Why Is This Needed?
So, why create an apostolate for separated and divorced Catholics?
It is important not just for those Catholics in pain, but for the sake of the Church in our community.
It is no secret that in the United States, Catholics are leaving the Church in record numbers. Some gravitate to protestant congregations where they feel more welcome and accepted; others just disengage from practicing their faith altogether.
While it is good news that Catholics experience a lower divorce rate in the United States than others (at 28 percent, as reported in October, 2013 by the National Catholic Register), divorce remains significant, representing 11 million Catholics.
The fact is, this issue is one of the most significant factors in that drive Catholics away from the Church. But it is not largely for reasons tied to divorce (and remarraige) that one may expect. Most people don’t fully understand what the Church really teaches about love, sex, marriage, divorce, annulment, or remarriage. In fact, there are simply too many myths and misunderstandings that can cause frustration, anger, and a profound sense of abandonment from the Church (on top of that from the former spouse).
Case in point: the recent survey by William J. Byron and Charles Zech, which appeared in America magazine, indicates that the Church’s perceived views and approaches toward divorced Catholics consistently has only poured salt on profoundly deep wounds that, even given the best care, will take half of a lifetime to heal. Many Catholics who have been forced to endure this trauma might summarize their experience with the Church in this way: “All rules; no mercy.” And those rules are often poorly communicated, given the myths and misunderstandings that proliferate among Church members.
We don’t believe that these negative outcomes have been intentional. Nor do we believe that the Church should just tell some people what they may wish to hear for the sake of appeasement. But Truth delivered void of love and mercy was not the example that Christ gave us. We hope that this ministry will foster emotional and spiritual healing, and bring people closer to Christ, His Church, and to the Truth she delivers.