Religion: Divorced Catholics and Communion

Ralph has been married for 22 years. His wife and four teen-age daughters are, like him, devout Catholics. But when the family goes to Mass together each Sunday, only his daughters receive Communion. Why? Ralph had an earlier, unsuccessful marriage, and when he remarried he was automatically excluded from the church's sacramental life. His wife is likewise barred from the sacraments because she is a baptized Catholic who has married a divorced man.

Ralph's case is hypothetical. But his plight is a reality for perhaps 5,000,000 American Catholics, many of whom have resolved the conflict by abandoning their faith. Others simply ignore...

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