145 – “The divorced who have entered a new union can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable discernment”

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God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’. […] That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh” (Gn 1:27–28; 2:24). Ever since the beginning, God has blessed the union between man and woman, in such a way that, once united, they are no longer two, but one. Owing to this necessity – which we could almost call ontological –, matrimony has always been surrounded by some form of ritual commitment with ethical and moral rules ever since Antiquity, whether among pagans or Jews.

Christ sealed it with the formal obligation of indissolubility, especially registered by Matthew in his narration of the Pharisees’ attempt to trap Jesus regarding this matter: Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?’ He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mt 19:3–6). And he further declared: “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery” (Mt 19:3–6).

From the earliest times, Christians have striven to abide by their Master, living matrimony as a sign of faith, as one of the oldest documents of primitive Christianity attests: “Christians are indistinguishable from other men […]. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives” (Letter to Diognetus, no. 5). In the rite of matrimony, in the very act when the Sacrament takes place precisely when the bridegroom and bride declare mutual consent, the formula to be pronounced by the minister of God immediately says: “You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide.” It is God who unites them for life. Consequently, there does exist a family morality that should be followed and loved.

And if these rules seem “overly rigid” to some, it should be kept in mind that they were given by God himself. They are not “pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications” of human making. Evidently, in its pastoral mission, the Church helps and guides those who find themselves in irregular situations, but any and every action that pastors take should seek a solution that does not contradict the Law of God – a solution grounded in the truth, and in coherency between the choice of life and the faith professed.

Francis

Quote A

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
I – There exists an objective and immutable morality for the family. The divorced in a new union, except for very few exceptions, live in the state of adultery. If the ‘overly rigid classifications’ correspond to the teaching of Jesus and the Church, they should be adhered to
II – The matrimonial bond is not dissolved by anyone or in any case even after separation or civil divorce. Situations of apparent amendment in irregular second unions are still adultery
III
By what criteria can pastors adequately discern the individual cases of divorcees? How should the legitimate and illegitimate be defined in this pastoral discernment?


I – There exists an objective and immutable morality for the family. The divorced in a new union, except for very few exceptions, live in the state of adultery. If the ‘overly rigid classifications’ correspond to the teaching of Jesus and the Church, they should be adhered to


Pius X

Liberal concessions and prudence of the flesh under the fatal illusion that one can win over those in error, is to participate in their continual danger of being lost

Sacred Scripture

If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments: you shall not commit adultery
Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery
To the married: a wife should not separate from her husband – if she does separate she must remain single or become reconciled
God will judge the immoral and adulterers

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Marriage has been established by the Creator – it is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent and imposes total fidelity

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Adultery and fornication destroy the soul

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Adultery is gravely illicit independently of circumstances
Christ even condemns adultery of mere desire, which is as an image of the sin of idolatry
Adultery does injury to the sign of the covenant of the marriage bond
The remarriage of persons divorced from a living spouse contravenes the plan and law of God
What God has joined together, let not man put asunder
The Lord Jesus insisted that marriage be indissoluble
The remarried spouse is in a situation of public and permanent adultery
Divorce is immoral because it introduces disorder into the family and into society
The Church maintains that a new union after divorce cannot be recognized as valid

Code of Canon Law

Marriage can only be dissolved by death

II – The matrimonial bond is not dissolved by anyone or in any case even after separation or civil divorce. Situations of apparent amendment in irregular second unions are still adultery


Pius XI

True marriage carries with it the enduring bond which by divine right is inherent
In certain circumstances, imperfect separation between the spouses is allowed, but the marriage bond is not severed

International Theological Commission

The Church cannot claim for herself the right to dissolve a marriage

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The marriage bond established by God and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved
In some situations the Church permits a physical separation of the couple but the marriage bond remains indissoluble

John Paul II

A ratified and consummated sacramental marriage can never be dissolved, not even by the power of the Roman Pontiff
The non-extension of the Roman Pontiff’s power to ratified and consummated sacramental marriages is a definitive doctrine of the Magisterium

John XXIII

The family is founded upon marriage, which is freely contracted, one and indissoluble

Pius IX

Any other union among Christians except the sacramental union is nothing else than a disgraceful concubinage

John Paul II

Even for serious reasons like the children’s upbringing, when the man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they are obliged to live in complete continence

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Dissolute union defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Adultery and divorce are offenses against the dignity of marriage

III – By what criteria can pastors adequately discern the individual cases of divorcees? How should the legitimate and illegitimate be defined in this pastoral discernment?


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

A pastoral approach which truly wants to help must always be grounded in the truth – compromising truth is closing the way to holiness, peace, and inner freedom

John Paul II

The aim of true pastoral action is to make people understand the need for consistency between their choice of life and the faith that they profess
Even in cases of separation as the last resort, mutual fidelity must be maintained
If the divorced were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage
The Church forbids any pastor, even under pastoral pretexts, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry
The Synod fathers affirm the indissolubility of marriage and the Church’s practice of not admitting to eucharistic communion those who have been divorced and again attempted marriage
The remarried can only be admitted to the sacrament of penance and then to Eucharistic communion by resolving to live in total abstinence and when not giving scandal
The ‘wide gate’ and ‘easy way’ that Jesus warns against is the gate of moral self-sufficiency: life accommodated to the gratification of sin
The difficult demands of Jesus are not to be ignored: ‘Go and from now on do not sin anymore’
A pastoral approach should attempt to regularize the situation of those in irregular unions

Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith

If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law

Pius X

The primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, but in zeal for moral improvement

Benedict XVI

Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin
Jesus’ mercy was not expressed by putting moral law in parentheses

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    One thought on “145 – “The divorced who have entered a new union can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable discernment”

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    1. When I read what Christ said about divorce and adultery – I say “take that Pope Francis!”. Thank you faithful priests for all you do

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