Dominicans Hit it Out of the Park on Marriage and Divorce

Jul 25th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts

In the most recent edition of Nova et Vetera, the Dominicans of the Eastern Province have published an extremely well-written and well-researched reflection on the Catholic doctrine on marriage, divorce, “remarriage,” annulment, and communion.  (Please read it here.)  In anticipation of the upcoming Synod on the Family, these Catholic theologians – faithful to the Church’s Magisterium – respond to some recent suggestions for changes in Catholic pastoral practice on divorce, remarriage, and communion.


Dominicans

Of special note is their defense of the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the possibility of chastity, and their argument that proposals for change presume the impossibility of chastity. The Dominicans also look at the history of marriage legislation in the Church (East and West), the teaching of the Fathers, and the role of the Eastern Emperor in forcing change on the Byzantine Church. They examine the Protestant teaching on marriage and divorce and the effects on Anglicanism of changes to long-standing Christian belief and practice.  They evaluate discredited moral theories underlying proposals for change, discuss the meaning of scandal, and offer positive proposals for the upcoming synod. I highly recommend it.

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  1. As a divorced person now widowed, the Dominican article is right on. The chaos of divorce and remarriage is huge,and problematic even in the best of circumstances. The Lord knows what he is doing, and I pray the Church sticks with its own teachings and traditions.

  2. Along similar lines, First Things’ latest edition has an article by Robert Spaemann on divorce and remarriage that is also excellent:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/08/divorce-and-remarriage

  3. Religious are truly the backbone of the Church, the spine in the Body of Christ. The Dominicans are doing their job well. “Hit it out of the park” sums it up nicely.

  4. Does anybody know what are the suggested changes?

    Peace,
    John

  5. Sorry,I should have read first before asking. It is in Section A.

  6. Both myself and my husband (of almost 27 years) are children of divorced parents. Chaos and pain reside in divorced families even when all the adults involved are well-meaning. Certainly there is sorrow and anger in marriages where there is no divorce. It is not a perfectable project, marriage. But through the sacraments, sacrifice, hard work, abiding love and taking the long view, the great evil of divorce can be avoided.

  7. Would anyone like to comment on Taylor Marshall’s presentation of a potential argument put forth by Bishops at this October’s Synod on the family?

    We must approach the emerging forms of family and the individuals involved belong to these units with a hand of mercy. People have made decisions in the past (or had decisions made for them in the past) that places them in a situations or relationships contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Due to the passing of time and/or physical/mental/emotional damage, there is no way to “turn back the clock” so that these people of good will can enter into a regular sacramental situation with the Catholic Church. For the sake of mercy, we have found a pastoral solution that does not run counter to the theology or dogma of the Catholic Church regarding monogamy and sacramental marriage. The local conferences of bishops can authorize their bishops and pastors (those with canonical cure of souls) to determine, after prayer, counsel, and interviews, whether certain baptized faithful can be dispensed from certain irregularities due to the passing of time or through physical/mental/emotional trauma. The prayerful dispensation of the bishop or pastor should be honored and respected. The bishop or pastor’s dispensation is similar to the pastor’s power to dispense of the Sunday Mass obligation or rules for fasting for those under his care for pastoral reasons.

    1. What would be the wider implications if such a view is embraced?

    2. Would traditional Catholics be permitted (licitly) to dissent from such a view (i.e. that it is pastorally acceptable after “prayer, counsel, and interviews” to give the Eucharist to those living in continual public sin)?

    Link to full blog post: http://taylormarshall.com/2015/07/could-gay-marriage-be-pastorally-sanctioned-at-the-synod-on-the-family.html

    Peace,
    John D.

  8. JohnD, (re: #7)

    The Church does not have the authority to dissolve consummated sacramental marriages or make adultery not a grave sin or make repentance from grave sin optional for licitly receiving the Eucharist. As for the “time” argument, that was addressed in the Spaemann article linked in comment #2 above. See also comments #57 – 60, and 73 in the “What Therefore God Has Joined Together” thread, comments #48-52 in the A Response to Clark and Godfrey thread, and my response to Douthat in comment #117 of the Ecclesial Consumerism thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  9. Bryan, (re: #8)

    Thanks for the helpful reply.

    The Church does not have the authority to dissolve consummated sacramental marriages or make adultery not a grave sin or make repentance from grave sin optional for licitly receiving the Eucharist.

    I agree. However, this does not directly answer the potential argument from analogy, implicit here:

    The local conferences of bishops can authorize their bishops and pastors (those with canonical cure of souls) to determine, after prayer, counsel, and interviews, whether certain baptized faithful can be dispensed from certain irregularities due to the passing of time or through physical/mental/emotional trauma. The prayerful dispensation of the bishop or pastor should be honored and respected. The bishop or pastor’s dispensation is similar to the pastor’s power to dispense of the Sunday Mass obligation or rules for fasting for those under his care for pastoral reasons.

    So, the argument seems to run like this:
    1) Not fulfilling the Sunday obligation (or Holy Day of obligation) is a grave sin (contra “Keep Holy the Sabbath/Lord’s day)
    2) The Bishop can dispense with this for pastoral reasons.
    3) So, the Bishop can dispense with at least one requirement (under pain of mortal sin) for pastoral reasons.
    4) The Bishop can dispense with other requirements (e.g. “divorced and remarried” Catholics must abstain from adulterous relations with the new spouse) for pastoral reasons, if such a dispensation proceeds according to the same principles.

    I realize that’s not strict deduction; it’s more of a rough and ready sketch of the argument. I read the links you sent, and I don’t think this is addressed directly.

    Peace,
    John D.

  10. **To The moderator**

    In Comment #9, I forgot to close the blockquote after the part that ends, “The bishop or pastor’s dispensation is similar to the pastor’s power to dispense of the Sunday Mass obligation or rules for fasting for those under his care for pastoral reasons.” — The rest should not be blockquoted, so please remove that.

    Thanks,
    John D.

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