Monday, May 30, 2011

Malta: collapse of Catholic marriage law's last stand

"Therefore what God has joined together, ...

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Tribulation Times


May 31, 2011 

(Mat 5:32) But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

IN THE NEWS:  Malta: collapse of Catholic marriage law's last stand


In a defeat for both the Catholic Church and the government, just over half of the voters of the Mediterranean island of Malta (pop. 412,000) voted Saturday to allow divorce. Malta is the last European country -- and one of the few left in the world -- where divorce is illegal.

The Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi, had campaigned for a No vote. "The referendum outcome is not the one I wished for," he said, "but the will of the majority will be respected and parliament will enact legislation for the introduction of divorce,"

The divorce law will be far stricter than the "no-fault" divorce which prevails in the rest of Europe. The Referendum question asked whether divorce should be available to "a married couple who has been separated or has been living apart for at least four years", where there is "no reasonable hope for reconciliation between the spouses", and once "adequate maintenance is guaranteed and the welfare of the children is safeguarded."

But in this predominantly Catholic island, where 95 per cent of the population is baptized and more than 70 per cent go to church each Sunday, the result -- 54 per cent voting YES, on a 72 per cent turnout -- marks a substantial shift in relations between Church and state. Because almost all marriages are solemnized in church, in the absence of a civil divorce law annulment has been the only option available to couples.

RELATED : Philippines: Congress to start work on divorce bill

So far, only the Vatican City and the Philippines are left in the list of states that disallow or prohibit divorce. A third one, Malta, removed itself from the list after citizens voted for divorce in a referendum.

The House Speaker's public statement of support for the divorce bill should result in speedy proceedings and serve as a signal to the Members of Congress he leads. 

REVIEW: Church Fathers on Divorce and the Indissolubility of Marriage 


FR. JOHN A. HARDON, S.J.: The Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage

NEW CATHOLIC DICTIONARY: "Indissolubility of Marriage "

"What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19). When the sacrament of matrimony has been received by a man and a woman and ratified by their cohabitation as husband and wife, their union cannot be dissolved except by death. Protestants often quote those other words of Christ in the same chapter, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery"; but it is plain that this permits not a divorce but a separation. It is not a dissolution of the marriage bond, but a putting away of the guilty party; for elsewhere our Lord declares that "He that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (Luke 16). Saint Paul commands that the wife shall not depart from her husband, "and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled with her husband" (1 Corinthians 7). Here there is a distinction between the mere contract of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony. The Church, for grave reasons, can dissolve the contract of marriage when the sacrament has not been received, as explained in the article on the Pauline Privilege, but when the sacrament has been received and has been ratified by marital cohabitation, marriage cannot be and never has been dissolved. Because the Catholic Church enforced this law, schism and subsequent heresy invaded one of her choicest realms when a pope refused to grant a divorce to a licentious English king.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

27. We who are passionate must constantly pray to the Lord. For all the dispassionate have progressed from passion to dispassion.

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