- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On September 8, 2015
The Evil of Divorce and the Dignity of the Human Person: Understanding the Immorality of Divorce through St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body
On Sept. 8, 2015, at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Cardinal Raymond Burke gave a keynote address followed by a panel discussion, including the presentation by Dr. Donald Asci, STD. The program was titled “The Synod on the Family: Addressing the Instrumentum Laboris.” As the bishops were preparing for their second synod, their working document, Instrumentum Laboris, had received much scrutiny.
Watch video of full program here. Emmaus Road published a book that brings together the proceedings of the event and includes the full text of Cardinal Burke’s presentation and essays from the panelists. From the Beginning: The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Contemporary World.
Dr. Asci says, “We need to make recognizing the indissolubility of marriage and the evil of divorce a prominent feature of our Catholic faith and identity, something along the line of the ways in which we are pro-life and in the ways in which we speak out against the recognition of same sex unions precisely because the gospel requires us to defend the dignity of the human person and to foster hope among ourselves and the world around us.”
Dr. Donald Asci, STD, is Professor of Moral Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Dr. Donald Asci, The Evil of Divorce
Abstract from printed event program
In Familiaris Consortio Pope St. John Paul II describes bearing “witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage” as “one of the most precious and urgent tasks” of Christians, especially married couples, in our time. While it primarily “reconfirms the good news of the definite nature of conjugal love that has Christ as its foundation and strength,” Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage also includes the explicit recognition of the immorality of divorce itself even apart from the compounding evil of civil remarriage after a divorce. However, as recent discussions of the indissolubility of marriage surrounding the Synod have suggested, few seem to find exploring the evil of divorce itself to be an important topic, much less an urgent task, with the focus being shifted instead to the cases of those who compound the evil of divorce with a civil remarriage and their situation regarding Eucharistic communion. This essay addresses divorce as a grave offense against the dignity of the human person by approaching the question through the spousal meaning of the body articulated in St. John Paul II’s theology of the body. Viewing divorce from the perspective of the spousal meaning of the body makes the evil of divorce more clearly an affront to the intrinsic value of the human person and a type of consumerism in the marital sphere, which in turn likens divorce to the evil of euthanasia. This essay secondarily examines how divorce can in some cases be a form of despair, especially despair in the face of suffering or despair over the possibility of reconciliation, which sets divorce against the sacramental character of marriage. Finally, this essay proposes that by failing to address the evils of divorce clearly and adamantly, Catholics may be undercutting our attempts to defend the dignity of the human person in other situations (e.g. euthanasia, abortion, and the sex industry) and our attempts to foster Christian hope in general and in the sexual sphere specifically.