Communion for remarried allowed in Malta

What happened?

Malta’s bishops have said that remarried people should receive Communion if they think they are at peace with God. They also suggested it might be “impossible” for some divorced and remarried Catholics to avoid sex. In a new document they said that if “a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to … believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments”.

What the commentators are saying

Canon lawyer Dr Edward Peters dubbed it “the Maltese disaster”. An individual’s assessment of his or her readiness to receive Holy Communion, he wrote on his blog, should not dictate a minister’s decision to administer the Eucharist. “In Malta now, anyone who approaches for the sacraments should be recognised as being ‘at peace with God’. Objective evidence to the contrary is simply no longer relevant.”

Dr Peters also pointed out that the bishops’ guidelines read as if there was equivalence between sex between unmarried persons and married persons. “Non-married people can have sex, of course, but Catholic pastoral integrity does not hold such sexual acts on a par with the physically identical, but truly conjugal, acts as performed by married persons,” he said.

Fr Dwight Longenecker shared Dr Peters’s concerns. “What troubles me in the Maltese bishops’ document is that it opens the door to complete subjectivity”, he said, as it made the criteria for reception of Communion something that an individual parish priest could determine.

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