I am trying to understand if I am off on any of the following thoughts/premises....
Using the definition that our Catechism uses for "divorce"
DIVORCE: The claim that the indissoluble marriage bond validly entered into between a man and a woman is broken.
1) It is always a "grave immoral offense" to commit this sin... to claim that I am no longer the husband to my wife. (Again, not all CIVILLY divorced people are committing a grave sin... but all who are claiming, in their heart, to no longer be the husband to the wife of their youth are committing this grave sin.)
2) When we commit a "grave immoral offense" the sin cannot be absolved (and we are not in communion with the Church) until I resolve to confess the sin and my heart is truly seeking to repent of it.
3) When we are not in communion with the Church we should not be partaking of Holy Communion.
4) True repentance includes a willingness to right the wrong. It includes a heart that is always open to righting the wrong. (In the extreme case of a murder, for example, you can't bring the murdered back to life, but true repentance includes a heart that really would bring that person back to life if it could).
5) We cannot put a time limit on God to work in our spouse's life and therefore we are to always be open to reconcilition upon their true repentance for sins. For this is Christ-like.
True repentance includes a willingness to right the wrong, but it does not require a restoration where such restoration would be rather impossible to accomplish, or where further harm could be done if restoration were forced. Other than that, I do not disagree with your analysis.
I pray you will see that it is definitely not a "hoped for practice" that all civilly divorced people are excluded from Holy Communion.
This was a deliberate exaggeration on my part. But one that probably doesn't fall too far from the mark for a lot of "law and order" Catholics. I have met enough of them, including myself some years ago when I had just begun to live major Church moral doctrines, the breaking of which kept me from being in a state of grace, who do not see why the Church isn't thumping all major unrepentent sinners on the head and excluding them from the sacraments until they are forced grudgingly into at least exterior obedience to the moral law. I don't know what the motives of these Catholics are. Perhaps mine was to exclude those who seemed to be living the easier and more enjoyable life from the "reward" of the sacraments that I had "earned" by my more ascetic life?
To give you some background, I have 9 children, and they have come about because of our following of the Church's teaching against contraception, and it is a hard life in the midst of a society that values material possessions and accomplishment over children (to the point where it defends the right to kill them in the womb) and within the Church where most Catholics do not follow the Church's teaching on contraception and most priests are unwilling to uphold this teaching. And so perhaps I was not happy to see so many Catholics parading up to receive the Eucharist who were getting off so easily and enjoying such carefree sex lives and material wealth due to contraception, and I wanted to make sure that the Church was calling them on their disobedience to bring them to the same level of "misery" as me?
Were my motives that unique in the centuries of Catholic history, so that no other law and order Catholic like me has ever felt that way?
But either way, the vast majority of messages I have found imply that a person can civilly divorce for any cause and still be in full communion with the Church and able to partake in Holy Communion.
How do you write a more balanced message on a website without turning it into a long treatise on all of the considerations a Catholic must bring up before he presents himself for Communion? Remember how many Catholics STILL labor under the idea that a divorced person is an excommunicated person, when in fact this was never the law in the first place. How do you get the right idea across?
A balanced message would also have to include the canonical discussion of the right
of the baptized to receive the sacraments, the criteria by which a Catholic would be able to judge whether he was subjectively guilty of mortal sin, and the narrow interpretation of a canonical restriction on the right to receive. In other words, as black and white as the Church's moral teachings and laws seem, at the subjective level, it isn't quite so black and white at all, and the Church through her pastors is not capable of judging what goes on in the particular souls of her members, even if she were to have a priest at the personal beck and call of every Catholic or Catholic couple.
The Church and most pastors, in my opinion, are rightly more concerned for the souls who erroneously believe they are excluded from the sacraments and participation in the life of the Church, even if this means the tares continue to exist, even comfortably, alongside the wheat. And this is why short messages on websites and in homilies often take on the appearance of over-permissiveness.
If it were my website, I would respond to the question regarding divorce and the reception of Holy Communion in this way:Those who are divorced and who have not remarried outside the Church are not automatically excluded from receiving Holy Communion. All Catholics who are conscious of having committed grave sin, including grave sin that has led to divorce, are reminded to refrain from presenting themselves for Holy Communion until they have confessed their sins and received absolution.
I don't think that you are saying this but to help me understand what you are saying would you mind sharing what the pastoral approach would be in the Fred and Wilma example? Where Fred has committed no extreme abuse against Wilma but Wilma is simply no longer "in love" with Fred and Wilma feels "unloved" and "miserable" and no longer wants to be married. She civilly divorces Fred.
What is the pastoral response towards Fred when he approaches the priest? What is the pastoral response towards Wilma when she approaches the priest?
I don't know how many marital breakdowns are so easy to analyze so that one person is so clearly at fault and the other is so clearly innocent. Even in the hardcases that get written here occasionally, we hear only one side of the story and are not able to confirm the veracity of the writer's account.
My general pastoral approach would be to uphold the doctrine of marriage with both spouses, especially to tell them that the Church presumes they are still married and they are not free to pursue sexual relationships with others or to consider themselves free to remarry, to call them on the behavior they have admitted to me that has led to the marital breakdown, to challenge them to repent of their behavior, to give them practical suggestions to repair their marriage. But not to judge the subjective disposition of either of their souls, and not to risk revealing to others the merely possible subjective guilt of my parishioners by denying them communion. Only God knows their subjective guilt with certainty.
And, for those of us who don't like it that there are weeds among us, and that they are somehow getting away with it, we can all be assured that temporal and eternal justice will be delivered to each of us as our deeds deserve. The best approach is to keep teaching and helping to form consciences, and let the chips (or the Catholics, as it were) fall where they may.