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Vatican reinforces rules on remarriage

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican quashed hopes on Tuesday that there might be some wiggle room on one of its longstanding rules about the indissolubility of marriage, making clear that a recent German initiative on the matter was contrary to church teaching.

The Vatican’s chief doctrine official, German Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, wrote Tuesday that there is no way for Catholics who divorce and remarry to receive Communion unless they get an annulment, a church ruling that their first marriage never really existed.

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‘‘God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the church,’’ he wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Church teaching holds that Catholics who don’t have their first marriage annulled before remarrying cannot participate fully in the church’s sacraments because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process.

The issue has vexed the Vatican for decades and has left generations of Catholics feeling shunned by their church.

Earlier this month, the German diocese of Freiburg upset the Vatican when it issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule.

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