Malta bishops: divorce changes nature of marriage

Malta bishops: divorce changes nature of marriage

Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech
Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech


Divorce contradicts the value of marriage and changes its very nature, the bishops of Malta have said. Noting the failed promises of divorce advocates, they emphasized that Christians must be accountable to Jesus in matters of marriage and divorce.

Responding to those who “promote divorce,” the two bishops of the island nation issued an Oct. 15 letter explaining the Christian view of marriage.

Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech cited Jesus’ response in Matthew 19 to the question of whether a man can leave his wife for any reason whatsoever. Jesus referred his questioner to the Book of Genesis, teaching that a man and a woman “become one flesh” and that “what God has put together, no man should put asunder.”

Jesus said Moses permitted divorce “becaush of the hardness of your hearts,” the Maltese bishops commented. “Not only did He enlighten them on the beauty of everlasting marriage, but also highlighted the way this could be achieved.”

It was impossible “to embrace a value and at the same time concede to a reality which goes against that value.” Divorce “alters the intrinsic nature of marriage” and once it exists “one cannot speak of stable and everlasting marriage, as ordained by God from the very beginning.”

“At no point does Jesus specify any form of condition or manner in which divorce could be instituted – he simply insists that once there is divorce, then there is a shift in the nature of marriage,” the bishops wrote.

They suggested Jesus’ response to contemporary support for divorce is the same as it was in gospel times: “It is because of the hardness of your hearts.”

“No Christian would have expected a different reply from Jesus. So, even today, how can we expect him to say ‘Strengthen marriage by introducing divorce!’?” they asked rhetorically.

Stating that attitudes must change, not marriage, they noted that other countries introduced divorce to solve problems with marital breakdown. “Instead, the problems multiplied.”

Christian teachings against divorce are not an imposition but a contribution to society, they wrote, appealing to all Christians to protect these teachings.

“May Jesus’ words be a light for the Christian conscience: a moral responsibility which must be upheld. It is to Jesus himself that the Christian must be accountable, even in this matter of marriage and divorce!”