Frances Kissling with Salon has an idea what lesson über-Catholic Mel Gibson's divorce should teach (other than don't grow this goatee). She thinks Mel is why the Pope ought to allow divorce.
If you haven't been paying attention, Mel's wife of 28 years, Robyn Moore, filed for divorce amid rumors of Gibson's infidelity. Gibson, whose theology is slightly behind the Vatican's (example: he believes that his Episcopalian wife is ineligible for entry into heaven), would not be allowed to remarry within the Church once the civil divorce is complete, unless he seeks to annul the nearly three-decade union and allow his children to be declared bastards by the Church — in fact, if he gets married again at all, his second marriage would be considered tantamount to adultery in the eyes of the Vatican (not that, if the rumors are true, he's necessarily got an issue with being considered an adulterer). Kissling thinks that, even for Mel Gibson, this sucks — and, after all, it's not like the Church hasn't changed its mind before.
Women, especially, feel like the church is telling them they were having illicit sex and their kids are illegitimate. The feisty ones appeal to the Vatican. Sheila Rauch Kennedy appealed the 1996 Boston Diocese tribunal's decision to grant her husband Joseph Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy, an annulment on the grounds they were immature. She said it wasn't true. In 2007, the Vatican agreed with Rauch Kennedy and reversed the annulment.
No one, even Mel Gibson, should need to go through such hypocrisy. If the church could figure out a way to redefine "outside the church there is no salvation," to forgive Galileo, to abolish limbo, it can certainly find a way to recognize that valid marriages fail and let people move on to new relationships with dignity.
Maybe they can get on that whole "birth control" thing next?
Over at The Daily Beast, Barbie Latza Nadeau does see signs that the Vatican might be softening to the idea of divorce, given the Pope's recent tête-à-tête with Prince Charles and Camilla, who is herself divorced from a Catholic (yes, that matters, too).
While neither she nor Charles are Catholic, Lady Camilla was married to one and as such is seen as an "unforgiven" in the church. The fact that she was granted a private audience, according to many Vatican watchers, may signal an easing of the church's intransigent opposition to divorce, especially given the timing of the visit. The meeting comes just days after the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic church over his own divorce, which led to the creation of the Church of England.
So, if a sign of the Vatican softening on divorce is its willingness to have its leader photographed with a non-Catholic who was divorced 500 years after a predecessor of her new husband created his own church in order to get divorced, I'm thinking Mel Gibson might have to wait on a Catholic second wife, or his kids might have to get used to being born out of wedlock.