Pope Notes Plight of the Divorced-and-Remarried

Says the Church Must Help Them in Their Suffering

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that the Church must welcome with special love the divorced faithful who have remarried and, as such, cannot received Communion.



"We all know that this is a particularly painful problem for people who live in situations in which they are excluded from Eucharistic Communion, and naturally for the priests who desire to help these people love the Church and love Christ," said the Pope during a meeting July 25 in a church at Introd, the northern Italian town near where he spent his summer holidays.

The Holy Father said, "None of us has a ready-made formula, also because situations always differ."

"I would say that those who were married in the Church for the sake of tradition but were not truly believers, and who later find themselves in a new and invalid marriage and subsequently convert, discover faith, and feel excluded from the sacrament, are in a particularly painful situation," he continued.

"This is really a cause of great suffering and when I was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I invited various bishops' conferences and experts to study this problem: a sacrament celebrated without faith," the Pope added.

"Whether, in fact, a moment of invalidity could be discovered here because the sacrament was found to be lacking a fundamental dimension, I do not dare to say. I personally thought so, but from the discussions we had I realized that it is a highly complex problem, and ought to be studied further," he acknowledged.

Respect for marriage

"It is important that the parish priest and the parish community make these people realize that, on the one hand, they must respect the indissolubility of the sacrament and, on the other, that we love these people who are also suffering for us," clarified the Pope.

Benedict XVI appealed to the baptized to "suffer with them, because they are bearing an important witness," as they do not go to Communion, in order to manifest visibly the indissoluble character of marriage.

"I would call this a noble suffering," he said.

The Holy Father's impromptu address in Italian was transcribed by the daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano and translated by ZENIT. It may be consulted in the Documents section of the Web page.