‘For better, but not for worse’: Why we don’t need divorce

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ANTIPOLO City, Feb. 27, 2013—Every bride and groom would probably cringe at the words, but if divorce is to be legalized in the Philippines, wedding day vows might as well be downgraded to befit a truly conditional contract, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, said.

“There’s [declaration of] nullity, there’s annulment, legal separation, then you still want to add divorce, why marry in the first place?” he asked hundreds of participants to a family life conference this morning.

There are already existing recourses for truly “impossible” marriages like legal separation, declaration of nullity and annulment, thus making the legalization of divorce not only superfluous, but dangerous, Cruz explained in his talk on church law and civil law on marriage, divorce and annulment.

Divorce is simply rewarding bad behavior, Cruz, who is also the Judicial Vicar of the CBCP National Tribunal of Appeals, said.

With divorce, he explained, anyone who is simply “tired” of how his or her spouse looks or acts can have an affair, for example, to get a divorce.

He said if violence, infidelity or abandonment are to be recognized as valid grounds for divorce, then, all a spouse needs to do to escape a “bad marriage” is to engage in any of the said bad behavior.

Cruz said, he doubted the legalization of divorce would help address domestic violence, infidelity and abandonment, the top three reasons for the breakdown of marriages, according to statistics.

According to him, finding out why marriages are failing should be the real focus of the Church and, even of the state.

He even went as far as suggesting as requiring those who want to get married to take psychological tests.

According to Cruz, troubled couples have the option of a declaration of nullity or saying that a marriage is void or never existed in the first place.

Second is annulment, which applies to valid marriages that are made void.

Lastly, there is legal separation, which is a mere physical separation of a married couple’s “roof, table and bed”. In short, they simply do not live together, but are still married in the eyes of the Church and of society.

More than 200 family and life coordinators and lay leaders are currently participating at the 4th National Conference organized by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) at the St. Michael Retreat House in Antipolo City. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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