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Death sentence

NO, not talking about capital punishment for heinous crimes but about the “life sentence” ‘til-death-do-us-part contract that brides and bridegrooms sign on their wedding day.

For better or for worse, divorce will come late in this country, if at all. But now there’s a bill pending (again) in the House of Representatives, and if you listen to Rep. Emmie de Jesus, it looks like its time has come.

Legislators are more open-minded now, she said in a radio-TV interview, and the proponents are much more methodical in the way they’re rallying around the proposed legislation.

I don’t know if Rep. De Jesus is an atheist or a Christian – what she’ll tell you is she’s happily married (37 years now) – but to quote Pope Francis, we must understand that there are “imperfect Catholics” among us, including, perhaps, those without perfect marriages or perfect religious habits.

What we have in the meantime to address irreparably broken unions are the Family Code with its provision on court-annulled marriages and the Catholic Church’s matrimonial tribunals with their declarations of nullity for couples who can prove that their marriage was null and void ab initio (from the beginning).

They say a civil annulment is relatively easier to secure as long as you can afford to hire a lawyer and a psychologist and grease a palm here and there. A church annulment may not be as expensive but it takes a much longer time – Rome has the final say. My advice to any unhappy wife is to pray for her spouse to die ahead of her – it could happen long before a civil or church court grants her her life-saving wish.

Why has divorce taken such a long time coming? The usual argument is that we are a nation of mostly Catholics, though we don’t use that reason to argue the scale of violent crime that pervades present-day society, the massive number of poor unbaptized families living alongside affluent second and third families, and amoral/immoral people in government, high and low.

The divorce bill currently pending opens up more grounds than the “psychological incapacity” that highlighted the Family Code. What’s the same is that it’s still silent on alimony – a bad word? – in favor of the party who “wins” his or her case against a husband or a wife who should not, ever, have become one in the first place.
(Jullie Y. Daza)