This past Wednesday night, I was driving to our church small group’s weekly meeting and I had the car radio tuned to the local Catholic station and a program called, “Catholic Answers Live.” Lisa Duffy (see photo), who bills herself as a Catholic “Divorce Recovery Expert” was the guest for that evening’s show.
A Catholic woman called into the program desperately seeking some advice from Duffy. She related that she and her first husband, also a Catholic, had been divorced. After waiting several years, she remarried civilly, but then sought to backtrack and get her first marriage annulled by the church so that she could have her second marriage convalidated* in order to once again receive the sacraments. Catholicism teaches that members who have divorced and remarried without having their first marriage annulled are living in a state of ongoing adultery and are barred from the sacraments. In Catholic teaching, communion and reconciliation are vital components of the church’s salvation process.
The woman brought her annulment case to her diocese’s tribunal, but the ecclesiastical court would not grant her petition for a “declaration of nullity” (annulment) of her first marriage. Hmm. Her last name must not be “Kennedy.” She then sought the counsel of two priests in regards to receiving communion. The first one said he would gladly allow her to receive communion, while the second one said she was still banned according to the strictures of Canon law, #s 915 & 916. With a tone of deep weariness in here voice, the woman appealed to “Divorce Recovery Expert,” Duffy, for help.
Catholic Answers disseminates very conservative Catholic ideology and features only like-minded guests. Duffy seconded the instructions of the latter priest, saying the woman was definitely still restricted from receiving the sacraments because her annulment petition was not granted. She counseled the woman to pray and to visit a priest about the possibility of appealing the tribunal’s ruling.
My thoughts on this complicated, legalistic gobbledygook? Glad you asked, as ol’ pastor Joe would often say!
According to Catholic theology, only members without the stain of mortal sin on their souls and in a “state of grace” may receive the consecrated communion elements, which the church teaches are the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. But I would counter that the soul of every single Catholic and every single person in this world is stained with “mortal” sin, and the only redemption available to us is by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. When we accept Christ, His perfect righteousness is imputed to us, we could never become righteous ourselves. Every Catholic who stands in line on Sunday to receive communion, claiming to be without mortal sin, is a liar. Who do these pious Catholics think they are? If I could display all of their secret thoughts and actions over the course of the preceding week on a large screen in front of the entire congregation as they stood in line, they would stumble over each other like panicked rats as they scurried back to their pews or out the door.
“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
And what about the celibate priests who sanctimoniously deny communion to remarried divorcees? If the newspaper headlines are any indication, many of them lust after the children and teenagers sitting in the pews during mass. Harsh words? I’m not the one telling remarried divorcees to move to the back of the bus.
“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:10 & 23
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
By barring remarried divorcees from communion, the Catholic church created a group of second-class members. It wasn’t a problem fifty years ago, but with divorce rates so high these days, it’s become a huge issue. Many remarried divorcees leave the church rather than endure the humiliation. Pope Francis attempted to stanch the exodus by guilefully reversing the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via the small print in his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” But bishops are interpreting the document differently. Liberals are allowing communion for remarried divorcees while conservatives are not. The church is currently embroiled in a major battle, with conservatives claiming that the lifting of the communion ban was a heretical act by Francis.
My heart goes out to the poor caller who is struggling to do the right thing. Yes, God’s Word says divorce is not permitted, except for the reason of marital infidelity or by being abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. But all sin can be forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. The woman needs to repent of her sin and accept Christ as Savior. She can’t simply undo her divorce or her remarriage, but she can go forward as a child of God, reborn through the Holy Spirit by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She needs to turn from Roman Catholic religious legalism and accept Christ. Only in Him will she find forgiveness, eternal life, and sweet fellowship with Almighty God. Lisa Duffy propagates Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and religious chains. She is a false teacher.
*Convalidation: In Roman Catholic canon law, the making of a putative marriage valid following the removal of some impediment. A ceremony in which a marriage, such as a civil marriage, is made recognized by the church.
Is remarriage after divorce always adultery?