With what seems to be a less conservative Pope at the helm, the Catholic church may be poised to change its view on divorce. Boston residents who have gone through or are considering divorce and are also Catholic may be interested in a discussion currently occurring between the Vatican and a group of German clergy. For many, ending a marriage is not the first option. However, after serious attempts at mediation, some couples decide that separate lives would be better for everyone involved.
According to Catholic doctrine, couples who make that decision suffer consequences within church life. Specifically, they are not allowed to take communion again unless the end of the marriage meets church requirements for an annulment. Although giving up communion may not seem like a big deal for some - especially when overall future happiness could be at stake - it is a big deal for serious Catholics that believe in the sacrament.
In October 2013, the German diocese began a discussion on this issue by publishing guidelines that could potentially bring divorced individuals back to communion. The diocese was asked to end the discussion by the Vatican, but the group of bishops would not. Now, Pope Francis has publicly said that the Catholic church must take another look at divorce and remarriage. He wants to discuss the issue at a meeting of bishops in 2014.
In moving to make the Eucharist more inclusive of all church members, the Pope may remove one divorce-related concern for couples that include one or two practicing Catholics. With so many legal issues involved in a contested or uncontested divorce, not having to worry about losing a major tenant of one's religion may help individuals make strong financial and legal decisions through divorce mediation or court proceedings.
Source: The Boston Globe, "Divorce for Catholics?" James Carroll, Dec. 23, 2013