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Friday, October 03, 2014

Thomas Reese SJ on divorce and the synod

Jesuit Thomas Reese is one of the few writing on the upcoming synod who I believe has an accurately low level of expectation about the process and the outcome ... see his earlier post, The makeup of Synod of Bishops on the family is disappointing . Today he has an interesting post about the synod and divorce/annulment. He has a unique perspective as his father was a divorce lawyer, and in my opinion as a child of multiple divorces and divorced myself, what he wrote really nails the issues. Here's a bit of his post.

Synod needs to understand there are no simple solutions for today's family crisis

[...] The truth is that once women had the economic independence to survive without husbands, millions of them bailed out of failed marriages that women in the past were forced to stay in. Those who think there was some idyllic period when all families were loving and perfect simply are blind to historical reality. True, there were successful, loving marriages, but many were held together by economic necessity. Wife-beating and male infidelity were all too common, and the wife had few options except to put up with it .... In the past, most women could not walk out because they could not support themselves. We held families together by suppressing women's freedom. That won't work today. That day is long gone .....

Divorce is a sad reality with multiple and varied causes. Often, the couple should never have gotten married in the first place. Financial problems are also a big cause of divorce. Making a marriage work is hard work. But too often, marriages don't work. Blaming the victims is no solution. No one gets married just so they can get a divorce.

What does all this mean for the synod on the family? I think it calls for humility in the face of complicated problems that have been around for centuries. There are no simple answers. Simply repeating church teaching won't make any difference. Allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to go to Communion is necessary and compassionate, but it will not cure what ails families .....


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