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JLeslie's avatar

SPOILER ALERT. Catholic question about a story line on New Amsterdam, not necessary to be familiar with the show.

Asked by JLeslie (57629points) March 6th, 2019 from iPhone

The story line was a boy needed expensive medication to live, and the parents couldn’t afford the meds, so the doctors suggested the parents get divorced to get the drugs on Medicaid. The parents were upset because they are Catholic and don’t believe in divorce. They said they love each other, and it’s a sin.

Mind you, I’m not Catholic, and I would find it very difficult to get a divorce, so I have no problem with that sentiment, but what bothered me is for a Catholic, why are they talking about civil divorce like they are divorced? If they are so religious, isn’t the religious marriage really the only important thing? They aren’t living in sin if their married in the church, are they?

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7 Answers

seawulf575's avatar

To a Catholic, when they marry, if it is sacramental, it is forever unless it is annulled. The annulment process is done by the church and determines if the marriage was invalid from the start. There are set criteria to make it valid. If a couple was married and it was sacramental or valid and they get a “civil” divorce, they are still married in the eyes of the church. For instance, if a man was abusive towards his wife and she filed for divorce, she would still be married to him in the eyes of the church. If she went on to marry someone else, the church would see this as a sin.
Oddly though, as you said, if they lived together it would be okay with the church. Cohabitation is frowned upon (such as living together before marriage) but is not forbidden. In the case of the couple getting a civil divorce and living together, they would be okay in the eyes of the church. At least in my understanding. The couple would lose certain benefits of being married, though. Tax breaks, rights of spouses, etc would be gone. But from a church aspect, they should be fine. Unsure? Talk to a priest.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 That’s what I thought.

The Pope said it was ok on the show. I just found the story line ridiculous and annoying since my understanding is they are still married in the church and their objection to getting divorced was because of their religion.

This show, which has gay relationships, trans people, discusses addiction, and seems very good about equal treatment of all people, should have, in my opinion, pointed out a civil marriage is not a religious marriage. Two separate things. I’m tired of religious people putting the two together as one and the same. Just to defend the Catholics, since we are talking about them on this Q, in my experience the Catholics more often than not do understand that point. It’s usually Evangelical Christians who can’t separate civil from religious marriage in their heads.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Considering that until fairly recently the Catholic church’s history is one of injecting itself into temporal law, for many Catholics they probably make no distinction between marriage/divorce on a legal level and marriage/divorce on a church level.

JLeslie's avatar

@Darth_Algar My experience is the average Catholic doesn’t do that when it comes to marriage. All of my Catholic friends who I discussed it with were fine with gay marriage being legal. I know not all Catholics were, I’m just saying in my personal experience. Most of my Evangelical friends were against it. They seemed to be deer in the headlights when I talked about civil law being separate.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, in my personal experience as well. But I’m not sure the handful of Catholics I know are a large enough sample size to establish an average for the church’s 1.3 billion worldwide adherents.

kritiper's avatar

Your query might matter to a Mormon more than a Catholic. I never heard of any such distinction in the RCC.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I converted to Catholicism, not a cradle Catholic.

Imo, Catholics are much more lenient than other evangelicals.

Divorce is frowned upon by some sects, that a friend filed and was asked to resign as deacon and find another church.

Catholics dont put as high importance on literal biblical living either and no one brings bibles to church. Its very different.

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