The Truth About Divorce in the Eastern Church
If divorce and remarriage are matters of doctrine rather than discipline, how is it that the Eastern (now Orthodox) Church was allowed to grant divorces and remarriages for centuries before the schism and still maintain communion with Rome?
Read the article "Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church" by my former professor Fr. Henri Crouzel, S.J., and you will find how untrue the assertion is that "the Eastern (now Orthodox) Church was allowed to grant divorces and remarriages for centuries." St. John Chrysostom would decidedly not agree. Russian Orthodox canon lawyers of the nineteenth century readily admitted that the Roman Church's insistence on the point of the indissolubility of marriage was the original, apostolic doctrine. In fact, this doctrine was so strict that St. Paul views remarriage in the case of widowed persons a concession to human weakness.
Indeed, the Orthodox Church uses the rite for remarriage of widows and widowers for the remarriage of divorced persons, thus implying that the justification for remarriage before the death of living spouse is that the union is "dead." The Oriental Orthodox (Armenians, Syrians, Copts, and Ethiopians) observe a stricter discipline closer to that of the Roman Church.