Relative Morality

When was the last time you heard a priest or bishop denounce the evil of divorce? Just as sermons inveighing against contraception have almost disappeared from Catholic pulpits, so too has preaching against divorce. The Catholic church has certainly not changed its teaching about the indissolubility of the marriage bond or its ban against divorce and remarriage, but divorce is certainly not high on the list of major sins for either high or low clergy. Why?

Could it be that just about every bishop and priest has a divorced sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin? A fair number of younger priests and seminarians have divorced parents. Back in the fifties, anyone from a "broken home" would have been kindly but firmly told that he could not be ordained for a major archdiocese like Chicago or Boston. No more! Today, divorce is no longer a remote aberration but a pressing and unhappy reality which has touched the majority of American families. More than half of all marriages in the United States end in the divorce courts and among second marriages the percentage is even higher. It is inevitable, therefore, that the Catholic clergy are not only counseling angry and alienated couples in the parish office but also confronting the pain of divorce among their own relatives.

A priest’s or bishop’s divorced sister or brother is seen not as a sinner but rather as an unfortunate victim to be granted a declaration of nullity...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

The Reverend Willard F. Jabusch is chaplain emeritus of the University of Chicago.