Rorate Caeli

Marriage, "Divorce", Annulment - The Pope speaks

Papal speeches to the courts of the Roman Curia are among the most important addresses a Pope may give, because they have immediate consequence: they are to be considered as interpretative guides to the Law as applied by the judges of these Superior Tribunals.

If one would have only read the secular news regarding Pope Benedict's speech to the Roman Rota last Saturday, one might have thought that his message was: "Speed up the annulments!". Which has already been denied by an attentive and modest Vatican insider.

The most important part of the speech in my opinion, though, was not exactly related to the speed of annulments, but to communion to divorced Catholics living in sin (in civil "marriage", in "common law marriage, or other form of "companionship", all of which are not important in the eyes of the Magisterium). Here are the Pope's words:

As you well know, the attention given to the procedures of matrimonial annulment always greatly transcend the field of the experts. The ecclesiastical sentences in this matter, in fact, define the possibility or not of the reception of eucharistic Communion by not a few faithful.

Annulments, that is, the ecclesiastical decisions that a previous "marriage" actually was not a true marriage and therefore never existed, are a condition for the reception of eucharistic communion by those who are "remarried": that is, those whose previous marriage to a still living person is presumed valid and who live with someone else, even if after a civil "divorce" and "remarriage", live in sin and objectively are not allowed to receive communion.

This, of course, is pretty obvious and has always been the Catholic position, but it had been undermined by not a few prelates in the past few months.