PRO: Should Catholics Be Able to Divorce and Remarry Within the Church

by Natalie Yuhas

With Pope Francis’ recent reforms to the annulment process in the Catholic Church, it calls into debate a question Catholics have been wrestling with for quite some time: Should Catholics be able to divorce and remarry within the Church? Currently, the answer to that question is “no,” mainly because of doctrinal reasons that support that answer.  However, that argument is outdated and limits what the Church is, or should be.  The mission of both the Church and of Christ Himself support that Catholics should be able to divorce and remarry with the Church.

First of all, the Church is called to be the most welcoming place on Earth.  It seems completely counterproductive to deny anyone access to the Church because of any sin they may have committed, if you choose to define divorce as a “sin.” Was it not Jesus himself who associated with the sinners and lepers? The Church was set up as a man-made institution to continue His message of love and acceptance on earth.   At what point are we more focused on the institution rather than the bare bones of Jesus’ teaching? There is no better way to turn people away from the Church than to make them feel unwelcome.  


In terms of the divorce itself, there are many good reasons for people to get divorces. It is unhealthy and potentially psychologically and physically harmful to stay in a relationship that is abusive.  Victims of abuse should be able to divorce and take the steps necessary to keep themselves safe.  It is ridiculous to deny someone who was abused or otherwise hurt the chance to re-enter into a loving, supportive marriage through the Church. God calls for the healing of those who are hurt and suffering and to find joy through their relationship with Him, spouses, and the community. Also, married couples are called to raise their children with faith and to instill the teachings of the Church.  In some instances, a parent can be a better example of faith and love as a single parent or as a step-parent.

Scripture argues that divorce and remarriage are considered adulterous and breaking a covenant made through the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Although inspired by God, Scriptures are still man-made and reflect the culture at the time they were written.  When looking at a marriage purely through the eyes of a sacrament, there is an issue of seeing married couples as, in a way, a thing rather than what they truly are:  humans who make mistakes and find themselves lost. Jesus came to preach forgiveness and mercy, which means allowing people a fresh start through remarriage in the Church and the opportunity to build a better life in a faith filled relationship.

As the Church progresses in the 21st century, it is important to focus on the needs of Her members and the realities of our society. The Church is called to be a place that spreads Jesus’ mission on earth, and it is unable to do so efficiently by getting so caught up in dogma.

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Comments: 5
  • #1

    jenny (Wednesday, 30 September 2015 05:17)

    Changing yourself is the only way to save your marriage.
    "The response to a behavior is more important than the behavior"

  • #2

    Joe (Thursday, 01 October 2015 16:22)

    I think this article exemplifies the modernity that is continuing to seep through the Church and Her people. Granting forgiveness requires a person to truly repent for their sins. If an individual is in a state of divorce and civilly remarries, how can they be sorry for said sin if they are living in a state of that sin? I cannot say if they are forgiven or not since I am not God, but I am basing all of this off of Scripture and Tradition. We have Dogma for this reason. Getting caught up in Dogma can at times be tricky. In many ways it needs to be conveyed with a pastoral love rather than in an authoritarian manner but that does not mean that Dogma is outdated and should not be used because that is a logical fallacy in they eyes of a Catholic. Dogma is.

  • #3

    Jean (Thursday, 01 October 2015 17:08)

    The author stated correctly remarriage in the Church where forgiveness and healing are present. Divorce should be an option for Carholics that find themselves in a not life giving marriage due to abuse, drug addiction, infidelity, etc. Marriages fail even with marriage preparation through the Church. Couples who enter into divorce need to be forgiven and have the ability to move on with a life that Jesus intended.

  • #4

    Perry Petrilli (Thursday, 01 October 2015 18:07)

    Very well written article. After being married over 40 years, I can assure you it is the most challenging and yet rewarding relationship you will ever experience. With that being said, the church should counsel those marriages under stress to help determine if reconciliation is possible or is separation and ultimately divorce necessary.

    Yes, there are situations that cannot and should not be tolerated within a Christian marriage. Let's just understand that "falling out of love" is not an acceptable excuse for divorce. We live in an environment where it is too easy for the church to become "of the world" instead of being saints "in the world". If that difference is not discerned by those who do not know God then we are failing at being the "empty vessels" we should be for Christ to shine His light through us. To Him be the glory!

  • #5

    Kevin (Thursday, 01 October 2015 18:26)

    Dear Natalie,
    A Catholic marriage is a sacrament. Like Baptism, it cannot be undone. A divorce is a civil action to divide property and, if children are involved, assign custody, among other things. Yes, Jesus associated with sinners and forgave their sins--but don't forget, He also admonished them to "sin no more." An admonition which ranks among "bare bones" of His teachings. (He also declared divorce to be a sin, which is why it is a doctrine and cannot simply be abandoned because it seems to be old-fashioned.); If you consider it to be "outdated", your argument is with Jesus, not with the church.

    Divorced Catholics are not turned away from the church. In the eyes of the church, they are still married. If they wish to remarry, they may seek an annulment--a finding that due to some impediment, a sacramental marriage did not occur. Note well that in a catholic marriage, the couple performs the wedding by taking their vows--the priest's role is to serve as a witness. Thus, if one or both of the parties are being dishonest about their intent, or are acting under duress, etc. there may be grounds to receive an annulment. If a person chooses to remarry without having been granted an annulment, and live in adultery, they freely choose to be excluded from the sacramental life of the church. In the Gospel of John, many of His disciples chose to leave when He introduced the Eucharist, calling it "hard teaching." More bare bones.

    By the way, the Church is not a man-made institution, Jesus created it at Pentecost. And your rhetoric about Holy Scripture seems to reflect our culture at large, wherein the Bible has less value these days than comic books. I hope that's not the case.

    pax tecum,

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