Who We Are

Catholic Divorce Ministry is the ministry of the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics, Inc., working since 1974 to create a network of support for families experiencing separation and divorce.  CDM speaks to the Church with the united, collective voice of separated and divorced Catholics.  Through our Central Office, conferences, member groups, ministry leadership training, resources, and liaisons with church and civic organizations, CDM has substantially improved the entire family’s experience of divorce by addressing the religious, emotional, financial, and parenting issues relative to separation, divorce, and remarriage.  Because we’re also a U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations and membership dues may be tax deductible.

What We Believe

We, the members of Catholic Divorce Ministry, North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics, reach out to our brothers and sisters and their families in the United States, Canada, and other countries, who experience the pain of separation and divorce.

We believe that the Church has a rich treasury of people, scripture, tradition, and pastoral ministry on which it can draw to serve its members whose marriages end in divorce.  We strive to lay open this wealth and make known Christ's abundant love so that all who suffer from separation and divorce might experience healing, reconciliation, and new life.

We also recognize that separated and divorced people, through their vulnerability, suffering, courage, faithfulness, and patient endurance bear witness to Christ and his redeeming grace in the world.  They are not mere recipients of the Church's compassion; they are, as well, ministers of that compassion.

What We Do

We dedicate ourselves to the following:

  • To search out those who have left the Catholic Church because of separation or divorce, and those who are in irregular marriages following divorce, and to work toward their reconciliation
  • To foster the spiritual and emotional recovery and development of those who separate, divorce, or remarry
  • To promote the formation and continued development of local support groups and peer ministry
  • To serve as a major resource to dioceses, parish clergy, and religious and lay leadership in the areas of divorce ministry training and distribution of publications
  • To consult and maintain liaisons with organizations, individuals, and institutions whose purposes are similar to those of the NACSDC
  • To welcome separated and divorced persons of other faiths who request our support, and
  • To be a united voice to the Church on the needs of today's separated and divorced families.

The Early Years:
The Divorcing Person in a Responding Church

“Good Catholics don’t get divorced.” This simple statement is, I believe, an accurate description of the spoken words and inner attitudes that were common in our church prior to the establishment and growth of the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics.

So great was the power of the above statement that thousands of divorcing Catholics were left with what they believe was their only one alternative — namely to slip quietly out of the Church, convinced that there was no point in turning to what had been once their “home” for support and practical assistance. While many may have asked themselves why the Christian community did not seem to care about their deep hurts, most were too hurt or too fearful of further rejection to approach those who might have offered pastoral care.… more.

The Later Years:
A Responding Church Calls the Divorced Person to Leadership

The efforts of Father Jim Young, Paula Ripple Comin, the NACSDC Board of Directors, and numerous lay and religious leaders in the 1970's brought a dream of a divorcing person in peer-to-peer ministry to reality.  By the early 1980's, support groups were established in most dioceses in the United States, Canada, Guam, and even as far away as Ireland, Australia, England, and New Zealand.

Simultaneously, leaders in the Church, including Bishops, parish staff, religious educators, Family Life personnel, and Tribunal staff were convening to address the needs and concerns of those experiencing separation and divorce.  Nudges from enthused and informed laity prompted Bishops to write pastoral letters about the long overdue and much needed ministry to divorced Catholics, and to participate in special “homecoming” Masses and programs for those who felt “unchurched,” alienated, excommunicated, or unwanted.… more.

The 1990s

The nineties found many families, parishes and dioceses experiencing financial concerns. As a result, many Family Life Offices were closing, much of the diocesan support diminishing.  The divorce recovery ministries were the hardest hit.  In the few dioceses that kept their Family Life Offices, the offices were given added tasks.  This meant several ministries had to be eliminated or minimized.  The Divorce Recovery groups once again felt abandoned by the church.  As a result, the divorced individual found support locally, either in their own parish church or other local divorce recovery group.… more.