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Document Details :
Title: The Second Marriage Service in the Orthodox Church
Author(s): PALMIERI, Andrea
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Date: 2008
In order to grasp the full meaning of the Orthodox Churches’ practice concerning the possibility of a new marriage after divorce, the author researches the second marriage service currently in use in the Greek Orthodox Church. First, he analyses the service, its history and qualifying elements, as for example, the prayers of blessing for those who marry for the second time and wedding crowning. Second, he reflects on a number of theological issues that emerge, such as the sacramentality of the service and its ethical significance. The conclusions lead one to affirm that a second marriage – after the end of the first marriage caused by the death of or the separation from a spouse – is not considered an evil by the Orthodox Church, though the choice to remarry remains a sign of weakness for which pardon should be asked. For the individual incapable of remaining single without exposing himself/herself to the risk of committing fornication, second marriage is preferable. It allows the establishment of a unique and stable relationship and constitutes the closest possible realisation of the Christian matrimonial ideal. In conceding the possibility of engaging in a second marriage, the Orthodox Church wishes to offer an opportunity to continue pursuing the ideal. The value difference between the first marriage – which is the only one that corresponds fully to the ideal – and successive marriages is preserved by the establishment of a proper service for the blessing of second and third marriages that differs from the first marriage service. Therefore, although a distinction exists between the different marriages, a limited and partial value can be attributed to successive marriages.