​Pope Francis Tackles Divorce Issue for Church​​

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March 1, 2021

Pope Francis Divorce

Divorce is still a huge debate among Catholic cardinals for the Church. It’s one of the biggest challenges and expectations as the Pope Francis’ divorce issue tries to bring the Church in touch with modern life.

Changing the divorce rules of Church:

Changing the doctrine for divorce 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. And it’s something that has brought the Pope Francis divorce topic to surface.

Not so fast, Pope Francis divorce issue cannot change doctrine:

German Cardinal Ludwig Mueller, head of the Church’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said the current rules for divorce 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 Pope Francis 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”.