Divorce in the Catholic Church - in light of the Pope

I was curious to read this story in light of the fact that this is an issue that some Catholics like to use to beat us Orthodox over the head.

For those who don’t want to read the story, an Argentinian woman sent the pope a letter about being refused Communion over her divorce and remarriage. The pope called her up and told her that she (and her husband) could receive.

Given that it seems most Catholics here seem to agree with her priest - divorce and remarriage equals living in sin equals no communion, how do you interpret the pope’s comments in light of that fact? Is he wrong on this? What would you do if this position were to be formalized?

If he did in fact say what the article said, it is very “Jesuit like”. They want to bring people closer to God. I for one do not believe that a marriage that lasted 25 years and produced 3 children should ever be annulled like it never existed. What an insult to the children and the time together. There are many reason people divorce, so one should be kept from receiving Christ because they found someone else to spend their life with, especially one who continues to go to Church. Really? I love Pope Francis trying to keep people closer to God instead of blindly following rules from ancient times.

There has been no formal pronouncement on the issue of divorce, and until there is, anything about a phone call from HH to anybody is just hearsay.

Annulments are not an insult to children, and you cannot insult “time.”

The Church needs to be historically consistent. It cannot claim that divorce and remarriage are now ok, without proclaiming that those who died over this very issue in the Englysh Reformation in fact died in vain. I dare say it will never give that ok.

I still admire the efforts of HH to bring people back to the Church.


FACT: It has since been confirmed by the Vatican that the call did indeed happen. However, Pope Francis won’t deny or confirm the details of the conversation because “it is private.” Also, it was not the woman who was divorced. It was her husband. She is married to a divorced man.

MY TAKE: Personally, I don’t doubt that our pope said what the women claims he said. From what I hear the Church hands out annulments pretty easily… and so I’m guessing would probably give one to this man if he applied for it. It wouldn’t surprise me if our Pope was just a step ahead and considered this. He doesn’t strike me as the legalistic type who would be like “well, your husband needs to be granted an official annulment before you can receive communion.” He spoke to the women, heard her case, probably prayed about it before he called her, and came to the conclusion that the husband’s first marriage qualified for what the Church would pass as an annulment. Nonetheless, he was looking at this case in an individual basis, I am sure. This does not mean the Church will just do away with annulments and condone remarriages in general, neither does this mean our pope believes this should happen.

POPE FRANCIS: Either way, I love the way Pope Francis seems to look at the bigger picture in things. Like with homosexuality, for example… I love that while he still confirmed Church teaching on this, he went on to talk about how we should still be compassionate and kind and humble towards gays. I think many of our Church leaders have a habit of just robotically reciting the rules and then leaving it at that without addressing any sort of humanity. The media will twist and exaggerate the pope’s words, but that would happen regardless of what the pope said or didn’t say. Perhaps we should stop worrying so much about what the media says and how outsiders may view us. Our Church is so much bigger than that, and it’s a waste of time to worry about something as earthly and materialistic as what the main stream media is reporting about us.

WHAT US CATHOLICS SHOULD DO: Stay out of it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t get upset over it. He’s our pope, and is much holier, much wiser, and much closer to Jesus than any of us. Let’s humble ourselves and have a little faith in our Vicar of Christ, shall we?


Well, the more obvious issue in the case at hand is that this couple did not marry according to the law of the Church–they went before a civil magistrate, I believe. For the Orthodox (as far as I know), the only way to marry is to have the exchange of consent before a priest and receive his blessing. If an Orthodox did not observe this requirement but just went off and “got married” before a civil official, would not the Orthodox Church consider the couple to be unmarried? I ask it as an honest question.


My parents marriage was annulled (It lasted 15 years and there were 4 children) so my dad and stepmother could take communion.

I will admit it did not feel good to me. Their marriage although imperfect and flawed, yet it was the only home I knew, and when it ended (I was age 12) it felt like my entire world had been destroyed.

Having that marriage annulled - even though I am not a Catholic - just felt like it was adding to the tragedy of the divorce and further discounting my life.

Hi. I am in a similar situation.

My husband is divorced, he was abandoned by his wife as she she threatened to kill herself if she couldn’t be with her new man. My husband wanted to try counselling etc but she left he stopped attending church because he was ashamed and went through years of turmoil. I met him and it was a while into our relationship before I even found out he was catholic(was!) and I was atheist. We married civilly and I didn’t fully understand the implications of re marriage.

An annulment is very difficult to get in England, I’m not sure of the process in other countries and we have been told that although he was abandoned an annulment is not possible as we have no way of proving his first wife did not understand the importance of marriage to Catholics. Basically it’s not what happened after the marriage took place but the understanding going in, so neither of us can take the Eucharist which saddens me greatly for obvious reasons.

Personally I do not want to read too much into this story but will respect whatever the church decides my husband and I have discussed living as brother and sister and although we are doing this we will still never be able to take the Eucharist. One of my remaining issues with this is that I could have committed any other sin and been forgiven but I married a man which as I was not catholic I only saw a man abandoned and abused not a sin and that is not forgivable.

I think you should speak to a Canon Lawyer, it seems like you have a good case.

Luke Chapter 16, Verse 18

Sayings about Divorce, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

It is sad that marriages don’t always work they way we want them to, but I believe the Catholic Church should stand firm and defend the traditional teachings regarding receiving Holy Communion.

Annulment has no impact on the legitimacy of children. This is a misconception.
Annulment means that the two people involved in the marriage entered into it not completely solid in their promises / vows to each other. Something was withheld…something was not “there” in order to make the marriage work.
The subsequent children are always of great value because of their very lives. They are created in the image and likeness of God. Kids are never responsible for the actions of their parents. That is outside of the scope of annulment. They are still your parents, even though they may not have lived up to their promises in some way. The Church, when petitioned, may rule that the marriage was not entered into under the optimal terms.
It’s about the covenant. Not the kids. When someone seeks a divorce…they’ve made up their mind. Sometimes, they desire to try it again, and so they need an annulment so as not to live in sin. Doesn’t mean the children ever sinned or are a sinful product of the marriage. That simply cannot be.
I’m so sorry you were hurt by your parents’ divorce. They must have been lovely people individually…becuase you turned out wonderfully. But together…maybe they were not in the best place at the time of their marriage.
God bless you dear friend.



THANK YOU! These are not the petty rules of the Church! This is what Christ told us! The bible is perfectly clear. The only reason it is confusing is because a certain King Henry created his own church over this issue and Protestants tried to justify if by their misinterpretation of the bible. Remarriage is not an unpardonable sin, but continuing to live in adultery (living with one who is not your actual spouse) is NOT following Christ’s commandments! The sin is not the one time act of a new “marriage”’; it is the continuous decision to disregard Gods Commandment to not commit adultery.

Live as brother and sister, raise your family together, but don’t regularly commit adultery without confessing your sin.

Why this is so difficult is beyond me, and I was divorced. I have not remarried because I want to abide in Christ. If I had wandered from the Church and then remarried, I would not expect the Church or God to make special rules for me simply because I disregarded His word. Sometimes there are difficult consequences of our sins, but simply disregarding Gods Commandments so that others can feel good does NOT serve the good of the individual and destroys the authenticity of the Church Christ left us.

The media version of the story is wrong. Please read the following:




Personally, I wonder how this got out to the public?

Did the woman blab? If so, I think that is inappropriate.

See the conflicting reports and damage control the Vatican had to do. Just reading this thread you can see how one report can affect peoples view of the HH and his actions.

The Catholic news sources print a story which brings readers to a different conclusion than secular news stories on the same event.

As laity we should be more discerning and discreet especially if we have a personal encounter with HH about a personal issue.

I was under the impression that if one is in an invalid marriage, but they are living as “brother and sister”, they are not necessarily in a state of sin. I don’t know if this applies to only marriage outside the church or also divorced and remarried, though.

Since we don’t know the details of the phone call, we do not necessarily know what was said. If she is indeed living chastely, perhaps she is not in a state of sin. Second of all, we don’t know the entirety of what was said. If could have been something like “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong…IF they are living chastely”.
I also hate it to say it, but it’s possible the woman mislead him. Maybe she gave the impression that they were living apart because she wanted permission to receive communion. She said that she and her husband did not go to mass every Sunday, but they were Catholics and loved God…so maybe she is just picking and choosing the way so many do. Picking and choosing the answer she wants to get.

I don’t want to assume anything uncharitable about either of them. But to be honest, I do think it is more likely that a lay person made a mistake than the Pope of the Catholic church.

OR I have to speculate, what if it’s just a translation error??? I think we can reasonably assume that they weren’t speaking in English. This is the American media; something tells me that when it comes to translating something that someone reported the Pope saying in Argentinian Spanish, they are not going to be too careful. And I notice that they did not include the original post, I suppose unless the original post was in English. Or anything. So either this entire affair was conducted in English for whatever reason or somebody just does not want to include the original quotes.

This whole statement has just gone through so many filters. First the woman sent a letter, and we have no idea what that letter said. Then, the Pope made a phone call, and we don’t know what was said in that phone call. THEN someone made a Facebook post about the phone call, someone translated that facebook post, and THIS is what we are basing this entire story on!

I don’t believe it for a second. Somebody made a mistake somewhere in the elaborate process of transferring private information from someone’s home in Argentina to the American media. I don’t think that necessarily anyone did anything wrong or that necessarily anyone did anything right. But I don’t believe for a single moment that the Pope said that someone committing adultery in an invalid marriage is ok to receive communion. Not for a single second. The Pope may be more lax than some people would like, but he is the head of the Catholic church. To have less reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament than one should is the last thing that I should believe any pope would do.

My be this new couple are living like brother and sister:rolleyes:

I think the HF meant “who am I to judge”. Didn’t Jesus say “who hasn’t sinned to throw the first stone”. I was never a big fan of a priest refusing communion. I think receiving communion should be left to someone’s conscience, unless they are non-Catholic and of course they should be refused.

All of this might be true but the Vatican has been insistent on the “privacy” of the phone call and has not been as assertive in claiming that those words were not uttered. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were tricked into saying something but I would imagine some kind of awkward statement did occur. I’m not implying that he’s going to attempt to change Church teaching or anything, but he probably did say* something* confusing.

I’m not an expert on Orthodox marriage law, and your question gets into some complex issues. Given what I’ve seen, and my knowledge of patristics on the issue, the Orthodox Church would allow the couple to reconcile after a period of excommunication if they were truly penitent. I do not believe the Church would force them to break apart their new union. I believe this would be the case whether one or both of them were actually practicing Christians. I would expect that a member of the clergy in such a case - major or minor would be defrocked.

Given our less strict stance on remarriage this extreme is less likely to happen (though I would be surprised if it didn’t happen at all).

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