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.