Divorced and Abandoned Spouses

I find that reading Pope Francis in light of his predecessors offers a fuller understanding because each pope lightens the subject from a different angle. They are complementary teachings.

Pope Francis: Accompany, don't condemn
"The Lord takes this love of the masterpiece of Creation to explain the love He has for His people. And going further: when Paul needs to explain the mystery of Christ, he does it in a relationship, in reference to His Spouse: because Christ is married, Christ was married, He married the Church, His people. As the Father had married the People of Israel, Christ married His people. This is the love story, this is the history of the masterpiece of Creation – and before this path of love, this icon, casuistry falls and becomes sorrowful. When, however, this leaving one’s father and mother, and joining oneself to a woman, and going forward... when this love fails – because many times it fails – we have to feel the pain of the failure, [we must] accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. Do not condemn. Walk with them – and don’t practice casuistry on their situation."

Pope Francis also said the Gospel episode encourages us to reflect "about this plan of love, this journey of love in Christian marriage, that God has blessed the masterpiece of His Creation," a blessing, he said, "that has never been taken away. Not even original sin has destroyed it." When we thinks of this, we can "see how beautiful love is, how beautiful marriage is, how beautiful the family is, how beautiful this journey is, and how much love we too [must have], how close we must be to our brothers and sisters who in life have had the misfortune of a failure in love."  news.va

What is "Casuistry"?
The pope speaks pejoratively about "casuistry": The attempt to resolve moral problems as did the Pharisees, by applying rules to new instances in a mechanical manner, without love. This leads to a gross misunderstanding of the purpose of the the law. The pope is NOT, as some fear, moving towards relativism. "Love" is not an excuse to moral laxity. The answer is found in Christ Himself who clearly exposed the tragedy of sin but gave His life to save us sinners.

Benedict XVI on divorced and abandoned spouses.
Jan 26, 2013, See complete documet: vatican.va. Pope Benedict quotes John Paul II.

Those saints who lived the matrimonial and family union in the Christian perspective succeeded in triumphing over even the most adverse situations, at times achieving the sanctification of their spouse and of their children with a love that was always strengthened by solid trust in God, by sincere religious devotion and by an intense sacramental life. These very experiences, marked by faith, make us understand that the sacrifice offered by the abandoned spouse or the spouse who has suffered divorce, is still precious today, if — recognizing the indissolubility of the valid matrimonial bond — they refrain from "becoming involved in a new union…. In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church" (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio [22 November 1981], n. 83).


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