As Pope John Paul II wrote, divorced and remarried people should 'not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptised persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life.'

No human situation is outside of the Lord’s grace, and holiness is to be found in the concrete circumstances of our lives. In many instances, the declaration of the Church tribunal will enable the validation of an irregular marriage.

When validation is not possible, however, there can be real suffering for Catholics who are divorced and remarried and who accept that they are not free to receive Holy Communion. Those people who conscientiously decide that their present situation is incompatible with receiving Holy Communion can be seen to demonstrate an heroic fidelity to God’s presence in their current situation.

They challenge the rest of the faithful to reflect on their preparedness to receive Communion and on the importance of not taking the Eucharist for granted. This fidelity, like all fidelity, will not be without its eternal reward. In fact, such fidelity will often attract graces needed to find a way to be reunited with the Eucharistic family.

The Catholic Church recognises that as a community we must be sensitive to the situation of those who are separated, divorced and/or remarried, seek to support them in appropriate ways and, in many cases, to learn from them. We also need to recognise that to a greater or lesser extent we all have brokenness in our relationships. We all are in need of repentance at different times of our lives.

In many cases, those who are grappling with failed relationships are an inspiration, and demonstrate courage and commitment, to the rest of the community. We encourage them to persevere in prayer, penance and love for God and neighbour, to come to the celebration of the Mass and to Eucharistic adoration, and to participate in their parish community.

As Christ calls them – and all Christians – to an everdeeper conversion, repentance and pursuit of holiness, we stand with them in prayer and solidarity.

Concluding Comments

The Bishops of Australia exhort all pastors and faithful to support in every way pastorally possible those who are divorced, and to encourage them to the fullest possible participation in the life of the Church consistent with their state in life.

The Church assures them of the continuing love of Christ and his desire for an ever-deeper communion with them.