another, she commits adultery”
—the Church maintains that a new
union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the
divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that
objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive
Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same
reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconcili-
ation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who
have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity
to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep
the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christianmanner, priests
and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that
they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life
they can and must participate as baptized persons:
They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to
attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to
contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for
justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to
cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore,
day by day, God’s grace.
The openness to fertility
“By its very nature the institution of marriage andmarried
love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring
and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.”
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute
greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself
said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from
the beginning [he] made themmale and female”; wishing to
associate them in a special way in his own creative work,
God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful
and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole
structure of family life which results from it, without dimin-
ishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to dis-
posing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of
the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and
enrich his family from day to day.
The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the
moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their
children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators
of their children.
In this sense the fundamental task of marriage
and family is to be at the service of life.
48 § 1; 50.
50 § 1; cf.