Saturday, 24 July 2010

Divorce, annulment and re-marriage.

My previous post "Father Ignatius, Joanna and George" has sparked a lively discussion here and elsewhere on Blogland.

In writing the fictitious story, I researched as best I can the Catholic Church's current position on divorce and re-marriage; with or without a Catholic annulment. Read the post and comments for a quick flavor of the discussion thus far.

I had hoped that a priest or someone from the Catholic Church "in the know" would correct or confirm the views expressed on that post. This is yet to happen.

There is no doubt that the Church's position on divorce, annulments and re-marriage results in a lot of hurt in an already painful situation for many. As a result, many leave the Church altogether, or worse still, distance themselves from God.

It seems to many that, in dealing with the situation, the Church appears to forget an important factor.

God is love and God is forgiveness.

He forgives many sins far more serious than divorce, and when sin is forgiven the person is healed to go on with their lives once again.

Christ proved this many times when He forgave sinners and told them to go in peace.

The Church appears to withhold forgiveness in the case of divorce in some instances by not granting annulments - and regardless whether the individual has repented to God, in Confession even.

Some individuals are further punished through excommunication if they marry again in another Church or in civil ceremonies.

This seems to imply that the power and authority of the Church is higher than that of God as they withhold what God has forgiven.

Such views have been expressed to me several times.


  1. I have chosen to follow the Catholic Doctrine so that means I follow the rules and believe in what the church believes and teaches. I am okay with my choice, but I do understand others pain and discouragement of what rules the church follows concerning divorce.
    God is a forgiving God, let's pray that all will realize this and not be upset with you. It is what it is......many hugs from Canada

  2. Do not think, as I seem to get from the tenor here, that forgiveness for a serious wrong, like divorce, removes the obligation of the abandoner to heal the marriage, if possible.

    This is a dangerously omitted element in the abuse of misunderstanding of forgiveness.

    The grading of the seriousness of sins is also another red herring which is used to, somehow, lessen the evil of a particular sin.

    I remind you that that divorce is a PERMANENT sin. To remain divorced is to sin each moment of each day. It is a never ending sin. IT IS NOT A SINGLE FINITE SIN!!!! It cannot be forgiven of an abandoner who is not in the process of making restitution and of making earnest, permanent, attempts to heal the marriage they have tried to destroy by their actions.

    Any priest who attempts to forgive a person who has abandoned their marriage without justification and is not attempting as I stated before, joins in the sin himself and violates the very meaning of the sacrament of confession.

    It is time that the Catholic Church revisit the tremendous errors that have crept into the Church regarding just how evil divorce is in reality.

    Victor, I think you seriously misunderstand much about divorce, remarriage, annulments, forgiveness..... and, I think you are doing harm here, although I think you do so in ignorance, not with evil intent.

    God is NOT the Pillsbury Dough Boy willing to look the other way in the face of a superficial sorrow. He requires a complete repentance and rebirth.

    One cannot steal something, say one is sorry and retain what has been stolen without recompense to ALL who have been damaged by the act, INCLUDING even those scandalized by it.

    One must make an earnest account for all the wrongs suffered in the wake of sin. This means searching out those who have been wronged, restoring their well being as best is humanly possible and RETURNING TO THEM WHAT HAS BEEN STOLEN!!

  3. How does one do this when the sin is the abandonment of a valid marriage? How can a Catholic priest, dare mock a valid marriage and the promises involved(especially to God Himself) by giving absolution to the abandoner, who refuses to attempt to heal the marriage they are attempting to destroy? How can the priest NOT require them to end their sinful relationships with those who are not their spouses?

    I do not think you have any idea of what goes on in the real pastoral world involving these situations. It is a cesspool of injustice, perpetrated by the clergy, in willing cooperation with those who are, FREQUENTLY, totally unrepentant. It is disgusting.

    I know this because I have lived it for more than twenty years and I have communicated with more than a few victims of this nightmare of pastoral betrayal.

    I believe that the Catholic Church is terrified to delve into the depths of THIS SCANDAL, because through its tribunals it has a real good idea of just how dirty and ubiquitous this corruption is.

    Victor, please do not think I mean ill by you. On the contrary, this subject usually descends into pointless bikkering, he said, she said, and eventually alternating stories of woe against and for divorce....ultimately negating any good which could come about. I have seen it time after time after time after time.

    You seem to seriously misunderstand annulments. I would ask you to join Bai MacFarlane's yahoo group and learn some facts that you will not get from the Church. If you have serious questions from the perspective of wanting a priests opinion, I suggest you go here:

    Seek Father Coulter out.

    I will not, intentionally mislead anyone in these regards. I am living what I speak about.
    I have not merely seen it from the perspective of an observer. One does not have to be a priest, theologian or a Canon Lawyer to see what is beneath the surface.

    In Bai's group you can speak to living people who are defending their marriages against determined efforts to declare their marriages invalid. Please take the time. There is much for you to learn.

    There is so much I could comment on in this post of yours that is just in error, that I am exhausted from thinking about it.

    Again, this IS NOT by way of an attack. That DOES NO GOOD. I am simply telling you that I am LIVING what I would tell you. You exhibit "classical" misunderstandings of concepts which are common among most Catholics today.

  4. What is being forgotten here is.....that Jesus Christ is the great high Priest (after the order of Melchizedek...)
    He grants fogiveness of sins.
    The Old Testament is the old Will of God and in the Old Will are the high priests who made atonement for sin with animal sacrifice.
    New Testament,... New Will!!!!(the old is done away, no more sacrifice)
    Jesus gave His life as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.ALL SIN IS NOW FORGIVEN THROUGH HIM!
    Gods Word is the authority above all else.
    It tells us.
    Mark 3:28-29 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.” This is the Word of God.
    So, the only sin not forgiven is the sin of NON BELIEF IN THE HOLY SPIRIT!
    WE cannot try and change Gods Word, otherwise we do not belong to Him...
    Would be, that all marriages should last a life time. BUT, the New Testament gives two reasons that a person may divorce.
    1. For adultry.
    2. If an unbelieving spouse leaves.
    Then it says its best not to re-marry. However, if a person burns with desire then they should marry (rather than be immoral).
    This is not my argument, it is God's Word.

  5. First Anonymous who wrote above..
    Divorce IS NOT a permanent sin.
    You are taking away from, and adding to, God's Word.
    I am reminded of Satan here when he took Jesus to the highest mountain and told Him to bow down and worship him....
    The thief, (Satan), comes only to Steal, Kill and Destroy, BUT Jesus came to give life, and give it more abundently...(John 10:10)
    Also, There is No condemnation in Jesus(Romans 8:1)
    Love, Joy, Peace and self control are all seen in you Brother Victor.
    God loves you and so do all we, your sisters and brothers in Christ,.

  6. Thank you Bernie, Anonymous and Crystal Mary for your well argued contributions.

    Remember, what I think does not matter. Whether I am right or wrong (if there is such a thing in this matter) does not matter either.

    What is fact is that marriages sometimes (often) do break down for a variety of reasons. Mary has given two reasons. There are others such as violence, drink/drug abuse, criminal activities etc ...

    Marriages should not ideally break down and people should remain faithful for life; thus keeping their marital promises to God and to each other. Where difficulties arise every effort should be made to seek restoration of the breakdown and to heal and maintain the marriage intact. But this is not always possible. Often, despite the best efforts, reconciliation is just not possible. And marriages break-down.

    In time, one or either parties may recognise their sin and seek forgiveness from God. As happened in the fictitious story I relate (based on facts). Is Joanna to be denied forgiveness?

    God bless you for commenting so honestly and I pray for His healing in all cases where marriages have broken down.

  7. Victor,
    My post too seems to have caused a stir in the comments box. I thank Anonymous for his insight both on this post as well as mine. The abandoner in my case is my husband and he has made no effort to reconcile, so as Bernie, I feel I must abide by the law of the Church such that they are.
    Should people such as Joanna be denied forgiveness for remarrying without annulment? My bottom line thought on that is that it comes down to it is between them and God, as I said in my own post on this- every case is different.
    Again both the FSSP sources Anonymous left in my combox as well as the book I sited here in another comment as well as on my own post seem to be good places to find out exactly where the Church is on this.
    Thanks for the lively discussion Victor.
    God bless!

  8. Thank you Karinann for your honest comments both here and on your Blog.

    Thank you to all others who have contributed also.

    Let us remember in our prayers all those who have been hurt, and still hurt, as a result of divorces. Especially where children are also involved.

    God bless you always Karinann.

  9. We love a giant of a God, don't we...

    Victor... you made me smile, because I can tell how much you love God. I can tell how much you love your fellow human beings by the comments you leave for us.

    God bless you this day. It is a great book you are writing.


  10. Hello Joey,

    Thank you for your kind comments and for your visits here.

    Right now, I am not writing any books - I have two published. "Visions" available from Amazon and all good bookstores; and "Golden Drops" available FREE in E Format from this Blog.

    Collect your FREE copy by following the link on the right of this column.

    Also visit my website when you have time. And tell others about my Blog and website if you like them. Don't tell anybody if you don't like them ... it'll be our secret!

    God bless.

  11. This is something I have struggled with as a remarried divorcee. I had read an article in the religious section of the paper stating that if you are remarried, you are continuing to live in sin, and you should return to your former spouse. When I read this, both I and my first husband had remarried, and I had a daughter with my new husband. I couldn't really believe that God would want me to leave my husband and break up my new family and also break up my ex-husband's new marriage (had he been willing to reconcile, which he wouldn't have been due to my prior infidelity).

    I was absolutely crushed, sobbing on the floor and asking Jesus if I could even call myself a Christian. Immediately, I heard in my thoughts, in the most audible voice I've ever experienced, "Remember David and Bathsheba." If God could forgive David for his adultery and the murder of Bathsheba's husband, AND ALLOW THE LINE OF CHRIST HIMSELF to come out of their initially sinful marriage, surely he can bless my marriage even though I was once divorced.

    This brought me tremendous peace.

  12. Thank you ... thank you Sarah. You make my point so much better than I could ever have.

    Life moves on ... marriages break-up for a variety of reasons ... people meet others and they get another chance at love and happiness.

    The Church does not seem to understand that often you just cannot turn the clock back ... broken marriages cannot always be repaired. By withholding annulments and by implication condemning any chance of further love, they are in effect saying that the sin (of divorce) is NOT forgiven. This is wrong. They are withholding forgiveness where God has forgiven.

    God bless you always and your family Sarah. Yes, you can call yourself a Christian. Yes God loves you and forgives you and blesses your present marriage.

    I have been told by someone in a similar position that the Catholic Church would not doubt forgive murder but not divorce!

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God bless you.