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More Voices from the Other Side: Divorce & Remarriage

This is a follow up post to a previous one focusing on “the other side” of divorce and upon those spouses who wanted to preserve their unions. The issue of Church censure, annulments and remarriage weigh heavily in the discussion. Here are a number of voices in dialogue about this important matter. The first respondent begins by remarking upon Karl’s charges against the last two popes for not doing enough.

FATHER LONE RANGER:

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are part of the problem? I do not think so. They have sought to address the problem of invalid annulments, but many canonists will not listen to them. The Holy Father has wanted to prevent scandal and so there is a great deal of communication that is never made privy to the general public. The issue is and was extensive dissent, not simply among ragtag theologians, but wholesale among bishops and chancery clergy.

Why does the problem remain? Liberal theologians are also often canonists and the same passivity that the Church exhibits towards politicians and morals is also revealed when facing distraught divorced people who want to erase a mistake and marry again. For all practical purposes, the Church is involved with a silent schism and the Pope knows that if he pushes too hard, the bulk of the American Church will defect, bishops and all. It will be England and Henry VIII revisited with a vengeance.

[At this point he offers a prayer for Karl.]

Dear God, we ask you to bring healing to Karl and justice to the cause that he feels so deeply. Easy divorce is a violation that attacks at the heart of the marriage bond. Vows are made and should be kept. Marriages are not ended by judicial decree or even by Church courts, but by the death of a spouse. Then and only then is a true marriage ended, and yet, even here, there is no end to the love that a husband and wife share. Bless Karl in his life, and watch over and protect his five children. The fruit of married love is real and everlasting (Holly, Mary, Margaret, Monica and Karl Michael). May the good Lord envelop Karl in his loving embrace and give him peace. Amen.

Sign the petition against No-Fault Divorce:
http://www.catholicmarriagepetition.org/index.htm

MARY:

Many of us have been abandoned by our spouses. Life is tough, Karl. But we are not living for joy & happiness on this earth. We are trying to get to HEAVEN …. There is justice after this life if not during. This is why we pray & pray for conversion in our unfaithful spouses so that their hearts will be softened and they return to Christ before their death and be able to obtain heaven. And we pray and pray for ourselves …for the grace to be faithful to God’s Law (especially that of living a chaste life, which is so very lonely) and the grace to imitate Christ in His meek carrying of His cross. And we pray for our children that their hearts not be hardened by the pain of loss they suffer or by being witnesses to bad example (most likely) from both parents.

No, Karl, life is not fair. I also lost a son in a car accident. Does this give me the right to rage against God at the injustice? To rage against others who have not lost children simple because they do not share this particular cross? …To ignore my surviving children, and my other duties because of my pain? My answer to these questions has been NO! You might be surprised how others answer these questions…peek in on a support group for bereaved parents, you may be shocked. As sad as these situations may be or should I say as sad as the sufferings we all face in life may be, we must be willing to do what we can to correct injustice on this earth without going against God’s Law (because the end never justifies the means). Then, we must accept our fate as God’s Will for us and continue to serve Him in love.

WI CATHOLIC:

Although I do not fight in the same way or anger as Karl does, I have to agree with him on nearly everything he has said about the lack of help/assistance for those of us who believe/KNOW that we ARE in a Valid Marriage no matter what a civil divorce court has said, or the world has said… OR Tribunals have said.

I have been told to “Trust the Holy Spirit” and petition the Tribunals, with the additional statements that the alcoholism is a clear indication of NULLITY, and would be adequate grounds to a Null Decision.

Point One: I do not believe alcoholism (sickness and heath, better or worse, good times and bad) are grounds for determining that our marriage was NULL on the day we appeared before God and Man and pledged our vows “all the days of my life.”

Point Two: I am not able to sign the basic forms that are needed to petition due to the fact that I must state that I believe my Marriage to have been Null from the beginning. I do NOT believe that.

Point Three: In a Church which teaches/has always taught that ALL marriages are VALID until proven beyond doubt that they were not, before a Tribunal, I cannot buy into the fact that the Tribunals are being led by the Holy Spirit when the first contact with Respondents is to call my spouse my “FORMER SPOUSE.” Sorry, but the Civil Law means nothing, and my spouse is still my spouse regardless of that decree. CIVILLY he may not be, but in my Church, he is! To me, and to many other faithful spouses who live their vows regardless of what MAN says, in obedience to what GOD says (Jesus Himself four times in the Gospel, as well as in Church teachings)–this is a slap in the face, and a clear indication where “the spirit” lies… and discernment can lead one to believe that it may well be a “false spirit of compassion” that rules the day in our US Tribunals that seems to favor those who destroy the marriage, often by adultery/divorce/civil marriage to the “lover”/and finally, a petition to annul the first marriage in favor of the second, which was based on adultery to begin with.

Point Four: Sites with an appealing name such as “Save Our Sacrament” are not pointed out to be dissident. “Internal Forum” is blatantly featured, in spite of the fact that it is NOT to be used for Marriage/Divorce, and no one in the hierarchy calls them on it publicly. No one preaches the Truth on Internal Forum in the local parishes where it is “taught” by priests, etc. It is allowed to stay online for years (as in St Anthony Messengers article by Fr John Catoir on the topic). THIS is SCANDAL.

http://www.saveoursacrament.org/

S.O.S. is a member of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR).

http://www.cta-usa.org/COR.html#list

Yet, the very cry of most of us who do NOT want NULL verdicts, but the TRUTH of the VALIDITY of our marriages is corrupted by this website. What is promoted there is not saving the Sacrament. It is watering down Truth to fit society’s plunge into the Pit. It is, essentially, what Henry VIII said/taught after Rome refused to grant a NULL verdict about his marriage to Catherine of Arragon.

I do love my Church, and there is no place else I would go. I could not leave Him (The Eucharist) any more than I can quit my vows. To do so would be doing to HIM what my spouse did to ME so long ago— Desertion— forced unilateral divorce— attempting to say that something that EXISTS never really did in the first place.

Yet my Church, which used to defend those of us who remain faithful till death, vehemently, has done this to us by allowing the US Tribunals to grant so many NULL verdicts and to tell us that this is “right” and “true” and “spirit-led.”

If there is a schism here in the US, it will ONLY be VISIBLE evidence of what is already happening! “My people PERISH for lack of KNOWLEDGE!” …of TRUTH. Truth needs to be preached, and to be acted on, or “the spirit of compassion” (which I firmly believe is a False spirit) will continue to overtake Truth. While the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church—many of the members of that Church may end up on the other side of those very Gates.

In our situation, the civil wife KNOWS the Truth, and told our children that they (civil wife and my spouse) cannot go to Communion because according to the Church, they are living in sin—her words in the very beginning of that “marriage.”

Another in our family, an in-law, was told by her priest-friend that as long as SHE knew in her heart that the first marriage wasn’t valid, she could avoid the Tribunal and still receive Communion…and she does on the rare occasion she attends Mass.

No one refutes this from any pulpit in our area (and I would be willing to bet, in few nationally). In fact, I have heard only ONE sermon on Jesus’ words on divorce (I believe they show up once every three years in the Gospel readings of Sunday Mass, though it MAY be twice) in all the years since our separation in the early 80′s! And that was watered down….

Karl has very valid points. His anger is, in many ways, justified.

Too many are willing to compromise to “protect the feelings” of those in the pews who may need to hear Truth in order to save their very souls. It is Truth that sets us free, not compromise, not justifying Sin and condoning it with an official “verdict” that is based on today’s psychiatric diagnoses.
His People Perish for Lack of Knowledge… and Hell is for Eternity.

FATHER JOE:

The bit about “sickness and heath, better or worse, good times and bad” are not in reference to things that would invalidate a marriage in the present. If you become a drunk after you are married, there are no grounds for invalidation. If you develop psychosis after marriage, you are still married. If a man has a fishing accident with a hook while on honeymoon and castrates himself, as long as there has been a consummation, he is truly married. But, if any of these things happen prior to the marriage day, then the couple is out of luck. Annulments are granted because people conceal problems from the priest and sometimes try to do so even from themselves. An annulment means they should NEVER have gotten married in the first place and that the sacrament or natural bond is not really present. There is a legal union (both in the Church and in civil society) and for that reason children remain legitimate even after an annulment.

Alcoholism can vary by degrees; however, a person who is grossly incapable of dealing with his own life can hardly make a marital commitment to another. Like paralysis, certain maladies can make the fulfillment of marital duties impossible or highly improbable. If such is the case before the vows are taken and on the appointed day for a marriage, the bond could indeed be invalidated. Indeed, if priests are aware of a problem like alcoholism, we are forbidden to marry the couple. I ask about addictions and diseases prior to witnessing marriages. If they lie to me that deceit can also invalidate the marriage. People have a natural right to marriage, but some like me freely renounce that right and others are incapable of it because of either faulty intention, dishonesty, impotence, addiction, hatred (rejection) of children, physical incapacitation, sexual corruption, or mental aberration.

A person who is HIV positive cannot be married lawfully in the Church to a non-infected person because non-contraceptive intercourse required for consummation is possibly deadly to the spouse. A paralyzed man cannot engage in the marital act and get married, with the possible exception of those with artificial intervention to restore potency. Couples who are sterilized are routinely required to attempt surgical reversals in order to have a sacramental wedding. People who are mentally deranged and/or who take drugs for mental diseases are not normally able to marry. Medication to control various mental illnesses would deform a fetus. Alcoholism or any other kind of serious drug addiction invalidates the marriage vows and bond. A heroin fiend cannot truly fulfill his vows and is lying to his beloved and the priest. The same goes for gross alcoholism. It is a sickness, but there is a moral element related to it. I knew a man who was an active alcoholic who had his prior bond annulled on the grounds that his addiction made him incapable of marriage. He then wanted to get married again but a “monitum” prohibited any priest or deacon from marrying him until a doctor certified that he had found sobriety. He remained a drunk and so he could not marry again. The last time I saw him, he was begging for money on the streets.

You write: “I am not able to sign the basic forms that are needed to petition due to the fact that I must state that I believe my Marriage to have been Null from the beginning. I do NOT believe that.” Fine and good, you should not sign them if you disagree. Indeed, if such is your conviction, you should never remarry even if the spouse does so, in or out of the Church. Marriage is a one-time sacrament. I cannot say that the Tribunals are always right about these things. The culpability is more upon them than any individuals they mislead. However, the process, while imperfect, is an attempt to protect the indissolubility of marriage while being compassionate to those who might have grounds for nullity.

I am not familiar with the website SAVE OUR SACRAMENT although I am familiar with internal forum between couples (usually elderly) and the pastor. They are required to live as brother and sister and they are not to advertise the nature of their relationship so as to avoid scandal. I worked with just such a couple many years ago who were in their 90′s. They have since passed away.

If your husband has civilly remarried, he is not in good standing with the Church. He is still required to go to Sunday Mass and to make sure that any children receive the sacraments. However, as long as he cohabitates with this other woman, the status is regarded as adultery and no personal sentiment or feeling on his part would allow him to receive communion. Indeed, he cannot receive absolution from a priest, either. He is apparently in a state of mortal sin. His in-laws are grievously wrong to tell him otherwise. They are numbing his conscience and that of his civil-wife to the fact that their eternal salvation is at stake.

I cannot speak about your case because I do not know the particulars. Since there is a civil marriage, I take it that no annulment was granted. If you felt that the first marriage was the valid one, then you are right to oppose the annulment, although they are sometimes granted despite opposition. If your husband and his civil-wife were really good Catholics, they would not want to live in an adulterous relationship. If you really loved someone, would you do something that would deprive them of the Eucharist and maybe even cost them their salvation in Christ? I asked this of a priest who left and attempted marriage. He said he loved the girl. I argued that he did not love her enough and that he was selfish. Better for a priest to suffer in his loneliness than to cost another the gift of sanctifying grace and the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. He did not know what to say. He knew I was right. He said he would get laicized. But at that time he was still married to the Church and what if she should die before laicization was granted? He would have to live with the terrible possibility that he sent to hell the person he most loved in the whole world.

I preach upon this subject of divorce and annulments, as well as upon the crisis of premarital sex and cohabitation. Not all priests are silent. I am sorry about your pain. You can pray for him and continue to witness to your vows. We all want joy, but often what we get is the Cross.

WI CATHOLIC:

I have reconciled myself to living my vows alone till one of us dies. Our civil-forced-divorce was way back in 1985, and I have long been able to praise Him and to forgive my spouse. I pray for him and for the civil wife all the time. (She and I have spoken; she has been praying for my health recently, much to the chagrin of xxxxxxxxx). My primary desire is his salvation and sobriety, as well as mine. Hers is secondary. Reconciliation at this stage is totally up to God Himself.

Yes, it is MY understanding also what counts is prior to marriage, and the wedding day itself, not what is diagnosed 10 plus years after the marriage. But that is not what happened in our area, and it is not what I have been told by at least three priests. I have been me telling THEM this fact.

I can believe that you do teach on the subject, Father Joe, because you are one of the rare ones who speaks of this topic ONLINE, too. But in most places, it is avoided like the plague.

Civil divorce is taken as proof that the marriage was not a marriage most of the time now, or “it would not have ended up in the divorce courts.” But this is not true.

We are still a largely forgotten group of very Faithful Catholics, most often looked upon as pitiable, rigid, angry, bitter… even “pus-filled.” I assure you, most of us are not. When WE plead, “Save our Sacrament,” WE are begging the Church to stand with us regarding the validity of our marriages. We are not looking for a “way out,” but help to work toward reconciliation, healing, and maintaining the validity and permanency that Jesus Himself insisted upon.

As for Internal Forum, I cannot begin to claim the education others have, but I have spent the past 25 years learning as much as possible. One source:
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and now Pope Benedict XVI writes forcefully on the subject of the indissolubility of marriage. He concludes such a statement regarding the International Theological Commission’s Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage:

I would underscore that what is at stake in respect to the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage is nothing less than the Church’s fidelity to the radicalism of the Gospel. “The severity does not derive from a purely disciplinary law or from a type of legalism. It is rather a judgment pronounced by Jesus Himself (Mk 10:6ff). Understood in this way, this severe norm is a prophetic witness to the irreversible fidelity of love that binds Christ to His Church. It shows also that the spouses’ love is incorporated into the very love of Christ (Eph. 5:23-32).”[6]

In short, because marriage is an irrevocable covenant established by God, it is not a mere personal and private act. Marriage consent pertains to the common good and directly effects the Church. Subsequently, a mere personal and private act cannot substitute for a judgement of marriage nullity. In determining such a grave matter, only the Church herself, acting in the name of Christ, has competence to pass judgement.

http://www.cuf.org/Faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=54

God bless! (I can still understand Karl’s anger and frustration.)

KARL:  Hang in there, WI Catholic, I do love the Catholic Church, just can’t live with her.

WI CATHOLIC:  Thank you, Karl. God bless you!

3 Responses

  1. Dear Father

    I was today refused absolution for the first time ever. I am pretty confused and don’t know what to think. During confession the subject of marriage came up and I told him that I had been married previously to converting, that my present husband and I had been married for over twenty years. But I had been told by both previous priests that since we remained celibate there was no problem with my receiving communion. They both told me that as long as we continued living together as “brother and sister,” then I could receive the Sacraments.

    The new priest sounded appalled. He said I was in mortal sin, needed to move out of our home, and it was even worse for my husband because he has not converted and cannot go to confession, therefore is in mortal sin as well.

    My husband and I have been celibate for several years, granted at first it was for mostly medical reasons. We are not young, our kids are grown. We have discussed this and are okay with it. So when I went back to the Church after a long lapse, I was relieved to hear the priest say that it was okay; because I desired the Eucharist very much. Now, according to the new priest all those Communions were sacrilegious and I have only added to my mortal sins.

    I left before Mass began. I didn’t want anyone to notice I was upset. My daughter asked what happened because during the homily he preached very vehemently that It was a horrible sin to marry a Protestant, that they are “monsters,” and that God punishes wicked sinners with illnesses like cancer. I know that the man behind me in line for confession has cancer.

    My husband has been studying Catholicism for the past few years and is ready to convert. I am hoping this doesn’t derail him.

    Sorry to bother you with this, but I could truly use your comments and advice even if is in accordance with his. Thanks.

    Rebecca Alexis

    FATHER JOE:

    Dear Rebecca,

    As a priest myself I am hesitant to render judgment upon another priest for what he “might” have said and done. However, if your daughter gives an accurate depiction, then the priest has a serious problem. I usually counsel that people go first to the priest with criticism before notifying his superiors. But I can understand how an abusive posture would put people off to doing this. Is there another priest in the parish or in a nearby church whom you might consult? I always counsel that going to the bishop should be the last resort when other (more proximate) avenues of response are exhausted.

    There is a great deal more debate about the “internal forum” solution today than in days past and the younger men seem inclined against it. A friend of mine recently encountered the same issue with his new pastor, again, a younger man and a canon lawyer. He argued that a stricter interpretation was the correct one and that the pastoral accommodation of “internal forum” not only had little basis in canon law but signified a type of posturing that could readily give scandal and send a mixed message to children about the truth of the bond.

    As a canonist, your new pastor is stressing canon 915: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

    Missing from your comment was why no annulment was pursued. If the former spouse is still alive, it is a course of action that should be explored. Usually internal forum solutions are only invoked if such an annulment is regarded as impossible or refused. The process is designed both to protect the indissolubility of marriage and to show compassion to those who are wounded by past mistakes.

    If the annulment option is exhausted, there is argumentative weight on the other side for an ethical accomodation. Pope John Paul II wrote in FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO (84): “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.’”

    The universal catechism emphasizes what the late Pope taught, that the internal forum solution must include perfect continence or the brother-and-sister relationship, something to which you said the two of you were faithful [CCC 1650]: “Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.” Such reconciliation immediately implies that they would then be welcome to receive Holy Communion.

    A guiding source on this question is the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith CONCERNING THE RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION BY THE DIVORCED AND REMARRIED MEMBERS OF THE FAITHFUL (n. 4): “This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: ‘They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.’ / The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only ‘to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they (take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.” The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts offered a good clarification of this matter.

    Did the priest really say that “all those Communions” added to your mortal sins? According to what you tell me, it seems you acted appropriately and in good faith. You did what the priest told you to do.

    Further, the notion that God inflicts people with disease or poverty because of sin is a strict form of Calvinism, not Catholicism. It is similar to the notion of the early Jews that God materially blessed those in good favor and punished those who were not. Further, while one has to get a dispensation to marry a Protestant, we do not regard our “separated brethren” as monsters. Such a notion is an affront to the Vatican II emphasis upon ecumenism. It may be that your pastor is a traditionalist, but as a man under authority, he must judge as Christ and his Church does, not as he would prefer. This works both ways, both for men who are too rigid and for those who see no limits.

    I would encourage your husband to continue his studies. Indeed, I would encourage participation in an RCIA group. We do not force converts; rather there is a “Come and See” atmosphere. Of course, given your parochial situation, you may want to talk to another priest or visit the parish next door for guidance.

    Rebecca, I will be praying for you and your husband. You can also email me at frjoe2000@yahoo.com.

    God bless you both.
    Father Joe

  2. Thank you, Father, for your detailed answer which held a few surprises for me as I obviously didn’t have the right understanding in a few of these matters. Thank you for making things clearer for me. For example I did not know that divorced/remarried people are NOT excommunicated. (I read this term wrong, thought, if you are excluded from the sacraments, then you are excommunicated).

    FATHER JOE: Anyone who is in a state of mortal sin is excluded from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. Couples getting married are often asked to go to Confession the night of the rehearsal to insure that the sacrament of marriage will not be a sacrilege. While they would be married, the actual graces of the sacrament are only available if the couple is in a state of grace. While couples remarried outside the Church are asked not to receive Holy Communion, there may still be some spiritual benefit in attending Mass. We leave this matter with God and hope that couples seek the regularization of their situations. Excommunication is a serious ecclesial censure, reserved to the procurement of abortion, attacks upon the person of the Pope and direct Episcopal intervention.

    Yes, as I said, I am a Catholic, divorced, and remarried without an annulment.

    I regret now and wished I had known all this BEFORE I ever got married! – I had doubts about this marriage from the start and I would have probably not taken the route of Catholic marriage – knowing then what I know now, about the implications of a Catholic marriage. In fact, we had our wedding cancelled once, so serious were my doubts about him. Well I have to grim and bear the consequences.

    FATHER JOE: Reservations or serious doubts about a marriage can contribute to the grounds of an annulment case. I know few of the details but would urge you to contact a priest or your diocesan tribunal. If an annulment was granted, and the current relationship is strong, your Catholic pastor could convalidate the marriage.

    I would like to mention that the preparation for marriage that the Catholic Church provides leaves a lot to be desired, considering the seriousness and gravity of the matter. The 3 days of preparation did not instruct and inform us properly like you did in the above answer. I think marriage preparation nowadays should very much take into account where people come from, what state our Western society is in. This does not implicate a change of rule on the Church’s side but a more considerate and compassionate approach. People really do not know what they let themselves into!!! – I am not the only one.

    FATHER JOE: Actually, marriage preparation used to be even more cursory, reduced to only a few meetings with the priest. The six month waiting period and Pre-Cana programs were an attempt to deal with the rising failure of marriages. However, I agree with you that the programs should cover all the pertinent areas and be even more extensive. FOCCUS questions and answers are an attempt to personalize the preparation and compel couples to examine areas of possible conflict. Couples need to be honest to each other and to their priest. Are they really ready for marriage? Do they know that for which they are asking? Are they living out their discipleship in a faithful and chaste way before marriage? Are they seeking a “church-wedding” because their religion matters or because parents and grandparents insist? God bless and keep you! Father Joe

    Thank you again father, for your reply – and your prayer. It helps!

  3. I am a divorced, remarried Catholic woman. Divorce is a grave sin and a breach of a holy contract, remarrying a grave sin as well. I acknowledge this. But I have gone trough a big inner strtuggle with this matter, which is still not resolved….
    — Priests can be despensed from their priesthood and marry.
    — Murderes can repent and be forgiven.
    But adulterers, I mean here divorced, remarried men and women, cannot be forgiven, the only sinners in the whole Church who are excommunicated.
    A Catholic married couple seems to be mysteriously glued together in such a way nothing can ever dissolve their connection – how often they might break it, wound it again and again, inside or outside their marriage.Their connection is more like an impragnation, like baptism, you just cannot undo it ever again.
    I read Jesus’ words about this matter, again and again, in differnt translations, I pondered about it for hours and hours, I read Church documents, spoke to people…..
    I am afraid I just cannot grasp the CatholicChruch’s teaching in this, never could, even not during the times I wouldn’t ever think of divorce.
    I came to the conclusion, all I can do to show God a bit of love is to respect His Churche’s
    teachings as they are now, who am I to know it all – I don’t….
    Now and again a look with yearning into the teachings of the Orthodox Church, which emphasize the holiness of marriage as well, but act out of compassion for the failing nature of men and women. There is forgiveness for having messed up, you can be granted permission to marry again, in a different, subdued rite,so not to be confused with the first marriage which is celebrated in full.
    Finally, to live as brother and sister in a second marriage is a decision that takes two to make, if only one repents that way? Alltogether it is not a very wise solution.
    I am determined to love the Church whatever, but it is really hard at times!

    FATHER JOE:

    I take it that you are divorced and remarried outside the Church without an annulment. Divorce is regarded as a breach of the covenant, a word with deeper religious meaning than contract. It is a promise made to a spouse and to almighty God. Such promises are meant to be kept. The vows of marriage, followed by consummation with the marital act, ordinarily make a marriage indissoluble. While this is Church teaching, it is based both upon divine positive law and natural law. Christ makes the case quite clear in the Gospel of Matthew and the Church has no power to revoke such a teaching. If Protestant faith communities and the Orthodox churches should compromise this element of revelation, then they will have to argue their case before God who judges us all. The admission of human weakness and/or the allowance of a penitential marriage do not resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner. Indeed, just as with unwarranted annulments (if they should happen), what we witness is an instance of false compassion.

    Separation and divorce can be sinful because they deprive the spouse of a shared life and the satisfactions which come along with the marital life. Giving such affection and attention to another is doubly wrong as the sin of adultery. The sacraments change us. Marriage makes a couple “one flesh” and there is a yearning for ever greater unity in their very being. It is a mystery with its gravity heavily posited in their physicality but it also has a spiritual dimension. They are to find something of the Lord in their love for each other.

    Now I must make a few corrections. Priests can be laicized and dispensed of the duties of the clerical life, but they will always be priests. We have some priests who are celibate and we have a few in the Catholic Church who are married. When we speak of a priest married to the Church, we are speaking analogously. The celibate priest does not receive the sacrament of marriage. Celibacy is a discipline of the Church. It does not absolutely or doctrinally negate the possibility of marriage, although the priest makes a promise to live out a single-hearted love or celibacy. Human laws can be abridged or modified by the Church without concern for breaking a divine commandment.

    Murderers can repent and be forgiven, however they might still need to be punished and to make restitution. There must also be true contrition and a firm amendment of life. I would not get into a debate comparing the gravity of mortal sins.

    Those who are living in situations judged adulterous have failed to make an amendment of life. It is for that reason that couples cohabitating before marriage cannot receive absolution until the situation is remedied. Otherwise, they return to a situation of near occasion of sin. Divorced and remarried couples are not in good standing with the Church but they are NOT excommunicated. Such couples remain members of the Church. While not able to receive communion, they are still obligated to participate at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

    Couples mysteriously glued together? Yes and no, because while certain sacraments can be celebrated only once (like baptism, confirmation and ordination); other sacraments can be received again (as in communion, penance, anointing of the sick and marriage). There are conditions, however: a state of grace for communion, contrite and repentant for confession, seriously ill for unction, and free to marry again. If the first marriage is shown to be invalid then an annulment might be acquired for a legitimate marriage. If the first marriage is valid and licit, then the death of the spouse frees the other to marry again. Love lasts forever but the bond of marriage is only until “death do they part.”

    Promises are meant to be kept. Sometimes this might be very hard and may even seem impossible. A good marriage can take you to the very gates of heaven; a bad one will take you to the cross. We do not want to suffer. We want to be happy. But this is usually the “veil of tears.” Priests try to help people find peace and some degree of joy. However, we cannot do this as a compromise of the truth and right or wrong.

    Religious assent is accepting such teachings even when we do not fully understand and/or wish for something different.

    Orthodox churches tend to be nationalist churches. In that sense, they are like Anglicanism in the West. Catholicism was willing to allow an entire nation to slip away rather than compromise upon the marriage of one king. Most Christian churches emphasize holiness both within and outside of marriage. However, we are sometimes at odds as to how it is acquired. Holiness is ultimately a gift. We must be properly disposed for this gift. The Church and churchmen can be permissive and forgiving about many things; but, apart from divine mercy such compassion is short-sighted and meaningless. We need God to forgive us. Second or third marriages in Anglicanism and penitential marriages in Orthodoxy are not necessarily true marriages in the eyes of God. It is not a matter of a full marriage or a partial one. The problem is that couples are either married or they are not. The priest or minister only witnesses marriages. The couple marry themselves. They are the ministers of the sacrament. You cannot give yourself to someone if another person already has a prior claim upon you. It is as simple, wonderful and harsh as that. We should not confuse beautiful externals with the internal reality.

    Brother-sister accommodations are not easy solutions and are not readily agreed upon by pastors. Health and advanced age might permit such things, but the cohabitation associated with virile lovers who crave unity makes this very problematical. The danger of deceit and scandal is serious.

    I will keep you in prayer.

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