Polish Bishops Warn Against 'Divorce Mentality' in the Church

(photo: Register Files)

UPDATE: Full text of the Polish bishops' statement in English can now be read here.


Polish bishops have issued a statement ahead of next month’s Ordinary Synod on the Family in which they firmly reassert the Church’s teaching that the Eucharist cannot be given to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and expressly warn against a “divorce mentality”.

The indissolubility of marriage is “the unchangeable teaching of the Catholic Church", the bishops say, quoting Mark 10:9: “What God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Listing nine points of importance in the statement issued Monday, they also cite Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis in addition to scripture and tradition, according to an article in Die Tagespost.

They state that in the Church, there are “neither distinctions nor processes that lead to divorce. There are only processes in which we individually detect whether that particular marriage was valid or not valid.”

“All should avoid a divorce mentality,” they add. The statement follows the introduction of sweeping annulment reforms which critics fear will pave the way for "Catholic divorce". 

The bishops call “for a greater appreciation of the family” and stress that “every separation of spouses offends God and brings a lot of damage with it.” They say it leaves behind not only wounds in them, but also raises a painful shadow over their children, the next family, friends, acquaintances and destroys the foundations of the whole society."

Likewise, clearly and distinctly, the Polish bishops resolutely reject the demands of Catholics who live in irregular relationships to receive absolution and be allowed to receive Holy Communion. “In order to receive Holy Communion, you have to be in a state of sanctifying grace,” they stress.

They quote Pope Francis from his Angelus address on 16th August in which he said that the Eucharist “is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual exercise, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus did at the Last Supper.”

They quote the Holy Father further, who went on to say: “Nourishing ourselves of that 'Bread of Life' means entering into harmony with the heart of Christ, assimilating his choices, his thoughts, his behavior.” 

The Polish bishops also address the issue of childless marriages and argue that artificial insemination is not the "right way" to solve the problem of infertility.

The bishops end by saying that the family “is the work and the possession of God. That is why we are preparing for the upcoming Synod with faith, hope and love. "

The statement did not address homosexuality and gender issues as they said they have already made many statements upholding Catholic doctrine in these areas.

The president of the Polish bishops' conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, reiterated to reporters that the proposal to allow Holy Communion of remarried divorcees who “remain in a second relationship", that is, they "remain in adultery", is and "in no way compatible with the reception of Holy Communion".

Archbishop Gadecki said this question had been "trivialized" at last year’s synod and treated in a "more sociological than theological way." And yet this question, he stressed, “refers to the essence of the doctrine of the Church."

The Polish church, along with bishops of Africa and Eastern Europe, are expected to be some of the strongest blocs to resist pressure at next month's synod to change pastoral practice in this area which critics maintain will dilute, and ultimately radically alter, the Church's teaching on marriage.