Are divorced Catholics permitted to receive holy Communion?

A divorced Catholic who is not remarried can usually receive holy Communion. Divorce is not intrinsically evil, and so it is not necessarily a sin. But divorce can sometimes be a serious sin, depending on the intention and the circumstances. A divorced Catholic should consult with his pastor or his confessor about whether or not he has sinned by getting a divorce.

Divorced and remarried Catholics are not allowed to receive Communion because they are having sexual relations with a person to whom they are not married in the eyes of God and the Church. If the prior marriage was the true Sacrament of Marriage, then the divorce cannot break the bond of the Sacrament. The couple remains married to each other in the eyes of God and the Church. So when that person remarries, he or she is having sexual relations outside of a valid marriage.

Divorced and remarried Catholics can sometimes obtain an annulment, if the previous marriage was, for some reason, not the true Sacrament. Another option is for them to cease from sexual relations, but stay together for the sake of the children. A third option is for them to separate. After any of these three options, with confession and permission from the Church, they may resume receiving holy Communion.

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  1. Wow, it was a true Sacrament for me. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 20+ years. The divorce & horrible treatment I endured devastated me.

    • I want to live my faith, but the church teaching doesn’t always support me or anyone else like me where divorce was a was to gain my sanity. God didn’t create me to be with someone who clearly didn’t want to me anymore. …….

  2. Ok So if a divorced man remarries in a non Catholic Church and has 5 children all Baptised in the catholic faith and made their first holy communion and confirmation , he can take them to church with his wife but cannot walk up to communion with them. If the children ask why he is to say we are living in sin. What are the children learning from this? The church recognizes divorce but you need the paper saying your 1st marriage failed to receive the sacraments.

    • My understanding is that divorce is not recognised in the church. He would be divorced by the law. That does not make it acceptable in church teaching. It is considered adultery from my understanding of it. I guess you live by the rules or not and that is one of the Ten Commandments.. as written in stone! All are free to make choices as to what religion suits them best.

  3. Only one thing I am a divorced person I cannot take the communion and I am so sad because I have not betrayed my husband or even cheat on him … and I’ve asked myself that question so many times what about married couples who betrayed their wife/husband and who is taking communion in front of God as if it is normal what about their sacrament? Are they better than me because they are still married? It is so unfair. I am not judging but unfortunately it is a fact.

    • Who ever receives the holy communion unworthily, receives death upon him/herself.
      That includes married couples who are unfaithful to each other

    • In the Orthodox Church, this is the case, but unfortunately not in the Catholic Church because we see the wife and husband as the ministers of the sacrament (so any error in the lawfulness of the marriage would be with them), whereas the Orthodox Church sees the priest as the minister, so a marriage can only allow divorce/ remarriage in the case of infidelity or abuse or apostasy. Catholic marriages are declared “null” if it was missing some element at the time of marriage (like being open to having children). So unfortunately Catholic marriages can’t be dissolved because of cheating, because it looks at the wedding day, not later on in the marriage.

    • Dear Cyrielle…..being a divorced person does NOT bar anyone from receiving Holy Communion……only if they were to remarry and had not gained an annulment of the 1st marriage….


    • Maybe it’s our cross to bear when after divorce, even if we didn’t initiate it, we must make a choice to receive the sacraments (and not remarry) or to remarry and not receive the sacraments. A sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved as the two have become one. This is from the mouth of Jesus.

  5. I don’t disagree with the Catholic Church on 99% of things, but this I do. Someone who’s divorced b/c their spouse cheated on them and they then remarried in the church, etc. should be able to receive communion. Why should they not because the former spouse choose to leave (cheat) them? This is one thing the Church needs to change, and now.

    • Can a divorced man be happy without a new wife? Can a divorced woman be happy without a new husband? Yes. Yes. Happiness is not always about relationship with a man/woman. But we can be more happy if we have relationship with God. Western culture seems to equate ‘sex’ = happiness. Then they force the Church to give mercy on them when they put themselves into a bad situation such as remarriage. Why not live chaste life? Always remember Jesus words to the Father “Not my will but your will be done”.

    • I think in the case where one spouse was cheated on or the spouse is so immature not to be capable of forming relationships, an annulment can be got by the good spouse and he/she can remarry afterwards

  6. I was denied Conformation , confession and communion! Due to the fact we are both divorced. Yet we are both Catholic. I know this maybe the rules of the Catholic religion, but when did we start being denied the body and blood of Christ? If we are forgiven then why are we being punished. Their are circumstances for divorce. But I just find this so hurtful. Not to mention How hard it is to go to another church that is not Catholic. It’s not working and I am so lost with worship. I still pray say the rosary, but I feel like an out cast. Am I wrong to feel this way?

    • In my own opinion the church is only providing guidelines and rules from history times and yet we are call a universal church and this is the topic no Pope nor Bishop wants to change .. However I am a divorced woman and still receiving holy communion.. because it is my Lord gift for me.. All who are burden come and receive my body.. so its a act of faith in my part to my Lord.. not to the people who is running the churcn.. Therefore develop your own relationship with your Lord and ask him direct.. I believe the Holy Spirit will reveal to you Lord’s decision…because all cases are very unique.. Think about the last supper.. there was 12 different sinners among Jesus and they all receive the first holy what the different to us.. I wonder?

  7. If you weren’t first married in the church it isn’t considered a valid marriage in the eyes of the church. You can divorce and remarry in the church and receive communion.
    If your first marriage was in the church, and your spouse was cheating or abusive you get the marriage annulled. Then you can resource communion.
    If you are divorced (not anulled) and not in a relationship with another person, and still technically married in the eyes of the church you can still recieve.
    I’ve been through it. Get the annulment.

    • Even a marriage outside of the Catholic Church must be declared “null”, before one can remarry in the Church. This cannot be assumed. However, the process is usually much quicker than for marriages taken in the Church.

  8. DPJ– I hear you on this, but do keep in mind that the Catholic Church wants very much to be as pastoral as possible on this issue, but feel bound by the words of Jesus Christ: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Mt 5:31-32)
    The choice then is to either heed Christ’s words, or ignore them. In His “Great Commission, Christ instructs us to teach “them to observe all that I have commanded you,” (Mt 28:20) not “what we like best of what I have commanded you” or “what you can understand out of what I have commanded you.” Is this a tough road for divorced people to walk? Absolutely. Each and every one of them deserve all the help we as a community can provide, and those who choose to remarry should be welcomed. But Jesus was very specific in His statements on divorce, and if we really believe Him to be the Word Made Flesh, God incarnate, we are not at liberty to rewrite His Gospels. Keep in mind that Christ has mercy for all sinners– and we are all sinners– but that mercy is contingent on our humble submission to His law. If that law requires me to forego the Eucharist, I will do so in the hope– I could say the knowledge– that He will see my humility and submission, and welcome me into His presence eternally… which, for me would be worth a little earthly discomfort.

  9. Cheating and leaving a marriage are not the same. For better for worse also includes cheating, it is by no means an excuse to cheat though. Sadly, in some cases, a repentant spouse is not forgiven by the hurt spouse ( who instead seeks divorce).
    Some couples are able to forgive and move on with the grace of God, while some marriages collapse from a cheating spouse. Yet again, some spouses persistent in their infidelity sadly!

  10. Living in an abusive, and dangerous marriage, in the eyes of God, should never be. God does not condone violence. If it remains that the safety of the family, and spouse to exit the marriage because of the utmost chance of death, shall not be condemned. This is a humanity rights violation. and the Church needs to address this, NOW. This is 21st Century. God would NOT want anyone be surrounded by dangerous, and violent people. The only way out of this situation, is LEAVE. head to a safe house, even seek counseling both by a licensed doctor, and the priest. My dad and mom divorced when I was five.Not because of violence, but of infidelity, on my mom’s part. She wanted the divorce, as well. She re-married, and Lord behold, it was the most disastrous, mental, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, noted.I am a 57 year old male, been there. Those reasons, just mentioned, is why I have stayed celibate, I could not imagine, ever hurting/abusing my mate. My priest has helped me through, and I have had the hardest time forgiving my mom for that, and leaving dad, but I did. She passed away, and the step dad still lives.My dad, and his dying words, were to me, “I have always loved your mother!”. So, maybe infidelity can be reconciled. Abuse CAN NOT.

  11. Can a never married Catholic marry a divorced Jewish woman. No way to tell if her ex is even alive. He moved back to Lebanon

  12. If you are a member of the Catholic Church you are expected to be a believer. In the Catholic Church, that means you believe in everything which it says in the Creed including believing in God, Jesus and the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church founded by Christ has a job to do, to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all people. The Church teachings are not in any way contradictory to Christ’s teachings and it teaches the same message about adultery and fornication that Christ taught while on Earth. The Church was given the power to teach and Christ said ‘whatever you bind on Earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ so when the Church, in matters of faith and morals teaches, it’s teachings are bound in heaven. Christ never said following His teachings would be easy. People who try to live according to His teachings very often suffer incredibly, first by depriving themselves of liaisons that would be illicit and also because they are ridiculed for their loyalty and faith to Christ & His Church. When we look at society today, and see the result of ignoring the teachings in the area of sexuality, marriage and family life, we are reaping the fruits of of our sinfulness.

    We have choices. We can live a life contrary to the teachings of Christ & His Church, go our own way and that is our business but the Church will always be concerned for our salvation. We can adhere to the teachings of Christ & His Church and try to live accordingly, difficult though this may be. We don’t have any other choice. We can not expect the Church to abandon Christ’s teachings to accommodate adultery, fornication or situations people find themselves in because of wrong doing by one or other persons in a marriage or outside of marriage. If one partner is not faithful, violent etc. These issues can be dealt with in an appropriate manner to allow the people involved to look at their situation, to make decisions based on Christ’s teachings and act on those decisions, whether they be annulment, separation, post annulment permitted re-marriage etc. whatever the decision, Christ’s teachings will not be changed to accommodate any of the wrong-doing.

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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