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
Israeli strikes kill 32 across Gaza
ISRAELI bombardments in the early hours of Wednesday killed 32 Palestinians in Gaza, including 20 at a UN school, medics said...
Violence soars in Gaza as world pleads for truce
BLOODSHED in and around Gaza surged Tuesday with strikes killing 26 Palestinians, including at least four children, as Israel announced the deaths of five more soldiers...
US President Barack Obama has warned that the future stability of the world depends on African nations achieving prosperity and self-reliance, in an address to youth leaders from the continent....
Second attack by female suicide bomber injures 6 in Nigeria
A second attack by a female suicide bomber outside a shopping centre in Nigeria''s Kano city injured six people on Monday after a similar blast killed three people at a petrol station, police said....
Foreigners urged to leave Libya amid rising violence
EGYPT and several Western states urged their nationals to leave Libya amid spiralling violence after two weeks of fighting left 97 people dead...
Malaysia marks grim Eid after MH17 crash
MALAYSIA on Monday marked a solemn Eid al-Fitr, Islam''s biggest festival, as families of those aboard downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 mourned the dead...
Should private schools and institutions be given tax exemption?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter