Launching New Portal For Divorced Catholics (Video)


Lisa Duffy created a video for divorced Catholics via CatholicMatch.com

The CatholicMatch staff is excited to announce the launch of a new section of the website designed for and dedicated to our many divorced members, “Hope & Healing For Divorced Catholics.” Check it out here.

You’ll find lots of great material here updated daily, including answers to all those pressing or puzzling questions on divorce (dealing with former in-laws, online dating, obtaining an annulment, sex), videos, polls, blog posts, input from priests and Daily Reflections intended to give you a jolt of inspiration as you go about your day. We believe “Hope & Healing For Divorced Catholics” will be a great service to the nation’s 6.6 million divorced Catholics.

Lisa Duffy will manage the divorced portal, and I can’t think of anyone better qualified or suited to do so. Lisa is passionate about her Catholic faith and for many years she has dedicated herself to the full-time ministry of helping fellow Catholics cope and heal after the pain of divorce — a process she experienced firsthand. You’re in good hands with Lisa: She’s smart and sensitive and wired to serve. If you’re struggling to deal with divorce, Lisa genuinely wants to help you! 

She knows how to break it down to clear-cut, applicable steps. I love her practical advice on how to rebuild your life after divorce. She understand what it’s like to wake up one Saturday morning and feel “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” as she put it.

You may email any divorce-related question you may have to Lisa by using:

AskLisa@CatholicMatch.com

She’ll be eager to respond and, with your permission (and, if you’d like, the withholding of your name) she’ll publish it on the portal for the benefit of other divorced Catholics.

And for the many CatholicMatch members who have not been divorced, you may want to tune in too. Lisa remarried and has enjoyed a happy, holy marriage that she regularly reflects on. For anyone hoping to enter into this challenging, grace-filled sacrament, she’s got a lot of wisdom to share. I really appreciate her advice on marriage readiness, and I think you will too.

“Helping people find love was always part of God’s plan for me,” she says.

 With that said, I’ll hand it over to Lisa, who created a special welcome video for you.






16 Comments

  1. Lisa, I think what you are doing is a blessing to every divorced person that you come in contact with. I thank your husband and your children, that I know you love dearly, for allowing us to share you in this pain and suffering. I am posing a couple questions initially about annulment because I truly believe, from my own experience which is far (in my mind) from being completed in a fair and open manner, the Church doesn’t know how to handle its own part in these failed marriages supposedly contract so long ago.

    1. Why are not Annulments given priority so that they are completed within a reasonable time? 12 months is enough time for any process as simple as it is played up to be. Any longer is unconscionable. There are exceptions, I grant that, but those should be explained fully and no one should be left hanging without a GOOD and PROPER explanation.

    2. Why is the process (procedure) different in each Archdiocese/Diocese?

    3. Why are the Canons for annulment not provided up front, same for the grounds and the elements to prove each ground for annulment and why are the questions for the petitioner, respondent and ESPECIALLY the witnesses intentionally VAGUE and not properly stated to obtain a direct answer to establish by proof (whatever that means) each element of each ground alleged?

    4. Why would a tribunal allow one of their trained advocates to make a statement like this that I received – “In the approximately 30+ cases I’ve advocated for in the past 7-8 years, all of the Petitioners have been eager and agreeable to work WITH the Tribunal, Canon lawyers and me—and ALL have received affirmative decisions.(I would dare say, a better record than most lawyers,) ” I practiced law for 24 years and that is only normal in a controlled, dare I say corrupt, judicial system.

    5. Why is it impossible (I may not have looked in the right place) to find United States Conference of Catholic Bishops written policy statement on how the divorce Catholic is to be treated and the divorced Catholics rights to know and understand the process, the law, and the politics that surround the annulments.

    I know this is a ‘HOT’ issue. I’m trying to scrape up the funds to hire a firm of Canon Lawyers to represent me after my tribunal left me dangling!

    I am sorry to start your new endeavor here at CatholicMatch.com with such a broadside. I have more days thinking and feeling that I’m not going to be in your shoes at the end of this. These people handling my case have free will and as we know God doesn’t interfere with a person’s free will.

    Thanks, Stephen

  2. Lisa-727959 April 16, 2012

    Hi, Stephen,

    All good questions!

    1. There are many reasons why the annulment process takes a long time and these are the more common reasons why:

    - Almost every tribunal has more cases than they can handle in a timely manner and I believe that for at least the first part of the process (paperwork) everyone is on a first-come, first-served basis.

    - Administrative employees at tribunals say they spend a large portion of the day fielding phone calls from people calling to ask questions which depletes their time to work on cases.

    - It can take a long time if the petitioner does not return the paperwork in a timely manner or does not get the paperwork from their witnesses back in a timely manner.

    - There are many cases where the petitioner returns their questionnaire with one or two sentence answers and when this is the case, the tribunal will suspend the case due to lack of information. They then must go back to the priest or parish representative assisting with the case and ask them to talk to the petitioner to see if they can provide more information. If they can’t or won’t, the case will be dropped. This process can take months and certainly backs up the flow of follow-through on other cases.

    - Oftentimes the petitioner will lose interest in the case during the process and will stop communicating with the Tribunal and/or their priest or advocate. This causes a lot of time spent trying to contact the petitioner and a lot of time waiting for a response, keeping the case alive and in the mix which clogs the system.

    - There are difficult cases that take a long time to gather information and deliberate.

    2. Although the process is fairly much the same wherever you go and Canon Law is a non-negotiable factor in deciding cases, there are details that are different from diocese to diocese like whether or not there is a personal interview or whether or not a petitioner must wait a full year after obtaining a divorce before he can file. This is because diocesan tribunals are run by different priests/bishops/archbishops who feel their way of doing things works for them. I don’t believe there will ever be one completely streamlined process for the entire country or for the entire Church.

    3. To answer your first question, this is done in many dioceses already (the Archdiocese of Atlanta, for example) but I have to say, I am personally not in favor of doing this. Most people barely understand the process and what is happening to begin with and giving them a platform to argue that their marriage was never sacramental is giving them just enough information to be muddy the waters even further and would likely make them very angry if they do not receive a decree of nullity.

    To answer the second part of your question, I’ve never experienced or heard of someone who received “vague” questions on their questionnaires. They are all pretty direct.

    4. I would have to defer to the head of your tribunal on that one, Stephen. I don’t know enough about your case or what happened between you and her.

    5. I would say it’s because I don’t think there is one, at least not that I’ve seen. That is a suggestion that might be worth offering to those at your tribunal.

    I am glad you asked the questions, Stephen, and yes, it is a hot issue. That’s why I’m here!

    Sincerely – Lisa

  3. Great to have a dedicated blogger for this stage…the Rebuilding course/book has been helpful…but to have an active site…this is a great resource!

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 16, 2012

      Thanks, Ronique, and many thanks to Catholic Match for recognizing the need.

  4. Hi Lisa: I am widowed and note that on this site as well as other sites there are women who list themselves a. “Catholic” but “divorced”. What is your advice to person such as me who is free to marry to date one of these Ladies. I want a long term relationship leading to marriage yet. My view (right or wrong) is don’t waste the time. I have seen some “well qualified” ladies that “divorce “. Causes me to back off. Is it proper to ask about pending annulment and the particulars..?? I am Al of Ventura, CA & you have my unlimited permission to address & publish my ???’s on you site. It’s a problem to me and others I am sure.

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 16, 2012

      Dear Al of Ventura – I am from SoCal, myself, born and raised there and know Ventura somewhat. My uncle Tony who passed away a few years back lived there.

      I know you’ve suffered a great deal after losing your wife. It’s similar to what a divorced person goes through, yet, pain from the death of a spouse is unique. Glad to see you are on the horizon of a new chapter in life.

      Regarding anyone who represents themselves as “Catholic but divorced” – I would say approach them with the same gentleness you would have wanted when you were recovering from losing your wife, and at the same time recognize that your acquaintance should be friendly and not romantic. A decree of nullity must be in hand before a Catholic can date freely.

      For anyone who has lost a loved one, social relationships are vital. They are key to gaining solid ground again and realizing there is more life ahead, despite the tragedy. However, until a person is truly free to marry, the relationship should remain friendly and social.

      I wish you the best in your endeavors!

      Sincerely – Lisa

  5. Hi Lisa! I am very happy to see this new addition to Catholic Match. I am still grieving the loss of my marriage, it’s been 2 1/2 years. It came out of the blue. I had no idea that it would happen. My former husband, who is not Catholic, but attended Mass with me regularly, betrayed me horribly. I had made all of my plans for our future based on the fact that we would be together until death. I am now 56 years old, having to literally start my life over and I can’t figure out how to do this. I have a wonderful, supportive network of family and friends, but they all feel like I should “be over it”. I haven’t worked outside of the home for over 25 years, busy raising the children, running the household. While I am receiving alimony for the next 6 years, I am in need of finding work, and after months and months of applying and being rejected, am feeling lost and afraid. I want to move forward with my life, but I am floundering. I also just learned that the former spouse hasn’t been earning the income he did while we were together and I, for whatever reason, showed him mercy and am allowing him a break for 3 months in paying my support. It is the only income that I have, and lately have been using retirement funds to live. Fear is becoming a very real factor in my daily life. I am in love with my Catholic faith and love and trust the Lord. I am on Catholic match to try to move forward, and yet, that old fear and trust issue really creeps back in. I am not sure how to live my life alone. I’ve never been “alone”. Suggestions? Ideas? I would welcome your thoughts. God Bless! Paula

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 16, 2012

      Dear Paula,

      Thank you so much for your candid explanation of your situation. I can only imagine the suffering you are going through, especially due to the fear of the unknown.

      First, take some time to contemplate the apostles who were freaking out because Jesus lay asleep on the boat during the violent storm. Or contemplate Mary and Joseph when they realized Jesus had been missing for 3 days! But we see that Jesus was in command in these situations and He is in command in yours. He will take care of you even if in your eyes, your situation worsens. He works all things for your good. Please trust in Him and abandon yourself to Him.

      I don’t know how long you’ve been on CM, but I encourage you to engage in the discussion forums because you will find a lot of people in there who have walked in your shoes and have great words of encouragement. I, too, have walked in your shoes and know that perseverance, trust in God and frequent reception of the sacraments is what will get you through this.

      You also might visit the site of a very good friend of mine: http://divorcedcatholicmoms.com to find even more support.

      Count on my prayers for you!

      Sincerely – Lisa

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 17, 2012

      Dear Mark,

      Thanks for sharing the link to the CUF article. I’ve met Curtis Martin a few times and have been familiar with CUF for quite a while. However, the unnamed author of the article, while correctly referring in some ways to Church teaching regarding divorce, he/she is mistaken on a few points and leaves out some extremely important bits of information that would more accurately explain the Church’s stance on divorce.

      First, the author repeatedly refers to “remarried” Catholics as unable to receive the sacraments. What the author should state is Catholics who have been divorced and remarried without a decree of nullity are unable to receive the sacraments. Many Catholics are remarried after having received a decree of nullity and are in good standing with the Church. This is why I make the distinction:

      The author wrote: “While a divorce is the separation of spouses who remain married, a declaration of nullity is a judgement by lawful ecclesiastical authority that a marriage never took place.”

      This <strong>incorrect because a marriage DID take place, it just may not have been a marriage with a sacramental bond.

      There was a real marriage relationship with real persons in a real society, and this is something the Church absolutely recognizes. The Church assumes all marriages are sacramental unless proven otherwise by the annulment process. If the marriage is determined to be non-sacramental (putative marriage), the Church does not deny that a real marriage took place. That would render all children from any non-sacramental marriage rendered as illegitimate and that is contrary to Canon Law: Canon 1137 Children who are conceived or born of a valid or of a putative marriage are legitimate.

      Then, the author states: “Some interpret the clause “except on the grounds of unchastity” to mean that in marriages where there has been adultery, divorce and remarriage is permissible. This has never been accepted by the Church … The placement of the “unchastity” clause, the reaction of the apostles and the parallel passages later in the New Testament clearly establish this truth taught by the Church.”

      This is true, but still not entirely forthright. There is a more accurate definition to the “unchastity” clause that offers a much clearer and more concise explanation, especially for those who are confused or skeptical:

      Matthew 5:31 states: “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

      The original Greek text uses two different words for “unchastity” and “adultery.” The word Jesus used for unchastity in this passage is “porneia” and is where today, we get the word “pornography” from. The meaning is “illicit relationship” which means there is no marriage between the two intimate persons. But then in the same passage, Jesus used the word “moichaeia” for adultery. Therefore, Christ stated, “I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of “porneia” makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits “moichaeia.” Two completely different words; two completely different meanings. Which translates to the fact that there can be a civil marriage with all the appearances of a sacramental marriage, but if the annulment process determines otherwise, there was no sacramental bond and the spouses are not bound to each other for life.

      I say all this because it’s so important to use concise language when interpreting Canon Law.

      One last comment regarding the author of the article who wrote: “Such reconciliation is extremely difficult when one or both spouses have remarried, particularly if children are involved in the subsequent union. Only if reconciliation is impossible, pastors should refer the divorced and remarried to explore the possibility of a declaration of nullity or dissolution, as the situation allows.” Again, an inaccurate statement</strong>. Reconciliation between the former spouses is not necessary for the annulment process to take place. What is necessary is that the relationship between the new spouses is lived as brother and sister until a decree of nullity is dispensed.

      The author holds a rather rigid and judgmental viewpoint of people who are in need of reconciliation with the Church due to remarriage after divorce without an annulment. I think a message of hope to those who want to be reconciled with the Church is always better, and that is as long as we are alive and as long as we are willing, all things are possible with Christ.

      Sincerely – Lisa

  6. Lois-765906 April 17, 2012

    Hi Lisa,
    I am so grateful to see this new feature on Catholic Match. When I, as a German Lutheran, married the Irish Catholic in 1987, I never dreamed I would end up here. When my husband wanted to start a family, via international adoption in 1999, I decided to embrace the whole Catholic “stay at home” mother model – because I wanted to please my husband and thought, even though it would be the biggest sacrifice on earth, Jesus and the Blessed mother could help me do it. My life, post-divorce has been scary because, after being married 20 years, alot has changed in the world and not a lot for the better. All of this on-line stuff has been tough to navigate through because there is typically so much deception. As a divorced 56 year old convert to Catholicism, I have experienced a great deal of confusion by other older Catholics (meaning married ones) who aren’t sure what to make of me being both Catholic and divorced. In addition to that, I also happen to be a retired Catholic family law lawyer – who quit a thriving law practice to be a full time mom for 10 years to my 13 year daughter with Asperger’s Disorder before now attempting to return to part-time practice. As a Catholic, I have been ashamed of being divorced on Catholic dating websites and have even had guys reject me because I am not a widow. Although I am divorced now 5 years, my life is SO much better now. After experiencing a volitile marriage myself, I have great peace and joy in my simple, single life and I am happy to see a special place where divorced Catholics can turn for our unique circumstances. No one WANTS to be divorced, but healing does occur, with the help of God and moving forward happens if one allows it.
    Thanks so much for this new feature. I am someone who typically does not take much time for blogs – this one will be the exception for me! Lois

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy April 18, 2012

      Dear Lois,

      Thank you so much for your email and candid explanation of your situation. It seems you have made a lot of sacrifices in your life and have been a very faithful Catholic, despite the fact you are a convert. Let me first say what a wonderful example you are to so many people.

      I and many other Catholics who read your post and have experienced a divorce understand the sense of shame you write about. Especially for those who didn’t want a divorce, this is a huge hurdle to overcome.

      As you meet people on this website and form relationships, I hope you will not worry about the ones who won’t date you because of your situation and remember that your divorce does not define who you are. You are, first and foremost, a daughter of the King and a precious one at that. You have served your family and others with integrity your whole life and have much more to give. There will be someone who will recognize and appreciate these beautiful characteristics about you.

      Count on my prayers for you!

      Sincerely – Lisa

  7. Hi Lisa I read on Catholic Match about man in here that are looking for a good Catholic woman I am that kind of woman looking for a widow or single man up in between 60 and 75 I am a 68 years old widow very young looking still working live in Mass and I have been on this site for at least a year and don’t seem to find anyone they either live to far for some reason they always find excuses why they not interest what MI doing wrong can you kindle comment on this.

  8. Hi Lisa.
    I really wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your straight talking. It has help explain to me the veiws some people have on a divorced catholic. When they wish to date another catholic. I am now thinking how important it is to get annulement of my former marriage. It has simply been a matter of cost compared to other more important matters when providing for a single family. Thanking you for this site
    Dannielle

  9. Laura-997821 September 13, 2013

    Hello, Lisa,
    Thanks so much for praying about it and finding that it was something needed. I am unique (I think?) in that my marriage ended after almost 20 years because I left. The abuse was getting more and more intense and I had prayed – and acted upon the leadings of the Holy Spirit through quietness, gentleness and forgiveness through it all. I even had a Spiritual Director when we were stationed at Notre Dame that reminded me that, although the world gave into Hitler’s demands, he was never satisfied and became worse and worse until there was bloodshed across the whole world. I had thought that I would figure it all out and the marriage would somehow survive – until one day my 2 eldest of 4 children aged 9 and 15 at that time (they are now 30 and 36) approached me and begged me to leave their father due to their fear. I remember coming to the understanding that no matter the prayers, suffering, gentleness; my marriage was over and it wasn’t suppose to end. No, God was going to work a miracle in my husband and we would be together forever! When I accepted this and finally waited till he was TDY to move (military lingo for “temporary duty” like when the company sends you away for a seminar) and then the long distance abuse started for the next 10 years; getting lighter the closer to the 10 year mark. Boy, was I mad a God, the world and myself because of the shame I felt since I was one of 5 siblings and not one of them, including my parents, ever suffered a divorce. It took me another 20 years to heal by God’s love. So, you don’t have to be the one that was left to find a peace in your site; you can also be the one that did the leaving :)

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