The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

I am a member of the Roman Catholic Religious Congregation..

Many years ago my younger sister married a man, in a civil ceremony, who was an alcoholic with whom she had four children. She did so for numerous reasons, part of which I believe was to escape an oppressive situation at home. A year or so later, his and our mother persuaded them to have their marriage blessed. My sister suffered through many years of physical and mental abuse with this man because, as with so many good persons, she believed her marriage to be indissoluble. Finally, she divorced this man and entered into a civil marriage with another man.

Because she thought she was violating church teaching, she stopped receiving communion and going to Mass. As a result, her children and grandchildren ended up being unchurched.

My sister is a very good and loving person. She bore two other children with her second husband and continues to be a strong support for all of them despite some of them suffering from mental and physical ailments. For many years she felt deeply pained because of her separation from the church and, at my first Mass, declined communion when I offered it to her.. Thankfully, after many years she came to the realization that her first marriage was invalid, proceeded with an annulment and had her second marriage blessed (by me, I might add).

My question has long been this: what was gained in isolating her from communion and the church due to her remarriage. She not only lost the consolation of the church community and sacraments but her children and grandchildren are unchurched.

Somehow, the church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage must be reexamined and changed. I do not know anyone who takes their marriage commitment lightly, especially when made in the name of God and the church. It’s about time this absolutely good will on the part of married couples be acknowledged and honored. Divorced and remarried Catholics must never be taught they are sinners. Knowing as I do the struggles for holiness by so many, I can’t believe that God considers them sinners and outside the communion of the church.

I chose to remain anonymous to protect my family.{jcomments on}

t the time I divorced my husband it was the culmination of years of distress and abuse in various ways towards me and our two daughters. He was well known to many because he was a church organist and had music pupils. Many people (but not clergy), were shocked and some even tearful that our marriage broke up. He was a great charmer with his ‘public’ persona, but at home uncaring, cruel and very deceitful and did not have any real employment apart from pupils with whom he proved unreliable. This of course does not cover the whole story, but it gives a clue to the constant sympathy and care me and our two daughters received from Catholic clergy throughout my marriage since they knew the truth behind the scenes; they knew my husband’s duel character and his criminal record. At the time I decided it was crucial to divorce my husband for our safety, my parish priest was truly wonderful. Other priests were wonderful as well, one coming to stay with me for a few days to be kind to my daughters, another visiting us often, and taking us to stay with him for weekends. Another offered us a home until I sorted things out since we were to be evicted from our house. It took two years to obtain my annulment, my parish priest was practical, kindly and counselled me on the procedure for applying for annulment, correct preparation of statements, and delivered them for the tribunal. I was taken to the tribunal court by another priest friend, wonderfully kind. The tribunal judge was not friendly, but distant and matter of fact, yet, was very polite and efficient so I was in no way uncomfortable. He visited friends and other priests I had known for many years as witnesses and I was kept in touch at all times of the progress of the procedure. Going to mass was not at all difficult to start with and I was invited to join the parish group for divorced and separated Catholics meeting at the presbytery, we always had a priest there, tea/coffee, biscuits and prayers. This was tremendous since were could talk about the heartache and horrors of our situations. I joined the 3rd Order Carmelites – a secular order and met others who had families and work and who were kindly though met very infrequently. Only a year or two into this helpful situation a disaster occurred by way of an obsession from another minister from another denomination and here my story ends since he was and still is huge problem. I tell my story to illustrate the very real kindness that does exist, even if it is not often encountered, among clergy and congregations at Mass, and in Catholic, community. So, it is obvious to me, that going to mass, receiving communion is absolutely crucial to healing and fellowship whether you remarry or not. This needs to be addressed by our Church *urgently* since those broken by divorce, most especially the children, need their Church, and their clergy more than ever before. Remarriage should never preclude those from Mass, annulment or not, since the comfort and healing from Mass can never be underestimated. Welcome and INCLUSION is the way to God, not punishment.{jcomments on}

I have two brothers. Both divorced, both remarried. One hasn’t been to church in years. The other is Episcopalian, if anything. One began the annulment process, but gave it up because he said he could not ask his friends and family to go through what was needed. The other brother’s first wife applied for an annulment, but I don’t know if it was ever granted. By that time it didn’t matter to my brother. It breaks my heart for them not to be able to receive communion. Communion is nor a reward for good behavior. It is food for strength for the journey. No one should be denied that. Everyone should be welcome at the table.{jcomments on}