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Document Details :

Title: Les fidèles divorcés remariés et leur réconcilation avec l'Église
Author(s): DE CLERCK, Paul
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 8    Issue: 2   Date: Autumn 2002   
Pages: 165-177
DOI: 10.2143/INT.8.2.2004433

Abstract :

Divorced and Remarried Faithful and Their Reconciliation with the Church

The article addresses the difficulties experienced on all sides in regard to the situation of divorced and remarried couples within the Catholic Church. The Church believes that it cannot admit to communion those faithful who, after a valid marriage, have abandoned their spouse and taken another. Such discipline is not beyond question. Other than the problems that one might have in regard to its justification, one must recognize that it can create situations of injustice. This is so not only because certain ministers of the Church do not hesitate to recommend communion to those whom they feel are worthy, though many divorced and remarried people do not have this chance, but also because the situation of the divorced and remarried is the only one in which such discipline is applied, though there exist circumstances equally grave and public (political, economic, or financial decisions, for example), which are not subjected to the same rigor. Faced with this question, the A. is surprised at the habitual silence in regard to the sacrament of reconciliation. One hopes that the Church might adopt a more loving and merciful attitude in regard to failure, and particularly rely on this sacrament precisely when it is a question of reconciling brothers and sisters. The solution proposed in the article is to rethink the moment when the Church intervenes in the situation of the divorced and remarried. Today the problematic point is the beginning of a new marriage. Perhaps the Church could intervene earlier, at the moment when the first bond is breaking down. This in fact better corresponds to the existential situation of the persons concerned, because it is at the separation and divorce that the couple experiences their failure and the rupture of the first covenant. Further, this is the moment when the indissolubility of the first bond is called into question, not at the moment of a second marriage. One would hope that a team of qualified persons would be named in each diocese to receive those persons who have broken the marriage bond. This team would help these people reexamine their situation in the context of their Christian life and prepare them to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Such sacrament would rehabilitate them within the Church and thus restore them to eucharistic communion. Reconciled with the Church, they would thus, if they wished, be freed for a second marriage, which would be celebrated in a more modest rite, as the Orthodox do.

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