Never married vs divorced dating

It is time for all of us in the Church to stop judging the divorced.This may seem like a rationalization, but Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:6 (“Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate”) does not apply to all marriages.

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I get a lot of comments, concern and advice about finding someone when people learn I have been divorced for eight years.

I really am happy as a single person, and not at all lonely or bitter about the past because I choose to remain single.

My own Diocese of Phoenix and other dioceses around the country are revisiting their marriage requirements, lengthening preparation periods and examining couples closely, looking for trouble spots in their relationships and families of origin—indications that they may not be ready for the vocation of marriage just yet.

As a divorced Catholic, I am happy to hear about the Church’s new vigilance. Annulling past marriages and saying, in effect, “We hope you do better next time,” is hardly adequate.

Many parishes offer post-divorce workshops designed for the first months after a divorce. The Church—the institution as well as the individuals—needs to minister to the millions of divorced Catholics by both changing ingrained attitudes and reaching out in love.

Yes, the Church is and should be pro-marriage, but, like its Lord, it must also love and support those whose marriages have failed. As the survivor of divorce after 30 years of marriage, I know there needs to be a healthier dialogue within the Catholic Church between those who have never divorced (including our clergy) and those who have.

Non-divorced Catholics need to be careful of assumptions, to discard any trace of judgment toward the divorced.

Since I have “been there, done that” when it comes to being judgmental, I can address this issue personally.

The Catholic Church’s response has been to get proactive about better preparing engaged couples before they marry.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage has made strengthening Catholic marriages a top priority.

People should not have to justify their actions before they are loved for who they are. Divorce has released me spiritually, mentally and emotionally to become the person God created me to be.

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