ROME — The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life is preparing a document that will address divorced and remarried couples at the request of Pope Francis, according to the dicastery’s prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell.
Farrell mentioned the in-progress document in a speech delivered in Italian on April 22 that opened a meeting of the dicastery, which promotes the pastoral care of the family and the mission of the lay faithful. Farrell spoke about the importance of providing help and guidance to “those experiencing marital crises of all kinds.”
“On this front, the dicastery is also working on the preparation of a text that will specifically concern — as you wished, Your Holiness — men and women who, having a failed marriage behind them, live in new unions,” Farrell said in his opening address.
Farrell did not say when the document will be released.
The Church teaches that Catholics who are divorced and remarried without an annulment are not to take holy Communion, a teaching reaffirmed by St. John Paul II in the 2005 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio. Pope Francis has said during his pontificate that there may be case-by-case situations where divorced and remarried Catholics can access the Eucharist, including situations where the spouses practice continence within their marriage.
In a recent interview, Pope Francis responded to a question about whether divorced and remarried Catholics could receive the Eucharist by saying: “We cannot reduce a human situation to a prescriptive one.” In the interview, Pope Francis advised looking to what his predecessor Benedict XVI said on the subject of annulments, affirming that “a large part of church marriages are invalid for lack of faith.”
“And think about it: Sometimes [one] goes to a wedding and it seems more like it’s a social reception and not a sacrament,” Pope Francis said. “When young people say ‘forever,’ who knows what they mean [by] ‘forever.’”