The scandal of the Catholic Church's silence about divorce

religion | Nov 16, 2014 | By Bai Macfarlane

Weeks after the Bishops' synod in the family, Pope Francis at a morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta talked about how the lack of forgiveness leads to the breakup of the family. In the same homily he talks about scandal.
 
Vatican News reported, "Scandal, he adds, "is to proclaim and profess a way of life - 'I am a Christian' - and then live like a pagan, who does not believe in anything". This gives scandal "because there is no witness," while "the faith is professed - Pope Francis reiterated – by the way you live your life”.
 
For the innocent children of divorce, or for the spouse who is unjustly abandoned by a spouse who professes to be a Catholic, when the Church does not attempt to teach the abandoner of the good in upholding his or her own marriage vows, the Church appears to be tacitly condoning marital abandonment.  A marital abandoner's faith is professed by the way he or she lives his or her life.
 
In Buenos Aires, as Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, were the faithful instructed that they cannot file for divorce or separation in the civil forum without first obtaining the bishop's permission (canon 104, 1151, 1692)?  If a Catholic man or woman chose to unjustly abandon his or her marriage, did the diocese personnel work with this person teaching them of the importance of forgiveness and keeping their family together? In Buenos Aires, does the civil forum force decent fathers out of the marital home and bankrupt them with child and spousal support? In Buenos Aires, are 95% of those who petition for annulment told that they were never really married in the first place? In the U.S.A., any scandal caused by marital abandonment is apparently supposed to be erased when annulments are granted.
 
In the United States, it is very, very difficult to find anything taught by diocieses about how abandoning a marriage and filing for divorce is wrong. Divorce is described as an outside occurrence that one simply experiences, as if no one is culpable for causing divorce.
 
Pope Francis is known for encouraging everyone to be merciful, but when the Church is so merciful that it remains silent in the face of injustice, those injured by the injustice wonder why the Church won't even attempt to defend them. Why does the Church take the side of the abandoner?
 
Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.

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