Question about divorce


#1

My parents were married in the Church back in the '60s. After 20 years of marriage they got divorced, and went their separate ways. Fast forward to the late '90s and they get back together. In their divorced years they did not marry any other persons. My question is does the Church still consider them married?


#2

I they never received a decree of nullity from the Church for their marriage, then yes, the Church never stopped considering them to be married. And so the Church would consider them to be married still.

Gertie


#3

If there was no annulment, then they are still married.

But if they haven’t gone to Confession, they should confess getting divorced (and other sins) but also let the priest know they got remarried.


#4

The Church does, but the State does not unless they remarry.


#5

With all due respect, getting divorced is not a sin. A divorce in and of itself is not sinful, being in the Church’s eyes a purely civil and/or contractual agreement to live apart. The circumstances surrounding a divorce may involve sin, but do not necessarily do so.

Proof needed? :wink:

A syllogism:

I. The Church requires that a couple divorce before an annulment process can be opened.

II. The Church is not in the habit of commanding a sinful behaviour.

Conclusion: Divorce is not a sin.

Supplementary: I would be interested in a citation of any authoritative Church document that says divorce is sinful.

Hope this helps.

In Christ,
Withburga


#6

I believe that the recommendation in such a case (where there is no declaration of nullity) is that if they wish to remarry, they can have a civil ceremony. A Church ceremony is not required, in fact cannot be performed, because they are still validly married. THAT SAID, it is certainly a beautiful option for them to renew their vows - with the understanding that this is just a renewal; it is not a wedding ceremony.


#7

You are in error.

I. is not a part of Church law.

Also, see Canon 1692 and Catechism 2382-2386.


#8

OK, so what you mean to say is that “getting divorced need not necessarily be a sin.” If they separated for frivolous reasons, then yes, at least one of them did wrong by suspending their marital obligations without grave reason.


#9

I. is a part of church law.

It is not part of the universal laws of the Church as expressed in the 1983 Code. It is, however, proper law in many jurisdictions.

(For the benefit of any reader here who is not aware of the difference between universal and proper law, universal law applies to the whole Church, whereas proper law applies to only a designated part of the Church).

Hence my point stands - the Church is able to require civil divorce as part of the annulment process, and does require it in many situations; ergo it is not a sin in and of itself.

*Can. 1692 §1. Unless other provision is legitimately made in particular places, a decree of the diocesan bishop or a judicial sentence can decide the personal separation of baptized spouses according to the norm of the following canons.

§2. Where an ecclesiastical decision has no civil effects or if a civil sentence is not contrary to divine law, the bishop of the diocese of the residence of the spouses, after having weighed the special circumstances, can grant permission to approach the civil forum.

§3. If a case concerns only the merely civil effects of marriage, the judge, after having observed the prescript of §2, is to try to defer the case to the civil forum from the start.*

The canon says nothing about divorce being sinful. In fact it reinforces that there is a distinction between the civil and sacramental elements of marriage, which was my entire point. The Church recognises this distinction, and thus in many jurisdictions wishes to see a civil separation as evidence (not conclusive, but suggestive) of the non-viability of a marriage prior to considering whether a sacramental bond exists.

Section 2283 states:

If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

However, I realise that in answering the OP’s question about a civil divorce, I have assumed that all references to divorce in this thread meant a civil divorce, which is probably not the case. Given that the Church recognises civil divorce but does not recognise sacramental divorce (there cannot be a ‘divorce’ of a sacramental marriage, because of course a sacrament persists irrespective of a legal separation), I see that I have confused the issue by not making that distinction, for which I apologise.

My intention was to reassure anyone who has obtained a civil divorce that no sin is intrinsic to that action, in case that misunderstanding might have followed from the discussion thus far. I apologise again for not being more precise in my use of terminology.

In Christ,
Withburga


#10

I would express it differently. Given that the Church not only permits but sometimes requires a civil divorce, there should be no assumption made that any particular legal divorce is the result of sin. Saying to someone, ‘Well, you aren’t necessarily sinning’ implies that they may well be, and also that we are in a position to decide one way or another. Rather than express an opinion I would refer the person to someone who is better qualified to assist, such as a canon lawyer or a priest. Which is where I would advise the OP to go next if they want more expert help.

Whilst that is no doubt sometimes true, as outside observers we are never fully aware of the circumstances surrounding a divorce (any more that we are able to more generally judge the moral culpability of another person). Hence I do not think it is a useful starting point, when hearing of a couple having divorced, to wonder whether sin was involved.

I am not for a moment suggesting that you were promoting such an attitude, because I’m sure you weren’t; but I do think that in the past, and sometimes still in the present, there has been a tendency for some Catholics to look at legal divorce as indicative of weakness, personal faults, bad faith and sin. I believe that as Christians we are not called to speculate upon the possible sins of others, but rather to concentrate on the sins that we know ourselves to have committed.

We’re probably a long way away from the intent of this thread now, so I’m sorry if I’ve helped derail it, and will bow out now. Best wishes.

In Christ,
Withburga


#11

No it is not. Cite a source for your claim.

*Can. 1692 §1. Unless other provision is legitimately made in particular places, a decree of the diocesan bishop or a judicial sentence can decide the personal separation of baptized spouses according to the norm of the following canons.

§2. Where an ecclesiastical decision has no civil effects or if a civil sentence is not contrary to divine law, the bishop of the diocese of the residence of the spouses, after having weighed the special circumstances, can grant permission to approach the civil forum.

§3. If a case concerns only the merely civil effects of marriage, the judge, after having observed the prescript of §2, is to try to defer the case to the civil forum from the start.*

The canon says nothing about divorce being sinful. In fact it reinforces that there is a distinction between the civil and sacramental elements of marriage, which was my entire point. The Church recognises this distinction, and thus in many jurisdictions wishes to see a civil separation as evidence (not conclusive, but suggestive) of the non-viability of a marriage prior to considering whether a sacramental bond exists.

I will not attempt to dissuade you from willful ignorance. Nevertheless, the point remains proven.


#12

I think not. In fact the catechism makes clear that divorce is NOT a sin for a spouse who was not responsible for the separation.

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law.

There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

Whether “DIVORCE” is sinful depends upon the facts and circumstances.


#13

You seem very sure of your ground. Frankly, no ‘source’ is needed, because this is common knowledge, easily verifiable by the slightest amount of informed study. It is not an esoteric secret known only to those of us who have studied canon law. But since you ask:

Two minutes of net research produced the following example:

*How is an annulment process started?

The Tribunal of the Diocese of Saint Cloud has established a policy that the annulment process will not be started until six months after issuance of the final divorce decree.*

See:tribunal.stcdio.org/annulments/faqs-about-annulments/

Hence, a US diocese has established the requirement for civil divorce prior to annulment proceedings as proper law within her jurisdiction - as have literally hundreds of other dioceses around the world - as they are entitled to do because there is no proscription against same within the Church’s universal law - because civil divorce is not intrinsically sinful, as is stated in the catechism.

Kind of ironic.:slight_smile:

Have you actually formally studied the canon law regarding marriage and annulment, or consulted anyone with real knowledge of this subject?

You need to review your criteria for proving a case, I think. :wink:

By the way, do you think that insisting that you are right when you clearly have limited exposure to these matters is in any way helpful to the OP, who was asking an important and perhaps painful question?

I won’t be responding again. Best wishes.

In Christ,
Withburga


#14

When a Divorce happens, at least one of the spouses is objectively committing a sin by pursuing the divorce.

Example: if the husband wants a divorce but the wife does not, then the objective “sin of divorce” is the husband’s sin alone. If they both pursue a divorce, then they both objectively sin.

But the “sin of divorce” can be confessed and forgiven.

Where the major issue comes into play is when they remarry without annulment or even date without annulment. That’s when adultery comes into play.

If a couple divorces, and they each stay single, they can receive communion after going to confession. No different than if someone commits lust in their hear, fornication, masturbation, etc.

Now, if we want to be overly technical and still argue that “divorce itself isn’t a sin,” then I would rebuke by saying divorce typically is the result of grave sin and/or lot of venial sins. Something caused the divorce, and that something is going to be sinful in one way or another (except in the situation of Can 2383). Either way, going to confession is never a bad thing, and we all should be going a lot more.


#15

Just a suggestion, but you might want to put the word “may” in where you have “is”. It takes me less than 2 seconds to think of circumstances where the divorcing party has no sin - for example, the wife is using physical violence against the husband (and don’t laugh, or you will show a very limited exposure to real life); the husband files to protect himself.

Again, not even close in moral law. Pursue is an interesting word; does that include the Respondent filing an answer, so the divorce does not automatically go through? It certainly would appear to, and moral law does not hold that. In the world of no-fault divorce - which is the majority of state jurisdictions, the only way one can protect oneself in custody and property issues is to pursue the divorce - it is going to happen anyway, but in pursuing it, one protects one’s rights.

Rebuke all you want, but in the meanwhile, study a bit more in Morals 202.


#16

For all of those flying off on the tangent express, do you think that what you had to say was at all important to the original question? I don’t and neither is this. May we all suppress the urge to derail threads in the future.


#17
  1. your are right, I should have used “may” instead of “is” … but that’s why I have my disclaimer of using my iPhone.

  2. what I’m trying to imply is that sin is usually involved with divorce. Someone typically has sinned (except for instances related to Can 2383). Can you think of a single instance (which isn’t covered by Can 2383) where sin was not involved with divorce?


#18

I will name 2: the first is where one of the parties has a mental illness (which precludes the issue of intent, so no sin) and the other party files for divorce in order to remove the children from the marital home for safety; the second is where because of marriage, one party ( and this applies to elderly) is not able to obtain medical treatment, but if single, could do so. No sin here either.

I have seen both; and it took me longer to type them than to recall them. If one starts off with the presumption of sin, one is going to find something one can refer to and say “Aha! See?”

Reality does not fit in nice, neat, tightly woven scenarios.


#19

I believe both of those fix into Paragraph 2383 of the Catechism, which I mentioned would be sinless.

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.176
If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

(NOTE: I believe I typed canon 2383 before by accident)

Paragraphs 2382 to 2386, listed above all deal with divorce and identifies divorce as a grave offense.

Link to the Catechism: vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P87.HTM


#20

Thanks everyone for your input. I really appreciate all of the information. My question has been answered. Thanks again.

Peace, Mat.


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