Q. 1. If a person is living in a common-law relationship, can he/she receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Communion)?
A. 1. No! Living in a common-law relationship is considered a grave (mortal) sin. As such, a person in a state of mortal sin should not be receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist until such time as the relationship has ended and the sin has been confessed through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Q. 2. What about if the two partners are in their 60's or 70's? Their sin surely cannot be as grave as that of a young couple. I know some who live common-law and they are receiving Holy Communion.
A. 2. Those living in their 60's or 70's are not exempt from the Catholic Church rule that those being sexually involved outside of marriage, should not be receiving the Sacrament of Communion until such time as they have ended their relationship and have confessed their sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Q. 3. In my parish, there are couples who are living common-law and receiving the Holy Eucharist at Sunday Masses. The priest knows it and never said anything to them.
A. 3. As sad as it is to say, such actions are deplorable. Not only are the couples the cause of scandal, so is the priest who closes his eyes to the matter by continuing to serve the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to those who are publicly living in mortal sin.
I personally know of a female Eucharistic Ministry in Montreal who has been living in a common-law relationship for 10 years. When I confronted her and said that she should not be a Eucharistic Ministry because she is in a state of mortal sin, I was advised to mind my business. I was told that the priest was well aware of her common-law status and he never said anything negative about it. Cases like this one cause greater scandal. The faithful expect Eucharistic Ministers to be exemplary members of the faith community/parish. When it is permissible for a Eucharistic Minister to live in mortal sin while receiving the Holy Eucharist, this sends the message to all the faithful that they too can live in mortal sin while receiving the Holy Eucharist.
It is shameful that a priest should close his eyes to a very serious matter like this. I am of the opinion that such a priest should be removed from the priesthood. He is not an instrument of spiritual growth; he is a destroyer of faith!