There are some ancient Christian doctrines that only the Catholic Church has retained. And because marriage is exclusive to only one other person at a time, no person who is presently married can marry another person.One such doctrine is her teaching on contraception, which was the unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers, and which all Christians shared for nineteen centuries until the Lambeth Conference of 1930. Therefore, if a married couple acquires a civil divorce from a judge, that divorce is such only in the eyes of the State and its laws.At that conference the Anglican Church decided to permit the use of contraceptives, and were soon followed by all other Protestant denominations. The couple remains truly married before God, and before the Church until one spouse dies, even though the State declares it dissolved and no longer recognizes the marriage.Another such doctrine is the Catholic Church’s teaching concerning the indissolubility of marriage, and thus the impossibility of remarriage while the spouse lives. So if upon obtaining a civil divorce one spouse goes before a judge or a Protestant pastor, and ‘marries’ a third party while the other spouse is alive, the new union is not a marriage, even if the State calls it a marriage and treats it like a marriage.Wedding at Cana Duccio di Buoninsegna 1308-11 Outline I. Moreover, having sexual relations with a third party, while one’s spouse remains alive, is an act of adultery.
In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was.If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law.Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists.For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities.
Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
This doctrine is perceived by many people in our generation as scandalous, because divorce and remarriage have become so commonplace.