Q. 1. My wife started the divorce process that was approved by the civil court. I protested against it but the judge ruled in her favour. Now that I am divorce, can I receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion?
A. 1. As a victim of divorce, you are entitled to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, providing you remain celibate. If you are actively involved in a relationship with someone else, such being considered adultery, than you cannot receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
The spouse who initiated the divorce that severed the Sacrament of Marriage, such a person cannot receive the sacrament of Communion. The same applies if that person approaches another person of the opposite gender for the purpose of sexual pleasures, in or outside of marriage, because such a person is committing adultery.
C.C.C. # 2384 "Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:"
"If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself"
In cases where a marriage annulment has been obtained, the parties are permitted to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, providing that they are in a state of grace. This means not living in common-law or having sex outside of marriage.
While it is recognized that in some cases divorce is the only solution in order to protect the children from further physical or sexual abuse, such is not a license to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion if the person has not obtained an annulment. The same applies when divorce is civilly necessary because one spouse is bankrupting the family with compulsive gambling.
C.C.C. # 2383 "The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense."
On the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Communion in cases of separation of spouses when they are victims of divorce, the Bishop has the final say on the matter.
Canon Law # 1692 §1. "Unless other provision is legitimately made in particular places, a decree of the diocesan bishop or a judicial sentence can decide the personal separation of baptized spouses according to the norm of the following canons."
§2. "Where an ecclesiastical decision has no civil effects or if a civil sentence is not contrary to divine law, the bishop of the diocese of the residence of the spouses, after having weighed the special circumstances, can grant permission to approach the civil forum [court]."
§3. "If a case concerns only the merely civil effects of marriage, the judge, after having observed the prescript of §2, is to try to defer the case to the civil forum [court] from the start."