In April, Pope Francis released a document titled “The Joy of Love,” which seemed in part to open the way for couples that have divorced and remarried to receive communion. Now, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has added a pretty strict caveat.

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The AP reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput has implemented a series of guidelines for clergy in his archdiocese. The rules, which went into effect on July 1, state that absolutely no Catholics who are in same-sex couples, civilly remarried after a divorce, or cohabiting unmarried couples will be allowed to serve “on parish councils, instruct the faithful, serve as lectors or dispense Communion.”

Not even the remarried, you say? The thing is, if you did not receive an annulment from the Church for your first marriage, just an icky recognition from the State, you are still officially committing adultery. However, you may participate in all the exhilarating activities outlined above. On one big, big condition: no boinking. Emphasis ours:

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Can the divorced and civilly-remarried receive the sacraments? As a general matter, baptized members of the Church are always in principle invited to the sacraments. [...]

In some cases, the subjective responsibility of the person for a past action may be diminished. But the person must still repent and renounce the sin, with a firm purpose of amendment. With divorced and civilly-remarried persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly-remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist. Such individuals are encouraged to approach the Sacrament of Penance regularly, having recourse to God’s great mercy in that sacrament if they fail in chastity.

Chaput is considered one of the most conservative leaders in the Catholic Church, and you know that’s saying something. Still, his addendum for remarried couples is surprising to many. As Chaput says in his new guidelines, not having sex with your spouse is “a hard teaching.”


Image via AP.