The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement:
“In view of the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome, the bishops have undertaken a reflection on marriage and family. This reflection demonstrated the importance of the family from the perspective of philosophical, theological and legal issues.
“Identified once again was the indispensable importance of the sacrament of marriage, and the family for the growth of Christian life within the Church.
“Emphasized was the need to promote the pastoral care of families, to strengthen the faithful in understanding and the implementation of sacramental marriage, as understood as a sacred and indissoluble union between a woman and a man.
“The teaching and the tradition of the Church shows that people living in non-sacramental union deprive themselves of the possibility of receiving Holy Communion.*
“Pastoral care must be provided for those living in such unions so that they may be able to keep the faith and continue in the community of the Church. Pastoral care of those in non-sacramental unions should also take account of children, who have the right to participate fully in the life and mission of the Church.”
* Voice of the Family note: The reference here is to invalid unions contracted by Catholics. Catholics in valid natural marriages, which occur when a Catholic marries an unbaptised person, may, of course, receive the sacraments.
Reprinted with permission form Voice of the Family.