The Philippines, where roughly 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, is one of only two countries in the world where divorce remains illegal (with exemptions for the roughly 5 percent of the population that's Muslim). The only other country where divorce remains illegal is Vatican City.I guess there's not that much need for divorces within Vatican City.
Anyway, change may be on the way in the Philippines:
But a bill passed in March by the Philippines House of Representatives is giving hope to proponents of divorce. It would allow divorce for a variety of reasons, including irreconcilable differences, abuse, infidelity and abandonment....
To become law, the bill needs to be passed by the Senate and approved by the president. But the House bill, which passed by a vote of 134 to 57, is significant since no divorce legislation has ever made it this far in the Philippines, says sociologist Jayeel Cornelio of Manila's Ateneo University. He calls the bill "unprecedented," but also logical in a country where a recent survey showed more than half of Filipinos are in favor of allowing divorce "for irreconcilably separated couples."
"The influence of the Catholic Church, when it comes to political matters and private moral affairs, is becoming weaker and weaker in the country," Cornelio says. "The resistance of the Catholic Church to the divorce bill is increasingly seen as not in the interests of the public but only the interests of the Catholic Church."
Cornelio says a divorce bill is a sensible, and even "inevitable" next step after the passage of the country's reproductive health law in 2013, which allowed poorer Filipinos in particular access to birth control. Many municipalities have been slow in implementing the reproductive health law, which took more than a decade to pass — evidence of how much power the Church still enjoys.
Still, there is an unusual level of bipartisan support for the divorce bill — a matter of concern for the Catholic Church.