Needing an answer regarding divorce


#1

Hello,

A Catholic friend of mine told me that, prior to the Second Vatican Council, the innocent victim of a civil divorce (that is, someone who did not consent to a divorce but was divorced anyway by the spouse)could not receive Holy Communion. This seems unlikely to me -- does anyone here know if this is true?

Thank you --


#2

No, that’s not a teaching of the Church. The teaching is that in order to be in communion with the Church, someone who is divorced must live as if they were still married…in other words, they can’t date other people, they can’t see other people, they have to live as if still civilly married to their ex-spouse until/unless an annullment is granted.


#3

Thanks, Rence -- I know that that is the position of the Church now, but this person was saying that it was different prior to Vatican ll. Do you know if that's true?


#4

It was the Catholic laypeople that asked more of people than was required by the Church. There was a big stigma associated with being divorced. Even my grandmother and her peers thought it was a "mortal sin" to be divorced, and that divorced people couldn't go to Communion unless their marriage was annulled, and until their marriage was annulled. The Church never taught this before or after Vatican II, or at least I've never seen it.


#5

[quote="Austringer, post:3, topic:240258"]
Thanks, Rence -- I know that that is the position of the Church now, but this person was saying that it was different prior to Vatican ll. Do you know if that's true?

[/quote]

Rather than have us trying to look up documents which probably don't exist, I think it is up to your friend to provide the proof.

You can tell him that people here have done extensive searches of the Vatican web site, the old Baltimore Catechism, Google, Yahoo, Dogpile, Ask.com, and the USCCB web site and found absolutely nothing to indicate that the current teaching has not been the case prior to as well as after Vatican II. Study of the Vatican II documents doesn't show a 'change' either.

So he needs to show a proof of his claim. . .I certainly haven't found anything in the above searches to support it.

I'm speaking for the U.S. of course. Different countries have different laws regarding civil divorce and so there may not have been a perception (because of such) that any party in the divorce could be viewed as innocent. But I believe the Church teaching would have been the same in all countries.


#6

Thanks, Tantum Ergo and Rence. I think you're right -- certainly there was a great stigma attached to divorce (I am beginning to love stigmas, and mourn their loss...), but I would be surprised to learn that the Church held the position my friend claims it did. I will ask him to show me the relevant documents.


#7

[quote="Austringer, post:1, topic:240258"]
Hello,

A Catholic friend of mine told me that, prior to the Second Vatican Council, the innocent victim of a civil divorce (that is, someone who did not consent to a divorce but was divorced anyway by the spouse)could not receive Holy Communion. This seems unlikely to me -- does anyone here know if this is true?

Thank you --

[/quote]

Prior to 1977 a Catholic who divorced and remarried without a decree of nullity incurred a penalty of excommunication. Today a divorced and remarried Catholic is not under a canonical penalty, but the discipline of the sacraments still bars them from receiving the Eurcharist while in an invalid union.

Perhaps this is what your friend was thinking of.

Otherwise, no, there was not and is not any canonical penalty for a divorced person who is not remarried, innocent or not. Even the "guilty" spouse could confess their sin and return to the sacraments.


closed #8

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