Canberra (Fides News Service) - Australia’s Bishops are reaching out to those who have suffered the distress of marital breakdown and divorce with a new easy-to-read booklet which outlines the Church’s teaching in this difficult area and offers pastoral care and support.
The booklet, entitled Divorce and the Catholic Church: Frequently Asked Questions, is a significant new publication which has the support of the entire Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
It is presented in the same question and answer format which proved so popular with the booklet, Marriage in the Catholic Church and covers questions such as: Why is marriage so important to the Church? Is it always ‘for keeps’? Why do some couples feel that they are no longer able to ‘live’ their marriages? How should spouses respond to challenges in marriage?
The booklet also explains clearly the possibilities and the process of annulment and the question of whether divorced people can continue to receive Communion.
Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, Bishop Eugene Hurley, said the Bishops produced the booklet because they were deeply aware of a pressing pastoral need for such information for Catholics whose marriage had broken down.
“Marriage breakdown is always terribly sad and distressing for all involved and none of us are untouched by the deep pain experienced by family members or friends whose marriage has broken down,” he said.
In the introduction to the booklet, the Bishops say that these hurts and concerns are compounded when they impact on another sacrament, the Eucharist.
“As a Church we have a responsibility to develop the great way of life to which we are all called while at the same time responding with all our hearts to the complexities of human relationships and actions. It is not easy, and being human, we sometimes fail,” Bishop Hurley said.
“This small booklet is an attempt to explain some of the principles underlying the Church’s approach to issues around divorce, remarriage and the Eucharist.
“It is hoped that it provides encouragement and guidance to all who are grappling with the pain of divorce and, in particular, with its implications for their life as members of the body of Christ, the Church.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/9/2007 righe 29 parole 291)