04 October 2014

“Council of Trent did not condemn Eastern marriage practices”


Read this, dear reader, excerpted from an article in the Vatican Insider:

“After the discussion, 97 Council Fathers expressed themselves in favour of the Venetians’ request and approved it, while 80 were against the Eastern practice, but divided in terms of their reasons. “This did not mean that the majority of the Council Fathers wanted to call into question the indissolubility of marriage,” La Civiltà Cattolica writes. “The intention was simply to discuss how this condemnation was expressed. This does not affect canon five which opposes divorce.”

“The new version of the seventh canon is worded as such: “If any one saith, that the Church has erred, in that she hath taught, and doth teach, in accordance with the evangelical and apostolical doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties; and that both, or even the innocent one who gave not occasion to the adultery, cannot contract another marriage, during the life-time of the other; and, that he is guilty of adultery, who, having put away the adulteress, shall take another wife, as also she, who, having put away the adulterer, shall take another husband; let him be anathema.”

“The wording, Fr. Pani observes, “is unique, because on the one hand it condemns the doctrine of Luther and the reformers who disregarded the Church’s practice in relation to marriage, but on the other, it left Greek traditions unscathed even though they tolerated second marriages.” Another important correction that was made, was that the marital union was not longer referred to as “marriage” but as “the bond of matrimony”.

“The canon therefore only refers to the internal indissolubility of marriage, that is, the fact that a marriage cannot be dissolved ipso facto, neither in cases where one of the spouses has committed adultery, nor when spouses decide to divorce according to their own conscience. And the Council says nothing regarding the question of whether the Church can declare the dissolution of the marital bond or not.”

“According to La Civiltà Cattolica’s article, what the early Church meant by “indissolubility”, was the evangelical requirement that a marriage must not be broken and that a couple must follow the Lord’s teaching that “what God has joined together, man must not separate.” This was in contrast to the principles of civil law, which considered repudiation and divorce to be legitimate.

“ “And yet,” Fr. Pani observed, “it is possible even for a Christian to fail in his or her own marriage and for them to form another union; this sin, the same as any other sin, was not excluded from God’s mercy and the Church had and claimed the power to absolve a person from this sin. It was about showing mercy and applying pastoral indulgence, being sensitive to human fragility and sinfulness.

“The Eastern tradition kept this concept of mercy and renamed it oikonomia: although the Church recognizes the indissolubility of marriage proclaimed by the Lord, as a reflection of Christ’s union with the Church, His wife, in practice, it must deal with the problems experienced by spouses who face the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. After the bishop has carefully considered a specific situation and after a period of penance, faithful may be reconciled, a second marriage may be declared valid and the individuals concerned may be readmitted to communion.” ”

This valuable article may be read from the beginning HERE.