Archbishop to cohabitating couples: Stop ‘living in sin’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS) — The archbishop of Santa Fe in a pastoral letter admonished unmarried Catholic couples who are living together, those who are not married but are in a civil union and divorced Catholics who remarry without an annulment, warning them not to receive Holy Communion.

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan said it was up to the church and its pastors to emphasize that with regard to sexual unions, “there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for his disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the sacrament of matrimony. There is no ‘third way’ possible for a Christian.”

He reminded Catholics that the Bible and the Catholic Church oppose same-sex unions and teach that marriage is between one man and one woman. The church also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

Catholics living in one of the three relationships he described “are objectively living in a state of mortal sin,” Archbishop Sheehan said. “These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive holy Communion. They are in great spiritual danger. At the best — and this is, sadly, often the case — they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments,” he said.

His pastoral letter, dated April 3, was posted on the archdiocesan website,, in an archdiocesan news section titled “Awakening Faith.” He told Catholic New Service in a voicemail message that the pastoral letter was getting about 16,000 hits a day on the website.

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