I will never forget the feeling of isolation I felt when I was going through my divorce. I turned to my parish and there were no programs for people who were separated or divorced. I tried to talk to my Pastor, and while he tried his best, he could offer me nothing more than the simple advice to “keep praying”. I was on my own. This, combined with my shame, made me feel like an outsider in my own Church.
That was over twelve years ago. While strides have been made, so much more needs to be done. There are too many parishes without programs for separated and divorced. There is still too much misinformation keeping divorced Catholics from receiving the Sacraments. And there are still way too many Catholics leaving the Church after divorce. But, the light is starting to dawn, and it is starting at the top. Pope St. John Paul II was vocal about the need for the Church to minister to divorced Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the need to make sure that divorced Catholics are loved and accepted. There is every reason to be very hopeful. The message has gotten through and good things are sure to follow. Divorced Catholics, your Church has heard you. Help is on the way!
Parishes and other Catholic communities “must do everything possible so that such people [divorced Catholics] feel loved and accepted, that they are not ‘outsiders’…” – Pope Benedict XVI