August 3, 2014

Divorce: Marital Sedevacantism

Photo Credit
Wikipedia defines Sedevacantism as:

"...the position, held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics, that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly pope and that, for lack of a valid pope, the see has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958."

Sedevacantists believe that there is no Pope and hasn't been for a number of years, mainly because of the destruction and confusion reigned upon the Church from Vatican II. Rather than trust in the Holy Ghost and Our Lord that - despite Her current wounds - today's Roman Catholic Church remains the one True Church with Pope Francis as Her earthly Head, they simply abandon Her. Abandon Her because things are just not as they should be, not to their liking, not to their image and likeness. So...they simply refuse to believe Our Lord's promise and abandon Him and the Church. 

Not unexpectedly, Sedevacantists don't even agree among themselves whether the Chair is truly Vacant, having apparently differing ideas on the matter: No Pope? An Anti-pope? A Pope materialiter? A Pope formaliter? Spin the dial and let's see what we believe today! Walking away from Christ (the Church) is obviously a very, very serious affair and can lead to disastrous consequences, especially for one's Soul (and is something I will never do.) it any less serious when one abandons their marriage (their "mini-church") their Spouse and their children (the family: the "sheep")? I can think of no better analogy than calling them what they are: Sedevacantists. As applied to Spouses who willingly choose to abandon a valid Sacramental Marriage in times of marital trouble, I would define Marital Sedevacantism as:

"...the subjective notion, held by a singular minority of a Catholic family, that one Spouse of the Marriage is not truly in love and that, for lack of a valid emotional bond, the marriage has been vacant since the death of the minority's Love for their Spouse in           (fill in the year the Love of  the Spouse died.)."

It fits. Is that not what those who abandon their marriages do but separate themselves from their Family - vacate the Chair of their vocation -  amid troubled times and seek a replacement relationship and/or family more to their own likeness and ideals. One where no trouble will enter a relationship; no strife will ever cause grief; no Love will ever be lost; where the abandoning spouse believes they have all the right answers to True family happiness and all is Good and Holy, the second - or is it the third? - time around. Is that not an accurate observation? The effects of Sedevacantism - dissension, destruction, division, denial - are the same factors that are an inherent part of most divorces, especially those with kids.

The results can equally disastrous, whether it be for Holy Mother Church struck hard by a group of Sedevacantists or an abandoning Spouse who finds solace from marital woes in the arms of an adulterer, who has all the right answers to whisper sweetly in the abandoning spouses ear. In a matter of weeks or months, nothing matters but the sweetness of the platitudes being whispered into an ear that rightfully still belongs to another: "Oh...if only I had met you first! Just think of the happiness I and the children could have had! Just think of the misery I could have avoided! I L-u-v U!" Emotions have just overtaken Reason. Passion has subdued Fidelity. Selfless Love has been killed by Youthful Pride.

What follows then is the nightmare of civil divorce, and within that wake, the annulment of a supposedly indissoluble marriage of 5, 10 or even 22 years, blotted out of existence without first seeking its preservation. As a consequence, there now exists a permanent void in the lives of 2, 5, 8 or even 12 Souls. A living vacuum that will slowly suck the life from the innocent. A familial block of one or two decades that has been excised from all conscious memory. Where is Mercy? Where is Justice? Where is Compassion? If Mercy and Compassion have seemingly been meted out for the Abandoning Spouse via divorce and/or annulment, what of the Justice for the Faithful Spouse? What of Justice for the Children who, when asked if they want to live with Mom or Dad, would reply with an emphatic, heartfelt and tearful "WE WANT TO LIVE WITH BOTH!!"

G.K. Chesterton wrote The Superstition of Divorce in 1920. Even back then, divorce was looked upon as a beautiful thing by the "modern" divorce attorneys of the time, for Chesterton wrote that "...The doctors of divorce, with an air of the frank and friendly realism of men of the world, are always recommending and rejoicing in a sensible separation by mutual consent."  Ah! Happiness is to be found in amicable and consenting Divorces! The "Divorce is Good, Divorce is Great, Embrace Divorce" mentality was apparently rampant even in the "Roaring Twenties". However, we all know - or should anyway - that "Happiness" in Marriage is not a guarantee. What is only guaranteed is our Happiness in Heaven, which is basic Baltimore Catechism #1 teaching: 

6. Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. 

We mortals want it all, however. We want our happiness here on earth, also...we want it especially within our marriages. No one wants an unhappy marriage; no one likes dissension, contention, and a hard-nosed Spouse! But that marital happiness was not promised, was it? What God promised after Adam and Eve's fall is stated in Genesis:

"To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband' s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth..." (Genesis 3:16-19)

Bishop Sheen knew it. In his conference Problems in Marriage, he put to rest the Happiness factor and brought to the forefront the Truth of True Marital Happiness: that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife and vice-versa; that the prayers, sufferings and patient acceptance of the one Spouse's frailties can Sanctify both. That Marital Love can only be renewed and refreshed through the Love of Christ and bearing the Crosses of His choosing, not the ones we choose. Many Spouses have thrown down and walked away from the Cross of their own choosing because it was just too, too much to bear. Which begs the question: If you are so weak in bearing a Cross of your own choosing, why did you get married in the first place? Furthermore, why did you so easily abandon what God Promised and what you promised to your spouse? Here again, I must consult Chesterton, who states what awaits those who remain Faithful (my emphasis):

"...the very first thing that our experience will tell us is that it very seldom is a separation by mutual consent; that is, that the consent very seldom is sincerely and spontaneously mutual. By far the commonest problem in such cases is that in which one party wishes to end the partnership and the other does not. And of that emotional situation you can make nothing but a tragedy, whichever way you turn it. With or without marriage, with or without divorce, with or without any arrangements that anybody can suggest or imagine, it remains a tragedy. The only difference is that by the doctrine of marriage it remains both a noble and a fruitful tragedy; like that of a man who falls fighting for his country, or dies testifying to the truth."

In other words, be prepared to stand and deliver what you vowed. But how soon we forget the words of our vows: "for better, for worse; for richer in poorer; in sickness and in health; til death we do part." How soon we forget the image of Our Blessed Mother, standing silently beneath His Cross; who walked His Calvary with Him; who never left Him when even His Apostles - save one - threw down their chosen Crosses and ran. Is this the end many of today's Catholic Marriages must face - abandonment - simply because there is no Chesterton or Sheen to constantly remind them of what they vowed - Fidelity until Death? 

I couldn't find the words to write a fitting conclusion to this post, until I happened across this video while searching for some old favorites from my youth to listen to. I clicked on Dolly Parton's cover of the Randy Van Warmer song Just When I Needed You Most and knew I had found the conclusion that I needed. The words certainly speak of all the heartache, sadness and loneliness associated with loosing someone you Love...someone to whom you willingly offered your Heart forever. That rejection of Love is made all the more poignant and painful when it is a Spouse who clinically and callously hands back your Heart and then walks away from their Marriage and Family. If you could have looked in a mirror at the precise moment of that rejection, you no doubt would see in your reflection the faces and the eyes of the Spouses and children shown in the video. Especially the eyes - Bewildered. Emotionless. Vacant.

Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved


  1. Losing, not "loosing".

    Most divorces are initiated by the female. When feminists were trumpeting their legislative victories of replacing traditional marriage with unilateral divorce unmarriage, they claimed females initiated over 90% of divorces. This was claimed to be proof of feminist empowerment of females. Within a decade feminists had changed their tune to "waah! feminization of poverty" but to continue to demonstrate that unilateral divorce was female empowerment they continue to insist that females initiate the majority of divorces (and "initiate" does not necessarily mean "filed").

    More honest studies of divorce behavior put female initiation of divorce at about 2/3rds.

    But as long as we continue to play Pity the Female and Bash the Man games instead of honestly confronting the facts of divorce (and its allied trend of out-of-wedlock births), the root cause of the problem will never be confronted.

    1. Thanks for comment...and the grammatical correction. One of the many "blessings" of divorce is that you loose one-half of your proof-reading section....

      You're correct in the two-thirds percentage of women vs men...another study pegs it at close to 70%, but regardless, it is a fair and reasonable assumption to state that it is the women who predominate in this category. A sad statistic, but sadder still for the child who is denied a Father's influence in his pre-adult life.

      For Catholic's the root cause, I believe, lies in the Hierarchy's acceptance of the modern thought that marital unhappiness is best cured by cutting the supposedly indissoluble bond of the first marriage, and hope for the best the second time around. The Petitioner-Spouse is equally responsible, but its the former rather than the latter who must begin the correction - and changing Doctrine is not the answer.

      I guess will see what the Holy Ghost does come October. Let's continue to pray He floods the Synod with the necessary Graces...

  2. There a lots of men that abandon their wives and children. It's mostly the women that have to file to protect themselves and their children. Have you heard of Sudden Wife Abandonment Syndrome?

    I agree feminism worsens the situation. Either way there are NO winners in divorce...everyone suffers...both spouses, the children, in-laws, the community and our society.

    1. Agreed...and did not mean to imply there weren't men who abandoned their responsibility. There are and I am aware of some, and it remains there is no excuse for either spouse doing so. It's just the that facts indicate it is the woman who is typically the Petitioner. You are right...there are NO winners. The only positive aspect is the Faithful spouse who chooses to honor the vows...

      Thanks for the comment. God Bless...

  3. This article leaves out some important considerations. It is too simplistic, in my opinion. I know of cases where both children and the custodial parent are far better off without the other parent being a daily presence, especially so when the custodial parent does not remarry.

    1. Thanks for commenting...

      The post is not meant for empirical study. I am no sociologist...just me, my experience and opinions and I write of those, though I strive to be factual.

      In cases of physical or moral danger - as per Canon Law - yes, separation may be better, but the bond remains nevertheless, though I suppose there could be exceptions to even that in certain cases. However, absent that aspect and knowing of the long-term danger to any children from divorce, the parents should be mature and selfless enough to put the children first. Live a lie, if necessary, of amicable feelings for each other. They may just turn out to be greater friends in later life than they were spouses because of that and the children will be the better for it from not having a broken home, broken lives, broken trusts - as will any grandchildren.

      Divorce solves nothing. All it does is to create more problems for the innocent.

      God Bless...

  4. I just published my comment in the box. What happened to it?

    1. All comments are moderated, so there will be a delay between posting and publishing.

      God Bless...


Comments are welcome, just keep them civil and within Catholic Charity. All comments moderated. SEE COMMENTS POLICY ABOVE.