A Divorced Catholic Faces These Most Important Issues:
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If you are a separated or divorced Catholic and you have not remarried without a decree of nullity (annulment), you are welcome and encouraged to attend mass and receive the sacraments. The Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage is that all marriages are considered to be validly sacramental unless proven otherwise through the annulment process, therefore, remarriage without a decree of nullity would constitute a person having two spouses, which is immoral. If you are in this situation you are not permitted to receive the Holy Eucharist, but certainly are welcome and encouraged to attend mass because you are still an important part of the Catholic Church, the body of Christ. If you have remarried without an annulment and would like to be in full communion with the Church, please talk to your parish priest about the possibility of initiating the annulment process.
An exception to being separated or divorced and being able to receive the sacraments would apply if you are someone who deliberately destroyed your marriage by divorcing for selfish reasons, such as abandoning your spouse for another relationship, a career, or to be free of the responsibility of being married. There are many reasons why spouses divorce, but if you find yourself in the position of having willfully abandoned your spouse for immoral reasons, it is necessary to discuss your situation with a priest before receiving any of the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
If you haven't remarried but are in an physically intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse, you must receive the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) before taking Communion, and this is something that applies to all people, whether they are married, separated, divorced, never married, or consecrated, and not intended to single out divorced men and women.
As a separated or divorced Catholic, you are an important part of the Catholic Church and you are absolutely welcome in your parish:
The Church is extremely sensitive to the sorrow of her members: just as she rejoices with those who rejoice, she weeps with those who weep (cf. Rom 12:15).
As the Holy Father clearly stressed in his address to us during our plenary assembly: "Let these men and women know that the Church loves them, that she is not far from them and suffers because of their situation. The divorced and remarried are and remain her members, because they have received Baptism and retain their Christian faith" (Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family, 24 January 1997, n. 2; - L'Osservatore Romano - English edition, 5 February 1997, p. 4).
Taken from: L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 6 March 1997. L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
God is never ashamed of you, and because of your separation or divorce, He is closer to you now than ever. God wants you to come to Him with your pain, your burdens and let him give you peace.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29).
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Catholic annulment process, simply put, is one of identifying whether or not a sacramental marriage took place on the day of the wedding. But what does the annulment process involve? Is it some type of loophole the Catholic Church uses to allow divorce? What about children - are they suddenly considered illegitimate when an annulment is granted? These are powerful and important questions that require a lot of explanation, and consideration of each couples' different circumstances. This issue is explored in depth in the book.
Christ taught that the sacramental bond of marriage is permanent and lasting: So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:6) The annulment process helps to determine whether or not a sacramental bond actually took place on the day of the wedding. If one did, than another marriage would actually be a second marriage while the first one was still intact and this would be morally wrong. You can find an indepth discussion of this issue in Divorced. Catholic. Now What?
For some, this is the most difficult decision. Many people do not want to get involved with someone else, while others believe it is the only way to get over the divorce and start feeling better. But dating as adults – adults who are not virgins anymore - is nothing like dating in high school was. It's a whole different ball game. What is the right thing to do? What are the Catholic Church's views on divorce and dating? Find the answers to these questions and many, many more in the book, Divorced. Catholic. Now What?
The gift of sexual intimacy is important in our lives and it is blessed by God when it remains within the boundaries of marriage. Since there is no more marriage, however, there can be no more sexual intimacy unless you have reconciled with your ex-spouse, or you have gone through the annulment process, received a declaration of nullity and have remarried in the Church. If you have not been through all this, it may seem unfair to not be able to still have this intimacy! Many people wonder, Why do I have to suffer because of the mistake my ex-spouse made? They believe that they are now entitled to find a new relationship that will "make them happy." But will a new relationship and sexual intimacy outside of marriage really "make you happy?" There is so much to understand about this very important issue and Chapter 15 in the book will take you through it.
No. The Catholic teaching on divorce regarding a person who willingly abandons their spouse and children, for selfish reasons such as another relationship, an addiction to sex, pornography, a career, or simply wanting to be "free" of the obligations of marriage bears a tremendous responsibility before God, who is our sole Judge. We shall leave the judgment of the actions to God, knowing well, however, that the spouse's actions have caused great, unjust devastation. However, an abandoned spouse, as well as a spouse who files for divorce for protection from abuse or other harmful situations has not committed a sin because of the divorce. This is explored more fully in the book.
Many people believe that the kids simply bounce back after a while and go back to their every day lives. While it's true they get back into their normal routine after a while, have they truly "bounced back?" For the great majority of children, the answer is no. They are suffering very much and are not able to communicate it. But if you as a parent are struggling so much with the loss of your marriage, how can you help your children cope? There are many great gifts God gave parents - fathers and mothers alike - that you can draw upon to help your children even in the midst of such pain. Chapter 8 in the book is a great resource for this issue.
Does it seem like the drama will never end? Tempers flare and angry words fly when ex-spouses cannot deal with each other in a civilized manner. With all the hurt that has taken place, how can the two ever get along, even if just for the sake of the children? Why are ex-spouses still trying to hurt each other years after the divorce has taken place? Can there ever be true forgiviness? Yes, there can be. Find out how in Divorced. Catholic. Now What?
Most people suffering through a divorce face extreme emotions, especially if the ex-spouse is constantly frustrating the situation. Shock, anger, intense emotional pain, depression, a desire for retribution, resentment . . . these are serious issues and when these emotions are not dealt with in a healthy way, they become ticking time bombs. So what are these "healthy" ways to deal with the emotions? Find them in Divorced. Catholic. Now What?