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DIVORCE – Why NOT!
In recent years the number of divorces is on the rise in Poland. It is an alarming trend for many reasons. Careful observation of this situation leads one to say that we are looking at the process of accelerated degradation of society, essentially its destruction on every level. Many changes in worldview can’t be ignored. Polarization of convictions is progressing. Many people openly reject Christian values and they have the right to do so. But it is very alarming when self-declared and practicing Catholics do not recognize any wrong in divorce when they suggest this solution to others and when they reject and question the truth of indissolubility of marriage. Let’s explain why a catholic can not consent to divorce.
1. The Teaching of Jesus
The teaching of Jesus is very plain: “Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. ” (Matt 19:6)
Jesus, in conversation with the pharisees reminds that a monogamous, heterosexual and permanent marital union of man and woman is an institution created by God from the beginning. This “from the beginning” emphasizes that, in reality not yet affected by Original Sin, such union was instituted as an ideal and an example of the best way of life on earth and must remain such. Also, “from the beginning” stresses that, the permanent marriage union is the beginning of all human relations. It is the founding principle violation of which causes dramatic consequences in the life of individual and society. It is a a natural law and a primordial rule. In the natural world and the whole universe abounds with such laws which influence its quality and stability. Violation of those laws, even in a small part, causes devastating and permanent consequences. Marriage with its permanence is one of those basic norms. It is the most important value influencing human relations and interdependencies.
2. The teaching of the Catholic Church is contained in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and in The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
347. What sins are gravely opposed to the sacrament of Matrimony?
Adultery and polygamy are opposed to the sacrament of matrimony because they contradict the equal dignity of man and woman and the unity and exclusivity of married love. Other sins include the deliberate refusal of one’s procreative potential which deprives conjugal love of the gift of children and divorce which goes against the indissolubility of marriage.
(Emphasis by author).
The listed paragraphs of the Catechism and the Compendium do not require explanation. They are plain and simple. A little reminder that we are talking here about divorce on the level of civil law. According to the teaching of the Gospel and the Church marriage once contracted is indissoluble. Sometimes people wrongly mention “church divorce”. In reference to marriage such solution does not exist. Church courts are able to pronounce nullity. It has nothing to do with divorce or “church” permission to break up. The diocesan court pronounces that the union was entered into with an existing impediment (if one was present) and therefore such union was never a marriage from the beginning. The catechism condemns civil divorce in the family court identifying it as immoral and “gravely opposed to the sacrament of Matrimony”.
3. Blessed John Paul II
In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, Blessed John Paul II teaches
“Conjugal communion is characterized not only by its unity but also by its indissolubility (…). Being rooted in the personal and total self-giving of the couple, and being required by the good of the children, the indissolubility of marriage finds its ultimate truth in the plan that God has manifested in His revelation: He wills and He communicates the indissolubility of marriage as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolutely faithful love that God has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church. ” (nr 20). “Conjugal communion constitutes the foundation on which is built the broader communion of the family, of parents and children, of brothers and sisters with each other, of relatives and other members of the household. ” (no 21).
In the same way the the Pontifical Council for the Family upholds and elaborates on the value of indissolubility of marriage:
“Other goods for the whole of society, which are derived from the conjugal communion as the essence of marriage and the origin of the family, can also be considered” (no. 28).
The above quotations show the value of the unity of marriage and also the wrong of divorce, which deprives the family and the whole society of foundation, lack of which makes life and growth impossible.
In his teaching Blessed John Paul II warns against the spread of the divorce mentality:
“One cannot give in to the divorce mentality: confidence in the natural and supernatural gifts of God to man prevents that.
Whenever a couple is going through difficulties, the sympathy of Pastors, and of the other faithful must be combined with clarity and fortitude in remembering that conjugal love is the way to work out a positive solution to their crisis. Given that God has united them by means of an indissoluble bond, the husband and wife by utilizing all their human resources, together with good will, and by, above all, confiding in the assistance of divine grace, can and should emerge from their moments of crisis renewed and strengthened.” (The Address of John Paul II to the Prelate Auditors, Officials and Advocates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, January 28, 2002, no. 5)
The term “divorce mentality” used here describes with precision the recent decade, in which the truth of unity and indissolubility of marriage started to fade.
4. Other Sources
The above quotations themselves provide enough evidence that it is impossible to consent to divorce if one lives in a sacramental marriage. To complement, and maybe more to warn, we include a few more statements.
4.1. St. Padre Pio:
“Padre Pio defended also with great effort the truth of infallibility and holiness of marriage. He opposed legalization of divorce in Italy. To him the breakdown of marriage and family was a great injustice harming not only adults but primarily children. He often repeated that “divorce is a passport to hell”.
4.2. Fr. Jacek Salij, OP, Chair of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski:
“Every divorce is something of a murder. Divorce is the killing of love — often ill, often very ill, often — humanly speaking — hopelessly ill. Killing of the sick person is the easiest and fastest way to get rid of the illness — but is it the best way? Is it even good? Even if there is no hope of full recovery (although God does grant miracles if we seek his help), does that mean that there is no reason to go on with treatment? We can’t rashly say about a very estranged married couple that their love has died. Love is something spiritual and that’s why it does not die easily. It finally dies only in hell.” 
4.3. Kasia (personal testimony):
“From the time I was born I lived in a single family home with a beautiful garden, a huge walnut tree, and my favorite dog. When I was 12 years old I faced my first serious life choice. It was evening. Dad called me and my sisters into the dining room and said that he and mom are divorcing. He asked whom do I want to live with: him or mom. I burst into tears and yelled that with mom and him. In the end I stayed with mom. When I was 15 mom left to work abroad. I was left alone and that’s how it is today: I do the laundry, cook, clean, and go to school. But I think that I became an adult to soon”.
4.4. Krzysztof (personal testimony):
“My parents divorced when I was ten years old. I was very traumatized by it. I feel the effects of their divorce to this day. I am 26 years old and for the past 6 years I have been in psychiatric treatment: I suffer from paranoidal schizophrenia. ”
4.5. Ania (Crisis Intervention Center counselor):
“Marysia was one of the best students in her class. She kept her notebooks and workbooks very cleanly and neatly. Her handwriting was beautiful. Serious problems with her school work began during the second semester of fourth grade. She started to lag behind the class: skipped homework and had difficulty concentrating. Her workbooks got sloppy at first, and later had many empty spots and unintelligible handwriting and scribbles. Testing revealed that Marysia shows symptoms of sudden developmental reversal. A few months before the divorce of her parents became official. It was told to us in college that divorce is a “little death” in the child’s consciousness. Certain levels of awareness die, which are impossible to regenerate. It is easier for a child to cope with the death of a parent than with divorce. I witnessed it first hand working with Marysia.”
5. Divorce Without Fault
Often we are faced with a situation when one of the spouses is forced to divorce. As a result of lawyer’s activity, disfavor of judges and passage of time divorce is finalized. In this situation the spouse who did not consent to divorce is not morally culpable. The spouse should stay single, faithful to the spouse who left and united in spite of distance. The abandoned spouse can live the sacramental life, especially with full participation in Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Salvation and defense from consequences of sin for both spouses and their children are possible through the power of the Sacrament of Matrimony, strengthened by the power of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and joined to personal sacrifice.
The most dangerous consequence of the divorce mentality, which is spreading very quickly, is the weakening of awareness of the indissolubility of marriage in Catholic consciousness. In spite of it, each marriage is in the winning position and is “doomed to success”. We can’t surrender and give in to modern trends. The power, greatness and beauty of marriage flows from the truth of its institution by the Creator.
The present situation challenges us all to defend the unity and indissolubility of marriage. We have to do it in different ways, but the beginning is to speak up and advocate “good news about marriage”. We cannot give in to the divorce mentality. We can’t hide hide our heads in the sand. We have to speak out even if faced with ridicule and rejection. Speaking the truth is connected with risk, but it is the most beautiful risk we can take.
 Pontifical Council for the Family “Family, Marriage and De Facto Unions”, Vatican, July 26, 2000.
 author’s emphasis.