Divorce in the Philippines: An idea whose time has come? | Inquirer Opinion

Divorce in the Philippines: An idea whose time has come?

/ 05:00 AM June 18, 2024

After thoroughly examining lawyer Joel Ruiz Butuyan’s two-part article (“Ban on divorce is creating criminals, sinners,” 6/6/24 and 6/13/24) on the potential criminalization and sinning due to the ban on divorce in this unfortunate country, we are more convinced than ever that its legalization in the Philippines is a pressing necessity.

From a legal standpoint, the prohibition of absolute divorce in cases of unworkable and irreparable marriages does more harm than good to all parties involved.

Contrary to the solid resistance to absolute divorce in the past, there are now clear indications of a significant shift in attitudes among the adult and educated members of the Church. According to a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations, half of Filipino adults support the legalization of divorce. This change in public opinion, also evident in mainstream media, is a significant development. Just like the heated debates that preceded the enactment of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, it is not a matter of “hardening of hearts” against the hierarchy’s magisterial hermeneutics about the sanctity of marriage and family life, always in continuity yet constantly maturing across time. It’s a matter of recognizing the changing needs of our society and giving couples whose marriages were not made in heaven a fair chance at a better life.

In our increasingly secular and pluralistic society, the religious doctrines against absolute divorce may seem outdated and counterproductive. However, it’s crucial to respect the significance of these beliefs in the lives of many Catholics and those similarly situated. Striking a healthy balance between religious freedom and the need for a legal solution to societal issues is paramount. Pope Francis’ approach to the medicine of mercy over principles, which could be a potential solution, should be considered by those who, as one pundit said, “should not make the rules because they do not play the game.” More importantly, Francis, the compassionate shepherd, has encouraged the Church’s leaders to venture beyond universal principles and doctrines. His synodal approach, emphasizing discernment and dialogue to serve better couples whose marriages are beyond repair, presents a model for the pastoral care of marriage that could be adopted in their specific, rarely, if ever, black-or-white conjugal contexts.


We all pray for this.

Noel Asiones

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