Address divorce Communion issue with compassion – Cardinal Brady

Dr Brady said that the issue was widely discussed by cardinals at a meeting in Rome last month

Cardinal Seán Brady has said a high-profile meeting of the world’s bishops later this year will look with compassion about the issue of Holy Communion for Catholics who are divorced and remarried.

Dr Brady told The Irish Catholic that the issue was widely discussed by his fellow cardinals at a meeting in Rome with Pope Francis which concluded late last month.

“Cardinals were very open in talking with the Pope about it [at the consistory],” according to Cardinal Brady. He said “we were talking about the real issue that arises when a marriage breaks down”.

“Of all the couples I have married,” the cardinal said, “they have all entered into the sacrament wanting the best from their marriage and really wanting their marriage to work out.

“People don’t enter into their marriage expecting it to break down,” Cardinal Brady said. “There is a real pastoral issue here about how we address the issue of marriages that fall into difficulty. We must address it with compassion,” he said.

Dr Brady did not indicate his own view on whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. However, he pointed out that the Church cannot change it’s teaching on marriage simply because people do not accept it. “When the Pope says that marriage is despised, he means that the teaching of the Church is not taken seriously, that it is rejected by many people”.

The response to this, the cardinal said, “must be to all the time keep setting before the world the Church’s teaching on marriage”.

Describing marriage as “another Gospel” Cardinal Brady said that the Church had to do more to strengthen marriage. “We need to concentrate a lot of marriage preparation, but also accompanying those who are already married. We can’t outsource this, we have to reassure couples that the Church is there to accompany them in good times and bad”.

Bishops from across the world are due to gather in Rome in October for a synod meeting. Pope Francis has called the meeting to address issues affecting the family and has signalled an openness to change on the Church’s current rules banning divorced Catholics who have remarried from receiving Holy Communion.