Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Socialism
Trade unions
Communism
Protestant Churches and Communism
Capitalism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Marriage
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing
War

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
Anti-semitism
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Divorce and re-marriage

1149. Why does the Catholic Church so rigidly refuse to allow divorced persons to marry again?

Because she has no choice in the matter. She is obliged to maintan the teaching of Christ that those who contract a valid marriage are bound by that marriage until death; that no human authority can dispense from the will of God in this matter; and that, if a man does put away his wife and marry again, he is but living in adultery. The same thing must be said, of course, of a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man.

1150. A Protestant friend who has been divorced and remarried told me that the Bible does permit this, and she quoted the Book of Deuteronomy, XXIV, 1-2.

She quoted a permission granted to the Jews by Moses but which was| abolished by Christ, and which is therefore no longer valid. In St. Mark X, 2-12, we are told that the Pharisees quoted this concession made by Moses, and that Christ explained to them that in the beginning God never intended such laxity. He said that Moses tolerated the exception to the original law because of the hardness of the hearts of the Jews. The laxity of the pagan nations around them had infiltrated amongst the Jews, andl they had gradually lost the goodwill to observe God's law. Also, in the imperfect preparatory religion, the Jews had not the helps to be made available in the perfect religion of Christ. But Christ made His mind clear to the Pharisees, telling them that henceforth the concession given by Moses could no longer apply. And He gave as the law: "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another commits adultery." Mark, X, 11. He taught that husband and wife are to be regarded as having become a single organic unity. They are "two in one flesh," united by a bond of identity established not by themselves, but by God. Divorce is not merely like dissolving business contract. It is like cutting a living body in halves by a kind of surgical operation. Those who think that divorce and remarriage can be harmonized with the Christian law simply do not know that Christian law. Marriage is for life, and carries with it the duty of life-long fidelity of both parties to one another. The concession in the Jewish law has been repealed by God Himself, and no appeal can be made to it.

1151. I was under the impression that later Christian traditions from the second century onwards borrowed the idea of monogamy from the Greeks and Romans who hated polygamy; and that monogamy was not stressed in the New Testament, which had already been written.

Such an impression is entirely without foundation. I have already quoted the teaching of Christ as given in the gospel of St. Mark, which was written about 55 A.D. Writing to the Corinthians at about that same time, St. Paul said: "But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife." I Cor., VII, 10-11. Some three years later, writing to the Romans he said: "For the woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound to the law. But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Therefore, whilst her husband liveth she shall be called an adulteress, if she be with another man." Rom., VII, 2-3. St. Paul was merely stating an express law of the New Testament which was acknowledged by all Christians everywhere from the very beginning, and which was certainly not an accretion derived from pagan Greeks and Romans who had little regard for marriage as a sacred contract.

1152. How do you explain Matt., XIX, 9, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery"?

That passage means: "It is not lawful for any man to separate from his wife except for adultery. And if a man does separate from his wife even for that cause and marries again, he commits adultery." This is clear from the rest of the passage, which you omit to quote. For the text goes on to say: "And whosoever marrieth her that is put away commits adultery." That would not be, were she not still the wife of the man who had put her away because of her infidelity. Adultery by one party or the other may justify separation, but it does not destroy the marriage bond and leave the two parties free and single again; nor does God grant to any human authority the power to destroy the bond in such cases. "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" is the law of the Gospel.

1153. If you do not agree that that passage permits divorce and remarriage, why not?

Take the context. The Pharisees had put the question as to why Moses had commanded to give a bill of divorce. Christ told them that the dispensation was because of their perverse dispositions. Quite evidently He was not going to sanction those perverse dispositions and grant them the same concession! In fact, He explicitly said that "from the beginning it was not so," and that His intention was to restore the original law of a permanent union between one man and one wife. Again, that He was absolutely prohibiting divorce and remarriage for the future is evident from the exclamation almost of dismay on the part of His disciples who said that if the law was to be as strict as all that, it would be better not to marry at all! What reply did Christ make to them? He did not deny the impression they had formed. He did not say that He did not mean it as strictly as they had gathered. He accepted their thought and went on from it, saying that there were indeed good reasons why one should not marry, especially that of voluntary celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, although that could not be the general rule since all would not possess the gift of such self-denial. But the point is that the astonishment of the disciples is quite intelligible if Christ gave a law of unheard-of strictness at that time; but quite unintelligible if He was merely repeating a perfectly well known Jewish doctrine.

1154. Other Churches, which equally believe in the Bible with the Catholic Church, are more considerate

The Catholic Church cannot be expected to conform her teaching to that of non-Catholic Churches. If other Churches permit remarriage after divorce, then despite their profession of belief in the Bible they are not true to the teaching of the Bible in this matter. Nor is it being really considerate to allow professing Christians to labor under the delusion that such remarriage is permissible. Certainly there is no single instance of a Christian writer of the first three centuries of Christian history who approves of remarriage after divorce whilst the separated partner still lives. On the other hand, there are repeated assertions that such remarriages are unlawful. And that has ever been the teaching of the Catholic Church to this day, whatever earlier or later heretical Churches may have taught or do teach on the subject.

1155. There must be room for doubt, or so many Protestant clergy men would not quote the exceptional clause in Matt., XIX, 9, to justify remarriage after divorce.

There is no room for doubt, unless one ignores both the context of the passage itself, and parallel passages in the New Testament. The records in the gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke, and in the epistles of St. Paul, absolutely forbid divorce and remarriage. No allowance is made for any exception. The Protestant clergymen you mention isolate the text of St.) Matthew both from its immediate setting and from the express teaching of the New Testament elsewhere. Do not think that I am distorting the sense to suit the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has nothing to gain by trying to make the text stricter than it is. All the inducements are to try to avoid the stricter interpretation. But it cannot be done. Commenting on the teaching of St. Matthew's Gospel, here is what the Protestant "New Commentary on Holy Scripture," edited by Anglican scholars, has to say: "The will of God is that marriage should be a lifelong union between a man and a woman, which can be dissolved neither by the lust or caprice ol the husband, nor by any legal enactment; and which remains unbroken, even after a separation has taken place, as long as both are alive. Divorce is not so much undesirable as impossible." (New Commentary, p. 140).

1156. How do you account for their not being able to see the Catholic position in this matter?

The training received by the average Protestant clergyman, whilst it may make him verbally proficient in the use of scriptural phrases, is very much wanting in definiteness of doctrine, in philosophical training, and in the inculcation of sound principles of moral theology. The result is vagueness of teaching, want of logic, and unbalanced views on moral problems. Many Protestant clergymen who perform marriages for divorced persons have, as a matter of fact, no specifically Christian belief about marriage.

1157. A Methodist clergyman told me that he believed that death alone can break the bond of a valid marriage and that remarriage after divorce was not possible

His personal opinion was much stricter than that of most Methodist clergymen. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin, the founders of Protestantism, rejected Catholic teaching on this matter and permitted divorce and remarriage. I do not think Methodists generally see anything wrong with marrying again after divorce; and I have certainly never heard of a Methodist minister refusing to remarry divorced people.

1158. Evidence was given to the British Royal Commission of Marriage and Divorce, in 1952, that the Free Churches have the power to remarry people after divorce.

They have not that power, really. Such remarriages are null and void in the sight of God. What should have been said is that the Free Churches have made no laws of their own forbidding divorced members to marry again in Protestant Churches after a divorce, or forbidding ministers to officiate at such ceremonies. But however sincerely they may think of such second marriages during the lifetime of divorced previous partners, such remarriages remain unlawful and invalid in the sight of God. For the law of God prohibits them.

1159. On the other hand, the Anglican or Episcopal Church absolutely forbids remarriage after divorce.

History does not support that contention. The Anglican Church was originated by Henry VIII in 1534, in order that he might divorce his wife Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. And the history of the Anglican or Episcopal Church since then in relation to marriage and divorce refutes what you say. In 1669 the Anglican Bishop John Cosin, addressing the House of Lords in connection with the Lord Ross what he called the "Popish Doctrine" absolutely forbidding divorce and remarriage. And he voted in favor of the Divorce Bill. His contemporary, the Anglican Bishop Joseph Hall, publicly defended the right of at least the innocent party in divorce to remarry. I could quote almost endless cases to prove that both in theory and practice the Anglican Church cannot be said to forbid remarriage after divorce. To those interested in this subject, I would recommend the perusal of the book "Windsor Tapestry," by Compton Mackenzie. In it he proves by an extraordinary wealth of quotation that no one, in the name of Anglican teaching and practice, had any right to condemn the Duke of Windsor for marrying the divorced Mrs. Simpson. Whatever other Churches might have to say on the subject, the Duke certainly did not violate Anglican principles by the step he took. Mrs. Simpson in her first two marriages was living in adultery because she married two divorcees whose wives were still living. She became a legitimate wife only when she married the single man, the Duke of Windsor. As a matter of fact, at the time of the Duke's marriage, Archdeacon T. C. Hammond, Principal of Moore Theological College for the training of Anglican clergy in Sydney, stated publicly in the press that "there are about 300 recorded cases of dissolution, and in several instances the parties were subsequently married in the Church of England with the authority of the Bishops. Therefore it cannot be said that the Church of England forbids remarriage unless we are to hold that in every case from the 16th century the Bishops violated the law of their own Church." He concluded by saying that "it is not possible to assert that the law of the Church of England is absolutely rigid on this point."

1160. When, in 1947, the Anglican Archbishop Mowll issued a Pastoral Letter saying that the innocent party to a divorce can be married again in the Anglican Church, the Anglican Bishop Robin, of Adelaide, at once declared publicly that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, N.S.W. was wrong, and that neither the guilty nor the innocent party could be married again in an Anglican Church. Which of the two positions is right?

From the viewpoint of the Christian religion, Bishop Robin was right. From the viewpoint of Anglican teaching, no one can say which of the two Bishops represents it correctly. There are many in the Church of England, of course, who support Bishop Robin's doctrine. Thus, in his book, "The Sermon on the Mount," p. 24, the Dean of Exeter, Dr. Si C. Carpenter, writes: "The Church says that marriage is for life. Having , once listened to a person uttering the solemn words 'till death do us part' the Church is not willing to listen to the same words used again by the same person while the original partner still lives. This arises from the Christian belief about the nature of marriage, and may not be called uncharitable. Moreover, there can be no distinction between the guilty and the innocent party. To make any such distinction is confused, sentimental reasoning. The Christian judgment does not depend on the characters of the parties, but on the nature of marriage." Such views, however, cannot be called official. And in his book, "What Is Christian Marriage," p. 129, the Anglican Arthur T. Macmillan says of the Church of England that "as regards marriage, the very corner-stone of human society, the position is . . . a vast muddle."

1161. Giving evidence before the British Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce, in 1952, Dr. Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, declared that the Anglican doctrine is that marriage is by divine appointment "a union permanent in its nature and life-long, for better or for worse, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side." Surely that is clear enough!

The trouble is that the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement was neither reliable nor authoritative. As a matter of fact, as soon as he had made it, the Anglican Modern Churchmen's Union drew up and presented to the Royal Commission an independent statement contradicting that of Dr. Fisher, and denying that his personal opinion was truly representative of any official teaching of the Church of England. So little authority exists in the Anglican Church that, on June 20, 1953, Dr. Garbett, Archbishop of York, addressing the Church Assembly, said: "The Church must accelerate its consideration of the Canon on Lawful Authority. Bishops, clergy and laity are often humiliated when asked for a definition of lawful authority; it should be possible to give an authoritative answer." The fact remains that that is not possible.

1162. You have no right to tell the public that is is impossible to discover what the Church of England teaches about divorce and remarriage. It makes it quite plain in its Authorized Version of the Bible, in its Book of Common Prayer, and in its Canon Law, that it holds marriage to be the life-long indissoluble union of one man and one woman.

Neither singly, nor together, do the three sources named make the Anglican position clear. In 1888, the Lambeth Conference deliberately left it an open question, "recognizing," the Bishops said, "that there has always been a difference in the Church on the question whether our Lord meant | to forbid marriage to the innocent party." In its book, "The Church, Marriage and Divorce" (1936), the Council of the Church Union said: "The Church of England itself is divided on ; the subject; and that is the whole source of the trouble . . . A discipline ff which is to be universally enforced must be based upon a doctrine which . is" universally accepted, and neither 'indissolubilism' nor 'dissolubilism' : can claim to fulfill this condition." In other words, this Anglican body admits that Anglicans cannot say what is the definite teaching of their Church on the subject. I still maintain that it is impossible to discover what the Church of England teaches. One can but discover various opinions held by different groups of people who profess to belong to the Anglican Church.

1163. If Anglicans do remarry after divorce, does their Church exclude them from the Sacraments?

No. Writing of the Lambeth Conference of 1948, the Anglican Bishop Heywood said that he and Bishop Furse were the only two who said that it was inconsistent to admit to the Holy Communion those who had contracted new marriages in defiance of the teaching of Christ. But he said that they were always heavily outvoted in Convocation, and accused of being too logical. "Still no answer is given to the question we asked again and again," he wrote. "Can true marriage be dissolved in the secular courts? If it can, what of our Lord's teaching? If it cannot, why should people with two wives be admitted to the most sacred Sacrament of the Church?" The Bishops did not feel any obligation to be consistent in this matter. And the Rev. Dr. N. P. Williams, Professor of Divinity at Oxford, added his protest: "It is quite useless to attempt to evade the issue by decrying logic. To throw logic overboard would commit us to the belief that we live in a crazy world, in which any conclusion may follow from any premise; and in which, consequently, all discussion, not merely of this but of any other question whatsoever, would be the purest waste of time."

1164. The Anglican Bishop of Southwell said: "You do not necessarily serve the ideal by compelling people to remain legally married when the marriage has ceased to have any real meaning. Rather you drag the ideal through the mud."

That statement substitutes sentiment for reason, secular standards for Christian principles, and the will of man for the will of God. Christ Himself said: "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Mark, X, 11. Even the Joint Committee of the Convocations of Canterbury and York declared, in 1936: "This House affirms as our Lord's principle and standard of marriage a lifelong and indissoluble union for better or for worse of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side. This House also affirms its belief that, as a consequence, in no circumstances can Christian men and women remarry during the lifetime of a wife or husband without a breach of the moral principles by which the institution of marriage is governed according to Christ's teaching." Unfortunately no authority attaches to that statement for Anglican people. But if such be the ideal, it is dragged in the mud by those who, instead of insisting upon its observance, tell people that it does not matter whether they observe it or not.

1165. I think the Bishop of Southwell the more Christian for openly stating his convictions.

How can it be more Christian to propose abrogating the law of Christ to suit interested parties? The Bishop is not concerned as to whether the marriage is a valid and consummated one between two baptized Christians, or not. For him, the parties have merely to decide whether the are happy or not in their chosen state. If not, they can decide that their marriage has no meaning, and can have it dissolved and marry again.

1166. The Anglican Bishop Burgmann, of Goulburn, N.S.W., said the the rigid Roman Catholic view is fundamentally, spiritually, morally and ethically wrong

Fundamentally, Christianity must remain the religion taught by Christ-: and He forbids divorce and remarriage. Spiritually, Christian marriage reflects the permanent, organic am indivisible union between Christ and His Church, a spiritual significance which is lost by divorce and remarriage to someone else. Morally, it does not seem very wrong to refuse to contract a second marriage which Christ did not hesitate to describe as adulterous. Ethically, to repudiate marriage vows made in the presence of God "till death do us part" is the reprehensible thing.

1167. He said that the older traditions of the Church were not sufficient to meet modern situations.

The modern situations have resulted from abandoning Christian principles. It is not surprising that Christian teachings cannot be harmonized with them. But our duty, surely, is to win people back to the observance of Christianity, not to water down the Gospel and alter its principles to suit whatever people want to do. A Christianity thus perverted would not be Christianity at all.

1168. He added that human problems have to be answered in a human way.

In the end, the only truly human way will be found to be the Christian way. To forsake Christianity in order to let undisciplined human nature have its own way is a betrayal of the Christian religion. Hollywood sets out to solve human problems in a human way, a thrice-divorced actress becoming the fourth wife of some film star, offering us a mockery of marriage in which all semblance of Christian standards has been thrown to the winds.

1169. If other contracts can be terminated by mutual consent, why not marriage?

The mutual consent in marriage is an agreement to enter upon a state in life appointed by God, a state in which the two parties undertake to merge their lives into one life for as long as both of them continue in this world. No other contracts are similar in nature to that; nor are they entered into with the express stipulation that they are binding until death, a stipulation confirmed by the most solemn promises to God Himself.

1170. If people cease to love each other, their marriage just ceases to be a marriage.

If they allow their love for each other to die away, or alienate their affections from one another by unlawful attachments to other persons, then their marriage may become an unhappy one, but it remains a marriage. The parties themselves are to blame for their own infidelity and unhappiness. But we cannot depart from the teaching of the New Testament that no power on earth, whether of the Church, or of the State, or of the parties themselves, can dissolve the bond of a valid and consummated marriage between baptized Christians. Only the death of one of the parties can release the other from that bond. Such is the law of Christ, and those who refuse to observe it should at least not pretend that divorce and remarriage can be harmonized with Christian ideals.

1171. If people would only listen to the voice of reason!

More than that is wanted. One must also pay attention to the law of God. But even apart from the law of God reason itself opposes divorce and remarriage. To deny the binding character of marriage in order to suit the selfishness and irresponsible passions of the few is to open the way to a host of evils which can only do very great harm to society itself. Divorce undermines the integrity, of marriage, supplies an incentive to infidelity and adultery, destroys the dignity and security of women, gives scandal to children, is most injurious to the proper formation and education of those children, and causes untold misery to relatives and dissension between families. The very welfare of the State depends on the integrity of family life. If people would only listen to the voice of reason they would see how wise is the Christian law even if they did not acknowledge its authority. For Christians, of course, who do acknowledge its authority, the matter is not one for critical discussion, but for religious obedience to the clearly manifested will of God. Marriage, according to the divine law, is a contract binding the parties to it until death.

1172. Is not the making of such a rigid law by the Church the cause of an immense amount of unhappiness?

The Church did not make the law. It is the law of God declared by Christ Himself. And far more unhappiness has been caused by the breaking of that law than by its observance. I admit that, in some individual cases, a good deal of self-denial will be required for the observance of the law; but even in those cases there will be a compensating happiness in other ways making such self-denial more than worth while.

1173. To make such a law with no allowance for exceptions is simply inhuman.

No human being made the law. God made it, and He knows best what is good for humanity. You must remember that there is no law in the world, however useful, which does not hurt somebody. If people are free to ignore any law the moment its observance becomes awkward, then there will be no such thing as law at all, for no one would ever be obliged to do what he did not wish to do.

1174. What good does it do?

Much. The law that marriage is binding until death is the truest kindness in the end. People who genuinely accept that law will exercise far more care in choosing a partner instead of doing so thoughtlessly and wantonly. People already married, knowing that they are irrevocably bound to each other, will try to make the best of things when inevitable difficulties arise. Countless marriages have survived initial problems, the parties learning to adjust themselves to each other, where they would have impulsively broken with each other, if they had believed that divorce anc'ffj remarriage were possible.

1175. When a Nun makes perpetual vows and is married to the Church, the Catholic Church can dispense her from those vows Why cannot she dispense from marriage vows in the ordinary sense of the word?

The cases are not the same. Conditions attached to the Sacrament of Marriage have no application in the case of the Nun. For the Sacrament of Marriage is a lawful and permanent, contract between an individual man and an individual woman giving mutual rights to those functions ordained to the generation of children. It is to this marriage that the law of Christ applies, declaring that if a man puts away his wife and marries another, he commits adultery. The girl who enters a Convent renounces marriage in that sense of the word altogether. The union she seeks is not that with any man in the bonds of earthly love, but that with God alone in the bonds of a purely spiritual, supernatural and divine love. The ceremony of Religious Profession is not the same as the marriage ceremony, although some of the same external features of the latter may be employed with a completely different significance. The institution of Religious Life within the cloister was not directly prescribed by Christ, but was sanctioned by the Church for those who desired to consecrate themselves to a life of chastity, renouncing all thought of earthly love and all voluntary indulgence in sex-inclinations in thought, word or deed, and to devote themselves to the observance of a common rule and regular spiritual exercises possible only in a Religious Order. As it is the Church which sanctions and receives the vows of the Nun, so the Church can dispense from them for sufficiently grave reasons, allowing a Nun to leave her Convent and adopt any career open to other women in the world she left. But whilst the Church has the power to dispense from the vow to consecrate oneself to a higher spiritual ideal over and above the actual precepts of the Gospels, Christ Himself expressly denied to the Church, and to any power on earth, the right to dispense from the vows of a valid and consummated earthly marriage based on natural love and ordained to the procreation of children.

1176. There are many hard cases in this matter which surely deserve some consideration.

There is a little axiom that "hard cases make bad laws." Legislation must consider the general good. Even in the civil law courts judges have had to say that, notwithstanding the pathetic nature of the case before them, and their own personal feelings on the matter, the law permits one; decision only and that they have no choice but to apply it. And however severe one may feel the law to be, one does not blame the judge for doing his duty. In the same way, the Catholic Church is bound to maintain the law of Christ where marriage is concerned. Attacks on the Church, as though the Church had the power to vary or abolish the law of Christ forbidding divorce and remarriage, are most unreasonable. The Church has no such power.

1177. A good religious woman who loves her Church, may have to get a civil divorce for her own protection from a husband who treats her brutally.

That is a possibility. But the Christian law does not permit her to marry again whilst her husband still lives.

1178. What if she falls in love again, this time with some really good man, and wants to marry him?

If she is a good religious woman who sincerely desires to observe the Christian law, she will take care that initial attractions towards another man, if any, are not allowed to develop into deeper attachment leading on to love. Should her feelings have developed into love through her own imprudence, then she must rise above her own feelings and put aside the desire to marry again, if she wants to observe the Christian law. To a good religious woman the will of God means more than her own self-will, and she will be prepared to make the necessary self-sacrifice. She will obey God's command as clearly taught by St. Paul: "Let not a woman depart from her husband; but, if she depart, let her remain unmarried." I Cor., VII, 10-11.

1179. I know of a Catholic girl who married at 19, and whose husband deserted her within two years. Only 21 now, she has the whole of her life before her.

She has so much of her life before her as God will give her. But I do not deny that hers is a pathetic case.

1180. She told me that she feels very rebellious about the whole situation.

Rebellious feelings do not improve matters. We all instinctively revolt against self-denial and suffering of any kind. But we have to try to get our balance and face an unpleasant situation with resignation rather than give way to despondency and bitterness of soul. A returned soldier, rescued from a Japanese concentration camp during World War II told me that, whilst all had to endure the same dreadful privations, those privations pressed far more heavily upon people who nursed their resentment than upon those who cheerfully tried to make the best of things. And your friend's privations certainly do not compare with theirs.

1181. She is young, well-educated, and popular in society.

Those gifts will give her scope for a reasonable amount of happiness without her breaking God's law to get more. If a pleasure cannot be had without sin, there is far more real happiness in doing without that pleasure than in violating conscience to get it.

1182. The Anglican Church does not turn away from men and women in distress who look to it for sympathy and help.

Christ Himself declared that one who puts away a lawful partner and marries another commits adultery. If people separated from their lawful partners turn to the Church for sympathy and help, the Church cannot so sympathize with them as to permit a second marriage with religious rites, blessing what is not a Christian marriage as if it were one, and condoning what will only be a state of adultery. To water down Christian principles to make them fit in with what such people want to do, and thus let them live in sin as if it were not sin to do so, is treachery to the people themselves and disloyalty to Christ whose law has been thus repudiated. The Catholic Church cannot but protest against such a betrayal of Christian principles.

1183. Recently the Rev. Mr. Bunn, Anglican Vicar of Leamington, it England, said: "While preserving the idea of the Christian marriage of one man to one woman, to the exclusion of all others, there must be a more charitable way of dealing with hard cases than by insisting on a literal interpretation of Christ's words."

If you do not insist upon the literal interpretation of Christ's words that a man who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery, then you do not preserve the "idea of the Christian marriage of one man to one woman, to the exclusion of all others." We can have all the sympathy in the world for hard cases, but we just have not the right to say that the law of Christ does not oblige in such cases. Once admit exceptions to suit ourselves, and where will it stop? If a man finds one marriage unsatisfactory and may contract a second, there is no earthly reason why if the second is unsatisfactory, he may not contract a third. Granted the principle, it still stands however often it is applied; and Tommy Manville with his tenth wife in succession is not really in a different position from that of the man with his second successive wife, except that he has availed himself more often of the same principle as that on which the man acted who took the second wife.

1184. This good Anglican clergyman said that very often "a second marriage has the manifest blessing of God."

He let imagination and sentiment run away with him. That the two parties to a second marriage happen to get on well with each other is not a manifest sign of the blessing of God. If Tommy Manville happened to get on well with his tenth wife, after having discarded nine others, would that be evidence that at least his tenth marriage had the manifest blessing of God upon it? No Christian could believe that. If a man violates the law of God from any point of view and happens to prosper in this life by doing so, we cannot argue that he manifestly has the blessing of God on his conduct and that he has not violated God's laws after all!

1185. The Rev. Mr. Bunn said that he was sure that "not all marriages are made in heaven merely because the marriage ceremony has taken place in Church "

Anglican clergymen are notoriously weak in theology of any kind, whether dogmatic or moral, pastoral or ascetical. When Mr. Bunn says that he is sure that not all marriages "are made in heaven" he is using that expression in a popular, sentimental and quite untheological way, meaning simply that not all who contract marriage validly find their marriage a source of continued unalloyed bliss, and that they are as suited to each other as they had imagined and hoped they would be. But that does not mean that their marriage was not valid in the sight of heaven, and that before God they are not obliged to accept it as binding until death brings it to an end.

1186. God says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

It does not follow that the children of God can make peace at any price, even to the violating of the very law of God. Christ offers the peace of a good conscience, not peace in evil-doing and in the adoption of the standards of an unbelieving world. "My peace I give unto you," He said, "not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Jn., XIV, 27. And how different His peace is from that of this world is shown by His words: "Think not I am come to send peace on earth. I came, not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matt., X, 34-36. Christ knew, therefore, that fidelity to His law would mean anything but peace with relatives, and that it would mean broken homes. One has to choose between the peace Christ gives at the expense of worldly advantages to be renounced, or the peace this world can give at the expense of God's law.

1187. Is it Christianity to compel two people to live together who no longer love each other?

What do you mean by love? If you mean the thrill of the highly excited and emotional state known as being-in-love, then Christianity certainly demands that husband and wife must continue to live together, fulfilling their duties to each other, when that first glow of sentiment fades. And it must fade. People who think that if they marry the right person they will feel madly in love with each at the same high fever-pitch right through life are living in a fool's paradise. The first glow inevitably has to give place to the steady fulfillment of marital and domestic duties on a lifelong basis.

1188. It is a farce for a man to continue living with his wife if he has fallen in love with someone else

It cannot be a farce for any man to continue doing his duty. But it is not necessary for a man to allow any attraction he feels for some other woman to develop into a passionate attachment. It is his duty to refuse to indulge that attraction, avoiding all relations with other women beyond those usual between mere acquaintances, and reserving all manifestations of affection for his lawful wife only.

1189. Would you call that the state of Christian marriage?

Were your ideas to prevail, marriage would not be a state of life at all, but merely a temporary association between a man and a woman for the duration of a passing infatuation, or until either happened to fall in love with someone else. And as the glamor would be as likely to go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one, a man would be justified in going through a succession of marital experiences, regardless of the number of discarded victims left in his wake. That that could happen in the name of Christian marriage is the absurd idea.

1190. The refusal of the Catholic Church to marry divorced people has driven them to marry elsewhere.

It is not the refusal of their Church that has driven any Catholics to marry divorced people elsewhere. It is their determination to have what they want despite God's law which has driven them to enter into sinful alliances forbidden by Him. God gave the law: "Thou shalt not steal." Can the thief who takes what does not belong to him blame the law rather than himself, and say that he would not be a thief had there been no law forbidding theft? Did the law compel him to take what did not belong to him? He could, and should have refrained from violating the law.

1191. You can only expect to lose people to the Church by such over-severity.

The attitude of the Catholic Church is one of fidelity, not of over-severity. And it is better to lose people who are unwilling to observe Christian standards than to lose the Christian standards themselves. Whatever else happens, the genuine Christian teaching must be preserved in this world for those of goodwill in every century who want to know and live up to it.

1192. You not only lose Catholics, but fail to gain converts who would otherwise become Catholics

There are many who refuse to become Catholics because the Catholic Church cannot countenance remarriage after a divorce from a previously, valid marriage. But there are others who are led to become Catholics precisely for this very reason. The loyalty of the Catholic Church to the teachings of Christ even in difficult things, and her refusal to tamper with His law no matter what is to be gained by doing so, appeals to all that is best within them. And these are the converts really worth having for they will set a good example and be a credit to Christ and to the Church

1193. I know of a divorced Protestant man with two little children who wants to marry a Catholic woman. He is willing to become a Catholic. But if the Catholic Church refuses to marry them, she has promised to marry him elsewhere; and four souls will undoubtedly be lost to the Church.

If his first marriage was valid and his wife is still living, the Catholic Church simply has not the power to make the concessions they wish. If ten thousand souls declared that they would remain Catholics, and twenty thousand declared that they would be converted to the Church, but only on condition that she abrogated the particular laws of God they happened to dislike, the Church would have to do without them all. Neither to retain Catholics, nor to convert non-Catholics, can the Catholic Church water down the obligations of the Gospel.

1194. The law of the land declares that remarriage after divorce is permissible, whatever the Catholic Church may have to say on the' subject.

The law of the land declares that it is permissible in our country as far as the law of the land itself is concerned. It does not claim that its law is in harmony with the law of God, and as a matter of fact makes concessions which the law of Christ forbids. In view of this conflict, those who still desire to observe the law of Christ must refuse to avail themselves of any departures from it permitted by civil law.

1195. A Protestant divorcee told me that she is to marry a fellow Protestant, and that she feels it will be a truly Christian marriage because it will take place in a Christian Church and be celebrated by a Methodist minister. What should I, as a Catholic, say to her?

In a spirit of charity we must accept her statement as true; namely, that she feels justified because of the reason she gives, and that she really thinks her marriage will be a truly Christian marriage. If, however, desirous of making sure that she had a right conscience, she came to me for advice, I would ask her whether the decision of the Protestant minister who is going to perform the marriage would have any weight or authority for her on every or even on any other aspect of Christian teaching or of moral conduct. If not, I would ask her to think over why she relied on the rightness of his decision to permit her second marriage, whilst she lacked confidence in his other decisions concerning the Christian religion. If her only reason for accepting the particular decision to allow the marriage in his church is because it fits in with what she wants to do, then it is what she wants to do that is the test of his being right; and she would really be believing that her marriage will be valid because she wants to go through with it. Whether she would be satisfied with that I would have to leave it to her to decide, although I would have to point out the insecurity of such a basis for one's peace of mind.

1196. I am a Protestant, and have listened regularly to your programs and all you have had to say about divorce. I now want to tell you that my husband was a divorced man. Yet we are very happy together, and live good Christian lives.

You are both Protestants, and not for a moment would I presume to pass any judgment on either of you personally. You have no doubt persuaded yourselves that divorce and remarriage are not against the Christian law, and try to live good lives according to what you believe to be the requirements of Christian virtue. But it would be another matter were you to ask me, apart from your own case, and quite impersonally, to discuss the question as to whether mutual happiness is the test of a valid marriage, and as to whether marriage to a divorced person is in keeping with the law of Christ. The problems confronting us would indeed be formidable. If happiness is the test of a valid marriage, then all couples finding happiness together would be validly married whether they have gone through a marriage ceremony or not; whilst those who have been married would be entitled to regard their marriages as null and void the moment they ceased to be happy in each other's company! As for the law of Christ, in the Gospel of St. Mark, X, 11, we have His clear words: "Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery." If one does not believe in the Christian religion at all, those words will not impress him. But one who professes to be a good Christian cannot avoid the problem those words create, if divorce and remarriage are accepted despite them.

1197. Yet a Roman Catholic woman told me that I was living in adultery!

I am sure she did not mean anything like a personal attack upon yourself. You must have somehow entered upon a discussion about marriage and divorce, and she naturally gave her verdict from the Catholic point of view, not from your own. She would naturally quote the teaching of Christ that one who gets a divorce and marries again commits adultery. You would deny that to be true, according to your own interpretation of Christianity. As you will be judged by God according to your own conscience, there is no need for you to be upset because similar conduct would violate her conscience. A discussion is a waste of time between two people who start off with totally different principles. A Catholic takes our Lord's words literally in this matter. If a Protestant does not take them literally, then the question should first be decided as to whether they should be taken literally or not. If two people cannot agree on that, then they must agree to differ in their subsequent ideas on the subject. Catholics cannot agree that remarriage after divorce is lawful. If you are sincerely convinced that it is lawful, then your own conscience will not reproach you. And the sincerity of your conviction is, of course, a matter for yourself to decide.

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"THAT CATHOLIC CHURCH
A Radio Analysis"
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