Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Ecumenical group chaired by Cardinal Tobin calls for Catholic recognition of some Orthodox divorces, remarriages

March 06, 2024

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation—co-chaired by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston—has announced the publication of a new statement, “The Pastoral Care of Mixed Marriages: Neither Yours nor Mine—but Ours,” which was agreed upon in May 2023.

Among the statement’s recommendations is that “Catholic hierarchs seek ways to receive the pastoral decisions of Orthodox spiritual courts and hierarchs and not only recognize, with the Orthodox hierarchy, the remarriages, in some carefully examined cases, of divorced spouses in mixed marriages, but also allow such divorced and remarried Catholic parties, in marriages with Orthodox Christians, Eucharistic participation in the Catholic Church.”

“This meeting was important in many ways and marks a turning point in the Consultation’s future,” Cardinal Tobin said last May, following the completion of the statement. “I am convinced that this new document on marriage offers a compassionate and specific pastoral recommendations for the care and spiritual growth of Catholic-Orthodox families.”

Divergent teachings on the indissolubility of marriage are among the issues that separate the Catholic Church from the Orthodox churches. The Catholic Church, citing the teaching of Jesus Christ, teaches that “the matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble” while the spouses are living; Orthodox churches tolerate second and third marriages following divorce.

Father Michael Fuller, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, published an unusual “Catholic disclaimer” at the top of the document:

This document is a dialogue statement between representatives of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. While it is not a statement of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and it has no authority beyond that of the dialogue commission itself, it has been received as a reference point for scholars and pastors in promoting unity and understanding.

This document has been received by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and authorized for publication by the undersigned.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Mar. 06, 2024 7:41 PM ET USA

    If I understand this correctly, any married, divorced and remarried Catholic could simply join the Orthodox Church and have his or herself then “Sacramentally and licitly married” in the Orthodox, and then come back to the Catholic Church. Hummnnn…..

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Mar. 06, 2024 7:35 PM ET USA

    “… issues that separate the Catholic Church from the Orthodox churches.” It’s the Orthodox who “are separated” from the One, True, Holy, Catholic Church. WORDS MATTER! And, just to be clear, you are NOT talking about the Catholic Eastern Rites The Orthodox are no different than any Protestant church except that they have valid Orders and Sacraments which bind them to same Sacramental regulations of the Catholic Church. Sorry, no divorce or Communion any different than other Protestant.