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Title: Die wiederverheirateten Geschiedenen
Subtitle: Versuch eines neuen kirchenrechtlichen Lösungsansatzes
Author(s): BELLIGER, Andréa
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 7    Issue: 2   Date: 2001   
Pages: 194-212
DOI: 10.2143/INT.7.2.2004517

Abstract :

Divorced & Remarried Catholics: Towards a New Canonical Solutions

The situation of divorced and remarried Catholics and above all the question of their admittance to Communion is a point of controversy for theology and pastoral practice. In recent decades many ways of dealing with this have been proposed both in pastoral practice and in theological and canonical literature. These seek to remedy the unhappy gap between theory and practice, between universal and particular church teaching, as well as between pastoral and theological-canonical perspectives. The present article sets forth the basic position and limitations of the Roman Catholic Church in its relations with divorced and remarried Catholics. It describes the possible solutions currently available, examines similarities with the Orthodox Church's tradition of oikonomia, and sets forth in eight steps a new proposal for dealing with the divorced and remarried from the perspective of Canon Law. This new proposal, inspired as it is by the Orthodox tradition, seeks to remain within the bounds of the Roman Catholic canonical tradition.
The question remains whether the canonical structure of the Catholic Church can offer a merciful mediation between canonical norms and the reality of everyday life that, patterned on the model of Jesus, promotes human sanctity. In fact, in the Catholic canonical tradition the principles of applying general norms to concrete life situations includes a principle similar to oikonomia, that of the salus animarum. This principle, the ultimate aim of the Church and, in canon law, an instrument of the aequitas canonica that has remained little noticed, can be applied to concrete situations (c. 1752 CIC/1983).
If it is the case that the basic meaning of the salus animarum and the aequitas canonica is implied in each canonical norm, this will mean, in the case of divorced and remarried Catholics, that the norm regarding the non-admittance to the Eucharist in accordance with c. 915 and the concrete circumstances of those in unsatisfying relationships will be linked, and that a solution to this concrete situation in regard to the sanctity of the unsatisfied persons and the ecclesial community must be found. This solution could be that the dispenser of the sacraments, as the one who applies the law, simply not apply the sanction of barring these people from the Eucharist, a solution well within the meaning of an exemption from the juridical consequences of an objective noncompliance. Divorced Catholics could seek an ecclesially recognized remarriage by invoking the application of aequitas canonica for the sake of the spiritual well-being of the dissatisfied persons, even as regards the impediment of an existing marriage according to c. 1085 §1 CIC/1983.

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