Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Irregular Situations

Fr Hugh OSB commented on a previous post of mine about those in irregular situations.  He wrote: But if we are being boldly honest, we have to admit that "irregular" equals "objectively sinful", and they need to repent. The good thing is that by attending Mass yet not receiving Communion (which would be poison to their souls if in mortal sin) they open themselves to hear the Word of God and its encouragement to repent.

He is of course quite correct. However, 'objectively sinful' does not necessarily mean 'in a state of mortal sin.'

So if one is divorced and 'remarried', and having marital relations in the new relationship, one is certainly in a situation that is objectively sinful. However, if one is subject to duress, for example (and that might be the duress of a partner threatening to abandon oneself and one's children - or even to harm them) then one might well not be in a state of mortal sin, for which free consent is a condition.

In which case, the damage to one's soul is less; and perseverance in attending Mass (and humility and obedience in not presenting for Holy Communion) are surely likely to be of significant spiritual benefit.

It also means, of course, that we should not assume that because someone is in an irregular situation, he or she is in a state of mortal sin. Indeed, we are expressly forbidden from making such a judgement.

Nonetheless, the Church is correct in her requirement that those living in such an irregular state of life do not present for Holy Communion, not least because of the risk of grave scandal (and there are other reasons, too, such as the problems of being judge in one's own case...)

But as I have blogged before, we should not underestimate the love and compassion of God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


It cheers me that someone has taken care to notice the care I try to use with words in matters doctrinal. "Objectively sinful", as you imply, allows for the fact that subjectively there may be many extenuating or mitigating circumstances that reduce culpability. That is for the pastor to help the penitent determine - honestly.

That is also why I made sure to included the parenthetical remark with regard to Communion, "if in mortal sin". That remark is a logical corollary of the point above.

Which all rather suggests that the Church has envisaged the complexity of human life and circumstance already over the long course of her 2000 years of observation, reflection and fidelity to God's word. Why do some want to reinvent the wheel (and make a bad job of it in the process)?