• Subscribe to Crisis

  • The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

    Subscribe to Crisis

    (It's Free)

    Go to Crisis homepage

    • John

      Stephen,
      This is a fine article. I agree that divorce assaults one of the most important cultural, economic, and even political building blocks of our society. We have a definite interest in ensuring the rights of children to be loved and raised by both their mother and father (whenever possible, their biological parents). And while I agree that the prospects for healing our culture of divorce seem so daunting, perhaps there are some more options? First, obviously, comes from the Holy Spirit–through catechesis, prayer, and a renewed commitment from Catholic families, priests, and bishops to pray, live, and fearlessly teach the merits of the holy family. By our fruits (some amount of economic stability, happy and healthy moms and dads and kids, well-educated and articulate kids), we may be increasingly known, no? But perhaps it is time to begin the Childrens’ Rights Movement. So many other groups of adults have successfully seized their sexual autonomy in the past decade or two, but largely at the expense of children. Pro-life people are not afraid to speak for the weak or defenseless. Can we not also articulate a bill of rights for children that pushes back against the false “rights” to sexual contact-, fertilization-, divorce-, and co-habitation-on-demand that assault a child’s “rights” to be conceived, loved, and raised by his or her parents and whose rights to this care trump the parent’s rights to act autonomously? If, for example, any lone woman can claim her “right” to fertility autonomy sanctions her IVF, could not an newly-energized state counter that a child’s “right” to nurturing care of a mother and father forbids it? Perhaps we face an uphill battle, but by couching the debate in terms of competing “rights” (and I understand the problems with the word–but it’s the one “they” are using), we might begin to carve away at the state’s role in enabling the cancer of divorce (which I’ve heard described as “hell on earth”).

    • Pingback: Divorce: A Widely Ignored Self-Inflicted Tragedy | Crisis Magazine « News for Catholics

    • Ford Oxaal

      Maybe the way to regain state support for marriage is through a plurality of marriage contract types. At the highest would be Catholic — no divorce, end of conversation. Next down would be some other flavor — divorce is allowed, but tough to get under the terms of the contract. Then, at the bottom rung, no-fault. Over time, the contract producing the best fruit would gain more and more favor in society.

      • Tout

        Divorce should not be allowed, Maybe separation, but without the right to marry some one else.

        • Ford Oxaal

          That would be option A, the Catholic contract. Protestants would go for option B, where you have some divorce. My point is that you can’t sell option A to all of society, so let’s at least get it as an option, and then compete.

        • Mariana T

          Tout read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It already says that.

          • Tout

            MARIANA I know that.

            • Mariana T

              I apologize if I came off curt….

      • Mariana T

        People don’t care about marital vows anymore. At this rate we are lucky if people still get married in 20 years. And many of those that are married aren’t even bothering to divorce. They are living together separately in their homes claiming they “can’t afford” to get divorced and they are giving each other the green light to date other people. People no longer care about the Sacrament or Institution of Marriage anymore! Marriage itself is headed off a cliff.

        • Ford Oxaal

          The state has made it too risky. It is a bad deal, especially for the guy.

    • Pingback: Divorce: A Widely Ignored Self-Inflicted Tragedy | Catholic Canada

    • http://twitter.com/gailfinke Gail Finke

      A couple of years ago a study (I don’t have the citation, sorry — if anyone does I would love to have it) concluded that 1/3 of people who divorce say they are happier afterward, 1/3 say they are unhappier, and 1/3 say they are exactly as unhappy as they were when married. Of the 1/3 that were happier, a good percentage were in very bad marriages with abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness etc. How many people who were not in such a situation would be eager to put themselves through the disruption, stress, and pain of divorce knowing those odds? Considerably less than 1/3 chance of being happier — but a lot higher chances of being poorer, sicker, and lonelier! This kind of simple, practical, and non-sectarian info needs to be communicated MUCH more.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

      A great article — and see, for confirmation and a different take on the harm done to the discarded spouse, who is more often than not the father (!), see Stephen Baskerville’s work. One quibble: If the civic order is not concerned in marriage, I don’t see what could possibly concern it at all.
      Another point: all the ancient authors assumed that you cannot have a healthy state without a virtuous people. And virtue is not niceness: it is difficult and demanding.

      • Latinmass

        I agree with you Tony and everyone should read and understand what Stephen Baskerville has to say.Remember what the Bolsheviks understood that in order to destroy the Church you must destroy the Family. The first and foremost step to destroy the family is to destroy the linchpin, the Father..Easy Divorce,Contraception,Abortion etc. are part of that destruction in which they dress up and convince people that these are ‘Freedoms”.

    • Pingback: Divorce: A Widely Ignored Self-Inflicted Tragedy | Foundation Life

    • Pingback: The Real St. Nicholas: Not Fat and Not Very Jolly Either | Big Pulpit

    • Mariana T

      Presently, divorce is not the root of the problem. Divorce is a symptom of a much deeper problem. It is not news that most couples who marry today are not virgins. Many even have other partners before their marital partner. The more serious problem that currently exists is that couples partake in “conjugal unity” before they recite their marital vow, thus, the marital vow has become an after thought, or simply a document necessary for appearance sake so the couple may begin the child bearing process. And many couples copulate in the very early stages of their relationships before they really know each other or know what they’re getting into. Many young people today seek fulfillment in another person instead of truly finding out who they are personally. In other words, many do not even know themselves.

      Self-mastery, self-possession, and self-determination are essential qualities for man to be “the author of genuinely human activity,” as JP II says. One must first possess oneself before one is able to give oneself to another. In order to do so, one must first forge a relationship or partnership with God. Otherwise how can we form any authentic subsequent relationships? This is why divorce is such a problem today…not because couples are giving up, but because couples are not consulting God before they decide to bond. This is why there is a legitimate invalidity of marriage on a grand scale.

      The result is that man winds up dividing what God never joined together in the first place. What needs to be restored today is for man to seek a personal relationship with his Holy Father so he may prayerfully discern God’s will in his choice for a lifetime partner. Only then will we have less marriages ending in divorce. The problem today with marriage is not the church’s leniency on divorce, it is our lack of faith, period.

      • Ford Oxaal

        Well said. Virginity has been mocked on a massive scale in our culture. Even the parents don’t want virginity until marriage for their offspring. Nor do they want religious vocations for them. And for those who *do* want to live faithful lives, the graces provided by God make the marriage work, and it becomes a triune relationship between man, woman, and God — with less of a need for support from the secular government. But still, do you have suggestions about what the government’s role should be regarding marriage here in America? Or would you say that it is wholly a Church proposition? I mean, bottom line, it is a Church proposition — a sacrament — without which it is drained of meaning.

        • Mariana T

          Good question. And one that I am still struggling with. I believe we have a very long spiritual battle – I don’t like to call it that, we can say “struggle” – ahead of us in this country and it has to start in the parishes and the schools… even the secular schools. We have to regain control of the secular schools somehow and it may be a fifty year plan we are looking at. We have to reverse the damage done by the 60′s generation and it’s not going to happen overnight. I pray that teachers are replaced with Christian teachers that are not afraid to express and uphold Christian principles. Then perhaps it will have a rippling effect throughout the country and on our government.

          As you said, parents don’t believe in the benefits of remaining chaste until marriage. They erroneously see it as a risk and think the couple needs to ensure that they are “sexually compatable.” I know parents who send their sons off to college with a box of condoms. They laugh about it. Meanwhile, studies have shown that if at least one partner in a marriage was a virgin on their wedding day the odds are in favor of that couple remaining married for life. If your spouse is the only person in the world that you gave yourself to, it would be very difficult for you to walk away. The more partners you have the easier it gets to walk away.

          In terms of divorce & the government role, one possible idea would be to have sort of a reverse waiting period that would give a couple the opportunity to revolk or rescind their divorce within the first year. I believe that many couples who divorce quietly suffer remorse and would not even entertain the idea of revolking because it can be very daunting.

        • Tout

          Those who divorce should not have the right to remarry.

    • Mary Lee

      Finally the destructive effects of divorce on children are being discussed. I am a child of divorce back in the mid 30s. As I grew I hated the absence of my father intensely and made a vow that when I married it would be forever and I would never subject my children to absentee fatherhood or stepfathers. Fortunately, I married a man who made that promise easy to keep and my children grew up with a wonderful father. The unhappiness of my childhood stays with me, albeit as a memory now tucked behind the years of happiness.

      • Tout

        MARY LEE Thanks. I too felt the necessity to consider marriage a very serious act. We were married for 61 years. A good wife is more than a fortune. Every Sunday we were at the Mass with our children. Married in Belgium during the war(1942) we had difficult times. Later came to Canada. Slowly we made it. After 4 years I told my wife she could go and visit her parents. Thank God, we and the children never got serious troubles or sickness. My parents died, but when my father-in-law went on pension, we paid a trip for them to come and visit us here in Canada for some months. We were never ‘rich’. Young people, life and marriage are serious subjects.

    • Karl

      Sorry folks, but the Catholic Church is a major player in encouraging adultery, divorce, civil remarriages, annulments, the destruction of abandoned spouses and the destruction of children children. Its pastoral practices are horrendous. It is nearly totally deaf to the pleas of
      those of us its policies are destroying. I am tired of being told to pray, sacrifice and offer it up. Those who say this and fail to act as their positions allow, should shut up!

      If Catholics are not willing to accept this reality and force the Church to act to address it, with canonical sanctions, then the Church deserves to waste away.

      I have experienced these realities for more than two decades. I do not speak from a distance. I speak from reality.

      Why does the Pope not have the guts to seek advice from annulment respondents, as he moans over the “poor adulterers” who are not supposed to receive communion? He makes me puke! Why does he not shut down the annulment mills. His own, now retired, Dean of the Rota, Bishop Stankiewicz and numerous other canonists, called into question the application of Canon 1095, in a conference in Rome in April of this year. Where is the action from this gathering? Why are past American decisions, where much of the abuse has occurred, not being rexamined by independent investigators, like annulment respondents, who have some idea of what all this means? Certainly, the canonists who have supported and contributed to these terrible injustices should not be allowed any say in such a reexamination. But none will ever occur, systematically, because the corruption runs throughout the entire Church establishment.

      It is a living Hell for those of us being destroyed by our spouses, our government and the Catholic Church. I am revolted by the uncaring attitudes of priests, bishops and canonists,
      most of whom should be expelled from their offices if not the Catholic Church.

      Go ahead you losers, cut me to pieces, with your sophistry and excuses. You cannot hurt me more than my wife’s unending adultery and what the courts have already taken from me. Have at it!