Church "Is Not Fundamentalist" on Divorce, Says Bishop

Secretary of Italian Episcopate Defends Pope´s Talk to Rota

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ROME, JAN. 31, 2002 ( The Church “is not fundamentalist” on the matter of divorce, says the secretary of the Italian bishops´ conference, in response to media criticisms of John Paul II´s address Tuesday to the Roman Rota.

Bishop Giuseppe Betori´s met the press Wednesday to present the conclusion of the meeting of the bishops´ Permanent Commission. But attention turned to the Pope´s request to lawyers not to be part of judicial processes geared to the breakup of marriages.

Bishop Betori said, “The inability to establish stable and lasting relations between persons [should not …] only concern the Church but the whole of society.”

He said the Holy Father “invites everyone, not just lawyers and judges, not to be simple ´notaries´ of the disintegration of a relationship, but to sustain it, and do everything possible to consolidate the marital bond.”

This “is the deep philosophy that underlies even civil laws, which are never in favor of promoting situations of suffering,” the bishop said.

Hence, when it comes to divorce, it is not a matter of “conscientious objection,” as some have suggested, but of adopting “options that are consistent with personal conscience,” Bishop Betori said. As a matter of fact, “conscientious objection” in this area is not included in the law.

Lawyers and agents of the sector “should ask themselves if they are part of a process that leads inevitably to the couple´s breakup, or if there are other possibilities to emerge from the crisis.”

Lastly, Bishop Betori said that in a pluralist society everyone is allowed to have an opinion on any topic. However, when the Catholic Church speaks out on moral issues, it is disqualified and labeled “fundamentalist,” he noted.

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