Divorce and despair
If Anger is the father of all sins, surely Despair is their mother. Despair implies the idea that there is no solution to a problem, that not even God can help you out of your predicament. It cuts you off from God as surely, if not more, than excommunication, for that is the declaration of an institution, not a position taken by an individual who decides he wants to cut himself off from God. The desperate do not pray: they go mad or commit suicide.
If this is so, then telling a person that he or she has to persist in living a hell with his or her spouse when their marriage fails is condemning the person to despair, unless the person has exceptional spiritual powers which endow him or her to regard such a tribulation as the earning of a greater reward in the after-life; but how many are so endowed? Most people would simply despair, and would be put on the horns of a dilemma, having to choose between membership of a faith or a relief from intolerable stress.
Threatening to cut people away from the Church because they seek divorce is merely one side of the coin of perdition: tell them they cannot divorce and they will despair (and they will go to hell). Telling them to divorce if they will but they shall never go to heaven is the other side.
Both roads lead to what the Church defines as “hell”. Simple logic will tell you that the person who refuses to divorce even though he or she is suffering the pains of hell on earth shall despair and got to another hell later, and that’s two hells. I wonder what the theologians have to say about the Church exposing people to despair.
The Church must be wary of exasperating souls, and so lose them, but that is a Vatican, not a local, problem.
The Archbishop’s hands, like ours, are bound. A parting shot: the only unforgivable sin, I was taught, is suicide, because it is a wilful distancing of oneself from God’s mercy, so if I am right it transcends any other sin. Who would want to push a soul into that, out of “principle”? Who will shoulder that responsibility?