VALLE D’AOSTA July 28, 2005 ( -Â In a speech to priests of the diocese in which he is vacationing, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic teaching that members of the flock who have been divorced and remarried are in an irregular situation regarding the sacraments and may not receive Communion.

The Catholic Church still holds that remarriage after divorce, though extremely common, is the moral equivalent of adultery, and so bars a person in such circumstances from receiving Communion.

“I would say that a particularly painful situation is that of those who were married in the church, but were not really believers and did so just for tradition, and then finding themselves in a new, nonvalid marriage, convert, find the faith and feel excluded from the sacrament,” he said.

Protecting the feelings of people in such situations, however, is not held as sufficient reason to admit them to Communion. Calling modern marriage a sacrament that is frequently “celebrated without faith,” the Pope reiterated that for a priest to give Communion under such circumstances would only serve to further undermine the integrity of marriage.

“We know that the moment we give in out of love, we harm the sacrament itself, and its indissolubility appears weakened,” Pope Benedict said.

Pope Benedict cited the collapse of the moral order in the 1960’s as the source of so much moral confusion in and out of the Church. He said the situation of the divorced and civilly remarried is one that is “particularly painful,” and commented that the situation is so difficult that he also suffered from it.

Pope Benedict said that even if divorced and civilly remarried Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist, they are part of the church and are loved by Christ; and that suffering out of love for God and for the Church is “a noble suffering.”

While participating at Mass without receiving Communion is not optimal, he said, “it is not nothing; it is involvement in the mystery of the cross and resurrection of Christ.”