Shunning divorced people


So a protestant friend of mine argued against Catholicism because his grandmother was shunned from the church after she had a divorce. I didn’t know this happened within the church and it doesn’t make sense because she has direct access to confession.


I’m divorced (recently finalized annulment too). I never experienced “shunning.” I know you are referring to a different time, but the Church has never systematically shunned people who are divorced.

Can you explain a little more what this means, how she was shunned, and who specifically shunned her, and why?


Yeah, cause if your- Protestant- friend said it, it must be happening in the Church. Seriously, I’ve never seen this, and, unless your friend has some pretty impressive sources, pay her no heed. Civil divorce in itself is not sinful.


That is the inherent problem with the protestant view of “church”. No concept of the greater body that can “over rule” if you will.



Things were different back in his grandmother’s day, probably…


From a systemic level, I don’t know of any modern day instances of this. From an individual level, I know some people who left the Church after divorce because they felt judged by people within the Church. I’m sad that those people have left there Church and pray for their return. But I know it was difficult for them when people who didn’t know the circumstances held it against them.


It may not be, and likely is NOT the Church…it’s those who create the environment. I know…after 50+ years…I know. It never goes away and it seems that were The Church to acknowledge the sad reality of divorce…we would not have this discussion. The reality is…there is a “better than thou” attitude…and…it does not end or start with this topic of divorce. We claim equality…all we have to do it live the claim.


I guess I just want to get a little more clarity on what this means exactly. What does the “better than thou” attitude look like?

Don’t get me wrong, being divorced and Catholic is tough. My experience with that has been evident and at times you feel like an outsider. What I want to understand is is this intentional, something that the divorcee experiences in feeling but is a product of the difficulty and at no one’s fault, or are those directly shunning and shaming the divorcees (something I’ve never experienced once as a Catholic – I was actually treated with incredible gentleness and kindness during and after the divorce process).


I think it depends on many things.

Obviously, divorce is not as taboo as it once was. But which spouse actually files, what were the efforts of working on problems, what were the causes of damage to the relationship, who is taking responsibilities with children, is one spouse in another relationship/marriage, etc.

Lets be honest, divorce itself is a shunning. Whether there is justification for a permanent separation or not.


The church is like the entire Pacific, Atlantic and um other oceans. So when she says church, I’m a bit lost, but I still do understand what you’re saying.

In my experience, divorced people tend to shun themselves from the Church nowadays rather than vice versa 70 years ago, so I’ve heard.


There was NO systematic shunning of divorced people in the Church.

My Great-Grandmother was married to a divorced man, and she took part in the life of the Church before Vatican II and never received communion until after my Great-Grandfather died in the 1960s. But she experienced no “shunning.”

Oh the other hand, two of my aunts both FELT like they were being “shunned” from the women in the parish office. The priests were good to them, but they felt like the office ladies were giving them stink eyes – so they both slowly disappeared from the Church (though one still had her kids confirmed and has been slowly returning).

So while there is no systematic shunning, there have always been busy bodies who might take it upon themselves to “shun.” This happens everywhere - protestants included. I once heard a Lutheran pastor talk about the “back pew mafia” harassing so badly that it required a mental leave of absence.

NOW - with all that said: if they are referring to not being able to receive communion, then it is simply because they fail to understand the Catholic teaching regarding the Eucharist.

God bless


This stuff can cause a lot of damage from that generation. I was brought up hearing tales about my grandmothers catholic family treating my mother as less because she has a Protestant father. Grandma was told she was not really married and they had to fight to get her buried in the church. So I can well believe a Protestant doesn’t want anything to do with the church from that generation it can be very damaging in families


I think the BIGGEST reason for this is because 70 years ago, it was NOT uncommon for many people to refrain from receiving communion on Sunday because they either (a) didn’t get to confession or (b) didn’t keep the fast. Therefore, the divorced & remarried didn’t feel singled out at communion time.

Today, with the 1 hour fast, almost everyone goes to communion each Sunday. Breaking the fast practically isn’t a reason for people to refrain from communion because it’s very hard to break that fast. So without people refraining from Communion due to the fast, that leaves just non-Catholics, people in unrecognized marriages, and other mortal sinners refraining from Communion.

Personally, I think if we went back to a 3 hour fast before Communion, that would help out a lot.

God Bless


Or do away with mandatory fast altogether, and just encourage a volunteer fast.


Never have I seen anyone shunned from the Catholic Church because they were divorced. That’s almost silly to say. Since the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize “divorce”, the “divorced” person would not be “divorced”. If that person was to remarry without an annulment, then they wouldn’t be allowed to received Holy Communion until that was cleared up, but “shunned”? No, sorry, I don’t believe it. The Catholic Church is probably the most forgiving Church there is.


The Church actually places quite a bit of significance on civil marriage/divorce.

The notion that it doesn’t recognize it is silly.


Well… sometimes that stuff wasn’t really always Catholic vs Protestant thing either. To people of that generation, the religion was truly part of your ethnic identity too.

My grandmother (who converted from being “American Baptist”) receive that kind of harassment for years. But it really wasn’t because she wasn’t a cradle Catholic - though that argument was used a lot when when grandparents started dating and were first married - it was more about the fact she wasn’t Italian. According to my grandmother, my great-grandmother didn’t start treating my grandmother with love and kindness until after my grandfather died, because my grandmother still traveled to visit with her even though my grandfather had died. So, sadly it wasn’t until the last 13-14 years of my great-grandmother’s life that my grandmother and great-grandmother got along. :frowning:

God bless


ahhhh… you could do that, but it would totally go against the point I was making.

I’m saying if we go back to a 3 hour fast, more people would refrain from communion, which would allow the people who cannot receive from feeling singled out.


So implement something that knowingly will cause more Catholics to refrain from Communion?


I’m not of that generation, and certainly didn’t experience shunning from the Church as a whole.
But when I got divorced, I certainly experienced it from parishioners—I was told I couldn’t be a lector or EMHC, couldn’t receive Communion and shouldn’t be allowed to work at the parish.
People who had been friendly previously suddenly started avoiding me. I was actually shocked at how unsupportive my fellow parishioners were.

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