Awareness for Separated and Divorced Catholics

The excerpts below provide only an introduction to the feelings and challenges that confront the separated or divorced Catholic.  Be sure to visit  our Regional Happenings and Resources section — for workshops and other events in your region, including Diocese contact information and details about divorce ministry for resources for spirituality, family, wellness, recovery, and growth.


From Marriage Tribunal, Diocese of Gary:

Divorce is unique among life experiences.  There is no precedent that can prepare an individual for it.  Divorce is a process, not an event.  Legal divorce can be pinpointed to a moment in time, to the signing of a court decision, but not so the experience of divorce.  The experience of divorce is the result of a series of incidents that eventually erode a relationship between a husband and a wife.  The ending of any marriage that has endured long enough for the two partners to invest portions of their lives, money, emotions and dreams is often a devastating experience. 


From Divorce Ministry, Archdiocese of Chicago:

Divorce is never part of your plan for life.  When you married, you intended it to last a lifetime.  Now you have been faced with a situation that could seemingly not be resolved any other way.  It is a time of grief and great pain for the loss of the dream you had for your life.  You are divorced.  You are single again and probably have many responsibilities from the marriage that will need your attention.  The first thing you must do is to take good care of yourself.  The children, your job, your extended family will all suffer more if you are not healthy and hopeful for the future.


From Divorced and Separated Ministry, Archdiocese of Atlanta:

Separation and divorce can be two of the most difficult events in an adult’s life. It is sometimes particularly difficult for Catholics. Pope John Paul II said “I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life.” (Familiaris Consortio, #84).


From Family Life - Separated and Divorced, Archdiocese of Boston:Here are some suggestions that may be helpful:

Professional counseling may help you through this difficult time of your life. You are enduring many changes in your life and often a torrent of mixed emotions. A skilled counselor should be able to assist you to make carefully thought out decisions and guide you in finding tools to deal with the emotions you are experiencing.

As Catholics, we believe that marriage is permanent and indissoluble. The beauty and wisdom of this teaching may bring additional pain to those who are separated or divorced. Seek a counselor who can appreciate and validate the significance of this situation.

Be as healthy as you can be! Get plenty of rest and exercise. Maintain a good diet and do not lean on alcohol or drugs.  
Remember, you are never alone. Begin and end each day with prayer.


From Divorce Ministry, Archdiocese of Chicago:

Faith and courage are needed to rebuild life after the end of a marriage.  You are encouraged to seek help from good people who have learned how to move ahead with rebuilding their lives.  Peer support groups, professional counseling, and kind people in your faith community are likely places to seek out support.

If you are separated, use this time to reflect on God’s will for you.  Attend Retrouvaille, participate in The Third Option program, seek effective counseling from a professional.

If you are a single parent, seek help from other single parents.  Attend parent education opportunities through your local grammar school, high school, park district, or library.  Never speak ill of the other parent in front of the children.

If you are co-parenting, learn to share the children in a kind way.  Do not punish the other parent and do not punish the child for the relationship they have with the other parent.  Every time you talk poorly about the other parent, you inflict deep pain in the child.  Children whose separated or divorced parents continue to argue and fight have the greatest harm inflicted on them.If you are divorced, attend peer support groups, seek effective counseling or coaching to help you manage the changes in your life.