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Communion for divorced and remarried, same-sex unions impossible: bishop at Vatican conference

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At the end of the first day of the Vatican’s interfaith colloquium on the family on Monday, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Bishop Jean Laffitte said again that divorced and remarried Catholics, being in an objective state of adultery, cannot receive Holy Communion, and that the nature of marriage itself precludes any union other than that of a man and a woman.

Marriage between a man and a woman, Laffitte said, is based upon the natural “complementarity” of the sexes, and as such is a “treasure” not only of the Catholic Church but for the “whole of humanity.”

To fully understand the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage, it is necessary to understand this sacramental aspect. For the Church, Bishop Laffitte said, “marriage, as an expression of love, not only continues having the prophetic power of proclaiming the love of God the Creator, but it also becomes a new reality, renewed by the love of Christ, who gives himself to his own, to his Church, and unites himself with Her, like a husband with his wife.”

“The love between man and woman is great precisely in the light of this divine mystery.”

“The sexual union between man and woman is understood as a reciprocal gift that each one offers to the other; the human body is considered with its sexual differentiation: masculinity and femininity,” Bishop Laffitte said.

“This fact is essential, although it does go against certain trends in our contemporary culture, which do not consider sexual complementarity as a fundamental anthropological structure.”

Bishop Laffitte also addressed briefly one of the key points of contention at October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, at which it was repeatedly proposed to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion. Such persons, according to the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, are in an objective state of adultery, and are barred from the reception of the sacraments.

Laffitte said that a person’s misuse of the body within marriage “not only contradicts the nature of the marital covenant, but also deprives the body of its deeper meaning (adultery will never be a gift).”

“Adultery—the fact is better understood in this light—is incompatible with the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Laffitte’s address followed another by his immediate superior at the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who said at a meeting in Madrid this weekend that the Church “bears the responsibility of showing to the world that the generative and stable bond of a man and a woman truly builds up human communities of human stature, and promotes the circulation of the affective dimensions as well as the responsibilities of bonds which cannot exist in any other form.”

Bishop Laffitte said that he had been asked by Pope Francis to base his address on the work of Pope John Paul II, the “pope of the family,” who was “extremely committed to articulating and transmitting an authentic Christian anthropology.”

Speaking on the theological issue of the “sacramentality of human love,” Bishop Laffitte said that “conjugal love has ceased to be a good news to the eyes of some of our contemporaries,” who have instead placed themselves in the position of “Pharisees.”

While the anthropological dimension, which is based on the biological realities of sex and procreation, always informs Catholic teaching, it is necessarily the theological dimension that most concerns Catholicism, that of an expression of “a particular way the nuptial mystery of Christ, the Bridegroom and of the Church, His bride.”

This “sacramental” understanding, he said, “is inherent in the nature of the communion of life and love between man and woman to signify and actualize the union of Christ and the Church.”

“This union is likewise characterized as communion of life and love: since it treats of a divine good transmitted by Christ, it is a communication of eternal goods: communication of eternal life and eternal love,” he said.

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Maria Madise, the coordinator of Voice of the Family that attended the Synod, is also attending the conference this week. She told LifeSiteNews today that while the “colloquium certainly enjoys a great successes of bringing together a number of different inspiring speakers of different faiths,” that so far, mid-way through the second day, the conference “is in harmony with the final relatio of the Synod” in that little is being said directly about the sources of the crisis of marriage to which Pope Francis referred in his opening address. 

“We are hearing profound reflections of the complementarity of man and woman as a common treasure for all humanity and in all religious traditions,” she said. She added that this focus is bringing home the fact that the concept of the family based on natural marriage between one man and one woman, for the procreation and nurturing of children, is far from a parochial concern of Catholicism.

“Bishop Laffitte’s address on the sacramentality of marriage has been enriching,” Madise said, “but the real causes of the crisis of marriage and family must be courageously addressed at the conference.”

“Like the final Synod report, the most poignant attacks on marriage and the family have not been discussed directly, namely abortion, contraception and artificial procreation (IVF) that are ravaging families everywhere in the world.”

“The pope addressed the fact of a crisis,” she added, “and we say there is a crisis, and we talk about the effects of divorce on children and of being part of a divorce culture, and it’s all great, but we haven’t addressed any of the sources of that poisoning of the complementarity of man and woman.”

She added that the participants at the conference are given little opportunity to enter into a discussion, with only ten minutes made available at the end of each day for questions.

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