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“Helping them let go of all that, and see that what they’re truly longing for is Jesus, takes some work.” So does overcoming some fundamental problems of catechesis. ” (Journey of Hope Productions, $19.99), that catechetical challenge starts with countering the idea that being a divorced Catholic is an oxymoron.
And they most definitely don’t want to hear if their marriages were valid or whether they’re free to date or remarry.Those are the questions those tasked with ministering to divorced Catholics find themselves needing to answer right away.But, because a good portion of the Catholics who seek the Church’s aid in the wake of a divorce are (like many of their married peers) both unevangelized and uncatechized, answering those questions is just the beginning.And it’s a good first step for those going through divorce. “Divorced Catholics are suffering in a different way,” said Craig Dyke, who chairs the Diocese of Peoria’s advisory board for divorced and widowed ministry.“They’re dealing with anger, hurt, frustration and the misconception that the Church has turned her back on them. They need to hear the Church’s teaching in all its strength.” To make matters worse, however, plenty of Catholics involved in ministering to the divorced and separated don’t want to give that.For example, according to Frese, in the Archdiocese of Atlanta less than 15 percent of the archdiocese’s 100 parishes offer any sort of programming for Catholics who are going through or have been through divorce.
And those numbers, he said, are fairly typical of (or better than) what you’ll find in most dioceses.
And that challenge is made all the greater by the pre-existing wounds most divorced people bear — wounds from habitual sin before and during marriage, wounds from the culture or wounds from their own parents’ troubled marriages.
“So many of the people who come to the Church seeking help are hanging on to old hurts or ideas about what’s going to make them happy, and it ends up just making them more miserable,” said Rose Sweet, author of “A Woman’s Guide to Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce” (Hendrickson, $14.95).
Many of the Catholics in need of or even seeking the Church’s help don’t really want the Church’s help.
They don’t want to hear the truth about what the Church teaches on marriage.
Those groups offer comfort, support and a safe place to talk ... But they also generally neglect to communicate the truths Catholics most need to hear about sex, marriage, suffering, and salvation ... Likewise, some Catholic-based groups, such as Beginning Experience, focus solely on helping people deal with the emotional pain of grieving the loss of a spouse, but don’t do direct evangelization and catechesis.