Can Divorced and Civilly Remarried Catholics Receive Communion?

Archbishop Gerhard Muller: the Vatican’s head official on doctrinal matters

Catholic News Agency:

In his Corriere della Sera  interview, the  Archbishop Gerhard Muller explained, “the truth is that we cannot clarify these situations with a general statement. On those divorced and civilly remarried, many think the Pope or a synod can say: of course, receive Communion. But this is not possible.”

He added that this is because a “valid, sacramental marriage is indissoluble: this is the Catholic practice, reaffirmed by Popes and Councils, in fidelity to the Words of Jesus. And the Church has not the authority to relativize the Words and Commandments of God.”

Archbishop Müller added that while the sacraments have a “medicinal aspect” and are not restricted to “the perfect,” an irregular marriage is an “objective obstacle to receiving the Eucharist.” This is “not a punishment” and the bar on divorced and re-married persons receiving Communion does not keep them from attending Mass.

Here is what Lisa Graas, a civilly divorced mother, had to say.

I think it’s really important that I offer my own personal insight on what Archbishop Müller is saying here because I am civilly divorced and not re-married. In the eyes of the Church, I am married, but in the eyes of the State, I am divorced. I chose to remain loyal to Christ and His Church. I see myself as the Church sees me, not as the State sees me, because Jesus is the love of my life. I will not betray Him for romance with someone who cannot ever be my spouse in the eyes of God, through His Church. Jesus has not let me down. He has rewarded my decision by drawing me closer to Himself. There is nothing and no one who could make me abandon my Lord. I imagine that if I had not made such a commitment, I could never have been truly happy. My life would have been more like a misery covered over with a bandage, and a dirty bandage, at that. It would be the same for anyone who “married” me. Only in doing God’s will can we be truly happy.

Some will say the Church is “mean” to do this.

To the contrary, whatever brings us closer to God’s will brings more love into our hearts. The only passion I am interested in is “The Passion.” Everything else is just a game of pretending that will bring only superficial pleasures and bear no real fruit.

My struggle is not with loneliness but with remembering that people who marry in accordance with Church teaching are not doing something superficial. The more years that have passed in embracing our Lord in His Cross, the less I am able to see why anyone would want to marry. That’s a lack of understanding on my part regarding God’s will for the sacramentally married. It is harder for me to personally relate to married persons now because it is so very much not what is right for me. My fault in understanding is the opposite of thinking the Church is “mean” not to allow re-marriage after divorce (absent an annulment.) My fault is in not understanding why anyone would even want to marry when they could have Jesus Himself so closely, through celibacy. As St. Paul says, celibacy is best, but for those who cannot accept celibacy, our Lord has not only blessed marriage, but has elevated it to a Sacrament. How wonderful for you who cannot accept celibacy! If even this is not enough for you, and you think it “mean” not to be blessed in doing whatever you like, I am sorry for your lack of understanding. It is the same as my own lack of understanding, but on the opposite end.

St. Gemma is a great patroness for those who may struggle with loneliness. St. Gemma, pray for us.

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25 comments to Can Divorced and Civilly Remarried Catholics Receive Communion?

  • Angela Grottoli

    I am a civil divorced Catholic and not in a living with anyone. Can I receive Holy Communion?

  • Kevin Webster

    What I fail to understand is that, if I was a mass murderer (though shalt not kill), I was a paedophile, if I was a thief and many other situations, I could in the eyes of the Catholic Church receive communion with open arms. Yet as a divorced man and remarried now for 20 years I am not welcome to receive the host, but can receive a blessing at mass if I choose. Surely God who can forgive all sins why does man think he cannot? Is divorce a bigger sin than murder? etc etc etc I have struggled with the catholic church because of this even considering leaving and becoming Baptist who can receive communion.

  • Leora

    I was a divorced Catholic who was granted an annulment and is remarried. I never receive communion because my Mother told me I can not. Am I not a loud to receive communion? I have not in years but always wondered if I could.

  • john

    The church has sent these re-married catholics to hell, something Jesus would never do. First if they continue to have sex-relations in their second marriage without gaining an annulement for whatever reason , they are in conflict with the precepts of the church. Secondly these catholics that cannot receive the Holy Commonunion nor can they receive the sacrement of confession while they stay actively involve with their second spouse. The curch tells these catholics to come to mass but do not come to confession or communion till you turn from you intimanate relationship with you spouse. I propose that the Church leaders try to make it into the sight of God without going to communion or confession. Goo luck Bishops.

  • May the Holy Spirit send gifts of Wisdom and Understanding to present day Catholics and to all who make wrong choices.

  • Marilyn

    I am a divorced and remarried Catholic. For many years, I was a fallen away Catholic. Although I respect Protestants, I believe that the Catholic Church is the True Church, as instututed by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful that Our Heavenly Father invites me to His House. While I am celibate, which Our Heavenly Father knows, I do not receive Holy Communion. It’s difficult, heart-wrenching to remain in my pew during distribution of Communion, still I believe it is appropriate. I am thankful that God has welcomed me back to his home. I trust that He will guide me.

  • Chris

    There are some good Catholics here, but unfortunately they aren’t very good Chirstians.

  • Rochelle

    After reading these posts, I’m wondering of Karl, lisag, and are a new trinity.

    • Karl

      If caring about marriage, families and wanting to curtail the destruction of the society and the Church makes me part of some “trinity”, then so be it.

  • lisag

    Nobody should be going to Communion who is in a state of mortal sin. Sometimes parishioners sins are hidden to the priest and parishioners, but not to God. Consuming the host before confession or reconciling a situation is a direct slap in Jesus face. I would not want to have to stay in the pew at Communion time for any reason, but all in all it is not that hard of a cross to carry. Humility is the answer not a sense of self righteousness.

  • Jason R.

    I must know a least a half dozen divorced couples who go to Mass and communion. What is important is God perception of them and not you folks.

  • Kevin

    The Church needs to seriously take a second look at this. Jesus made a point of having very visible contact with sinners of all types. If we truly believe that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, who are we to deny Him to sinners….there is no more classic case of what would Jesus do!!!

  • Karl


    Seek advice/guidance from the owner of this website:

    His email address is on this site’s first page.

    He is the most qualified person I know of to he of help to you. He is a worldclass, Catholic canon lawyer and theologian with lots of experience. He is a Catholic Priest. His name is Monsignor Cormac Burke.

    I wish you only God’s blessings and love.

  • Karl

    You will never concede it unless you are a rare person, indeed, but the Catholic Church errs regarding marriage with its “brother and sister” exception.

    You have been presumptuous in “waiting” to “receive” your partner’s nullity finding. You act as if a civil marriage is not a public statement.

    As an abandoned, faithful spouse I am livid with your behavior! How dare you or the Catholic Church think that children justify scandal! How dare you mock my marriage by cheapening it with your behavior!

    I know the Catechism and I know the heretical letter from 1994 in which this exception is clearly stated. The Catholic Church at the highest levels is in error through its poor judgment.

    Your justification is sophistry.

    There is a presumption of validity that every marriage is supposed to enjoy in the Catholic Church. Consequently, your partner is bound by that presumption and both of you knowing of that circumstance have given public notice of its “insignificance” to you, which has, seemingly, been confirmed by priests acting without regard for the sacrament of matrimony, es evidenced by your statement(s) herein.

    It is precisely the times in which we live that makes your behavior scandalous because the confusion is so prevalent, in large part due to the horrendous governance of the Catholic Church for the most recent 5 or so decades, that you have done what you have and not been punished/admonished in public by your ordinary.

    I do not expect to change your mind because I know, well, of the corruption which has set the stage for your circumstances. I have
    Simple witnessed to the truth that the Catholic Church and society have abandoned.

    You would do well to understand the reality that nullity decisions are NOT infallible and that nullity decisions which are made in error have NO POWER. Consequently, sacrament continues to exist in the face of a nullity decision that is made in error.

    The answer is before you. You have a different agenda, it seems, than persistantly seeking the truth. But, the priests you have consulted have done you a terrible wrong.

    I have seen, numerous errors in nullity decisions and know of many others via people who know what they have experienced. Yes, decisions which have, ultimately been thrown out. To think that these are the only ones and that all are, perfectly addressed, is intentional ignorance, which is a grave error and gravely sinful if it is acted upon without the absolute stricktest possible discipline and scrutiny to exclude even the remotest possibility of error or wrong presumption.

    Few, even among the best clergy, are willing to follow that discipline. The Catholic Church and its lax pastoral actions and annulment mills have undermined everything. So, it is no surprise to me at all, that you have made the choices that you have. The road to Heaven is narrow but to Hell it is expansive.

    Only you, truly, know your circumstances. My money is on the Catholic Church and its money having failed you. I have seen it countless times.

    But, I have not. You have heard the truth here. Few are willing to say what I have because few, any longer, know even the reflection of truth, mercy, justice or authentic charity.

    God’s mercy is His cross. Stay on your cross. Civilly, divorce the man you are presently, civilly yoked to. Wait for the final decision of the Catholic Church Tribunal. Seek better counsel among more traditional clergy. It is grave sin even to date someone who is under the presumption of validity. You have gone way beyond what is not immediately deadly to your soul, his soul and the souls of those you may influence to think that your behavior up till now is proper. It is not.

    I have to be serious with this subject as it is so terribly misunderstood and abused. Do not let that seriousness be seen as harsh. It isn’t. SOULS are riding on truth. Do NOT presume upon God’s mercy in anyway, except to take up your WHOLE cross. God loves you. Nothing changes that. But His love cannot save one who choses not to follow His precepts. Those who claim His authority have allowed confusion to reign. Please consider things, very carefully.

    God bless.

  • Janice

    Mr. Quinn how do you get a profile picture for someone? How do you manage to get that information when it wasn’t given?

  • Karl


    Unless you both are deceiving the priest(s) who are hearing your “confessions”, their unspoken scandal hidden, as if God agrees with their heresy, by the Seal of Confession, is far worse than yours. They both are doing grave harm, to God knows how many people, and marriages. Any priest who absolves you or your partner should be dismissed from the priesthood and if unrepentant, formally excommunicated. If they are the same priests giving you communion, they are doing unspeakable wrong.

  • Karl


    Your civil marriage to a man who is not free IS A SCANDAL!

    • Janice

      Are you a priest? Where do you draw your knowledge from? I know I am not married in the Church but it is legal to have a civil marriage if both people are divorced. I think we can agree on that. You seem to think there is a Scandal, how so? If no one knows and you don’t go around publicly displaying any affection, and you don’t live together, or have marital relation’s than you are not causing scandal.
      This is why paragraph 1650 of the Catechism [6], noted above, concludes as follows: “Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.” A remarried Catholic must resolve that he will no longer engage in sexual relations with his second spouse—ever. This means that he must either separate from the second spouse altogether; or they must henceforth live together as brother and sister, rather than as husband and wife.

      The number of married couples who would willingly agree to the latter arrangement, in order to receive the Eucharist, is presumably slim—and yet it is a fact that they do indeed exist. There definitely are Catholics among us who remarried outside the Church, but subsequently wished to rectify their situation for spiritual reasons. They have made a good confession, firmly resolving to sin no more. With their spouses in agreement with their decision, these remarried Catholics are still living with their second spouses, but in total continence. (In many cases, the presence of minor children in the house has led the couple to decide to continue living together, for the good of the children.) Catholics like these are, spiritually speaking, once again entitled to receive the Eucharist.

  • Janice

    I am divorced and have received an annulment
    From the Church. I got civilly married to a Catholic
    who has not received his yet. We do not cohabit nor do
    we commit any scandalous act’s. We both go to
    Confession regularly and receive Communion.
    Why is it that it is always assumed that divorced
    and remarried Catholic’s are living in sin?

    • Gary O

      Janice you are right, we should not make assumptions because your business isn’t any of our business. We all have enough problems of our own. Like the Lord said, get the beam out of your eye before you worry about the plank that is in your brothers.

  • tg

    I’m in the same boat as Lisa. JesusChrist is more important to me than any creature. I wonder why Cardinal Muller is going to do about the German church. According to reports, they are not going to obey. They are going to giving Holy Communion to remarried Catholics (those without annulments.) I wonder if they will be treated as harshly as SSPX or Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

  • Karl

    The Catholic Church is imploding just as a family headed for divorce does. It is quite fitting that this is occurring, nearly in public.

    There will be a divorce, but not an annulment. However, the abandoned spouse, also as usually happens, will be persectued by the abandoner. That is why God has been testing those of us who have survived the preliminaries to this “Great Divorce”.

    We are in “interesting” times.

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