DIVORCED AND REMARRIED

The Questionnaire sent out by the Pope asks the following questions:

Question 4 c. Are separated couples and those divorced and remarried a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage? How do you [= bishops and priests] deal with this situation in appropriate pastoral programmes?

Question 4 d. How do the baptized live in this irregular situation? Are they aware of it? Are they simply indifferent? Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?

Question 4 e. What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation? Among those persons who find themselves in these situations, how many ask for these sacraments?

Question 4 g. Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases? Describe this pastoral ministry? Do such programmes exist on the national and diocesan levels? How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?

couple

Have you experienced divorce and re-marriage? What difference has it made to your taking part in the life of the Church? Are you able to receive Holy Communion?

Could you describe your experience? Could you comment on points raised in the Pope’s questionnaire, for instance: did you receive support from your parish priest, or from others in the Church? What more can be done to guide Catholics who are divorced and remarried? How can they be made to feel welcome?

If you want your name to remain anonymous, use a pseudonym but make sure your email address – which will not be shown to the public – is correct.

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7 testimonies on “DIVORCED AND REMARRIED

  1. I am a (British) cradle Catholic, 67 years old. Practising, my extent of devotion known to God and my confessor. No blame for my faults to be attached to my mentors St Francis de Sales and St Benedict.

    My first wife died of cancer when she was 49 and I 53. I was devastated but at the moment I realised I was not going to kill myself I also realised this meant there would be a new life in due course.

    Which there has been. I met, loved and married a woman my age. She had been married, full Catholic ceremony, age 22. 2 children. Before she was 30 her husband had left her for another woman. Important point is that when they got married (this was in their country, Venezuela) both were lapsed. My wife had narrowly escaped serious abuse by a priest in her mid teens and this, plus the usual reasons, has left her pretty anti-church, though not atheist. Her husband was attached to a Marxist Trotsky-ite group (this was mid 1960′s), clearly a declared atheist. They did the church thing for their families, neither of them believing in the sacred or sacramental nature of the marriage service. Their marriage was terminated by a divorce.

    Wen I realised that our friendship was moving towards permanent union, I went to consult a priest. By good fortune the local Dominicans had a visiting priest who was an expert on annulments. He advised me there was a strong case for annulment, but it takes time. My wife-to-be however saw no reason to instigate a process that meant nothing to her, or to bother her ex-husband, to whom it would be equally meaningless. Our marriage was therefore a civil one.

    My wife was married a second time, for 20 years, in England. Terminated by her husband’s desertion, and later divorce. Civil only, which my Dominican advisor explained coumts for nothing.

    To sum up our marital situations:
    I am widowed. No procedural problems there.
    My wife formally married according to Catholic procedure. But not believing in it. She is therefore either still married, in which case I am an adulterer (Luke 16:18 – which actually seems pretty rough for the woman if she has another 40 years plus to live!). Or the marriage was not valid, which seems plain. That simply would mean we are ‘living in sin’. The latest, and I must say very clearly and comprehensively argued, statement from the CDF states that however strongly we may be subjectively convinced of the invalidity of the earlier marriage, we must not take it upon ourselves to act upon this view.

    BUT I have been living my Catholic life for these last 10 or more years, while in an ‘irregular’ situation. I have partaken of the sacraments, Confession 3 times a year, Communion almost every Mass. In this time I have had what I believe we call experiences of grace. I have discussed these with my confessor and he has not decried them. I have ups and downs, like all of us. But I have for example felt Our Lady accompanying me in the Magnificat, so unexpectedly and strongly that I had to stop and just breathe and wait.

    This is not to claim to any holiness, God knows quite the opposite. But the point is that my ‘irregular’ marital situation seems to have no bearing on my spiritual life. Which is not all subjective, I do discuss it with my confessor (who is aware of my marital situation).

    I think the weak point in the recent exposition from the CDF is the proposition that we (ie the CDF) must take more account of the strict God than the the merciful God. Muller says you can’t have one without the other. Which may be true, but we must believe that God draws this line, not Muller.

    I hope this account may be of interest. I have put my name at the top because I have no reason to fear anyone of good will.

  2. Please see the white paper I wrote in 1997 for the Associaton for Rights of Catholics in the Church. http://astro.temple.edu/~arcc/marriage.htm

    It’s been on the Internet for 16 years now, and I have never seen any one refute or even argue with my conclusion–that we do not need “the Church,” i.e., the pope or the upcoming synod, to give those who are remarried after divorce “permission” to receive Communion. If they follow the Church’s long tradition of “the internal forum,” they will make their own conscience-decisions.

  3. Hi Robert,
    You are, of course, right.

    Catholics who are divorced and remarried can and should follow their own consciences and should not be afraid to receive communion.

    However this does not mean that church authorities should not change its traditional teaching on the matter, for two reasons as I know from my own experience:
    1. Many bishops and parish clergy still enforce the Roman prohibition. They will even refuse communion to Catholics they know to be remarried.
    2. While individual Catholics in tolerant parishes can survive the crisis by following their own consciences, it is not fair that the church puts the moral burden on them of having to ignore the official rules.

    So the teaching and pastoral norms of the church do need to be changed in this matter!

  4. I am divorced and remarried.
    I went through the hoops. My first husband was/is an alcoholic and is now in full time care as the result of alcohol damage. A long time ago, after many years of convincing myself it was important to stay together for the sake of the children, when I discovered our money was disappearing and the roof over our heads was about to go and the children were unhappy I decided to seek a divorce. I obtained it. I hadn’t met anyone else at that stage but it was important to me that the Church understood my position and I sought and received an annulment. I then met my current husband. He was an Anglican and we married in a Registry Office. My Parish Priest gave us a Blessing. I went through the Internal Forum so I could continue to receive Communion. (The Internal Forum was a very graced and simple process but I think Pope Benedict later banned it? Most people and priests haven’t heard about it. It is used when the External Forum ie divorce and annulment are not possible- and I had gone through those. I sat with a priest and told him my story. He gave me absolution sitting at a table and that was the Internal Forum.)

    Then my husband decided to become a Catholic. He was told he had to go through an Annulment in order to become a Catholic. He did. We finally had a Nuptial Mass.

    I recognise I am an articulate.confident middle class Catholic. The circumstances before my divorce almost broke me and my children. They were all still at home and would have suffered even more if I had broken. I recognise I “played the system” by finding a sympathetic priest for the Internal Forum. But why not? I needed the support of my Church. I don’t think I would have put myself through an annulment etc now. (The divorce was essential to keep a roof over our heads and money for food etc.) I think now I would have continued to go to the sacraments and would not have felt guilty, but my confidence at that time had been affected so that is what I did.

    I find the Church’s teaching about divorce and remarriage is so harsh at a time when people need support and the sacraments more than at most other times. Some priests have told people that divorce per se (not divorce and remarriage) deprives them of the sacraments. So many people have walked away from the Church deeply wounded by the Church’s attitude.

    I would be willing to speak to the Bishops about my story as I feel strong enough to do so. My second marriage is 17 years old. My children are relatively happy, caring, responsible adults in good jobs and I have 3 grandchildren. My decisions were pro-family not anti-family. I was supported by a pastoral priest who followed his conscience by researching the Internal Forum and taking me through it 17 years ago. I ask the Pope and the Bishops to act with similar pastoral conviction and prayer and reverse the heartless teaching on divorce and remarriage.

  5. I was brought up as a Catholic in Belgium – very different from the UK where I have lived for about forty years now.
    I married when I was 25, in Belgium, mass celebrated by a Jesuit friend, then returned with my husband to live in the UK. A year later, my husband was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His mental health deteriorated and four years later, six weeks after the birth of our daughter and two attempts at strangling me during particularly bad paranoid episodes, I left him and returned to Belgium where I stayed for four years before returning to the UK. I felt guilty for years, for having left him wen I had promised to love him for better, for worse.
    I had no contact with him for many years, but always told our daughter that her father loved her, but that we were no longer friends. When she was nine, I remarried in a civil ceremony in England to someone who had never married before. I did not ask for an annulment because the first marriage was not “null and void” in my mind, quite the contrary. When our daughter was eleven, she asked to meet her father. I asked him family, but they refused because he was not well at the time. I did not know where he was at that point. I had not much choice but to accept their decision. She asked again when she was sixteen and by that time I had explained to her that her father was ill, but still loved her. At this point, I made contact with his family again and made it audited clear that no was not an acceptable answer. Eventually, they agreed that contact could take place if he wanted it too. So I wrote him a long letter about his daughter with pictures and going through his sister, he received the letter and then accepted to meet his daughter. I visited him first to assess his situation so as to be able to prepare her to meet her father. Very sad to see the progress of schizophrenia in sixteen years and also then to realise that his family was not taking care of him at all. My daughter visited him a little while later and then told me to stop feeling guilty about having left him “Imagine what being brought up with him would have done to me!” and thankfully I stopped feeling guilty. But since then, 18 years now, I have resume caring for him as no-one else was. I am now again is next of kin and have Court of protection authority. He has been in care for nine years, is now bed ridden, no longer speaks, except for mumbling some incomprehensible few words now and again, but he does still recognise me and will take food from me most of the time.
    I still go to church and take communion though I have asked the priest, by phone, so that he would not identify me or feel under more pressure, and not feel that he doing something he does not wish to do. If he did not wish to give me communion, I would simply have gone elsewhere, including the Anglican Church which is very similar to the Catholic Church in Belgium, in my experience.
    I do not believe that the Catholic Church is right in what it is advocating for divorcees. I believe that had Jesus walked the streets of the world today, he would have been far more understanding and tolerant of our failures.
    I also feel pretty unhappy about some other situations that could perhaps be seen as similar, i.e. priests leaving the priesthood and yet being able to take communion without any question being asked. Perhaps they did not promise “to love and cherish for better, for worse”… I am a lot more concerned however about priests who have been involved in paedophilia and yet have not only not been referred to the authorities for years, but moved from parish to parish or elsewhere where they have continued to abuse, and at the same time not only taken communion but given it. This beggars belief and I am not sure that Jesus would have supported the church’ point of view and policies in this matter. Thankfully, this is now changing.
    Do I feel guilty about taking the sacraments? Absolutely not. Do I feel that the church approach of refusing the sacraments to divorcees and remarried divorcees goes against the preaching of Jesus? Absolutely!
    Where is the charity that the Church speaks about? This is an outdated, unpleasant, uncharitable, unkind, blanket policy that is hurtful and nasty. People who are in my situation do not need this level of judgment. Had I stayed with my first husband, would I have been a good parent to our daughter? Debatable. Would she have suffered from being brought up in that situation? In my mind, there is no doubt that she would have. Who was I more responsible for – the vulnerable adult or the vulnerable child? In my mind, clearly, the vulnerable child. I did what I think I had to do. I wish schizophrenia did not exist, because my fist husband is a good man and would have been an excellent father without that awful illness that has robbed him of his entire adult life.
    Above all, perhaps the Catholic Church should remember the command “Do not judge”. Life is painful enough at times without the unfounded judgment of ill-informed uncharitable men who will not marry, whether or not some have relationships with or without children.

  6. CONSIDERACIONES DE LA COMUNIDAD JUAN XXIII DE CUERNAVACA, MORELOS, MÉXICO, SOBRE LA PREPARACIÓN AL SÍNODO DE FAMILIA
    El día 5 de noviembre se publicó en la prensa la encuesta que el papa habría promovido entre todos los católicos del mundo como preparación del próximo Sínodo sobre los desafíos pastorales a la familia en el contexto de la evangelización, que ha de celebrarse en 2014.
    También se ha conocido estos días el documento preparatorio que el Secretario del Sínodo envió a todas las Conferencias Episcopales el 18 de octubre pasado. En ese documento se pedía expresamente que las conferencias recogieran no sólo la opinión de los obispos sino del mayor número de parroquias y comunidades cristianas. Con las respuestas de todo el mundo, se prepararía en Roma el documento a discutir en el Sínodo, Este está previsto que se celebre el próximo mes de Octubre 2014 (5 a 19) en Roma.
    Sin embargo, en México no tenemos aún noticias de cómo se está gestionando este asunto, y por supuesto, tampoco en Cuernavaca. Ha llegado a nuestras manos el cuestionario sobre la familia que el Papa acaba de dirigir a los obispos, algunos han dicho que la encuesta es sólo para los obispos. Pero que sepamos, quienes pueden (y deben) responder a las preguntas planteadas, somos todos. No obstante ver en este gesto del Papa Francisco una gran esperanza para los que vivimos la experiencia matrimonial y familiar y que amamos a nuestra Iglesia, la trayectoria de nuestra Comunidad nos ha ido quitando el interés por dialogar con la Jerarquía ya que creemos que en realidad no le ha importado la familia en su dinámica interna, es decir, sus problemas, sus alegrías, sus tristezas, sus sacrificios y sus retos. A continuación exponemos esta trayectoria.
    LA COMUNIDAD JUAN XXIII
    Nuestra Comunidad “Juan XXIII” se inició hace 30 años en esta ciudad de Cuernavaca, por invitación del entonces obispo de esta diócesis, Sr. Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, con el objetivo fundamental de promover una pastoral familiar acorde con nuestros tiempos. Desde esa fecha hemos venido trabajando por la familia, primero tomando como base los documentos del Magisterio de la Iglesia relacionados con familia, empezando por el documento del Concilio Vaticano II, la Gaudium et spes, en sus números 47 al 52, posteriormente los documentos de Medellín, los documentos de Puebla y los de Sto. Domingo, así como la Encíclica Familiaris Consortio y las aportaciones de la Teología Fundamental a la Teología de la Familia. También nos basamos en los documentos que a nivel latinoamericano y nacional publicó el Movimiento Familiar Cristiano, al cual pertenecimos, los que fundamos la Comunidad, durante más de veinte años.
    Posteriormente nos adentramos en los estudios de Desarrollo Humano Familiar que ofreció la Universidad Iberoamericana y poco a poco fuimos prescindiendo de los documentos del Magisterio ya que empezamos a notar su desfase respecto a la situación real de las familias en nuestro mundo moderno. Un evento que marcó definitivamente este cambio en la fundamentación de nuestro trabajo, fue el que como integrantes de la Comisión Episcopal Para la Familia de nuestro país, fuimos parte de la delegación mexicana al PRIMER CONGRESO MUNDIAL DE TEOLOGÍA FAMILIAR celebrado en Río de Janeiro, octubre 1º., 2. Y 3 de 1997 que coordinó el Cardenal López Trujillo como presidente entonces de la Comisión Pontificia para la Familia y al que asistió el Papa Juan Pablo II, para elaborar nuestra participación titulada: RETOS QUE SE LE PRESENTAN A LA FAMILIA CRISTIANA EN ESTA EPOCA POSTCONCILIAR, diseñamos un formato de encuesta que aplicamos a los miembros del Movimiento Familiar Cristiano y de Grupos que trabajaban Pastoral Familiar de nuestra diócesis. Muchas de las conclusiones de este trabajo concuerdan casi exactamente con los resultados enviados en el documento promovido por el John Wijngaards Catholic Research Centre.
    Sin embargo, al llegar a Río quisimos entregar nuestro trabajo al Cardenal López Trujillo pero el obispo mexicano coordinador de la Comisión Episcopal para la Familia en aquel año, el Sr. Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos, nos sugirió que no lo entregáramos pues al Cardenal no le gustaba recibir ningún trabajo que no fuera de acuerdo con su pensamiento. Esto nos desilusionó grandemente, especialmente al darnos cuenta que en nuestra Iglesia no se tomaba en cuenta la voz de los laicos, de las parejas casadas y no casadas, de las madres solteras, de las familias “irregulares”, precisamente en un evento relacionado supuestamente con la vida familiar.
    No obstante nuestra misión ha seguido siendo prioritariamente el trabajar con la familia, nuestro lema es “El cambio empieza en la familia”. Actualmente la Comunidad Juan XXIII sigue buscando formas de evangelizar la familia pero en diálogo con las ciencias humanas y sobre todo con las experiencias de vida de quienes viven la vida conyugal y familiar, sin dejar de tomar en cuenta los avances de la teología en este campo, muy particularmente de la teología moral fundamental y de la aplicada al campo de la persona, el matrimonio y la familia asi como el estudio del mensaje evangélico a la luz de las ciencias bíblicas actuales.
    Por otro lado nuestra comunidad cuenta con el área de formación de Promotores de Desarrollo Humano con un énfasis en el Desarrollo Humano Personal, de Pareja y de Familia, todo esto bajo el nombre del despacho “Dinámica Humana Consultores, S.C.” que promueve el crecimiento integral, bio-psico-social y trascendente de las personas en las diferentes instituciones de nuestra sociedad.
    Tomando en cuenta todo lo que acabamos de exponer, no quisimos dejar de dar respuesta a las preguntas que nos han llegado sobre el tema de familia, esperando que llegue nuestra voz a quienes se interesan por dar al pueblo católico una auténtica participación en temas como éste, que por otra parte, no solo nos interesan sino que nos afectan por ser nosotros los principales protagonistas de la vida matrimonial y familiar y es desde ahí desde donde queremos seguir a Jesús. Les enviamos por tanto nuestras respuestas al cuestionario recibido.
    Atentamente:
    JUAN ALANÍS UGARTE Y ANA LAURA JIMÉNEZ CODINACH DE ALANÍS
    Referencias de vida matrimonial y familiar:
    En agosto 14 del 2014 cincuenta años de matrimonio
    Seis hijos y 14 nietos a la fecha
    Referencias de Trabajo en Pastoral Familiar
    Por 20 años trabajamos en el Movimiento Familiar Cristiana¿o, habiendo sido Presidentes de la Diócesis de Tlalnepantla, posteriormente integrantes del Equipo Nacional y Coordinadores de la Región Central de México, en el mismo M.F.C.
    Fundadores de la Comunidad Juan XXIII en Cuernavaca, que incluyó el Instituto de Pastoral Familiar, el Centro de Estudios de Desarrollo Humano Familiar y hoy el Despacho Dinámica Humana Consultores, S.C.
    Referencias profesionales y académicas:
    Juan Alanís Ugarte
    Egresado de la Universidad Iberoamericana de México, D. F., de la Licenciatura en Relaciones Industriales.
    Estudios de posgrado en Desarrollo Organizacional en México, Colombia y Nueva York.
    Asesor de Alta Dirección en varias empresas y sectores del Gobierno así como de Instituciones Educativas como la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y el Centro de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional.
    Ana Laura Jiménez Codinach
    Maestra en Educación, Maestría en Desarrollo Humano con especialidad en Desarrollo Humano , Diplomado en Derecho Familiar y Diplomado en Desarrollo Transpersonal, por la Universidad Iberoamericana de México, D. F.
    Bachillerato en Ciencias Teológicas por la Universidad Iberoamericana y Licenciatura en Teología por la Universidad LaSalle de México, D. F. Varios diplomados de actualización en Teología impartidos por la Universidad Iberoamericana: en Teología Fundamental, Teología Moral general, Teología Moral sobre la Persona, Moral Sexual y Matrimonial, Moral de la Vida y Moral Social y Eclesiología.
    Directora del Despacho Dinámica Humana Consultores formando a promotores de Desarrollo Humano e interviniendo en varias instituciones educativas, empresariales y gubernamentales de nuestro estado de Morelos, facilitando procesos de Desarrollo Humano personal, de Pareja y de Familia.
    Nota final: Después de nuestra valiosísima amistad con el Sr. Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, Cardenal de Guadalajara cuando fue asesinado, ya no estamos en contacto con la jerarquía de nuestra diócesis.

  7. My first marriage was a sad disaster, too young and immature, and was over in weeks. When I sought divorce 3 years later all I asked for was my name back. Years later I met a wonderful and supportive man and we’ve been together 34 years thus far. I feel for other women, such as my mother who was married to a violent man and divorced, and has been alone ever since amid the sort of snears and suspicions once given to divorced women in her day. Although I am saddened by the high rate of divorce I do think much of that is due to lack of education and certainly a lack of sexual education and non-existent family planning. To simply tell young people to say no without straightforward and matter of fact information regarding growing bodies, hormones, society’s influences using sex to sell everything, and honest health education is simplistic and foolish and we have millions of starving and neglected babies and children as a result. For all those who oppose sexual education and abortion I would like them to be foster parents to those many children suffering from lack of healthy and educated parents. Our planet is overrun by human overpopulation and the church’s backward views are much to blame.

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