Kipa reports that 40 priests and pastoral ministers from the Diocese of St. Gall, Switzerland, have issued a statement that they will continue to offer communion to the divorced and remarried. They appeal to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council that the Church is the entire People of God; the People of God are taking responsibility for the Church. Furthermore, the Catholic Church recognizes the decision in conscience of each individual person.
Their statement says:
Therefore, as a Church of disciples of Jesus, we cannot exclude from the sacraments, for example, those divorced and remarried. This would contradict the praxis of Jesus in his manner of dealing with people. Thus we will continue to offer Communion to those divorced and remarried.
The signatories, who are from the deaneries of Uznach and Sargans, have studied the statements of the Second Vatican Council as part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the council. They write that the Church opened itself to the world at that time, but many of the council’s decisions have not yet been put into practice.
In March Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur wrote in a pastoral letter that according to Church teachings, those divorced and remarried are not to be admitted to the sacraments. The clergy and pastoral ministers from St. Gall state in an accompanying letter that they intend to offer spiritual support to their colleagues in the diocese of Chur, so that the spirit of the Council live on and be “supported in solidarity” by them.
Meanwhile, the president of the German bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, continues to work for the admission to Communion of those divorced and remarried, Kathweb reports. “We are working on this subject, and you may rest assured that I am in conversation on the subject at widely varying levels.” He acknowledges that the topic requires “patience and slow breathing.”
Last year, similar comments from Zollitsch met with a strong rebuke from Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, who stressed the indissolubility of marriage with reference to the words of Jesus. Zollitsch had called for reconsideration of the Church’s manner of dealing with people “whose lives have developed unfortunately in important matters.” He said that, “when nearly 40% of marriages in Germany end in divorce, then we must consider how to alter our pastoral practice for these people,” which he considers “a question of mercy.”