Q+A: Are not the Church’s rules on marriage and divorce just pushing people away?

A: The questions of the last two weeks are follow-ups to the original question of “Can a Catholic who has married a non-Catholic, who was previously divorced, receive Communion?” I believe these follow-up questions were necessary to fully understand the initial question.
The Church’s arms are always open to people coming to her. The Church, like each one of us, must undergo constant renewal. We are all called to conversion.

Some people feel that the Church is pushing them away by not recognizing their marriages. The Church takes its lead from Jesus Christ who welcomed sinners and ate with them but at the same time he never left them where they were at, but, was always encouraging them to turn from their sins and to grow in holiness.

It is fitting that this weekend we hear the story of the Samaritan Woman from John’s Gospel (4:1-42) because here Jesus challenges (not condemns) her marital situation and calls her to greater holiness. We too need to love all people no matter how they may be living there lives and work with them to come to a deeper relationship with Christ and his Church. This does not mean enabling them in their sin but helping and encouraging them to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.

I, for one, am open to working with everyone where they are to the best of my ability. Pope Francis has asked the Church to look at how we can better reach people in irregular marital situations which will be one of the topics discussed at the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October in Rome.

Fr. Andrew


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