“Ask a Priest: May I Receive Communion If I’m Cohabitating?”

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Q: During confession, a Catholic priest told me that it is okay to receive Communion, even if I am unmarried and cohabitating – as long as I am sleeping with this man only. That troubled me a lot because my understanding is that if you are fornicating (even if with a steady partner), you cannot receive the Body of Christ. I would be grateful if you could shed some light here. – M.A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds as though you received very bad advice. Fortunately, you have enough of a moral sense to recognize that the advice didn’t ring true.

Fornication is objectively a grave sin, and anyone engaged in it should refrain from receiving Communion. And if someone is cohabitating and has no intention of quitting the sin, that person can’t be absolved validly.

If this priest gave you absolution, it wasn’t real absolution – if you had no intention of ending the fornication.

The Catechism in No. 2353 notes:

“Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.”

Perhaps you went to the confessional in the first place because you weren’t sure of your situation. It might be good to find a solid priest who will give you genuine advice.

And if you really love this man you are living with, you don’t want to be leading him into mortal sin. The ideal is to find separate living quarters as soon as possible.

Count on my prayers.


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