Pope Francis did not change Church teaching on the rules for receiving Communion, but rather assured people in difficult situations that the Church cares for them and the mercy of God extends to them, a Nigerian cardinal has said.

Speaking at Ghana’s National Eucharistic Congress in Jasikan, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja said it was unfortunate that pressure had mounted on the Church in some places to relax the rules on the reception of Holy Communion.

Such pressure, he said, can be seen in efforts to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion without an annulment of their marriage or without abstaining from sexual relations with their new partners.

The age-old principles of the unity and indissolubility of marriage cannot be compromised to accommodate modern trends, he said.

“In a world going down the drain through widespread moral laxity, the Church of God cannot abdicate her responsibility to uphold the high standards of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Cardinal Onaiyekan told Catholics gathered for the congress.

Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia on the family clearly reaffirms the traditional doctrine of the Church, he said.

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