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Marriage after Divorces (Tue Feb 14, 2006 11:40 am)

by Robert Schutzius

Marriages break down because, even with the best of intentions, relationships break down. These are not happy events but facts of human life.

When, for whatever reason, a marriage contract ends, life goes on and conscience must continue to direct our judgments. Certainly, one may remarry when a previous marriage is judged non-existent by fallible church officials. Indeed, according to January 2006 reports, the Vatican now grants about nine out of every ten annulments requested. In 2004, the last year for which figures are available, 46,060 annulments were requested, of which 42,920 were granted.

But this annulment process takes time and money, is sometimes extremely distasteful to one or the other party, and is still a human judgment, and thus subject to error. Ultimately, it is the individual person involved who must be the judge. When people do judge their own marriage to be irretrievably over, they may follow their carefully informed conscience and possibly contract another marriage. Affirmation of this judgment through a formal annulment can be sought.

Quite often however, Catholics realize that their first marriage was a genuine one which, unfortunately, died. Many divorced Catholics can in fact remarry and participate in the sacramental life of their Church with a sound conscience and in a manner that does not cause problems in the community without the external approval of the Church. This is a right that should be well known and exercised by divorced Catholics. Divorce is an unfortunate breakdown in a crucial relationship that can be detrimental to family and society. Such marital breakdown is not a model to be encouraged, but to seek and achieve a successful recovery after such an interpersonal relational collapse is. To be sorry, to seek forgiveness if needed, to start anew are indeed signs of authentic faith. They are to be acknowledged and supported. The Gospel of Jesus is about men and women, not static, iron-clad regulations. The basis of God's judgment hinges on how well believers follow informed and continually re-informed, conscience. God calls us all to maturity and mature responsibility.

For a detailed presentation of this process of mature acknowledgement, reconciliation and rebuilding of relationships through the "internal forum" go to:


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