The response by the CBCEW to the Liverpool Pastoral Congress of 1980 was a document entitled The Easter People. Cardinal Nichols (Fr Vin) was there: was anybody else?
109. Marital breakdown throughout Britain has reached alarming proportions. We cannot shut our eyes to the pastoral problems this creates for parents and children. Parishes should try to be alert to the needs of single parents and their children and to offer sensitive practical help and support. There can be no doubt that our church in England and Wales faces here a growing and complex problem which it may not ignore. We admit that there is a need for us all to grow in our pastoral understanding of individuals whose marriages have broken down and whose family unity has been lost. While the problem of divorce is daunting enough, the questions posed by Catholics who enter a second, irregular marriage are even more searching. Can they ever be admitted again to Holy Communion? May they ever have their second marriage blessed by the church?
110. We welcome this opportunity and we shall seek others to reaffirm the unchanging teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that a Christian marriage, freely and properly entered into and consummated, is for ever indissoluble. No human power can dissolve the bond so created between husband and wife, the commitment so total and irrevocable that it represents for us a symbol of that union of love and mutual giving which binds together Christ and his Church. We have to accept, however, that there is widespread confusion amongst many Catholics and in society at large about the Church's teaching and practice on marriages which have, from the time of the wedding, lacked one or more elements necessary to make them true Christian unions. We recognise the need to explain this teaching on nullity more clearly to the Catholic community and to the public who mistakenly regard it as 'Catholic divorce'. We also recognise the urgent need of showing understanding for divorced Catholics who have remarried. They should be encouraged to play as full a part as possible in the life of the local parish, and helped in their continuing baptismal responsibility to bring up their families in the Catholic faith. They should always seek from specially delegated or well-qualified priests individual help and advice about their present state; it could be that the Church's matrimonial courts would accept that the previous marriage was not valid, with the possibility of their sharing again in the full sacramental life of the Church.
111. There are, however, other situations in which there may be moral certainty that the previous marriage was not valid even although this cannot be adequately established in the matrimonial courts, or in which a first valid marriage has broken down irretrievably but a second union is stable. The question of reception of the sacraments in such cases is one which the Bishops' Conference has been considering for some time. We have a most serious responsibility to witness to the life-long and exclusive commitment of a Christian marriage. Yet as priests and loving servants of our brothers and sisters in the local Churches of England and Wales, we take to heart the sympathy and the compassion expressed by Congress delegates as we continue our deliberations on this very sensitive doctrinal and pastoral issue.