I was reading and trying to understand Amoris Laetitia and came up with this question below.

The documents talk about irregular couples and basically say that everyone undergoes different timing of conversion.

This is a situation: A non-practicing Catholic couple "divorces" and re-marry by state. They end up having families, let's say with 3 or more kids with another husband/wife. According to the Catholic teaching, they live in adultery. Now, they start to be interested in spiritual life and undergo what we call a conversion. But they are stuck because they can't just split and leave their kids or whatever dependencies they have.

I know the ideal would be to get an annulment and solve this problem. But let's say they aren't entitled to an annulment. My question is what does the church offer to such couples as a solution? Suggesting to live like a brother and sister isn't going to work unless they stop living in the same household but that might not be ideal for kids (I guess) or it can still cause a scandal.

Is splitting couples really the only way to go if they want to live a sacramental life? I know this happened to St. Augustine but his situation wasn't that complicated. Do we have other examples from the past where families needed to separate in order to return back to living in the state of grace?

Have Catholic theologians written on this subject and if so could someone explain it to me?

  • 1
    Why the votes to close? – Grasper Oct 9 '17 at 19:01
  • Even with AL I think the idea would (and certainly should) be to eventually live as brother and sister or have the marriage convalidated. – Belinda Oct 10 '17 at 14:36
  • If living as brother and sister won't work, not so much because they are not interested as they know it will be difficult then frequent confession. This is a case where the near occasion cannot be avoided. – Belinda Oct 10 '17 at 14:40
  • @Belinda, frequent confession, in this case, would be a presumption of God's mercy and that's a sin against the HS. An unforgivable sin. Not the way to go. – Grasper Oct 12 '17 at 11:15
  • I'm thinking more of their intention is to live as brother and sister but they fall. As I said it seems that the near occasion of sin can't be avoided in this case, so as long as they really do intend to live as brother and sister I think that confession would be the solution. Of course they cannot just use confession to have sex without making an effort but if they felt that there's no point in even trying because we'll fall then it may encourage them to see and the grace of good confessions may eventually allow them to live as brother and sister. – Belinda Oct 12 '17 at 12:10

In Catholic church you vow to never leave your wife/husband until death. There's no "fix". The only "fix" is to reunite or live apart, but without any new wife/husband. Jesus said exactly that you cannot do such a thing and nothing can change it (thank God).

Since reunion seems impossible, we have to look at the other option. "Suggesting to live like a brother and sister isn't going to work unless they stop living in the same household". In my opinion this is not true. It's about your soul and mind being pure, not living next to each other. It's hard, very hard, but not impossible.

I have friends that were in similar situation (but they were living without marriage). They stopped to have sex, but still lived in the same house (economical reasons). They waited for marriage and succeeded. If you're divorced, problem is not going to solve itself, but that's the consequence of the vow (i.e. your own actions).

You want to be aligned with the Church, you have to be aligned with your vows.

There's a beautiful book by Karol Wojtyla (before he became Pope John Paul II) titled "Milosc i odpowiedzialnosc" (eng. "Love and responsibility"). A little hard to read, but very, very deep. I suggest reading it fully.

Update: Related to the topic is "Familiaris consortio" by John Paul II. It's from 1981 but still accurate and inline with "Amoris Laetitia" (not surprising, is it?)

  • Thanks for the answer but if they live together and avoid having the parental act, they still are in a sin that causes a scandal and also they are putting themselves into the occasion of sin and are invalidly married. – Grasper Oct 2 '18 at 12:51
  • @Grasper they are not in sin in that case, but scandal may occur. They can attend Mass in the church where they're not known. And to family (including kids) they can testify "Yes, we made mistakes, but now we're doing the best we can". To me it's like a murder that cannot undo the murder (and his presence causes a scandal), but he can be a part of the church and testify. As far as I understand Amoris Laetitia, rules about marriage don't change, but we should look at each other with more empathy and mercy. – Sielu Oct 2 '18 at 13:16

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