After some thought that the Catholic Church might make it easier for divorced and remarried people to receive Communion, the Vatican made it clear that no change to the policy is coming.
German Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican's chief doctrine official, wrote 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, according to the Huffington Post.
"God's mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the church," Mueller wrote in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Catholic News Service reports that speculation about a change in practice had grown since Pope Francis told reporters this summer that the next Synod of Bishops would explore a "somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage," including the question of the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
Earlier this month the Vatican blocked a move by a German diocese to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, according to The Ottawa Sun. The Vatican said local dioceses could not enact reforms on their own.
The question of married divorcees is a major issue in Catholic Churches in a number of developed countries, particularly in Germany, where bishops have indicated it’s a growing problem.
Pope Francis has acknowledged the need to address the issue and has said the church's tribunal system needs to be fixed.