• No_Ads
World
Divorce debate challenges Pope FrancisPublish Date: Feb 28, 2014
Divorce debate challenges Pope Francis
  • mail
  • img
Pope Francis promised to put the Church more in touch with modern life. PHOTO/AFP
newvision

   IN FOCUS    

VATICAN CITY - The issue of divorce is stoking a spirited debate between Catholic cardinals and revealing the challenges and expectations for Pope Francis after his promises to put the Church more in touch with modern life.

The question is whether divorcees who re-marry should be allowed to take part in the most sacred point of Catholic mass, Holy Communion, which is forbidden under current rules that in practice are often not observed.

Changing the doctrine could in turn alter Church rules on marriage annulments and raise broader questions about the institution of marriage, prompting lively exchanges between traditionalists and reformers.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon in France, told Vatican radio that a meeting of cardinals from around the world in the Vatican this month devoted "80 to 90 percent" of the time to discussing the issue.

German Cardinal Ludwig Mueller, head of the Church's doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said the current rules are "impossible to change" and that people should stop thinking of marriage as "a party in a church".

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, a member of the council of eight cardinals established by the pope to advise him, has taken a more lenient line and has asked Mueller to be "more flexible".

A survey by the Spanish-language network Univision in 12 mainly Catholic countries found that 75 percent of Europeans, 67 percent of Latin Americans and 59 percent of Americans were at odds with the Church on the issue, while in Africa 19 percent of respondents disagreed.

The issue is one of very personal anguish for many Catholic couples, who say they are being treated as second-class believers, and has led to acts of defiance.

The German diocese of Freiburg im Breisgau last year said it was authorizing re-married divorcees to receive Holy Communion on a case by case basis -- prompting a quick telling off from the Vatican.

The issue would affect millions of Catholics around the world, with around a quarter of Catholic marriages ending in divorce in the United States alone.

Some theologians and clergymen have called for changes to facilitate the annulment of marriages in cases in which it could be argued that the wedding took place under social pressure or was not fully understood.

Re-marrying would then be allowed under Church rules and the couple would be allowed to take Holy Communion.

Another possibility could be the Orthodox model, which allows some divorcees to re-marry in church and take Holy Communion but gives only a blessing for the second marriage and does not consider it a sacrament.

Francis mentioned the Orthodox solution as a "parenthesis" on the plane during his return from a visit to Brazil and it was raised again by some cardinals in their consistory this month in which they said it could happen following "a period of penitence".

The issue is likely to dominate a synod of world bishops planned for later this year and another one in 2015, which Francis has said should focus on families.

The divorce debate was raised in an unprecedented questionnaire sent out to dioceses worldwide to find out the approach taken by parishes on many issues, including same-sex couples and pre-marital cohabitation.

Vatican expert Henri Tincq, writing on the website Slate.fr, said the divorce issue is particularly complex on a theological level since "a sacrament is given by God and can never be taken back".

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Pope in hot water over
Pope Francis's habit of picking up the phone and cold calling people who write to him is landing the Vatican in hot water....
Mali 2012 coup leader facing fresh charge over mass grave
Malian prosecutors have charged 2012 coup leader Amadou Sanogo with complicity to murder over the discovery of a mass grave of loyalist soldiers, judicial sources said on Thursday....
Body of first caller from S. Korean ferry found
The body of a high school student who made the first distress call from a sinking South Korean ferry was recovered from the submerged vessel on Thursday, news reports said....
South Africa
In the bowels of Africa's largest hospital, doctors carry out emergency surgery by the light of a cell phone while, on a nearby ward, seriously ill patients are sardined three-to-a-bed....
DRC team to travel to Uganda over M23 amnesty
A delegation from DR Congo is expected in Uganda on Friday to oversee arrangements to enable former M23 fighters sign forms denouncing rebellion as a precondition to receiving amnesty....
Obama in Japan says
Barack Obama Thursday told a press conference in Japan that islands at the centre of a bitter territorial dispute with China are covered by a defence treaty that would oblige Washington to act if they were attacked....
WIll the national ID registration process be completed in the scheduled 4 months timeframe?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter