Why is Annulment Necessary to Receive Communion?

Hi Fr. Bloom my name is John Broussard I attend St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. My wife and I are in a program called The Come Lord Jesus Program and we have a couple in there that recently had an annulment and were very upset with the church on this process. Can you shed some light on this for us? Why is the church so hard on this subject? I mean I can kill and person go to confession if I am truly sorry and go to communion all in the same day but, if I get a divorce I have to go through this long process of b/s is what he called it in order for me to receive Jesus. Do you really think Jesus would stop me from receiving his body because of this or is this maybe like the pharisees do as I say not as I do? Thanks for your help.

Brothers-n- CHRIST
John Broussard


Dear John,

Good to hear about the work you and your wife are doing in your parish. I am sorry to hear about the couple who had a bad experience with the annulment process. My experience here is that it has generally been healing for the people who have gone thru it.

The reason for the anulment process goes back to Jesus himself. In Mark 10:1-12 he gives a hard teaching: if a man divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery against her. According to that teaching someone who divorces and remarries is in an adulterous union. As I say it is a hard teaching, but it was not made up by "the Church," but comes from Jesus himself. While difficult, most people admire it.

I do know couples in that situation who have made the decision to live as "brother and sister" thus being able to receive communion. Others do the best they can, attending Mass, raising their children in the Church, etc. Some are able to obtain an anulment. As you probably know, an anulment is not a "Catholic divorce" but a declaration of nullity, that no true marriage existed. The reasons for making that declaration are sometimes complex and the process can be cumbersome, but like I say it usually brings healing.

Part of the problem with this is that, as you sense, many people come forward to communion who should do a little bit deeper repenting. In the past we took more seriously St. Paul's injunction that a person should examine himself before receiving communion lest he bring condemnation instead of a blessing. Much of my work is with the Hispanic community who seem more aware of this so that other people than divorced and remarried would refrain from going to communion.

Anyway, John, those are my reflections. I hope they are in some way helpful.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom