Wednesday 21st March 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Should Some People In Irregular Unions Receive Communion?

March 19, 2017 Featured Today No Comments


A Catholic couple living in an adulterous relationship are not necessarily subjectively in a state of mortal sin. Objectively their state of life is mortally sinful, but there is such great ignorance today about marriage and sexual relationships that we can’t presume that these people are subjectively guilty of mortal sin, and are therefore headed for Hell.
So it is possible for a Catholic, or a Catholic couple, to believe they are not doing wrong, or at least nothing gravely wrong, when in fact the relationship, objectively considered, is mortally sinful.
They may tell themselves they are choosing the lesser of two evils, particularly if they have children who would suffer if they separated. As for living as brother and sister, they may persuade themselves that the stress of doing this would lead to greater evils than maintaining a sexual relationship.
This way of reasoning is spreading rapidly among theologians, bishops, and priests. It follows, they maintain, that such couples should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Even though the Catholic position has been explained to them these couples may feel unable to accept it, or at least its application to their situation.
Even if they are wrong, God expects them to follow their conscience. So it seems harsh to forbid them the strength that would come to them through Communion. Indeed, receiving the sacraments and participating fully in the life of the Church may give them the supernatural strength to embrace the Church’s teaching more fully.
The above reasoning is the crucial factor in the push to change immemorial Catholic practice in refusing Communion to those in this situation. At first glance it may seem reasonable and merciful but in reality it is neither, as should be clear to any Catholic who examines the issue.
The assumption is that Catholics who are in the above situation, but yet want to go to Communion, are in a state of invincible ignorance — ignorance that excuses them from sin. Either that or else they are assumed to lack the strength to give up their sinful lifestyle. But is that so?
The proponents of this proposal would have the person in question discuss the matter with a priest. But if this were done, and the priest explained the correct position, how could it be maintained that the person was still in a state of invincible ignorance? The priest’s explanation should have removed that ignorance!
As for lacking the strength to overcome their sinful lifestyle, this ignores the truth that God gives us the grace to overcome temptations. As St. Paul says: “God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Were this proposed concession allowed, the result would be that many people would be led into sin: They would tell themselves that they were entitled to receive the Eucharist while knowing in their heart that this were not so. They would be in the position St. Paul warns about when he says concerning the Eucharist that one who eats and drinks unworthily “will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 27).
Another objection to this novel proposal is that it would mislead people about the Church’s teaching that all sexual intercourse outside marriage is mortal sin, objectively speaking. Many would tell themselves that if the Church allows these people to receive the Eucharist there can’t be much wrong with the lives they are leading. It is a case of actions speaking louder than words, with the Church’s precept contradicted by her practice.
A further objection is that this concession would be cruel to those in irregular situations who refrain from Communion because they know it would be wrong for them to receive the Eucharist. If they saw others in the same situation going to Communion, this could lead them to do the same, even though their conscience forbade this.
It would be particularly difficult in the case of one partner refusing to go to Communion while the other partner strongly disagreed: The disagreeing partner would point to the fact that other couples in the same situation were not so “rigid,” and that many bishops and priests allowed this. Under such pressure some people would give in and violate their conscience.
Another evil from this allegedly merciful and pastoral concession would be the strengthening of subjectivism. There is a widespread fallacy that something may be right for me and wrong for you: My conscience may differ from your conscience, with no objective standard. That error would be strongly encouraged by this allegedly pastoral concession.
Then there are the implications for other forms of immoral behavior. People who are living blatantly immoral lives will claim the right to the Eucharist because their conscience is clear. Militant homosexual couples would show their contempt for Catholic — and natural law — morality by brazenly coming up for Holy Communion. And, logically, how could they be refused?
Can we go even further and say that this proposed change is based on heresy? Some argue that this is so. A reason given by the proponents of the change is that some people are unable to live up to Christian teaching in the area of sexual morality. Take a couple living in a state of adultery and who believe they must remain together for the sake of the children, but whose passions are so strong (it is alleged) that they can’t refrain from sexual intercourse.
This argument is criticized on the grounds that God offers us the grace to obey His laws. In fact, the Council of Trent defined infallibly that God gives us the necessary help to obey the moral law, and condemned the claim that the observance of the Commandments of God is impossible for one who is justified. “If anyone says that the Commandments of God are, even for one who is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep: let him be anathema” (Decree on Justification, canon 18).
However, I don’t believe this proposed change necessarily involves a contradiction of what the Council of Trent taught. Catholic moral theology recognizes, as does common sense, that the person doing something which is objectively evil may be free from the guilt of sin because their mind is clouded by ignorance, prejudice, fear, or other mitigating circumstances.
The error condemned by Trent is based on the claim made by Protestants in the 16th century that original sin so corrupted human nature that we are no longer free to avoid sin. That claim is a denial of free will.
Condemning this, the Council of Trent declares: “If anyone says that after Adam’s sin the free will of man is lost and extinct or that it is an empty concept, a term without real foundation, indeed, a fiction introduced by Satan into the Church, let him be anathema” (Decree on Justification, Canon 5).
Some people living in an adulterous relationship may indeed be free of mortal sin because of subjective factors affecting their judgment, but that is not a sufficient reason for relaxing the Church’s ban on such people receiving Communion.
Revoking the Church’s age-old position on this question would be anything but merciful. The consequences would be calamitous.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

What US Catholics see as Pope Francis’ most notable action


Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2018 / 04:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- What has been Pope Francis’ most notable action so far in his papacy? A group of some 300 U.S. Catholics was recently asked this question in a recent study conducted by the…Continue Reading

Vatican admits doctoring photo of Benedict’s letter praising Pope Francis

VATICAN, March 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — One of the world’s leading news agencies has said the Vatican breached journalistic standards by doctoring a photo of a letter from Benedict XVI praising Pope Francis. According to the Associated Press, the doctoring…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: The Pope has no power to change Humanae Vitae

ROME, March 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Pope has no power to change or relax the Church’s ban on artificial contraception, just as he can never allow women to be ordained, Cardinal Gerhard Müller said on Wednesday. The former prefect…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops stand by spokesman after racism comment

New Mexico’s three Catholic bishops on Tuesday rejected a call by 33 Republican state legislators to punish the Catholic Church’s spokesman for saying racism played a part in the defeat of an initiative to expand early childhood education. In fact,…Continue Reading

Jim Caviezel tells university students to ‘stand out’ and ‘be saints’

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, March 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic actor Jim Caviezel, who famously played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, told university students on Sunday that they must set themselves apart from this “corrupt generation” and “be saints.” “You weren’t…Continue Reading

Catholic hierarchy to be confronted over gender inequality

“Powerful vested interests” within the Catholic church are being challenged at a conference in Rome on International Women’s Day as calls grow for women to be given positions of authority and influence in the church. In a sign that a new assertive…Continue Reading

Study shows why young Catholics leave the church

They stopped believing in God. They saw a disconnect between what Catholics say and what they do. They disagreed with the church’s stance on social issues such as homosexuality and birth control. They are the growing numbers of young Catholics…Continue Reading

Number of Catholic weddings falls by two-thirds since 1990

The number of Catholic weddings in England and Wales has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics have been recorded,…Continue Reading

Georgetown honors pro-abortion Senator whose bishop just barred him from Communion

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Tonight, Georgetown University will present pro-abortion Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, whose bishop recently barred him from Holy Communion, with an award for devoting “his life to the core Jesuit value of service to…Continue Reading

Dozens of Catholics arrested as they ask Congress to help ‘Dreamers’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Dozens of Catholics, including men and women religious, were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Feb. 27 in the rotunda of a Senate building in Washington as they called on lawmakers to help young undocumented adults brought to…Continue Reading

Catholic Church frets that religion ‘slipping off agenda’ in schools

The Catholic Church has raised concerns in meetings with State education officials that religion is “slipping off the agenda” in their schools. In a record of a meeting between the Education and Training Boards Ireland(ETBI) and Catholic Church representatives it was suggested that…Continue Reading


Beyond decades, for generations the Catholic bishops of Texas, saying they are obeying the law, but hiding behind the convenient cover of saying they are fearful of losing their tax exempt status, have said they must remain silent about those…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Polish archbishop criticises priest who wished for death of Pope Francis

Former seminary rector Fr Edward Staniek questioned the direction in which Pope Francis was taking the Church A Polish archbishop has criticised a priest and theologian who wished Pope Francis a quick death if he did not open his heart to “wisdom”. Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow said he had heard the comments with “great pain and regret” and had spoken to the priest about them. Fr Edward Staniek, a noted theologian and former rector…Continue Reading

Catholic principal defies Planned Parenthood. Her worst enemy? The local bishop.

March 16, 2018 (Rorate Caeli) – It is always local situations that show how deep the problems in the Church are at the present time. The problematic issuances from Rome, Germany and  Chicago are indeed disturbing, but to see how far things have gone, one must go to the local level of the Church:  the diocese and the parish.  Go to a typical parish Mass to see the fruit of the liturgical experiment of the…Continue Reading

Full text of Pope emeritus Benedict’s letter released

The decision to withhold parts of a letter by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was motivated by concerns for discretion, according to a new statement from the Secretariat for Communications. By Vatican News A statement from the Secretariat for Communication, released by the Press Office of the Holy See, takes note of polemical statements in the press suggesting censorship of a letter by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. The controversy arose over the digital alteration of a…Continue Reading

Vatican prepares to issue two documents on ‘gender theory’

ROME, March 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Congregation for Catholic Education are each preparing to release documents on “gender theory,” the radical ideology behind transgenderism. The Congregation for Catholic Education’s document, expected to be released in the next two months, won’t “enter the heart of the debate,” the dicastery’s secretary Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani said. Instead, it will repeat “important educational principles.” The CDF’s document…Continue Reading

Judge bans pro-lifers from going near abortion centers in unprecedented ruling

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Michigan, March 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A judge sentenced five pro-life activists today to one year of reporting probation, eight days of community service, more than $1,000 in fines each, and forbade them from going within 500 feet of any abortion facility in the United States. Several of them will likely serve jail time for refusing to pay the fines or perform community service. Some of them could end up being in jail…Continue Reading


Make A Church Post Satan’s Phone Number?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of Creators Syndicate,, distributes his column.) + + + Jerry Brown once said he saw “the killing of the unborn as crazy.” This was just after the once-and-future pro-abortion governor of California returned to the United States in 1988 after spending…Continue Reading

A Decision From Outer Space

By DONALD DeMARCO A number of science-fiction movies, especially those from the 1950s when the threat of an atomic attack loomed, revolved around a decision made by highly intelligent beings from outer space to destroy all human life on planet Earth. The usual reasons put forth for the destruction were that human beings were violent,…Continue Reading

Globalists & Nationalists: Who Owns The Future?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Robert Bartley, the late editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, was a free trade zealot who for decades championed a five-word amendment to the Constitution: “There shall be open borders.” Bartley accepted what the erasure of America’s borders and an endless influx of foreign peoples and goods would mean…Continue Reading

The Stoneman Douglas Shootings And Divine Providence

By C.F. MONTESANO (Editor’s Note: C.F. Montesano is vice president with a maritime trade association in Virginia. He serves as a lector at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C. Last summer, he was selected by Signum University to be a presenter at its annual “Mythmoot” conference for enthusiasts of J.R.R. Tolkien.) + +…Continue Reading

Key Abuse Charge Against Cardinal Pell Withdrawn

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS MELBOURNE, Australia (CNA/EWTN News) — An Australian prosecutor on March 2 withdrew a charge of abuse against George Cardinal Pell, who is currently undergoing a trial in Australia for accusations of past sexual abuse. The charge was dropped by Prosecutor Mark Gibson March 2 after its key complainant died in January. It…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Horror Of The Passion

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Palm Sunday (YR B) Readings: Mark 11:1-10 Isaiah 50:4-7 Phil. 2:6-11 Mark 14:1-15:47   As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we begin with a Gospel reading recounting our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem to the joyful shouts of the people proclaiming Him to be the Son of David, that is, the Messiah. Our Lord had preached and worked…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Fear Is Useless”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Lent is about death. The Lord’s death, of course: “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat.” He Himself in His human nature must be the seed of future glory for all of mankind. Fear is mankind’s most instinctive response before the vast and uncharted…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ . . . Can We Receive Communion In An Eastern Orthodox Church?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 20 Here we enter a delicate matter, which requires much prudential judgment from the Church. The matter is normally titled Communicatio in sacris, which refers to receiving Holy Communion in separated Eastern Churches. Here the situation is totally different from receiving “communion” in a Protestant church of whatever denomination, because Protestants do not have…Continue Reading

Sacramentals In The Life Of The Church

By DON FIER For almost two years we have been examining the Church’s teaching, as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), on the seven sacraments. As has been emphasized repeatedly, it is an infallibly taught dogma of our faith that Christ Himself instituted each of the seven sacraments during His visible stay on Earth. Moreover, it has…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In discussing the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, a friend wondered why Christ, who is omniscient, would say that only the Father knows the end of the world. Please clarify this. — L.S., via e-mail. A. In Mark 13:32, Jesus said of the day that the world will end, “no one knows, neither the angels in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

By CAROLE BRESLIN It has been said that the four characteristics of good prayer are that it must be sincere, it must be humble, it must be confident, and it must be persevering. This can also be said of the Christian life and a person’s approach to seeking to do the will of God: humble, sincere, confident, and persevering. St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Luigi Orione

By CAROLE BRESLIN Suffering, great persecutions, humiliations, obstacles to entering the religious life — all of these seem to be the lot of those destined to become saints. In fact, without these pains present in their lives, chances are that their causes for canonization would not proceed. Why would someone want to become a saint if that is the path?…Continue Reading