Carvajal: Catholic but not Christian

Break Point
SunStar Carvajal
SunStar Carvajal

Like any other human venture, marriages fail. Many the world over have, in fact, been breaking up ever since. As I write, married couples in this country and in the world are separating for a variety of reasons, but mainly for a spouse or both spouses to keep body and soul together.

But here’s the irony. While the woman is often the victim, she and the children bear the brunt of the break-up’s fallout. Without legal cover in male-dominated Philippines, she deprives herself and the children of the financial support they have a right to. Besides the cost of living expenses, the children often suffer varying degrees of psychological trauma that takes time and costs money to heal.

Get real. Wouldn’t a divorce law give these women and children their right to financial support and a second chance at living a normal life? It might make you very Catholic but forcing victims of a failed marriage to live a hell on earth for life would be utterly unchristian. A divorce law merely accepts the reality that marriages fail and victims have rights that all humans, regardless of religious affiliation, must respect and secular governments must protect.

Many marriages, even in our predominantly Catholic country, are between non-Catholics. With freedom of religion enshrined in our constitution, more than unchristian, it is unconstitutional to impose Catholicism’s abhorrence towards civil divorce on citizens with a different religion or have no religion at all. Catholics may not avail of the option but let there be a law on divorce for all others.

We seem unaware that marriage is between two human beings who bring to the marriage their sacredness as persons. Their individual sacredness takes prior rights to the sacredness of marriage. What sanctifies marriage is the respect the spouses pay to each other’s sacred person. It’s not a divorce law that breaks a marriage but a spouse’s or both spouses’ loss of respect for each other’s sacredness as persons.

The Catholic Church allows annulments that so far, only the rich can afford. But annulment merely declares there was no marriage in the first place because full consent was lacking. Likewise, a divorce law only declares a marriage broken because basic rights have been violated. It further gives the aggrieved spouse and children the legal right to financial support and, more importantly, the freedom to have a second chance at leading a normal life.

The arrogance of Catholic bishops and clergy over our being the only other state besides the Vatican to have no divorce law borders on hypocrisy. Majority (95 percent) of the Vatican’s 800 or so citizens are unmarried priests and nuns. They need a divorce law like a hole in the head. What they need is a law allowing them to marry so they can empathize with victims of a failed marriage.

Today is Independence Day. But for thousands of Filipino women and children enduring a living hell in the dungeon of a failed marriage, Independence Day comes when a divorce law is enacted in this country.

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