Recently, I had a couple of conversations with people about divorce in the Church. One was with a wonderful lady who is a Director of Religious Ed. Unlike many DRE’s she seems to really have her act together regarding the faith. It’s not about experimentation. She’s all about teaching how to live out the faith and how to love one another as Jesus loved us. She has commented that she can’t understand how anyone can leave the Church if/when they believe Jesus is Really Present.
Unfortunately, she is also a divorced Catholic, through no fault of her own. Her husband divorced her, despite attempts to save the marriage. This DRE has explored the possibility of a Declaration of Nullity, but it looks like there won’t be grounds for it. At the time she got married, they met the conditions that make a marriage sacramental.
This means they freely (of will and without obstacles) were married in a valid ceremony. They were both baptized Catholics and were open to life. There appear to be no hidden agendas, lies or distortions at that time that would make the marriage not valid in the eyes of the Church.
This lady was lamenting that it was unfair that her husband can do whatever he wants and she cannot. After all, she is the wronged party. It seems especially unfair considering how some places hand out these decrees like candy. Or at least have had that reputation in the past. She followed up with the statement that she would never go against Church teaching in this matter and doesn’t even want that now anyway.
Mrs. Fric was empathetic to the DRE’s situation, as am I. But she thought it unfair of the Church too. I bet that a lot of people have this opinion and that it extends into other areas of Church teaching too.
For instance, look at the number of people that claim a right to the Eucharist when holding opinions and doing things that are objectively sinful and/or contrary to Church teaching or dogma. And doing it publicly for all to see. When the Church says that these people are not to receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, these people cry fowl. How dare the Church do this to them.
Not that my DRE friend believes that by the way.
The common thread here is that people who cannot get declarations of nullity and cannot receive communion licitly have not had anything done to them by the Church. The former either brought it upon themselves or it is forced upon them by an estranged spouse. The latter do it to themselves by their very actions.
The Church, in an effort to maintain the integrity of the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist must remind people that the state has consequences, no matter who brought them to it. It may seem cruel to say someone is still married when their ex is on his fourth new wife already. But he is the one who is sinning mightily against the true spouse and his sacramental marriage. He commits serial adultery no matter what the courts say. Her state remains unchanged, because it cannot change until death do they part.
In the case of obstinate sinners, they bring condemnation and ignominy on themselves and scandal to the Church. By withholding the sacraments (except confession which should only be used to repent fully) the Church is preventing that person from committing more and more sins. It is pastorally sound and wise to do this. Not to them, but for them.
That’s my take on it. What’s yours?