Catholics: Divorce

Hi All,

I am not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I am not Catholic, so I thought it best to post here. With all this stuff going around about divorce in the Catholic church and how to handle previously divorced and re-married Catholics. I was just wondering what happens to Catholics that are divorced. Is it a mortal sin? Are they allowed to take the eucharist? If not, do most people just ignore this rule and take the eucharist anyway? Do priests ignore the rules (i’m sure some do but is it common)?

I noticed on Wikipedia today that previous French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been married three times and his religion is listed as “Roman Catholicism” (I know it’s Wikipedia but other sites confirm this as well). Now, I recognize that he may not be very devout but I find it hard to imagine that throughout his presidency he never went to mass…maybe I’m wrong. But anyway, I am sure there are many divorced and remarried Catholics that still attend mass.

How does all this work? What is your opinion on what will happen at the synod of the family and will anything really change with it? Thanks.

Where the problem lies is when a divorced Catholic remarries.

Not the divorce itself.

A divorced Catholic may partake of the Eucharist.

A divorced, then remarried, Catholic may not, unless an annullment has been issued.

How easy is it to receive an annulment? Can you be technically divorced and receive an annulment?

I’m going through the process now. Yes, you can be technically (civilly) divorced and get an annulment. The process is involved and somewhat intimidating.

Annulments, or more properly, decrees of nullity, are individual. Each case is different, and is evaluated by a Tribunal. In some cases, this is a formality, since a Catholic may have married outside the Church and his/her marriage is invalid in its form. “Lack of Form”

One needs to be divorced (in the U.S. and other countries) in order even to begin the process of petitioning for a decree of nullity.

As Marie has already pointed out, the sin is in remarriage. We simply believe what Christ told us. If one divorces their spouse and marries another they have committed adultery.

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
(Matthew 5:32)

"I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

Annulments are not a way of getting around this. In an annulment it must be determined that there was never a valid marriage to begin with.

So it is not merely a “Catholic” position. Jesus was very clear.

God bless.

I believe this is what the synod will work to fix. Not change the teaching, but make the process less “involved” and less or not “intimidating.”

What is the current feeling in y’all’s parishes about annulments and whether they are too strict and stringent, or a feeling they are granted too easily? I’m truly curious as I think we can all agree the state in the church at large and divorce rates are troubling. I do understand that annulments are not divorces in the RCC’s estimation, but I’m assuming it is still considered a problem that so many seek annulments?

So the reason I used the previous French President as an example is because it seems he has remained a Catholic and yet had 2 divorces and 3 marriages. He is a public figure and his private life is not really that, “private.” How does a priest handle this? Does he refuse communion? Or is it common for priests to ignore this?

Does anyone see this in there local parishes with normal laity?

P.S. I’m not using this thread to point out flaws, I’m truly just curious. I don’t want my questions to be seen as accusatory, so I thought I’d just let it be known plainly. Thanks.

And what an annulment tribunal looks at is the moment of marriage itself. The examiniation is to determine of a valid marriage took place in the eyes of God.

A marriage must be entered into freely, they must give consent of their own free will.

So the tribunal will look at if there was any coercion, if there was an mental reservation, where a party secretly withheld consent, or, if the were mentally competent or knew what they are consenting to.

What it does NOT look at are subsequent actions, except to shed light on the moment of marriage itself. If a person when into marriage thinking that they could or would have an affair is different from a person entering into marriage fully intending fidelity, and then changing their minds and having an affair.

The first is grounds for an annulment, the second, not so.

Hello Aslan10 -

The reason the divorced and remarried may not partake of the Eucharist because St. Paul teaches that no one should receive the Eucharist unworthily, otherwise they committee sacrilege. So we are protecting the person from committing additional mortal sins.

Oh, yes. I understand the doctrine and reasoning well. I am more curious to the adherence of it.
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Obtaining a divorce without the permission of the diocesan bishop (unless contrary norms have been established in particular places) is mortally sinful, although divorcees generally aren’t denied communion unless they remarry.

Yes, it is a problem that so many seek annulments. As to whether or not the process is too strict and stringent is in the eye of the beholder. The Church cannot undo what Christ has established; that the two have become one flesh and cannot be divided. So yes, it is very strict and very stringent in arriving at a determination. If there was, indeed, a marriage, then no annulment can be granted, pure and simple. It is a hard teaching that many do not wish to accept, but it is Christ’s teaching.

I’m one of the sponsors in our RCIA class and there are three people attending that need an annulment. My opinion is that they see it as intimidating because they are unsure of what to expect from the Church. Our diocese has conducted informational meetings and there is also a very fine book,“Annulments and the Catholic Church” by Edward Peters. It is a book of 100 questions on the topic. The author is a lay professor of canon law and serves as a judge for a tribunal. Book is on Amazon for 10, kindle for 9. All three of our candidates found it relieved an lot of their concerns. Two have contacted the diocesan tribunal and both were surprised how helpful the people were.

That’s what I figured. Are there those Catholics that believe that it is actually not stringent or strict enough? I know there are certain protestants who believe divorce/annulment should never be allowed, ever. I wondered if there is any similar thought in Catholicism (obviously I also realize it isn’t the laity that get to decide it, but I do know believers differ in opinion).

Just a point of clarification here.

Yes, the remarriage after the divorce is the sin we are talking about in these cases regarding the distribution of Communion. However, that doesn’t mean that divorce is not also a sin. We’re talking about the breakdown of a marriage. That is a tragedy. We need to be careful about giving the impression that it is no big deal.

Of course, divorce is not always mortally sinful for both parties. If a husband leaves his wife for another woman, there’s no way you could say the wife was guilty of sin. It wasn’t her fault. Similarly, if a wife leaves her abusive husband for her own safety, that wouldn’t really be her sin either.

As for the enforcement of canon 915, well, that’s a contentious issue. :stuck_out_tongue: Some want to enforce it strictly while others seem not to want to (or else perhaps think it only applies in very rare cases). I don’t really find it necessary personally to check up on each and every “notorious public sinner” to see whether or not their priest is enforcing this particular canon. Especially when it concerns divorce and remarriage. For all I know, they have received a declaration of nullity.

The problem isn’t with too many annulments, it’s with too many people engaging invalid marriages with the wrong people.

The United States has the highest annulment rate in the world, but still most divorced Catholics in the US do not seek an annulment. Only approx. 7 or 8% of divorced Catholics seek an annulment worldwide because they think the process is too complex.

The real issue is why do we have so many divorces in the West (Catholics and non-Catholics alike)?

The reasons:

  1. pre-martial sex - when people engage in pre-martial sex, the sexual compatibility becomes part of the marriage discernment process. When that happens, the love that is created via the sexual act “muddies the waters.” People who do not engage in premarital sex need more information in order to discern marriage. So they discuss religion, family values, money values, how to raise kids, etc much more.
  2. sex crazed society… people always reading or hearing about how some couples do this and that, so people beginning to believe their marriage isn’t good because it doesn’t meet the stereotypes the media creates
  3. secular redefinition of marriage. Please don’t understand what marriage is about… it’s primary function is to birth and rear children. So couples get married who are not objectively mature enough or ready to raise kids; when the kids arrive they are not strong enough to deal with the issues.
  4. religious, moral, ethical, ideological differences… these differences matter little when there are no kids, but when children come into the picture, differences between husband and wife can become huge strains on a marriage.
  5. couples put their own individual happiness above the happiness of their spouse and the wellbeing of their children. Therefore, they fight and divorce, thinking that the kids are better off without fighting parents. But if the parents could learn to be at least friends for the sake of the kids, then everything would be ok.
  6. people don’t take the “for better or worse, in sickness or health, in richer or poorer, until death due you part” vow seriously.

When people marry who do not understand what marriage is or believe in marriage it may mean that the sacramental marriage never took place.

I don’t the issue is too many annulments… I think it’s too many invalid marriages.

In our parish, only a few people seek an annulment annually, and generally those get resolved one way or another (granted or sometimes denied) within 1-4 years.
Last spring, one annulment was contingent on couples counseling.
In my view, the problem is more the fact that people “just don’t bother”. They don’t believe it’s a spiritual issue for them, and they have decided to believe they are Catholics in good standing, and receive communion. Causes a lot of problems, and sets a terrible example for their children who then learn that it’s ok to pick and choose what you believe.
Just my 2 cents.

Well, I’m sure there are a variety of opinions from various individual Catholics, like there is on most any subject. It doesn’t matter. The Catholic Church is certainly not a democracy.

As for those Protestants who believe “divorce/annulment should never be allowed, ever” I believe they do not understand what an annulment actually is. If there was never a valid marriage what is it that shouldn’t be allowed? A true marriage?

But far from the position that divorce or annulments should never be allowed, most Protestant faith communities seem to allow divorce and remarriage without a problem. It is they who must justify their position with the clear words of Christ.

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