Palma urges reconciliation amid divorce bill debate

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma
CEBU Archbishop Jose PalmaEarl Kim Padronia

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma calls on reconciliation and forgiveness to resolve indifferences among married couples amid the pending approval of the divorce bill in Congress.

In an interview on Friday, June 7, 2024, at the Cebu Archbishop’s Palace, Palma emphasized that marriage, as a lifelong commitment, is a union of a man and a woman, which God has witnessed and sanctified.

“I believe many do not understand the implication sa ilahang baruganan (of their stand),” he said.

On May 22, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the measure seeking to legalize absolute divorce as an alternative mode for dissolution “of an irremediably broken marriage.”

A total of 131 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 9349, or An Act Reinstituting Absolute Divorce as an Alternative Mode for the Dissolution of Marriage, while 109 voted against. Twenty abstained.

Palma said that any misunderstanding should be worked out by not only a single spouse but by both of them for the marriage to prosper and last long.

He said couples with differences and disagreements tend to underestimate God’s grace in strengthening their marriage and opt to split the relationship.

“I have seen couples who live out married life for so long and I think (it) is a good sign,” Palma said.

The church official stressed the importance of both couples making an effort to resolve fights and disagreements between them and seek forgiveness or to forgive.

Palma said it is normal for couples to encounter misunderstandings in times of marital problems and challenges.

He added that absolution of marriage and separation of couples have a negative implication for their offspring.

Palma said divorce is not the answer to solve these indifferences as a couple who split and enter into another relationship will face the same problems and challenges.

“Our hope and prayer is for people to know the nature of marriage and stick to it and maybe in the future, people will realize that it’s good to hold on to what is true and valid,” Palma said.

The Laity of the Archdiocese of Cebu expressed on May 29 that divorce undermines the “seriousness and sacredness” of the marital vows.

Couples facing tensions and conflicts are encouraged to seek help, counseling and support to address their conflicts and not resort to separation.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines maintained its opposition to divorce as an “anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-children.”

Under the proposed measure, the grounds for legal separation under the Family Code of the Philippines can also be considered, such as physical violence or severe abuse towards the petitioner or any children involved, coercion to change religious or political beliefs, attempts to involve the petitioner or any children in prostitution, and a final judgment sentencing the respondent to over six years of imprisonment.

Other grounds for separation include substance addiction or chronic gambling, homosexuality, entering into another marriage while still married, infidelity, attempting harm against the petitioner or any children and abandonment of the petitioner for over a year without justifiable cause.

A divorce petition undergoes a judicial process to establish proof of the cause for the divorce and the complete collapse of the marriage without any possibility of reconciliation.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman proposed the legislative measure. / EHP

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