and merit eternity apart from God.

      • Patricia A. Gallagher

        Apostolic Tradition (not “traditions” or customs)

        • John C. Leach

          Hi Patricia, that was beautifully said. People forget that God is LOVE, if you say that you love someone and commit an act of fornication, adultery, co-habit, masturbate, homosexual act, you may have homosexual tendencies but remain celibate you also remain in the State of Grace. Anyone of the above actions is not God loving them through you, but you lusting for your own gratification. Every Human being has needs, wants and desires, I pray that your wants, needs and desires will never be the cause of another person loosing God dwelling in them. One mortal sin; causes the light & life of God to leave the soul and death and darkness enter.

          The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said before He instituted the Sacrament of Baptism, the Kingdom of Heaven is among you. After Baptism, the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. As long as you are in the state of grace you are dwelling in the Kingdom and committing one mortal sin without repenting of it, casts you into the world, where you will be trampled underfoot. The Church is the voice of Christ and every member of her that teaches what She teaches, is also the voice of Christ.

          God bless you dear Patricia,

          John C. Leach

  • Ryan

    I am a devout Catholic but I must say the church has no right to tell anyone they cannot receive the Holy Eucharist. If people who are cohabitating cannot get communion then the same should be said for practicing homosexuals, people having affairs, people who don’t go to mass every Sunday or on days of holy obligation. People who supports abortion, youth in Asia. People who watch pornography engaged in premarital sex or masturbation. People who are alcoholics or abuse drugs. you get the idea right? I wonder what would happen if A Catholic like Nancy Pelosi or some other politician who supports gay marriage and abortion were to come before the bishop during mass. I bet you anything he would give them Holy communion. Don’t get me wrong I love the catholic church and the clergy. From deacons all the way up to our holy father. But when I read this kind of thing it really angers me. I am a conservative so I can sympathize with the bishop. But the Catholic Church needs to stop picking and choosing what they’re going to enforce it should be all or nothing.

    • Deb

      The Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ. If one receives the Lord unworthily, they put their soul in jeopardy. This isn’t just the Church stating this, this is Scriptural. If one has committed grave sin and that includes everyone you mentioned, and they receive Holy Communion, they bring damnation upon their soul. The Church doesn’t pick and choose, it is up to each person to decide if they are prepared to receive the Holy Eucharist. Priests leave it up to the person to know. If the person brings their situation to a priest, such as cohabitating, divorced and remarried without an annulment, etc., the priest will tell them they should not be receiving the Eucharist. Every Catholic should know what constitutes grave sin and when they should or should not receive the Eucharist. There is nothing wrong with stating what the facts are in the situation of cohabitation seeing as that is rampant in our society.

      • Irene

        That depends; many priest say that one can receive communion when cohabitating. Two priest have told me that I can receive communion while cohabitating because I am not in the state of mortal sin, which is the reason one should not receive communion. A sin is a sin, but there are different magnitudes of sin. To be in the state of mortal sin, which is so evil that it causes a complete loss of grace and leads to damnation unless it is absolved. I do not believe individuals cohabitating, sex or not are in that state of mind. Most are in a loving relationship, do not mean harm to anyone and love the lord. It is time for each of us to focus on our own walk with the lord and then we do not have time to judge what others are doing. I do believe Jesus is a loving God, shows mercy for all of us that believe; do I will continue to place my trust in him.

      • Irene

        Many of you are wrong. I cohabitate and every priest I have confessed to has told me to go ahead and receive communion. He did ask a lot of question but it was determined that I am not evil and causing any harm or damnation. Read John’s letter below as he says the same thing. So, many things in the Catholic Church have changed in my 71 years of being a Catholic. There will be many more changes in the future. We need to be open minded as there are different interpretations of the Bible. The bible is a guide for our walk with the lord. I believe Jesus will save us if we believe in him.

    • Chris LaRose

      All the unconfessed sins that Ryan lists, do prevent said sinner from receiving Eucharist. The Church cannot police all these sinners, but rely on individual obedience to Church law. i agree such politicians should not receive Communion, but not all have been banned by their bishops. i read recently that Pelosi has finally been excommunicated by the Vatican.

  • mike

    Get real . If you ;love someone and are going to get married grpw up. Dont we all read the papers? This is why people are leaving the church. What dont we know of fact priests are doing much less. The sex scandal ? That is more serious than a man and woman who love each other . We should adjust to the times. Pull our head from the ground. We can forgive murders, rapists ect . But cohabitation . As long as there is love , comitment and morals , restect for others and preach the word of god and faith we should be happy.

    • Walt

      I must confess that this may be one of, if not “the”, most sophomoric comments I’ve ever read.
      The adversarial and arrogant tone of the comment is tell-tale of the life situation of the writer. Lastly, of what value is a faith that “adjusts” to anything. If it is changeable or “adjustable” it has no merit or value. It is baseless. Tragically, the “faith” would have equal relevance as that of the insipid and immature comment that has been posted. That being said, I shall pray for you and that the fog of Satan is cleared from your viewpoint.

    • Deb

      Mike…….. Catholics follow Christ, not the world. Everyone who sins can be forgiven if they repent, confess and do pensance. If one is not prepared to follow Christ (see the Bible regarding fornication) that is their choice, but if they are Catholic and wish to receive communion, they need to be in communion with Christ………not the world. Just being a good person doesn’t guarantee anyone a place in heaven. Doing God’s will is what it is all about.

  • John

    I just asked guidance on cohabitation this morning from an associate pastor after mass this morning. He apparently doesn’t agree with the Church’s teaching on Communion and cohabitation. He told me that the Church “says a lot of things” and that receiving Communion is between the cohabitators and God and that I should just pray for my son who is cohabitating. I was floored. When I told him that I had read several Bishop’s letters that stated that cohabitating basically makes a mockery of the sacrament of Marriage, he said that he was running late and had to go.

    IMHO, this is another example of why people leave the Catholic church. THE CHURCH SHOULD CLEARLY SHOUT WHAT IT TEACHES FROM THE PULPIT ON A REGULAR BASSIS. We need to hear what we believe, whether it be cohabitating, abortion, church attendance, etc. etc..

  • patricia schy

    Yes I do agree that this subject should be addressed from the pulpit, this is where our priests have failed this generation, yes it should be taught at home also, & I doubt it is spoken at a Catholic school. This is why they no not what they do. Shame on us.

  • Michael Quirke

    It is a little bit late to speak up at this hour. Do you think they will listen?
    Cut them some slack. Young people are going to do it their way anyhow, so why create
    a scene now. They are going to be married one way or another whether in the Church
    Or otherwise and you will lose your daughter. She will never speak to you again.
    When she gets older she will be all right. If God forgives her, so should we.
    God Bless,

  • dorothyadriano

    matrimony is a sacrament instituted by christ through our church. iam an open minded person about realities like cohabitation and gay movements, i see them all around me and i have friends who are cohabiting or are gay…iam a devout and practising catholic and i know my cathecism well. i share unsolicited advice to these people as they are my friends,that it is not the right way of life for us catholics…but like me, they are accorded free will…i cannot dictate my views but i dont patronize what they do instead i pray for them that they may be enlightened…i suggest that while our kids are starting school, we must send them to catholic schools, so they will be given proper education about being a real catholic christian, we have our own beliefs that cannot be downplayed or be double standardized…we must all pray and be vigilant about our beliefs that we should stick to it no matter what

  • Nancy

    A friend’s daughter (not Catholic) is cohabitating with her fiance (is Catholic) and they are to be married at a Catholic church at a Catholic seminary this Spring. I am shocked that a priest has agreed to do this. (Unless he doesn’t know the whole story and assumes they are not living together….Does this sound righ? or am I missing something?

  • Bernadette

    It’s a bit like the old adage ‘no use closing the gate when the horse has bolted’. It has not been preached from the pulpit. Of course when contraception became the norm, and again silence from the pulpit. It will be a very difficult time for the church in these times. Only God can turn us back

  • Ana

    This phenomenon I guess is worldwide. I wanted to make a research why many Catholics, don’t know about this Church teaching, that cohabitation and marriage outside of the Catholic Church is a mortal sin, and if one is in a state of mortal sin, he or she should not receive Holy Communion.

    • F.A.

      Yes! I’ve just found that out today and I’m devastated. I’ve been faithful married to the same mean for 21 years, but at the occasion we could not marry at the church. I’ve been receiving Holy Communion without knowing I’ve committed a mortal sin and now I’m so disappointed. I’ll go to confession next week, but I’m not sure if the priest will absolve me. If not, I’ll die in mortal sin, and suffer the consequences of my choices, even though I wasn’t informed.

  • Larry

    I went to Mass today with my daughter and her live in boy friend for Easter. I was stunned so stunned when they went up to receive communion that I did not go to Communion. The young man is not Catholic and told me at lunch that it is not for priests to judge if him but only God. I was so sickened by this it sort of ruined the holiday. Shall I tell the priests in my parish about my daughter’s situation? I feel like I’m witnessing a serious deception!

    • Deb

      Larry, I would first talk to your daughter and the boyfriend and explain that they are both living in mortal sin and neither of them should be receiving the Eucharist and especially not a non Catholic. If they have no respect for Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist or the teachings of the Church, or the state of their own souls, why to they bother with Mass anyway?
      I would definitely let your pastor know about their situation and I would let them know you will be talking to the pastor.
      You can’t stop someone who is determined to wallow in sin, but you don’t have to accompany them to it.

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