Pope Francis tells divorced woman she should be allowed to receive Communion

Published 24 April 2014  |  

Pope Francis has been reported to have spent part of his Easter Monday phoning a remarried Latin American woman to tell her that she should be allowed to receive Communion.

Jacquelina Sabetta, from the Pope's home country of Argentina, had previously written to the Pope, expressing her distress at her exclusion from the Sacrament.

Six months later, the Pope phoned back. He introduced himself by his former name, Father Bergoglio, and apologised for how long it had taken him to call back.

He was quoted in The Telegraph as having said to her: "A divorcee who takes Communion is not doing anything wrong."

Although this statement in itself would not seem to be an official change, the Pope reportedly also said: "It is something we are discussing at the Vatican."

This is perhaps the clearest signal yet of a potential major shift in the Catholic dogma on marriage.

The normal Catholic position is that without an annulment, a first marriage cannot be declared void, and that therefore those who remarry are committing adultery and living in sin.

The problem for many is that annulments are sometimes impossible to obtain, or when they can be obtained, they take several years to process.

Without such an annulment, those who are remarried are not considered worthy to receive the bread and the wine, leaving many feeling left out by the Church.

The Pope has made hints in the past that he wants to change direction on this issue. In February, he spoke to a group of Polish bishops at the Vatican and spoke about how churches should not to exclude remarried people from other church activities.

He was quoted by the ASNAmed Italian news provider as saying that priests should "ask themselves how to help (divorced couples), so that they don't feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians, and the Church's concern for their salvation".

The news of the Pope's phone call was first reported on Facebook by Mr Julio Sabetta, Mrs Sabetta's husband. He said: "One of the most wonderful things in my life has just happened."

The Pope has developed a reputation for unexpected phone calls to members of the worldwide Catholic flock.

He called a convent in Spain on New Year's eve, leaving a message on their voicemail, and in August he spoke to an Italian teenage student, offering her encouragement as she looked for a job after having completed IT training.

Five days after becoming Pope, he called his local newsagent in Buenos Aires to personally cancel his subscription.

The Vatican has not confirmed the content of the conversation. A representative of the Holy See speaking to The Telgraph said: "This was a private phone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details."

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