The following comes from an Oct. 23 story posted on the Catholic News Agency website.

The Vatican’s head official on doctrinal matters has reaffirmed that Catholics in irregular marital unions after divorce cannot receive communion, but he urged that this means it is “all the more imperative” to show “pastoral concern” for them.

“The path indicated by the Church is not easy for those concerned,” Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said of Catholics who have divorced and remarried civilly.

“Yet they should know and sense that the Church as a community of salvation accompanies them on their journey.”

Catholics in such unions who try to understand Catholic teaching and abstain from communion “provide their own testimony to the indissolubility of marriage,” he said.

The archbishop wrote on the Catholic approach to remarried divorcees in an Oct. 23 article “The Power of Grace,” published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

The role of remarried divorcees in the Church has been a matter of recurring controversy.

On Oct. 7 in Germany the Archdiocese of Freiburg’s office of pastoral care issued a document saying that divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion if they can show their first marriage cannot be reentered, if they repent of their fault in a divorce and if they enter “a new moral responsibility” with their new spouse, Spiegel Online reports.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded quickly to the document, saying it is “in open opposition to the teachings of the Church.”

Archbishop Müller’s L’Osservatore Romano article did not address the Freiburg controversy directly. Its preface noted that the Catholic bishops will hold an extraordinary synod on the pastoral care of families in October 2014.

To read the entire story, click here.