Dating after a divorce? Capitalize deity pronouns?

| Father Kenneth Doyle | February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

BibleQ. A few years ago, I fell away from the practice of my Catholic faith. During that time, I ended up marrying a man who was very abusive verbally and mentally. I divorced him recently, but not without waiting and praying for a change in behavior that would save the marriage.

The situation has brought me back to the Catholic Church, where I have gone to confession, have been attending Mass weekly and reading the Bible daily.

I feel blessed to know that I have such a loving and merciful Savior and heavenly Father. But my question is this: When I married this man, we were married by his father, who is a pastor of a nondenominational church. (The ceremony took place in the minister’s house.)

Was this marriage recognized by God? And if I were ever to date again, would that be adultery? (At this point in my life, I am quite content to spend my time with the Bible, but I was curious as to where I stood.)

A. I am assuming that you did not seek permission ahead of time for your marriage to be done in a non-Catholic setting and by a non-Catholic minister. Since you did not, your marriage ceremony was not recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.

As to whether it was recognized by God, I don’t presume to know, but I do feel sure that God approved your leaving that man, especially since he was abusive and since you made a good-faith effort to try and make the marriage work. So yes, you are certainly free to date.

If you ever decide to marry in the Catholic Church, you would first need to meet with a priest and do a bit of paperwork, which he would then submit to the diocese to have your first marriage officially declared invalid. (The technical term is “lack” or “absence” of canonical form.) This is a fairly simple process that in most dioceses has a turnaround time of only a few weeks.

I would suggest, though, that you do that sooner rather than later. Not only would it clear the way for you, should you ever decide to marry on rather short notice, but you might also feel a sense of closure and peace in putting that first marriage clearly in the past.

Q. Why are pronouns referring to Jesus no longer capitalized? Using uppercase would add clarity to many passages when a reader is trying to determine whether the word “he” refers to Christ or to another person in the account. We have no compunction about capitalizing “I.” Yet the name at which every knee should bend is relegated to lowercase.

A. Whether to capitalize pronouns referring to the deity is largely a matter of personal preference and conviction, and there really is no “right” or “wrong.” In the original languages of the Bible, the issue never arose.

In Hebrew, there was no such thing as capital letters, simply an alphabet; and in the original Greek manuscripts, the text was written entirely in capitals. So it is not a matter of conforming to original texts.

Publishers must look for consistency and English-language book and magazine publishers, for the most part, follow the Chicago Manual of Style, a widely-regarded authority on grammar and usage. The style guide of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that deity pronouns are lowercase in USCCB publications.

Similarly, Catholic News Service uses lowercase, as does the Associated Press.

Most of the English-language translations of the Bible follow that same practice, including The New American Bible, which is the text used at Catholic Masses. Similarly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses lowercase for such pronouns. That having been said, you are free, of course, to write it as you wish.

If you feel that capitalizing pronouns referring to God or Jesus shows greater respect, by all means do so. That is what I do when I put my Sunday homily on our parish website.

Father Doyle writes for Catholic News Service. A priest of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., he previously served as director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Category: Seeking Answers