|Forgiveness is never impossible. You just need to repent and queue up here.|
How can my Church bar Suzanne, a friend whose husband spent the nights at his laptop, gambling away the family’s income? If she had not divorced him, after his broken promises to reform added up to nought, she risked her children’s future. Surely no priest can say she’s guilty of breaking God’s law? Nor is Suzanne’s case the worst: one priest, who offered to give me communion despite Church rulings, knew battered wives who’d finally found the courage to divorce their abusers – only to realise they would be divorcing their Church as well.
Such tales anger me. As did the practice of annulment, where you could effectively buy the Church’s collusion in untying the marital knot.
Is it possible that she is so muddle-headed that she thinks the Church bars people from Holy Communion for separating from an abusive spouse?
As someone who has written about the issue a good few times, been involved personally as the wife of a divorcee, and taken an interest in the cases she cites, her failure to find out what the Church teaches, if that is what has happened, is itself bizarre. More likely, however, is that she does have at least a dim understanding, but feels justified in simplifying the situation for the benefit of her readers. The result, however, is a vicious libel against the Church. .
So what is the Church's teaching? The obligation to share one's life with one's spouse is overridden if the spouse is impossible to live with. If you don't believe me, go and read Canon 1153 in the Code of Canon Law.
Furthermore, there is no question of being barred from communion for having walked out on your spouse, or even obtained a civil divorce, for insufficient reasons. The sufficiency of those reasons is a matter of the internal forum: it is between you and your confessor.
There are very few things you can do to get yourself barred from Communion, and they all depend on taking up a public state which is objectively out of line with the Church's discipline. Politicians legislating for abortion is one way. Getting civilly married to someone while still married, in the eyes of the Church, to someone else, is another. Neither of these situations, or anything like them, is supposedly at issue in Odone's test cases.
And what's this? When a marriage fails, and on investigation it is established that it failed because it was invalid, for example when one party had no intention of observing marital fidelity, or was incapable of giving consent because of serious mental illness, Cristina Odone tells us that this is a case of the Church 'colluding' in a wrong.
This is extremely insulting to those many people who have been through the process of annulment in good faith, after marrying a person who whose marriage vows were an empty sham. Cristina wants those people to be trapped in their invalid marriages, and simultaneously says that, on divorce,
'Catholics have been cruel, not kind'. Are you talking about yourself, Cristina?
What is her view, anyway? She thinks that annulments are wrong. On the other hand, she thinks that remarriage after divorce, without an annulment, is fine.
Marriage is sacred, and not a temporary contract. I believe that, wholly. But this wonderful institution, where a couple love one another through sickness, poverty and even betrayal, is an ideal.
What on earth does this mean? It isn't mercy Odone wants, it is doublethink: marriage is indissoluble, and yet soluble; annulment is a wrongful way to end a invalid marriage; divorce and remarriage are good and necessary.
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