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  #1  
Old Feb 23, '12, 9:25 pm
FCGeorge FCGeorge is offline
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Default For the abandoned spouse

The vast majority of civil divorces in our society today are “unilateral” divorces. In other words, one spouse forces the civil divorce on the other. The spouse who does not want the divorce can do nothing to stop it. She could hire Perry Mason, Ally McBeal and even the clever Matlock to team up but they will lose the case and she will be pronounced "divorced."

The vast majority of modern civil divorces are for reasons such as "falling out of love, not being loved the way I deserve to be loved, we have nothing in common, I am not happy, I am miserable, I will always be not happy and miserable with that person, I am emotionally neglected, etc..." Only a small percentage of civil divorces occur for reasons our Holy Church would recognize as "morally licit."

It is a grave sin to force a civil divorce on a spouse who has not been guilty of a grave sin that warranted the civil divorce.

If the abandoned spouse truly cares for the soul… the eternal destination of her husband’s soul… then she will desire that her husband see that he is in the midst of a grave offense. For if he does not see that he is in the midst of a grave offense then he will not see a need to repent of the grave offense. And if he never sees a need to repent of the grave offense then he will die in the grave offense. And if he dies in the grave offense… well… St. Matthew (7:23) and St. Luke (13:27) made it pretty clear what our Blessed Lord said about that.

She would then likely follow our Blessed Lord’s instructions given to us for when someone “sins against us.” These step by step instructions are found in St. Matthew’s gospel, chapter 18 verses 15-17.

Hopefully one of the first two steps will “gain thy brother”, or in this case, “gain thy spouse.” However, it may be likely that neither of the first two steps will produce true repentance… because your spouse has rationalized and justified why his divorce is okay with God. He may even say that he has prayed about it and God has said it is okay… maybe not even his fault.

The third step should then be taken. But we must remember that the abandoned spouse should not be taking these steps to “force their spouse to come back.” The abandoned spouse should be pursuing these steps for the sake of their spouse. Because the abandoned spouse realizes the truth of the situation is that the beloved has placed himself out of communion with his Heavenly Spouse by placing himself out of communion with his earthly spouse (for no morally licit reason). It is for the sake of her husband’s soul (and the souls of the children and others who have this as an example) that she would follow our Blessed Lord’s step by step instructions.

So the question is, “What does step number 3 look like?”

I know of no official Holy Church teaching on this but it seems likely to me that the abandoned spouse would go to the priest of the spouse who has abandoned the marriage. Remember, after step two there are now what Sacred Scripture calls “witnesses.” The priest would then insist on meeting with the spouse who has abandoned the marriage. The priest would stand strong, grounded in truth, and hear the abandoning spouse out and then charitably help him see that he is not to receive Holy Communion while in the midst of this “grave offense.” The priest would gently but firmly explain that he will even have to deny Holy Communion if he persists in this grave manifest sin.

Of course all of this would be done for the sake of the one lost sheep. So that the one lost sheep will return to the flock he has left. It is not the priest or the Holy Church “closing the door” on the sinner, but the sinner "closing the door" on the Holy Church and the priest helping him see how he may "open it" again.

The problem that many abandoned spouses have, however, is that they find a priest unwilling to make that stand. If that is the case then, out of true charity for your spouse, perhaps going to “tell the Church” in Matthew 18:17 must look something like this…

http://www.speroforum.com/a/YNNRQNSV...ge-abandonment

For example, let's say that John up and abandons Carol and their children. Carol has committed no grave sin worthy of the abandonment but John is just tired of being "harped on" and asked to do so many chores around the house and he is ready for more free time with the buds drinking the buds. He gets the judge to rule that the children should spend half of their lives outside of the marital home and with him in his new bachelor pad. John still believes himself to still be a faithful Catholic and even takes his children to Mass where they watch him receive Holy Communion.

I pray that we still hold marriage in enough esteem to see that this is gravely sinful on John’s part. Carol, grounding herself faithfully in the life of the Holy Church and prayer would obey our Blessed Lord’s instructions in Matthew 18:15-17. If Carol finds a priest who makes excuses as to why he will not follow through on the third step then Carol now has a way to officially approach the Holy Church to help her husband.

Again, this is for two Catholics and only really useful when the abandoning spouse thinks that they can abandon the marriage and somehow remain a faithful Catholic.

Any thoughts?

God bless the people who spent a whole lot of time working on this. I pray that it helps bring souls back to Christ and children back to intact homes.

Bryan

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  #2  
Old Feb 24, '12, 5:55 am
salvete salvete is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Divorce has affected everyone in my family except for me, thankfully. I agree with your post. However, how does someone in the family help the soul if they are not the spouse? For example, my parents and my brother and sister are all divorced and "remarried". How does one treat a parent or sibling in such a situation? I pray for them, but I get accused of being judgmental when I do not acknowledge their "new marriage". Also, I feel it is more important to support my mother, who has been abandoned in her older age. Any thoughts?
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  #3  
Old Feb 24, '12, 11:27 am
hurting hurting is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

It would help if the Church would enforce its own rules regarding separation, much less divorce, of spouses, especially with respect to Canon 1153.
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  #4  
Old Feb 24, '12, 11:47 am
Rence Rence is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

My thoughts are that if someone is not willing to honor their marriage vows that little will convince them to do so, and trying to trap someone in a relationship that they don't want any part of anymore will just create a hostile environment. Plus, it just doesn't work. You can't force people to remain in a relationship that they don't want any part of. Civil marriage and divorce doesn't have anything to do with Sacramental marriage anyway. Someone who is dating after they get divorced has obviously no respect for the Sacrament. Yes, the priest can try to meet with the person, and even choose to not give the person Communion, but then the person can just go to another parish if they truly want Communion and do not accept that what they're doing is wrong.

I can understand a Catholic truly miserable in a marriage who wants out --- as long as they are willing to live alone for the rest of their lives. The problem is, no one that I know of is doing this. They're getting divorced and are dating, even getting married again.
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  #5  
Old Feb 24, '12, 11:48 am
Rence Rence is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by hurting View Post
It would help if the Church would enforce its own rules regarding separation, much less divorce, of spouses, especially with respect to Canon 1153.
There's not much they can do about enforcing the rules. There are no ramifications that don't require submission to the authority of the Church. If one doesn't recognize the authority of the Church, there are no consequences.
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  #6  
Old Feb 24, '12, 12:08 pm
hurting hurting is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rence View Post
There's not much they can do about enforcing the rules. There are no ramifications that don't require submission to the authority of the Church. If one doesn't recognize the authority of the Church, there are no consequences.
I think there is plenty they can do to enforce the rules. Excommunication?
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  #7  
Old Feb 24, '12, 12:13 pm
Rence Rence is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by hurting View Post
I think there is plenty they can do to enforce the rules. Excommunication?
Yes, they could do that. But how would they enforce it? If their parish priest is aware of their situation, and denies them Communion, they could always go to another parish. This is especially true of concentrated areas with many parishes.

Although, yes, you might be on to something: if they were actually confronted by their priest, it might at least make them think about it. But considering over half of marriages end in divorce, are priests willing to do that?
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  #8  
Old Feb 24, '12, 9:12 pm
cmscms cmscms is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by FCGeorge View Post

The problem that many abandoned spouses have, however, is that they find a priest unwilling to make that stand.
Priest do not make that stand because it is VERY innappropriate and judgemental. If a spouse goes to her priest and says 'My husband has left me for no reason', the priest knows there are 2 sides to every story. Not to mention, the 'lost sheep' as you say may not even be loss. The spouse who left the marriage could very well chose to lead a celibate life and has not committed a sin.

God gave everyone free will. Priest can overide a God given gift and force people to stay in marriages.

Every case is different and to make such a blanket statement about someone who has left a marriage is not very charitable. I am sure the person put a lot of though into it and probably was saddened they had to make such a decision

CM
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  #9  
Old Feb 24, '12, 10:43 pm
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Nec5 Nec5 is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Interesting that you bring this up now. Here's a recent article tackling spousal abandonment and priests and fraternal correction.

Tackling the 'taboo': Catholicism and divorce
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  #10  
Old Feb 26, '12, 10:34 am
EvelynEVF EvelynEVF is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

I like that there is a formal process to bring this to the attention of the Church. I do have to point out, though, what we all know: Nobody can make a hard-hearted abandoning spouse remain faithful to the Church.
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  #11  
Old Feb 26, '12, 3:52 pm
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joanofarc2008 joanofarc2008 is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvelynEVF View Post
I like that there is a formal process to bring this to the attention of the Church. I do have to point out, though, what we all know: Nobody can make a hard-hearted abandoning spouse remain faithful to the Church.
I think there is one other problem here as well. While there are many mosts here in the original post I think that the term "irreconciable" differences is sometimes just as easy to go with. My civil divorce was over irreconciable differences because for me to bring abuse up I would have had to go into the court room and testify. This way I never had to put myself in harm's way again after the initial separation. My divorce was done from 2000 miles away. Sometimes that term encompasses many other things that are justifiable reasons for divorce underneath Catholic doctrine.
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  #12  
Old Feb 26, '12, 5:33 pm
FCGeorge FCGeorge is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Divorce has affected everyone in my family except for me, thankfully. I agree with your post. However, how does someone in the family help the soul if they are not the spouse? For example, my parents and my brother and sister are all divorced and "remarried". How does one treat a parent or sibling in such a situation? I pray for them, but I get accused of being judgmental when I do not acknowledge their "new marriage". Also, I feel it is more important to support my mother, who has been abandoned in her older age. Any thoughts?
Dear Salvete,

First of all, God bless you for standing for the Truth in such difficult circumstances. I pray for your strength to remain a "light in the darkness."

Before attempting to answer your question, are any or all of the divorced and “remarried” relatives believing that they are faithful Catholics? Christians? Is your mother also “remarried” or has she been abandoned after this “remarriage?” I wasn’t quite clear on that.

Yes, the "judgmental" label is a very popular one these days. It seems the most quoted verse of the Bible these days is... Matt 7:1-6 Judge not, that you be not judged.

But the quote usually ends there instead of including, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

We are indeed commanded to “remove the speck out of our brother’s eye.” We must “judge” in order to do this. We just must realize that we too will be judged similarly and that we must be sure we are not in the midst of grave sin when we approach a brother trying to help them repent of a grave sin.

And, obviously we must “judge” in order to determine whether or not we are giving what is “holy” to “dogs” or not. We must “judge” to determine whether or not we are “casting our pearls” before “swine” or not.

Indeed, we are to “judge.” Our Blessed Lord instructs us to look deeper than the “appearance”…

John 7:24
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

Also, how in the name of anything Holy could we possibly even obey our Blessed Lord’s instructions in Matthew 18:15-17 (the Scripture that motivates the petition I referred to in the opening post) without making a “judgment” that a “sin” has occurred?

Bryan

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  #13  
Old Feb 26, '12, 6:01 pm
FCGeorge FCGeorge is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
My thoughts are that if someone is not willing to honor their marriage vows that little will convince them to do so, and trying to trap someone in a relationship that they don't want any part of anymore will just create a hostile environment. Plus, it just doesn't work. You can't force people to remain in a relationship that they don't want any part of.
Hello Rence,

I pray that you will consider that this is not about "trapping someone in a relationship that they don't want any part of anymore" or "forcing people to remain in a relationship that they don't want any part of."

That would not be love. Our Blessed Lord does not "trap us" or "force us" to stay in a loving relationship with Him.

The abandoned spouse who is truly loving the abandoner as Christ loves the Church is not trying to "trap him" or "force him" to stay in a loving relationship with her.

Rather, the abandoned spouse is simply trying to help the abandoner see that the choice to abandon and remain separated is a gravely sinful choice and if he continues to make that gravely sinful choice and dies in that state without repentance then he will be separated from our Lord forever.

The abandoned spouse is simply asking the Church to make this clear to the abandoner so that the abandoner sees the need to repent so that the abandoner can be with our Lord forever in Heaven.

This is truly charitable and charitably truthful. Our Holy Father's Lenten message encourages faithful Catholics to once again practice this. His Excellency's third encyclical Caritas In Veritate written in 2009 also reminds us... "Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity."

We must throw our rope of charity around the firmly rooted tree of Truth or we will remain mired in this quagmire of "sentimentalism" where every spousal abandonment that takes place is rationalized and justified.

If we are honest we must admit that by concluding that a particular separation is morally licit then we are "judging" that the abandoned spouse is continuing in a sin worthy of the continued abandonment.

Bryan

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  #14  
Old Feb 26, '12, 6:35 pm
FCGeorge FCGeorge is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

We have an awesome example for us of two bishops practicing this charitable love and loving charity... (although, sadly, we have to go back over 1,500 years to find one)

http://www.bartleby.com/210/7/241.html

He spared no pains to save one lost sheep, and his labours were often crowned with a success which seemed miraculous. Among other instances it is recorded that a certain person of his diocess, named Gallus, had forsaken his wife and withdrawn to Clermont. St. Lupus could not see this soul perish, but wrote to St. Sidonius, then bishop of Clermont, a strong letter so prudently tempered with sweetness, that Gallus by reading it was at once terrified and persuaded, and immediately set out to return to his wife. Upon which St. Sidonius cried out: “What is more wonderful than a single reprimand, which both affrights a sinner into compunction, and makes him love his censor!”

Several important things to note...

1) Notice that Gallus was called a "lost sheep."
2) Notice that Gallus had "forsaken his wife."
3) By this gravely sinful action... Gallus abandoning his wife... St. Lupus understood that Gallus would "perish."
4) St. Lupus loved Gallus enough to then take the time to write a "strong letter... prudently tempered with sweetness."
5) St. Sidonius loved Gallus enough to pass along the letter to Gallus.
6) This "single reprimand" in the form of a letter "terrified" and "affrighted" Gallus.
7) Gallus returned to his wife. Yes, Gallus returned to his wife.
8) St. Lupus and St. Sidonius are now "Saints!!"
9) If Gallus is now a saint in Heaven then he is eternally grateful for the courageous love that the two Bishops showed to him.

Fortunately for Gallus, St. Lupus and St. Sidonius were not concerned about being labeled "judgmental" or "intolerant" or concerned that they would be accused of "forcing Gallus to remain in a marriage he wasn't happy in."

Bryan

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  #15  
Old Feb 26, '12, 6:47 pm
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vsedriver vsedriver is offline
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Default Re: For the abandoned spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by FCGeorge View Post

The abandoned spouse who is truly loving the abandoner as Christ loves the Church is not trying to "trap him" or "force him" to stay in a loving relationship with her.

Rather, the abandoned spouse is simply trying to help the abandoner see that the choice to abandon and remain separated is a gravely sinful choice and if he continues to make that gravely sinful choice and dies in that state without repentance then he will be separated from our Lord forever.

The abandoned spouse is simply asking the Church to make this clear to the abandoner so that the abandoner sees the need to repent so that the abandoner can be with our Lord forever in Heaven.
that might work if the abandoner responded to the priest when he made attempts to contact him.

Having been abandoned myself this has been my greatest fear that my husband doesn't understand the severity of the sin he has committed. Sadly, there is nothing you can do beyond praying, if someone refuses to listen.
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