Divorce and Remarriage: Somebody has some Explaining to Do

In the old, much beloved, I Love Lucy TV show, whenever Lucy messed something up, or seemed to have messed something up, her husband Ricky would tell her, his voice rising with frustration: “Lucy, you’ve got some explaining to do!”

A lot of people today take this same attitude toward the Catholic Church, in relation to her moral teaching.  She has a lot of explaining to do.  It’s as if she’s not only messed up, like the lovable but disaster-prone Lucy, but is actually guilty of some misdeed or crime.  Where does the Church get off insisting on such a strict morality, anyway!

7 Consecration

Such complaints are made with special force with regard to the Church’s teaching on sexual morality–for example, her teaching on divorce and remarriage.  The Church does not permit divorce and remarriage.  Of course, she can’t stop people from doing it.  But she can, and does, insist that it is wrong.  Where does the Church get off insisting on such a strict and apparently unforgiving standard, anyway?  And why would she insist on such a teaching?  Isn’t this more of the work of the celibate old men who just don’t understand?

Well, if the world is going to say that the Church has some explaining to do, it will be only fair to let her explain herself.  And she has explained herself in (among other places)  the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Here is a key passage:

1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ– “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”– The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

It turns out, then, that the Church’s rather rigorous teaching on marriage is based not on the words of some little known celibate old man, but on the words of one very well known and important celibate young man.  The teaching is based on the words of Jesus Christ, whom faithful Catholics believe to be God.  Perhaps, then, Christians at least, and even all those people who claim to respect Jesus as a moral teacher, could cut the Church some slack and acknowledge that it has good reason to think that it is not just imposing some man-made morality on human beings but in fact preserving what was delivered to her by her divine founder.

We can concede that from the standpoint of contemporary, easy-going morality, the Church has some explaining to do.  But from the standpoint of the words of Jesus, it is the world that has some explaining to do.


Categories:Culture Marriage

  • Betty

    It is ok to PAY for an annulment and act like you were never married even though there were children born

  • Antonio A. Badilla

    Tracy, “Sorry, but the church has turned a BLIND EYE.” That is a lie and a calumny, and you wrote it publicly during Lent to make matters worse. The fact is that the Church ensures to educate every couple contemplating a marriage in the Church, in the Pre Cana classes. The Church DOES NOT say to a person who is suffering that he or she has to take the abuse. You want to paint the Church in the worse possible light and then think of it as an exercise in freedom of speech. You also have to take responsibility for what you wrote here.

  • Jenn

    The Church allows an annulment and grants them. One needs to apply with the Church. I know a woman married 5 times, and received annulments for those, and is presently married to a wonderful man, and has full benefits of the Sacraments.

  • Lou Ann Strozyk

    The key word is ‘valid’. The ‘Pauline privilege’ is if you married someone who refused to have children, but you didn’t know that, the marriage wouldn’t be valid, therefore you could have the marriage anulled. If you receive an annulment, you may marry again, to someone else, as long as they are also free to marry.

  • Ricardo Figueroa

    Marriage annulment is an option in the Church. If it is shown that one of the parties was not truthful at the moment of exchanging vows then this is a course of action that can be followed.
    I do not think that anyone should stay with someone who is abusing them. If he or she demonstrates that the other person was not truthful at the moment of their vows then they can get an annulment.

  • Bill

    The Church has a process in abuse cases called Annulments. An annulment deems that there wasn’t ever a marriage because of extenuating circumstances, and the parties can get married at a later date to new people.



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