Skip to comments.Speaking of divorce, pope refers to practice of Orthodox churches
Posted on 08/08/2013 3:56:12 PM PDT by NYer
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope Francis spoke to journalists about the need for a stronger Catholic pastoral approach to marriage and to divorced people, he made a parenthetical reference to how the Orthodox churches handle the breakup of marriages differently.
“The Orthodox have a different practice,” he told reporters July 28 during his flight back to Rome from Rio de Janeiro. The Orthodox “follow the theology of ‘oikonomia’ (economy or stewardship), as they call it, and give a second possibility; they permit” a second marriage.
While the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain both use the English term “ecclesiastical divorce” when referring to the use of “oikonomia” to permit a second marriage, Orthodox scholars and the websites of both archdiocese make clear that the Orthodox practice differs from both a Catholic annulment and a civil divorce.
Unlike an annulment, which declares that a union was invalid from the beginning, the Orthodox decree does not question the initial validity of a sacramental marriage and unlike a civil divorce it does not dissolve a marriage. Rather, the Orthodox describe it as a recognition that a marriage has ended because of the failure or sin of one or both spouses.
As quoted on the British church’s website, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, an Orthodox scholar and retired professor at Britain’s Oxford University, wrote in his book, “The Orthodox Church,” that the Orthodox permit divorce and remarriage under certain circumstances because Jesus himself, in upholding the indissolubility of marriage in Matthew 19:9, makes room for an exception. In the translation he quoted, Jesus says: “If a man divorces his wife, for any cause other than unchastity, and marries another, he commits adultery.”
The revised New American Bible, used at Mass by U.S. Catholics, translates the sentence as: “Whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” However, most translations use “unfaithfulness,” “fornication” or something similar to “unchastity” for the exception.
Still, Metropolitan Kallistos wrote, “Orthodoxy regards the marriage bond as, in principle, lifelong and indissoluble, and it condemns the breakdown of marriage as a sin and an evil. But while condemning the sin, the church still desires to help the sinners and to allow them a second chance. When, therefore, a marriage has entirely ceased to be a reality, the Orthodox Church does not insist on the preservation of a legal fiction.”
“Divorce is seen as an exceptional but necessary concession to human sin,” he wrote. “It is an act of ‘oikonomia’ (‘economy’ or dispensation) and of ‘philanthropia’ (loving kindness). Yet although assisting men and women to rise again after a fall, the Orthodox Church knows that a second alliance can never be the same as the first; and so in the service for a second marriage several of the joyful ceremonies are omitted, and replaced by penitential prayers.”
I’m not certain that this correctly portrays the Orthodox position. If it does, then I have to respectfully disagree with the pope on this one and say the Latin Church has the better position.
Hello Francis, if I wanted to be Orthodox, I would be Orthodox.
The Holy Father is IMHO playing a dangerous game.
At least some of them permit a third but final marriage.
He didn’t say he agreed with the Orthodox position, just that this exists.
Soon Francis will hold a huge auction, at which he will sell off all of the ill-gotten wealth of the Vatican, and give the money to the poor, to whom it was originally to go anyway.
Pope Francis seems to be very influenced by the East. I believe he was actually the Latin Rite prelate in charge of the Byzantine Rite in Argentina, wasn’t he?
But I think marriage teaching should be strengthened rather than weakened, because it gives an ideal. However, we have a huge backlog of people who married during the 40 years of bad times since Vatican II, when it appeared that Catholic marriage was no more indissoluble than any other.
The problem is that the ones who are eliminating themselves from participation in the sacraments are actually the good, ethical people who really believed it meant something.
So I would say reconcile people who have had a second marriage - as an emergency gesture.
The Pope could simply do this on a one-time basis as a charitable act. Then give everybody better preaching and teaching, give young people better instruction and make it very much harder from then on out.
But setting divorce up as something that is going to be regularly permitted is not good, in my opinion, because people assume that means it’s ok.
The younger Orthodox (in their 40s) I knew years ago in California were already on their second marriages because they lived in California and divorce was in the air. We don’t want this to become the standard for Catholics.
Can I have Orthodox liturgy and Latin theology?
I believe you can, in a variety of Eastern Catholic Churches.
I believe I read in another article that he suggested the Orthodox as a model.
Unfortunately, they are few and far between in my neck of the woods.
I don’t know what the view of the Eastern Orthodox is on marriage, (though I find most of the rest of their theology to be vapid) but on marriage the translation is indeed correct wherein it says that a man should not put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication. This might be the same in other places where it speaks of one spouse abandoning the other. Though even this separation (for adultery on the part of one spouse) is a terrible and foul thing, since He also says “what God hath joined, let man not cut asunder.”
Though, since we are not under the law, but are in fact “dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom 7:4), I would say that any guilt over separation under such circumstances, and any notion of only getting a “second” chance, or even a third or fourth, are absolutely absurd in the presence of the forgiving God.
Maybe you did, but unless there’s an extended direct quote, it doesn’t matter what an article suggested.
I think it’s very improbable. There’s a deep chasm between “except for unchastity” and “unless one or both parties has refused to do the work required for a Christian marriage.”
We have all kinds of stuff here, even Ethiopian and Coptic Orthodox, who are not in union with Rome but are quite cool.
what does he think about nuns and priests breaking their vows?
LOL! What you actually want is Latin structure (along with the theology), because the Orthodox churches are, alas, a little dysfunctional.
Because they have rejected Rome, they’re so ethnically identified that in the US - where there are many different ethnic groups - it’s like being part of your local Cosa Nostra. They don’t talk to each other, they’re trying to kneecap their rivals, and, actually, none of them really accept Americans from outside of their ethnic group very well.
I knew the daughter of an Orthodox priest in the Midwest who told me her father kept a gun behind the altar because another priest had been shot dead by a rival Orthodox group (same Slavic ethnic group, different faction). So they need to get back to St Peter.
BXVI really wanted to reconcile them, and I think Francis does, too. So let’s pray really hard for that!
At this point? Your guess is as good as mine.
No. No. No. No. No.
Absolutely not. It would be ‘yet another boomer handshake’. It gets done it will not go away. Boomers want accommodations for their former lives, but they should not get it no matter how much they stamp their feet. For once it should actually work that NO means no.
Some of us young uns are trying to hold the line on marriage. The last thing we need are boomers going behind our back, again, and doing the same thing they’ve done for everyone.
Reconciliation would require their acknowledgement towards the Pope. Sadly, I predict that the split between us and them will widen even as the parishioners themselves narrow.
Perhaps I’m wrong about this. We shall see.
The Holy Father's words, in context, are here:
This is an issue which frequently comes up. Mercy is something much larger than the one case you raised. I believe that this is the season of mercy. This new era we have entered, and the many problems in the Church like the poor witness given by some priests, problems of corruption in the Church, the problem of clericalism for example have left so many people hurt, left so much hurt. The Church is a mother: she has to go out to heal those who are hurting, with mercy. If the Lord never tires of forgiving, we have no other choice than this: first of all, to care for those who are hurting. The Church is a mother, and she must travel this path of mercy. And find a form of mercy for all. When the prodigal son returned home, I dont think his father told him: You, sit down and listen: what did you do with the money? No! He celebrated! Then, perhaps, when the son was ready to speak, he spoke. The Church has to do this, when there is someone not only wait for them, but go out and find them! That is what mercy is. And I believe that this is a kairos: this time is a kairos of mercy. But John Paul II had the first intuition of this, when he began with Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy He had something, he had intuited that this was a need in our time. With reference to the issue of giving communion to persons in a second union (because those who are divorced can receive communion, there is no problem, but when they are in a second union, they cant ), I believe that we need to look at this within the larger context of the entire pastoral care of marriage. And so it is a problem. But also a parenthesis the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance, they allow it. But I believe that this problem and here I close the parenthesis must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage. And so, two things: first, one of the themes to be examined with the eight members of the Council of Cardinals with whom I will meet on 1-3 October is how to move forward in the pastoral care of marriage, and this problem will come up there. And a second thing: two weeks ago the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops met with me about the theme of the next Synod. It was an anthropological theme, but talking it over, going back and forth, we saw this anthropological theme: how does the faith help with ones personal life-project, but in the family, and so pointing towards the pastoral care of marriage. We are moving towards a somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage. And this is a problem for everyone, because there are so many of them, no? For example, I will only mention one: Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, used to say that as far as he was concerned, half of all marriages are null. But why did he say this? Because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a life-long commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married. And this is where the pastoral care of marriage also comes in. And then there is the legal problem of matrimonial nullity, this has to be reviewed, because ecclesiastical tribunals are not sufficient for this. It is complex, the problem of the pastoral care of marriage. Thank you.
So what he is looking at is if the marriages are even valid in the first place...not about making a "Catholic divorce" somehow legal.
I would see this in two issues:
But, unlike the socialist USCCB staff, I do not see any way that the Holy Father is going to allow this idea of authorizing some kind of divorce.
Next, they'll say that the Holy Father is going to reverse Humanæ Vitæ.
It’s my understanding that the doctrinal concern is that he may be considering allowing communion to those in a second union without the necessity of an annulment.
Whether that is what he means is not clear. I guess time will only tell.
“If it does, then I have to respectfully disagree with the pope on this one and say the Latin Church has the better position.”
The Latin Church certainly seems more inline with direct quotes from Jesus. He referred to the Old Testament permission of divorce as something caused by the hardness of peoples’ hearts.
“But, unlike the socialist USCCB staff, I do not see any way that the Holy Father is going to allow this idea of authorizing some kind of divorce.”
I agree; there would be no better way of chasing away the remaining faithful than telling them the way is not narrow anymore, and they’ve gone through life’s travails for no reason (in terms of birth control, marriage difficulty, etc.). While the media is going to try to paint this Pope as an “unCatholic” liberal, he knows better than anyone else the fate that awaits Churches that stray from true Christianity. Many “Christian” churches bear no resemblance to anything biblical in root, and he has to rein in “progressive” members of the Catholic Church that left the reservation decades ago.
a contest between the spirit of the law and the human artifact of the letter of the law
and in the spirit of the law Yeshua acknowledged that a man (or a woman) should not divorce their spouse except for unfaithfulness - to the marriage vows - but MAY divorce their spouse due to unfaithfulness, which is an admission of both a sin and that the marriage contract has been broken by that sin
it is no less a sin to maintain a fiction of a marriage on paper, for nothing other than satisfying a human artifact that ignores the spirit of the law, while continuing a love=life outside of that marriage, which is what those who are psychologically browbeaten into that fiction do (as I have been told many times happens in many cases in the Philippines, by Fillipino friends who live where divorce has/had been illegal for a long time).
The causes of a divorce may be a sin. A fictional marriage that has a “marriage” reality that only exists on paper, and not in life or in spirit, is also a sin. In the former case someone can seek redemption for it, acknowledge they can no longer live a promise made, ask for forgiveness, free their innocent partner from their fiction, and pray to live a reformed life, which might include a second chance at marriage. In the later case, the life-long fictional marriage that exists on paper only, is a sin that never stops - the only part of the vow that remains active is not to OFFICIALLY part, while in reality, though UNOFFICIALLY, the heart and soul of marriage is dead.
It’s NOT about PROMOTING divorce; its about priestly nonsense playing with people’s lives, and the people suffer for it while the priests pat themselves on the back in satisfaction.
YES, divorce is not something to be entertained lightly, and it should be avoided with every effort possible. BUT it can, rightly, be seen that SOMETIMES divorce IS the right, the honest, the moral choice for some. They can ask for forgiveness but they can also acknowledge that the greater sin would be the fiction of keeping alive on paper what is dead in reality.
“Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, used to say that as far as he was concerned, half of all marriages are null. But why did he say this? Because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a life-long commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married.”
What a ridiculous thing to say. So I can marry a woman, consummate the marriage, and this fellow says that it is not a “real marriage” because of the immaturity or other problems between the two? The moment you pledge before God and put that woman in your bed, your marriage is final and complete. And if you break that marriage later, you can’t claim it was just because you weren’t “mature enough” or were committed enough when you first got into it. What trashy rubbish this nonsense is.
I hope they will come in. The Orthodox need more discipline and universality - and we need more orthodoxy and beautiful music!
I’m not talking about young people.
Actually, many of the boomers, as you refer to them, are still married. It’s people in the next generation (their children, who are in their 30s or 40s now) who received no religious instruction, thanks to Vatican II, and got no moral or ethical formation.
I think that those from that intermediate generation who got enough wisdom to stick it out and remain Catholic, even if their marriage collapsed at some point, should be reconciled.
And then we have to start afresh and make it clear that this is not ok.
How about cleaning up our poor annulment system.The hoops they make some good people go through are ridiculous.
That’s not what I’m seeing at all. The folks after the boomers are more likely to get and stay married. It’s still the boomers that are trying to change things at least where I am. :(
“He referred to the Old Testament permission of divorce as something caused by the hardness of peoples hearts.”
Yes. True. He also said that “God allowed it...”
“Yes. True. He also said that God allowed it... “
Exactly - in the past tense. The apostles wanted to know why Jesus was ending the practice when it had been allowed before.
“doctrinal concern is that he may be considering allowing communion to those in a second union without the necessity of an annulment.”
I hope not! It cost me a lot of time, and friends when I converted just to be eligible to receive. Like it was said, “the way is not narrow”. Ugh. If they got married, then they have to live with their poor decision. Nobody forced them to get married. They made some bad choices and those choices have consequences.
“Exactly - in the past tense. The apostles wanted to know why Jesus was ending the practice when it had been allowed before.”
No, He does not end it. Nor is it ended in the rest of the NT.
“No, He does not end it. Nor is it ended in the rest of the NT.”
People have spent 2,000 years disputing what He said, using 2,000 versions of the Bible to support their positions; why shoudl we be any different.
Best of luck; by the time we know The Truth we can’t come back and change what we’ve done.
“They dont talk to each other, theyre trying to kneecap their rivals, and, actually, none of them really accept Americans from outside of their ethnic group very well.”
Actually my family was welcomed with open arms and so have numerous friends of mine. We also do indeed talk to each other. In fact I have communed at Greek, Russian, and Arab parishes without any other welcome than love. The bishops in America are also in open talks about uniting the jurisdictions in America.
“ill-gotten” wealth? You surely don’t means like Protestants who pocket the cash of their low-information congregations to support families, go first-class jetting and build luxury estates (Joel Osteens); amass a family empire (Schuller; Graham) and the rest of the bible-tumpin’ crowd.
Are you correcting the Pope?
Yes, the Roman Church has the better position. I have always been amazed at the FR Orthodox posters who talk about second and third marriages being penances. Marriage as a penance? What?
Not penance. Rather, the service is penitential unlike the service for a first marriage.
Okay, so what should be joyful is penitential? That still makes no sense.
I sense Pope Francis wants to see the Christian east ALL come back to Rome. When he was installed as Pope, he did invite leaders from the Orthodox Christian communities.
I have a friend from my parish who is going tomorrow to next door RI from CT, two hours for a funeral of a friend of hers going back to jr. high, who was Orthodox, that is Romanian Orthodox. Sadly she killed herself I was told, talk about disfunction.
....Plus the beautiful icons holy art!
“Best of luck; by the time we know The Truth we cant come back and change what weve done.”
Power of numbers, power of numbers sadly does not go in your favor because the boomers has the hugh numbers in regards to its size.
Yes, it’s the unfortunate truth. I hope we have Francis for a long time. The longer the better.
Then go with someone younger like Pope John Paul when he was elected. That would be perfect.
I consider the Osteens and Schullers to be far closer related to the catholics than any prostestants. Their doctrines share the catholic’s adversion to scriptural truth, and they build massive buildings that disgrace the Lord, just like the catholics.