Bishop Steven Lopes, head of the American ordinariate, has reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on Communion for the remarried.

A pastoral letter, sent to all 42 ordinariate parishes and communities in the US, said that divorced and civilly remarried couples could receive Communion only if they were “committed to complete continence”. A week earlier the two bishops of Malta said that remarried people might find it “impossible” to live as brother and sister, and could therefore receive Communion if they felt “at peace with God”.

In a 16-page document, A Pledged Troth, Bishop Lopes said that indissolubility was part of the nature of marriage, and that the Church’s dogmas “illumine the path of faith”.

On the question of the Eucharist, he wrote that, before receiving Communion, a Catholic must confess any objectively grave sin, and make a resolution not to commit the sin – in this case, adultery – again.

The bishop wrote: “A civilly remarried couple firmly resolving complete chastity thus resolves not to sin again, which differs in kind from a civilly remarried couple who do not firmly intend to live chastely, however much they may feel sorrow for the failure of their first marriage.

“In this situation, they either do not acknowledge that their unchastity, which is adultery, is gravely wrong, or they do not firmly intend to avoid sin.”

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