With all the hype surrounding the upcoming synod later this year, one issue has been bugging me:
Communion for the divorced and re-married.
But no-one has spoken about the big bad elephants in the room yet:
1. How can the Bishops expect people to foster a happy and successful Catholic marriages if they give then no proper marriage prep, and no ongoing support?
2. How can the Bishops expect couples to understand the indissolubility of a sacramental union if (due to complete lack of adult formation) they don’t even know what a sacrament is?
3. Why have the Bishops not put proper ongoing practical measures in place to protect and support the Catholics they are responsible for, who are in mixed marriages?
4. Why have the Bishops not promoted and explained the central importance of NFP in a Catholic marriage?
I am not trying to alleviate all responsibility from people who decide to divorce and remarry, and there are certainly many who knew exactly what they were doing and the consequences of their actions – but my honest belief is that many, many more didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they got married in a Catholic church.
When i got married 14 years ago we had a ‘nice’ marriage prep course about resolving conflict and speaking your partners “love language” (i kid you not…) There was no mention of NFP and no mention of what a sacramental union actually is.
I got married under the impression that Catholics are not allowed to get divorced – which is of course false! (Catholics can get divorced, we just can’t remarry.) I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that if you did remarry you could not receive Holy Eucharist. I had no idea what an annulment was. I wasn’t really sure of what a sacramental union was and i certainly didn’t realise that I was administering the sacrament to my husband and vice versa – I thought the priest was doing it! And i was a regular church goer…
Over the past 30 years about 55 to 70% of annulments have occurred in the United States. The growth in annulments—at least in the US—has been substantial. In 1968 338 marriages were annulled. In 2006 27,000 were.
Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Rota in 2009, echoing words of his predecessor John Paul II, has criticized “the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties”. Calling for “the reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for matrimony”, he insisted on the point made in 1987 by John Paul II that “only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent invalidates a marriage”
According to Canon 1095 a marriage can be declared null only when consent was given in the presence of some grave lack of discretionary judgement regarding the essential rights and obligations of marriage, or of some real incapacity to assume these essential obligations.
Please understand i am not advocating Communion for the remarried. I believe in the annulment process. What i am saying that the massive lack of adult evangelisation and catechises over the last 2 generations has been a major contributing factor in why Catholic marriages are not lasting.
Gaining knowledge over time of what a real Catholic marriage is, has definitely strengthened my own marriage and i would go as far to say that in the really dark times it has kept me in it – until the clouds passed and the sun shone again. But i can totally understand why someone who does not understand these truths would want to split up, and then meet someone new, and then try again.
Bishops – it is and always has been your responsibility to ensure the Catholics in your diocese are properly educated and trained for marriage. The synod is a wonderful opportunity to admit that what you have been doing/not doing regarding marriage over the last 2 generations has been poor. Please discuss…