Can you be Catholic and divorced? Series offers answers and support for those who feel left behind by their faith

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Can you be Catholic and divorced? Series offers answers and support for divorced Catholics

By Kathy Feist

Rita Van Hook knows all too well the anguish that accompanies divorce. She went through a painful divorce late in life.

“By the time you’re 60, you think your life is set, that your goals are met and it’s time to enjoy the ride,” she says. But sometimes life takes a difference course.

As a 68-year-old woman and a devout Catholic, Van Hook was facing challenges she could never have anticipated.

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Rita Van Hook

Much came out of that divorce experience for Van Hook. She became a certified divorce coach, primarily for seniors. And, as a Catholic, she chose to help those confused by old and new Catholic teachings on divorce.

“Divorce is a difficult situation for Catholics to deal with,” she says. “It is looked at differently than non-denominational faiths.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that  “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.” Therefore, a married spouse is “in a situation of public and permanent adultery.” However, in the past few years, Pope Francis has softened the church’s stance on divorce and is now reaching out to those who feel isolated from a church they grew up in.

Van Hook approached Father Justin at St. Thomas More Church about conducting a 17-week series on divorce in the Catholic church.

“I wanted to offer this program to Catholics or people who have taken a back seat to their faith because of their beliefs,” she says.

Called the Journey of Hope, the series begins in September 12 for the women’s group and September 18 for the men’s. Van Hook is joined by Deacon Kevin Cummings who will conduct the men’s sessions. Van Hook will oversee the women’s. Each will offer support and answer questions regarding the Catholic faith’s position on divorce.

“We hope to attract those who have left the church,” she says.

For more information, email rita@stmkc.com or visit stmkc.com/divorced to register.

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