Author Topic: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce  (Read 4830 times)

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Offline Thomas

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« on: March 22, 2007, 02:12:16 PM »
In response to the question of Divorce. In the Church the Bishops have listed very specific grounds for divorce and most are granted on the grounds of sin noted:
1) abandonment
2) Physical abuse
3) homosexuality
4) marriage infidelity
5) inability to provide children
6) conviction of crime and legnthy imprisonment (in some jursidctions this may be categorized also as abandonment)
7) Apostacy and heresy by one spouse while the other spouse remains faithful in the Church

Note: there is no mutual disagreement clause here.  There is not a "no fault divorce clause. There will always be an injured party.  Divorce does not happen if there if forgiveness and reconciliation and turning from the sin by the guilty party.

The only non-sin reason for granting an ecclesiatical divorce is:
7) Voluntary to enter into a monastery, in which both parties must agree and both must enter a monastery
(this has also been done in cases where a married man has been called to episcopacy or in which both husband and wife seek to live as the angels seperate and in appropriate monasteries to their gender).

For an Orthodox Christian who is divorced, the Bishop must authorize the  Church wedding, The spouse  or spouse's priest to clear the marriage, in most cases the ex-partner must agree to the marriage, these conditions and others must be met before the Church can marry the couple. The second marriage is held a service of repentance and the joy is in the blessing of the couple by the Church despite the past history and is emblemic of the mercy and forgiveness of God. Usually the guilty partner in the divorce is not allowed remarriage in the church without suitable repnentance and a period of penance.

Thomas 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2007, 02:13:55 PM by Thomas »
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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2007, 02:41:27 PM »
In response to the question of Divorce. In the Church the Bishops have listed very specific grounds for divorce and most are granted on the grounds of sin noted:
....
5) inability to provide children
....


This physical/genetic ailment is grounds for divorce in all cases, or only when the afflicted knows that s/he cannot have children and lies about it?

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Offline Thomas

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 02:05:52 PM »
It is a ground for divorce, one would hope that the love a couple have would keep them together and that adoption would be the outlet to gain children to share their love.

My understanding is that the interpretation by the Bishops has been that the grounds would be the inability to have children period.  If the knowledge prior to marriage that is not shared with the future spouse would be the sin. Today it may be the "fault" of the sterile person , man or woman, in the past it was generally the woman who bore the fault unless the man had been emasculated  by accident, punsihement/force of authority, or voluntarily submission (eunuch).

Thomas
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Offline GiC

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 02:52:21 PM »
Thomas,

The list you gave is quite modern, most of those excuses would not have worked 1000 years ago (though they did have other technicalities to help them get a divorce), and, as such, the issue of not being able to have children is only a legitimate excuse for divorce if the infertile person knows of the condition AND deliberately counsels this to their spouse...if there is no foreknowledge, there are no grounds for a divorce.

Of course, the degrees to which these other points are theoretically applicable are also open to debate, the conditions for divorce by abandonment are fairly complex, though laid out in canon and imperial civil law; divorce for apostasy or heresy is against the scripture; divorce for physical abuse is technically uncanonical; infidelity is also a fairly complex one based on Roman Law...sometimes it's a vaild reason for divorce; etc.

But while these theoretical arguments are fun and all, they really have very little bearing on reality today. I can not think of one instance where a civil divorce was granted and an ecclesiastical one, after being requested, was not granted.
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Offline Fr. George

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 08:37:35 PM »
Thomas,

The list you gave is quite modern, most of those excuses would not have worked 1000 years ago (though they did have other technicalities to help them get a divorce), and, as such, the issue of not being able to have children is only a legitimate excuse for divorce if the infertile person knows of the condition AND deliberately counsels this to their spouse...if there is no foreknowledge, there are no grounds for a divorce.

Of course, the degrees to which these other points are theoretically applicable are also open to debate, the conditions for divorce by abandonment are fairly complex, though laid out in canon and imperial civil law; divorce for apostasy or heresy is against the scripture; divorce for physical abuse is technically uncanonical; infidelity is also a fairly complex one based on Roman Law...sometimes it's a vaild reason for divorce; etc.

But while these theoretical arguments are fun and all, they really have very little bearing on reality today. I can not think of one instance where a civil divorce was granted and an ecclesiastical one, after being requested, was not granted.

I've heard of cases where the divorce was rejected after discovering that the claimant had committed adultery.
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Offline pensateomnia

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2007, 09:48:37 PM »
But while these theoretical arguments are fun and all, they really have very little bearing on reality today. I can not think of one instance where a civil divorce was granted and an ecclesiastical one, after being requested, was not granted.

Spiritual courts in the Greek Archdiocese of America have often denied ecclesiastical divorce for a whole host of canonical, pastoral and spiritual reasons. We just heard of many such cases, and the delicate, deliberate -- and I must say deeply spiritual -- means and reasons by which these cases were adjudicated when our senior class met with some of the members of one such spiritual court just a few days ago.
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Offline GiC

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2007, 10:34:29 PM »
Well, given that I do not know the details of said cases, I am unable to opine on the specifics. But I can only guess that had the people involved gone about it in the 'proper' (read: most effective) manner and divorced and remarried civilly before requesting an ecclesiastical divorce, it would have been granted...Unless of course, clergy or their wives were involved, but that's a whole new game.
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Offline pensateomnia

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Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2007, 11:18:45 PM »
No. It was not a matter of technicalities. Without sufficient evidence to substantiate the plaintiff's claims, the divorce is not granted. If the plaintiff has also violated some canonical or moral standard without evincing remorse and repentance, then the divorce is not granted, etc. -- and even if there is repentance, only according to the pastoral needs of the specific situation AND after a period of penance. It is a spiritual court.
But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)

Offline GiC

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007, 01:11:28 AM »
So it's basically like everything else in the Church...if you don't play the game right, you'll get burned (though even if you do play it right, sometimes you just get sick of it). They didn't show remorse? How stupid are these people, everyone knows you put on a show for any court...most people in authority simply want to fill self-righteous and important, give them the appearance of the respect they desire but don't deserve and you'll be far more likely to get what you want...sounds to me in the case you're presenting that the defendant simply had a better understand of rhetoric and psychology than the plaintiff.

And again, how many of these people were seeking an ecclesiastical divorce before a civil divorce and how many had already got a civil divorce and civilly remarried prior to petitioning for a divroce? You pull that stunt and all the 'pastoral sensitivity' gibberish lines up directly behind your case.

You made a very important point, these are spiritual courts, not canonical courts, those presiding over them have a nominal understanding of the Canons at best (the most capable Orthodox canon and ecclesiastical lawyers in this country are nominal at best). And because these courts are 'spiritual' and not canonical, they are very easily manipulated. The entire notion of a legal system without well defined, codified, and promulgated laws is absurd; it is absurd because it is easily manipulated by those skilled in rhetoric and psychology and offers no consistancy or justice. The only real offence is being stupid (not that that, in and of itself, is inherently bad...it's just different than our traditional notions of fairness and justice)
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Offline Elisha

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2007, 01:36:17 AM »
You made a very important point, these are spiritual courts, not canonical courts, those presiding over them have a nominal understanding of the Canons at best (the most capable Orthodox canon and ecclesiastical lawyers in this country are nominal at best).

Really, you're heavily implying that YOU are the only one in this country with a deep understanding of the canons.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2007, 01:40:35 AM »
Actually, I'm just glad to see GiC finally get worked up about something and lose his cool....almost as if he were human....
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Offline GiC

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2007, 01:49:46 AM »
Really, you're heavily implying that YOU are the only one in this country with a deep understanding of the canons.

Not at all...I got to the point where I could see what I needed to do to becomes a competent canonist, but shear volume of the material and the fact that it was all in patristic greek thwarted my efforts, I only know enough to understand the scope of the subject and the requirements to master it. It's merely a hobby for me.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2007, 01:52:09 AM by greekischristian »
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Offline GiC

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2007, 01:50:44 AM »
Actually, I'm just glad to see GiC finally get worked up about something and lose his cool....almost as if he were human....

I dont exactly see where I did that, but thanks for the heads up, I'll take a second look and make sure it doesn't happen again ;)
« Last Edit: March 24, 2007, 01:51:02 AM by greekischristian »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2007, 02:04:03 AM »
I dont exactly see where I did that, but thanks for the heads up, I'll take a second look and make sure it doesn't happen again ;)

LOL :D
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2007, 09:02:17 AM »
So it's basically like everything else in the Church...if you don't play the game right, you'll get burned (though even if you do play it right, sometimes you just get sick of it). They didn't show remorse? How stupid are these people, everyone knows you put on a show for any court...most people in authority simply want to fill self-righteous and important, give them the appearance of the respect they desire but don't deserve and you'll be far more likely to get what you want...sounds to me in the case you're presenting that the defendant simply had a better understand of rhetoric and psychology than the plaintiff.

And again, how many of these people were seeking an ecclesiastical divorce before a civil divorce and how many had already got a civil divorce and civilly remarried prior to petitioning for a divroce? You pull that stunt and all the 'pastoral sensitivity' gibberish lines up directly behind your case.

You made a very important point, these are spiritual courts, not canonical courts, those presiding over them have a nominal understanding of the Canons at best (the most capable Orthodox canon and ecclesiastical lawyers in this country are nominal at best). And because these courts are 'spiritual' and not canonical, they are very easily manipulated. The entire notion of a legal system without well defined, codified, and promulgated laws is absurd; it is absurd because it is easily manipulated by those skilled in rhetoric and psychology and offers no consistancy or justice. The only real offence is being stupid (not that that, in and of itself, is inherently bad...it's just different than our traditional notions of fairness and justice) 

Oh, woe is me!  The Church is so manipulative, and so easily manipulated!

Honestly man, you shouldn't get so worked up.

My dad serves on the spiritual court of first instance in his area.  He's told me that it is rare to deny a divorce, considering that 99% of the time the claimant is a good person with a good heart who has tried to reconcile things (or is abused by the spouse - physically or emotionally/mentally).  Even the cases we heard at the Archdiocese are the exceptions - while he didn't go into full specifics, I bet they probably could have listed only something in the 30's or 40's of rejected cases out of the hundreds that they have processed in the last 6 years.
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Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline GiC

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2007, 12:23:29 PM »
Oh, woe is me!  The Church is so manipulative, and so easily manipulated!

This is just the reality of the byzantine politics which the church has inherited...the only difference is that they are not as good at them as the Romans were. It's not the reality of the situation that ultimately bothers me, it can actually be quite fun at times and I believe that I could have done quite well in the imperial court; what does bother me to a degree is when the obvious reality is denied and a more noble explination is given to something that is politics, plain and simple. With those at the highest levels and most learned within the church, to deny the centrality of politics in 'spiritual' or canonical decisions is hypocrisy, for others it's simply naivety...but both bother me.

Quote
My dad serves on the spiritual court of first instance in his area.  He's told me that it is rare to deny a divorce, considering that 99% of the time the claimant is a good person with a good heart who has tried to reconcile things (or is abused by the spouse - physically or emotionally/mentally).  Even the cases we heard at the Archdiocese are the exceptions - while he didn't go into full specifics, I bet they probably could have listed only something in the 30's or 40's of rejected cases out of the hundreds that they have processed in the last 6 years.

Which essentially proves my point...you have to be really stupid to be denied a divorce (provided, of course, a clergyman or his wife are not involved, but as I said before that game has a whole new set of rules).
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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2007, 02:10:35 AM »
Dear Thomas (or anyone else),

Can you define abandonment and homosexuality more?  Specifically, how does one know if abandonment was not intentional (like kidnapping)?

And for homosexuality, is this assuming a person committed a homosexual act and/or thinks is fine, or is a "struggling" person who has the tendency to act in homosexual behavior?
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Reasons for Ecclesiastical Divorce
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2007, 09:24:10 AM »
1) Abandonment apparrently was common in days past, i.e. one spouse simply diappears without contact for 12 months or more. This aparrently was so serious  because men leaving wives in Greece (for example) to come to the new world would apply to get married in the US never divorcing their wives nor having further contact with their wife resulting in the need for American Greek Orthodox Priests having to get a letter from the Bishop/Priest in the old world that a person from that country is unmarried or undivorced. In some juridictions abandonment  could include long prison sentences or life imprisonment.

2) It means the homosexual act while married ( a form of fornication).

In all of these cases the offended spouse must apply for a divorce , meet in counseling with the priest and in some cases with the bishop if the diocese is small, and only if repentance of the gulty party is not forth coming or the offended spouse is unable to forgive and continue the marriage does the divorce process go forth. I am sure that Father Chris or your local priest can advise you on the requirements within your jurisdiction. In general, I have not found that Divorce is discussed until it is necessary probably as a way to limit it's use.

Thomas
« Last Edit: March 27, 2007, 12:18:40 PM by Thomas »
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