Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Consecrated Life of the Catholic Church: Married and Divorced, and Other

[See Code of Canon Law information pertinent to the various institutes of the Church who are part of the Consecrated Life of the Church, as well as  that of the Religious Institutes having different stipulations than do the Secular Institutes, secular Apostolic Life, hermits, virgins/widows.  Cited for convenience in previous post.]

  • Divorce and the Consecrated Life of the Church:  Hermits who are divorced may enter the Consecrated Life of the Church, by Code of Canon Law.  [Am currently consulting with canon lawyers to locate specific law, if there is one that stipulates that those consecrated Catholic hermits who profess the evangelical counsels per the optional and additional stipulations of CL603 (beyond what is stipulated for all consecrated Catholic hermits per the institutes of consecrated life) are required to have nullity of marriage, if divorced.]
  • There is no such restriction for consecrated Catholic hermits who profess the three evangelical counsels but do not do so publicly, per CL603, and thus are not recognized by church law yet are very much part of the Consecrated Life of the Church.  [See previous post for the full section of canon laws regarding Consecrated Life in the Church.]
  • The marriage of a Catholic who is divorced may be nullified by and for several reasons [See Canon Law on Impediments to and Nullification of Marriage] as determined by the diocesan tribunal, or sometimes an archdiocese determination, or by the jurisprudence of the Vatican (Papal Authority).  The marriage may also be nullified if one or the other spouses was at the time of marriage not a baptized Christian [The Pauline Privilege involving Papal Authority].  A marriage may be nullified, as well, if not yet consummated.  
  • Nullification by Solemn Profession is another mode.   Briefly, as such, a divorced Catholic enters a religious institute.  (This is not common, or was not; but in the past two decades the larger religious orders are increasingly open to accepting divorced Catholics, particularly who were not the guilty party in the divorce.) The marriage is not nullified by initial vows (or the simple vows) but only at the time of profession of solemn vows. Later, if there is a discerned call to the eremitic life, and determined in accord with the religious superior, the consecrated religious may embrace the hermit life.  Of course, intent of the aspirant is important so as not to use or abuse the process.  (Nullification by solemn vows also involves Papal Authority in current times.)  
  •  A limited divorce  may be granted in the case of adultery, if the innocent party desires to enter the consecrated religious life) and he or she relinquishes the marital rights, professes the evangelical counsels, which include a life of chastity (intent is celibacy other than in the secular institutes or secular apostolic life of which married couples may enter the consecrated life, living chaste lives within their marriage vows).  
  • A dispensation of various impediments in the case of a divorced Catholic may be requested of and received by the Holy See.  [Research has not found impediments, de jureto a divorced Catholic being allowed to enter the consecrated state--the consecrated life of the Church as an eremitic. 
  •  The death of either spouse, obviously, nullifies the marriage and removes all impediments of divorce.
  • In some dioceses in the United States, the local ordinary (bishop) or in some instances may be the bishop's vocation director,  have set precedent that a Catholic who is divorced must have a nullity of marriage prior to profession of the evangelical counsels, specifically per CL603 proviso.  However, canon law nor The Catechism of the Catholic Church substantiate this practice. However, a bishop would have the authority to make that a condition in his own diocese since the CL603 provisions require the hermit publicly profess the evangelical counsels into the hands of the diocesan bishop, thus recognized by [church] law, as well as the bishop required to direct the hermit's proper program of life.  
  • There have been cases in which a married couple has fulfilled their marriage vows, are mature in years, past procreation, and each desire to enter the religious life or some category of the Consecrated Life of the Church, or even for the man, Holy Orders.  In such instances, there may be two theologians and two church authorities in agreement, and the marriage may be dispensed for the purpose of both parties entering the consecrated life or the holy orders.  This is an historical practice, but currently per situation, the determinations are made among the person/s, spiritual director, priest, and/or bishop.
  • Married persons may enter the consecrated life of the church when such secular institutes or institutes of apostolic life have charisms and acceptance of married persons, singly or as couples.  This, of course, varies according to each institute.
  • There are currently no laws in place regarding those with psychosexual disorders entering the institutes of the Catholic Church as consecrated hermits, virgins/widows, secular institutes, apostolic life, or religious life.  There is an impediment and grounds for nullity in divorce, however, for either or both of the spouses who have personality or psychological disorders, or severe mental illness.  It is presumed that spiritual directors, vocation directors, and for those (such as hermits) entering the consecrated life of the church, even per CL603 (thus, involving the bishop), that there would be sufficient knowledge of the person prior to the profession of the counsels and of adopting the hermit life. 

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