Marriage, Conscience & the Church

Where’s The Line?

James A. Coriden’s essay “Conscience & Communion” (January 27) extends the issues raised in the series “A Modus Vivendi?” (January 13) to a possible here-and-now solution for the practicing Catholic who’s in an irregular union and seeking to return to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Putting conscience in its rightful place as the basic norm for personal morality is in line with Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis splendor: “The judgment of conscience is a practical judgment, a judgment which makes known what man must do or not do.... It is a judgment which applies to a concrete situation the rational conviction that one must love and do good and avoid evil.”

I appreciate that a Catholic spouse who meets the criteria, with proper disposition for penance and Communion, will be able to avail himself of the conscience option with all the safeguards mentioned by Coriden. But I have further questions. What of the baptized non-Catholic spouse of a Catholic—also in an irregular marriage—who enters RCIA and makes a profession of faith with a clear conscience? Could he, after receiving absolution in confession, be confirmed and receive Communion? What about a nonbaptized person who, after baptism, wishes to...

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