PopeWatch: Annulments: The Fix is In

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Effectively the Pope with his “reform” of the annulment process has created Catholic Divorce, thereby rendering the words of Christ about marriage null and void.  A harsh judgment?  Let’s take a look at the facts:

1. The Pope has made annulments free, which mean that all Catholics get to pay for them.  This is obviously a come on for more people to go through the process.

2.  Revoking the rule established by John Paul II, a decree of nullity can now be granted on grounds not pled by the party seeking a nullity.  What this means is that the tribunal will now be hunting for reasons to render the marriage null, turning the process on its head.

3.  The speeded up process is obviously intended to turn the process into a nullity granting machine.  Making the local bishop the judge, subject to inevitable pressure from the Vatican, ensures this.  Dropping automatic appeals is another sign of what is desired.  It would take a very dense bishop, or a very courageous one, not to begin rubber stamping decrees of nullity.

4.  The new laws are replete with phrases like  “intended precisely to show the Church’s closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many that experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ’s healing work through ecclesiastical structures.” which clearly indicates the result desired.  The fix is in.

The end result of this farce is that mercy is available to those who wish to have a “get out of marriage free card” and those objecting to their marriage being tossed on the scrapheap by the Church can go pound sand as far as this Vatican is concerned.  This is typical of the type of one sided “mercy” pushed by this Pope to a favored group while an opposing group receives the back of the papal hand.  Unfortunately, one of the parties getting the back of the papal hand in this case is named Jesus Christ.

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68 Comments

  1. One of the things I had a hard time coming to grips with is the tandem ideas that one must refrain from receiving the Eucharist when one is in a state of mortal sin and that pne must attend Mass anyway.

    It would hugely help if parish priests dealt with this in their homilies since I never encountered it at home or in Catholic school.

  2. I imagine one must attend Mass because Mass is where moral teaching happens. We learn what sins are and, hopefully, why. When we are in a state of mortal sin, we feel sad we can’t receive Jesus, and yearn to do better so we can. Confessions are offered before (even during) Mass, so we are able to go up the Communion line.
    .
    At least this is the theory, as I understand it. I stopped going up the Communion line earlier this year due to this particular sin I’m working on. Now, I don’t go because I don’t feel like I’m in Communion with these people. (Really, what was that Lutheran woman thinking?)

  3. I should add that if we do not go to Mass even when we cannot receive, we are distracted away from our state of mortal sin and carry on as if we are okay, even though we are not.

  4. DJH, that is my understanding too. (Don, please correct us if we are wrong.) We stand down from the Eucharost because we know we need to break down the wall between us and God before recieving Him in so intimate a form. Just being at Mass means the communal communion, and the grace from it, strengthen us.

    I pray that you find peace and strength, DJH. You are not alone. If a man be honest, few of us have not had times like you are experiencing.

  5. Contrary to the intention of the “reform”, the “Church’s closeness to wounded families” is not demonstrated to “the many” (i.e.:children) by treating them as the product of so many one night stands. So they’re going to feel closer to the Church knowing it is the reason they will now consider themselves illegitimate? There is a reason God made marriage his first covenant. It is that important. You can almost hear Christ telling this pope, “Get behind me Satan.”

  6. ‘Wow, Father of Seven! THERE is a thought that hadn’t occurred to me!
    .

    You are in good company. Pope Francs and a bunch of bishops/cardinals missed it, too.

    I don’t apologize for quoting the Gospel.

    “Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.”

  7. When one of my kids comes running to me with a bump or a bruise, I’m in the habit of announcing “time to amputate!” It seems to me that Francis is of the same opinion when it comes to spiritual wounds (if that’s the right way to put it).
    .
    The difference is, he means it and I don’t.

  8. Ernst, I threaten the same, some version of “OK, get my axe.” I they laugh, they’re OK. If not, maybe there is actually something wrong.

  9. Contrary to the intention of the “reform”, the “Church’s closeness to wounded families” is not demonstrated to “the many” (i.e.:children) by treating them as the product of so many one night stands. So they’re going to feel closer to the Church knowing it is the reason they will now consider themselves illegitimate?

    That’s a misconception about what a declaration of nullity actually does that may or may not become more widespread than it already is. Do the children of divorced parents think of themselves, or think that others think of them, as illegitimate?

  10. “Do the children of divorced parents think of themselves, or think that others think of them, as illegitimate?”

    Not the same thing, as an annulment, by definition, asserts that there was never a marriage, while a divorce, by definition, asserts that a marriage did exist. The Church now of course holds that the children of annulled marriages are not to be considered illegitimate, which frankly is an example of the mushy thinking that has infected the Church since Vatican II. Children brought into this world in the absence of a marriage are ipso facto illegitimate, bastards, children born out of wedlock or whatever other euphemism is in vogue. The children are of course innocent in all this, but just as children benefit from the virtues of parents, they often suffer from their parents’ vices.

  11. There was never a sacramental marriage. The natural marriage was real though.
    .
    Otherwise, why require that the divorce be sought before the anullment?

  12. It doesn’t take a courageous bishop. There are 3,000 bishops and the staff of the Holy See cannot undertake more than cursory supervision of them. Bishops are seldom deposed for anything short of running someone down with their car. The stupefying Charles Grahmann thumbed his nose at the Holy See after they appointed a coadjutor. What it takes is a conscientious bishop. I know, fat chance in most cases.

  13. Ernst Schreiber: “There was never a sacramental marriage. The natural marriage was real though.
    .
    Otherwise, why require that the divorce be sought before the anullment?”
    .
    Divorce is sought before the annulment process to settle custody and property. The Catholic person was always being disenfranchised unless material matters were settled first. If the annulment process proves that there is and was a valid marriage, the injured party is at least free to pursue his life, knowing in conscience that he will not be legally harassed.
    If Henry VIII had not been married to Catherine, their daughter would have been illegitimate. Catherine fought this . A truly loving parent would not visit illegitimacy on his child.
    The church considers all marriages valid unless an annulment is made that the marriage is not valid. Divorce says that a marriage existed and gives to the state the power to unbind what God has joined together. State power over church matters is unconstitutional. How many times can an individual say: “til death do us part” and not become a liar and a perjurer, serving the great Liar?
    Legal divorce is predicated on the “death of the marriage”. Customs (social norms and mob rule) do not have power over the free will of a person, his informed consent and his pursuit of his eternal life. Atheism does not believe in eternal life, but the devil does.

  14. “There was never a sacramental marriage. The natural marriage was real though.”

    Which governs status in the secular world, which has bupkis to do with marriage in the eyes of God. The State can tell us that two men can get married which does not mean that they are married in the eyes of God and the Church.

  15. Seems to me that legitimacy/illegitimacy fall into the same secular categories as custody and property. And thus have “bupkis to do with marriage in the eyes of God.”

  16. Ernst Schreiber makes an important point that is often overlooked. The
    legitimacy of a child is a legal construct, and thus hinges on whether
    or not the parents were legally married at the time of birth. The
    Church determines whether or not a couple is sacramentally
    married, but it is a divorce court that dissolves a legal marriage. The
    decisions of an annulment tribunal in no way affect the legitimacy
    of children of parents who were legally married at the time of their
    children’s births. Nobody is saying that children of parents married at
    City Hall and not in a church are illegitimate, and nobody should be
    thinking that children of a marriage that has been annulled are
    suddenly bastards.

    On another note, the thing that is bothering me in all this is that with the
    new, “streamlined” process it seems the Church is losing sight of the fact
    that the validity of a Sacrament is an objective reality, not subject to the
    decision of a tribunal. So if the Church mistakenly or carelessly grants
    declaration of nullity when in fact there was a valid sacramental marriage,
    then the marriage remains, despite what the tribunal decides. That’s why
    the annulment process has until relatively recently had so many safeguards
    built in, making it slow and deliberate– because otherwise the result could
    be the false ‘annulment’ of a marriage. No Pope can dissolve a valid
    marriage, but these new rules seem to say that Francis is giving it a shot
    anyway.

  17. At the end of a short biography of Saint John Fisher, the author, David Matthew, writes:

    A carol, very familiar to the religious thought of Bishop Fisher’s time, reflects in dawn clear phrases the England and the cause for which he died. In the first reference to Our Lady, the intimate religion of the little shrines and churches lies revealed.

    For in this rose contained was
    Heaven and earth in little space,
    Res Miranda.

    The miracle of the Incarnation is suggested, the nearness of Bethlehem, the lowing cattle, God’s Presence in tranquility in the fields. And then the last couplet brings to mind the spirit of the bishop’s martrydom.

    Leave we all this worldly mirth,
    And follow we this joyful birth
    Transeamus.

    The Bishop stood for the old ways and the heart of England. It was clear to him that he had to defend his flock. And he died for the faith of Christ’s Church.

  18. I’ve been trying to work up an analogy involving credit-default swaps, which is what it seems to me is going here: i.e. we’ve got so many “bad” marriages on the books that we need a do-over!. That goes back to one of the Pope’s Jack Handey moments (half of all marriages were invalid, or something like that).
    .
    Canonist Edward Peters had a comment (over at Fr. Z’s place I think –I haven’t been able to recover it from the digital ether) to the effect of it being one of the most uncharitable comments he could imagine being made, what with the way it could serve to sow doubt and confusion.
    .
    Well, Pope Francis did say he wanted to make a mess, didn’t he?

  19. Flip it around– the annulment process is supposed to be a search for the truth, is it not?

    So, point one means that it’s not just for “rich people” to “buy their way out of marriages”– both common accusations used to attack the church, and claims that have scandalized Catholics, and the claimed reason my husband’s godmother is no longer Catholic.
    Arguing back on disagreement, we had to pay for our kids’ CCD and the material/time costs for the sacraments we’ve received; flipping back the other way, all of those have big notes right on the paper to say “if you need help, we have a fund for that.”

    Since it is supposed to be a search for the truth, it shouldn’t be limited by what people are willing to write down. A woman seeking an annulment might care enough for the man that she will not put impotency as a reason; either might not want to say something to the effect of “they don’t have the maturity to enter a marriage.” (A cousin is…I think in her 70s, now. She’s one of those. Husband divorced her, and…well, nobody says or does anything, but I get the impression that nobody blamed him. Her parents adopted the kids.)
    .
    Combining the first two actually makes sense– if the person seeking it were paying, then you’d get the effect of being able to keep the tribunal searching until they find something. Switching it to more of a bureaucracy makes it much less seemingly about who is involved, and more about finding the facts. I’d guess that eventually it will switch to more of a flat fee, like finding someone’s baptismal records. (My husband’s– he was baptized by a military chaplain in a church that was its own parish, but is now part of a bigger one. They REALLY earned the twenty bucks to find that dang thing.)

    Speeding up the process removes another common accusation on why it’s not used/can’t be used/ “why I am not a Catholic”/ “Catholics hate women” thing– and honestly, a decade is pretty ridiculous if it can be sped up without major cost or error. We all know that going fast is expensive, but look at military situations– going slow is expensive, too.
    Maybe it will pressure people in the US to rubber stamp; I’ve heard from folks in places like the PI that they basically deny the annulment by not not doing anything.

    Yeah, #4’s language is painf. Quite hard to take seriously, since it sounds like a politician, but we should try to take it at its word.

  20. Per canon law, an annulment has nothing to do with legitimacy of children:
    The granting of an annulment does nothing to affect the legitimacy of children. That status, to the scant degree it has any canonical significance, is determined prior to the time any questions of annulment are raised (117–19).
    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/are-children-of-an-annulled-marriage-considered-illegitimate
    *******
    Longer:
    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/if-my-mother-annuls-her-marriage-to-my-father-does-that-mean-my-siblings-and-i-are-il
    Most of the time, even when an annulment is granted, the children are still legitimate. This is because canon law specifies that “Children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate” (CIC 1137). “An invalid marriage is called putative if it has been celebrated in good faith by at least one of the parties, until both parties become certain of its nullity” (CIC 1061 §3). This means that as long as oneof the parties thought they were being married, all of the children born of that union will be legitimate.

    The only way for invalid children to be born would be if neither party thought they were getting married (that is, both knew going in that the union was invalid) or if both at some point become certain that their union is invalid yet keep having children anyway. (In the latter case, the only illegitimate children would be those born after the point that both parties became certain.)

    It is also possible, even when children have been born illegitimately that they can be rendered canonically legitimate (CIC 1139). This is possible because legitimacy is a legal rather than a moral concept. It is used in various law systems to determine such things as child support and inheritance rights, but it is no reflection on the child.

  21. Clinton wrote, “[T]he thing that is bothering me in all this is that with the new, “streamlined” process it seems the Church is losing sight of the fact that the validity of a Sacrament is an objective reality, not subject to the decision of a tribunal.”

    No, Canon 1643 makes this abundantly clear: “Cases concerning the status of persons, including cases concerning the separation of spouses, never become res iudicata.” A party to the original proceedings, or anyone intervening for his or her interest, can always reclaim.

    At any time, there may be a suit to restore and set up a first marriage which has been undone by a sentence by accident, by mistake, by collusion, or from any other reason not satisfactory. If all the evidence that could have been had respecting the marriage has not been laid before spiritual judge, any party who has any interest may at any time again apply to that court, again institute a suit, offer new evidence, have that which has been already heard, heard again that the marriage, if it did really exist, be established by a sentence of that court. This is clear law and so a sentence against a marriage will be unchallenged, only if no one in the whole world conceives himself injured by it.

  22. Donald McClarey,
    To a child the annulment does not make sense. Their parents (who they saw being married and know that they were married) suddenly come up with this let’s sweep everything under the rug and call it not a marriage. So they now have (on top of the two people who are supposed to love each other and stay together and are genetically combined forever in their children) are lying to the world and lying to their child. And if the marriage was a mistake, then the child is a mistake. And the Church that is supposed to protect the child is playing along with the sham and helping to break up the family, because either mommy or daddy want to have another Church wedding before they start up that replacement family of half siblings. This is what the children of annulment think, and it becomes one more hurdle to staying Catholic later in life: the Church helped take away my family. It is a shame upon the Church and upon supposed Catholics that we have so many dioceses granting decrees of nullity in 100% of the cases brought to them.

  23. “Flip it around– the annulment process is supposed to be a search for the truth, is it not?”

    I doubt if that is really the purpose when tribunals, even before these “reforms”, were granting annulments in around 97% of the cases.

  24. “The
    Church determines whether or not a couple is sacramentally
    married, but it is a divorce court that dissolves a legal marriage.”

    Not according to traditional canon law. I would note that a finding of illegitimacy was very important in Canon Law traditionally because illegitimate persons could not receive Holy Orders.

    “A canonical impediment to ordination. When used in this connection, the word illegitimate has, in canon law, a well-defined meaning, which is: “born out of lawful wedlock”. Illegitimate birth is an impediment to the reception of orders, and inhibits the exercise of the functions of orders already received. It is a canonical impediment, because established and laid down in the canon law as a hindrance to entering the clerical state. This prohibition does not touch the validity of orders, but makes the reception of them illicit. It extends to first tonsure. The inhibition that is set up is restricted to the functions that belong exclusively to the clergy. In the early ages of the Church no law prevented the ordination of illegitimates. They were then, sometimes, debarred from ordination, but only because of a real or supposed depravity of life. Pope Urban II (1088-99) prohibited the ordination of the illegitimate offspring of clerics, unless they became members of approved religious orders. The Council of Poitiers, under Paschal II (1099-1118), extended this prohibition to all persons of illegitimate birth. These regulations were later approved by other popes and councils.

    The law as laid down in the Decretals of Gregory IX (I, X) mentions only the offspring of clerics and those begotten in fornication. But in the sixth book of the Decretals all persons of illegitimate birth are expressly included. These may be ranged in the following classes: (1) Natural illegitimates, or the offspring of parents who at the time of the birth or conception of such offspring, were capable of contracting Christian marriage. (2) Spurious illegitimates, or those born of a known mother and an unknown father — unknown because the mother had carnal relations with several men. (3) Adulterine illegitimates, those begotten of parents, one or both of whom, at the time of conception and birth of such offspring, were lawfully married to a third person. (4) Incest illegitimates, or persons whose parents could not marry because of an invalidating impediment of consanguinity or affinity. (5) Sacrilegious illegitimates, or the offspring of parents who are restrained from marriage because of the impediment of Holy orders or solemn religious vows. The practice of the present day also holds as illegitimates abandoned children of unknown parentage. Legitimacy may not be presumed or established by negative proof. Positive documentary evidence must be adduced.

    The law of illegitimacy directly debars all the foregoing classes of persons from promotion to orders, and the exercise of the functions proper to the orders already received; and it indirectly prevents such persons from obtaining a benefice. Directly, also, it prevents them from obtaining certain benefices, for the Council of Trent (Sess. 25, c. 15 de ref.) Decreed that the illegitimate children of clerics should be incapacitated from obtaining any kind of a benefice in the Church where their fathers held one; from rendering any service in said church; and from receiving any pensions on the revenues of the paternal benefice. This law is not established and laid down as a punishment for the person to whom it is applied. It safeguards the honour and dignity of Holy orders. The clerical state which has the dispensing of the mysteries of God must be beyond reproach. No stain should be upon it, no blame possible. Therefore the Church raises the barrier of illegitimacy before the entrance to the priesthood. Thus the crime of the parents is held up to just reprobation, and is condemned even in the lives of their offspring. The danger of the father’s incontinence being continued in the life of the son is greatly lessened, for strong indications of purity of life must be given before the door of God’s ministry can be opened.

    The defect of illegitimate birth may be cured in four ways: (1) By the subsequent marriage of the parents; (2) By a rescript of the pope; (3) By religious profession; (4) By a dispensation.”

    This was canon law at the beginning of the last century. Normally annulments were granted on the ground of too close a relation by blood between father and mother. Most of the current grounds for annulments would have been laughed out of tribunals in prior days.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02579b.htm

  25. Annulment/divorce: it’s all the same from the child’s point of view, isn’t it? The family is broke.

    I agree with your overall point. The faithful would be better served if the Church would put more effort into keeping families whole (or impeding the formation of a family in the first place) instead of into expediting the annulment process.
    .
    Your spousal union has become gangrenous, let’s dissolve it like we’d lop off a gangrenous limb so the healing can begin /sarc

  26. I doubt if that is really the purpose when tribunals, even before these “reforms”, were granting annulments in around 97% of the cases.

    It’s expensive, and a lot of people are turned away before it ever gets to the point of a tribunal– that said, if it’s already a rubberstamp, isn’t that objection invalid?

  27. And if the marriage was a mistake, then the child is a mistake.
    I know a fair number of literal bastards. I am friends with at least one child of rape.
    They are not mistakes, or otherwise lesser, because at least one parent did wrong. Yes, they are affected by what their parents did, but that’s because the choices caused reactions, not because they themselves are somehow tainted by it.
    If the marriage is formally annulled or not won’t change the situation of the actual marriage, if it was not valid.
    The argument works just as well to attack those who oppose “catholic divorce,” because of the children born after a civil divorce.

  28. In early 1991, just after I was notified that my wife had filed an annulment petition, I drove many miles to present the Church with three witnesses who had told me they would testify regarding perjury in the petition.

    My offer to the Church was declined. The man who declined to investigate the perjury had, earlier, declined to work to try to heal our marriage.

    The rest is history.

    Truth never really mattered. Not in my book. To this day, our marriage
    is of no value to the hierarchy.

  29. Providing examples doesn’t always illuminate. I was hesitant to do so for fear of misrepresenting the one case I have any personal contact with as being representative.

    I was at a friend’s wedding and was not surprised when she confided, about two years later, that he husband had recently told her that he was gay. He explained that the reason he had so many sexual hang-ups and “failures” was that he had been an active homosexual before marriage and had hoped that marriage would “cure” him. The reason he came out was that he had met a man that wantes to live with him and was leaving her.

    He wanted a divorce and she asked my advice. Knowing how important her faith was to her and her family, I advised against a no fault divorce. I recommended an annulment.

    The process was sufficiently costly and embarrassing that she hesitated and then agreed to the divorce since he paid the costs and she couldn’t afford them.

    It has been something like 15+ years. She is re-married and has two boys. Her husband is an “unbaptized Christian,” by which I mean he believes in God, that Jesus Christ is God, and that the Catholic Church is a valuable representative of the faith.

    Her family attends church regularly and their boys are confirmed. She and her husband do not take the Eucharist though. Indeed, she has not been to Reconciliation since the divorce.

    Her husband wil not convert since he does not understand why she can’t fully participate in a church she loves. Though their pastor has encouraged him to do so, he stays outside because he perceives that to be where she is.

    So, what is the remedy? The Church exists to save souls and here is a family, half of which is on the periphery of church life.

    Would things have been different if she had obtained an annulment back then? I think so.

    Streamlining, reducing the costs, and being more open about the process is more than merciful and just, it is smart.

  30. Since we’re into sharing anecdotes now, I’m aware of one example of the “too immature to enter into a valid sacramental marriage” thing foxfier mentioned earlier. Also of a case where “lack of form” (speaking colloquially here –I’m getting over my head now) probably applies. Compounded in the latter case by the fact that one of the parties to the marriage wasn’t free to (re-)marry.
    .
    My point, I guess, being, if we want God’s graces to bless us in our marriages, we have to covenant our marriages in the right way. Not everybody does unfortunately.

  31. I asked the local ordinary to intervene in our long wounded marriage, in anticipation of our son’s wedding, which was to take place in the Cathedral. The circumstances regarding my wife are crystal clear to the Church.

    At our son’s wedding, my wife received communion, I was broken. I walked out in tears, got my things from my daughter’s home and drove home.

    I no longer attend mass nor participate in the sacraments. I am hoping for the courage to refuse the Last Rites and decline a Catholic funeral.

  32. I think that highlights the challenge:

    As I understand it, the Church is saying “you may have married badly but you are married. Any other relationship is adultery. Since you are not willing to stop engaging in adultery, none of your sins can be forgiven and you are doomed. Go to church as much as you want. Do whatever good you like. Believe as much as you wish. In the end, there is nothing you can do if you continue in your present relationship.”

    If that is the cost, it strikes me as important that the Church make the annulment process as accessible as possible so that justice CAN be done.

    (By the way, I tried to express my discomfort with raising anecdotes but sometimes they can help us ground the theoretical in the practical and that is important to me.)

  33. David Spaulding,
    I will place her and her family in my group of hundreds that I pray for weekly. Don’t be afraid to nudge her. I am nudging a fallen away once per week and a half…and another toward confession. I have real hope.

  34. Karl, I have re-read yoir comment several times and am very sorry. I know that doesn’t mean much but I am and will pray for you and yours.

  35. Yes- more effort could go into helping keep families whole.
    God’s teaching in the Bible shows that he holds the marriage covenant analogous to His covenant with us. We are called to covenant, – the obedience that goes along with faith.

    The Church abdicating authority in these times reminds me of the era of the Judges when people “each did what was right in their own eyes” Judges 21:24, Judges 17:6

  36. Lord, this is serious and important stuff! How much healthier would the Church be if our priests were able to talk about this stuff candidly, openly, and frequently? Parishes should have a venue for this, constantly available.

    Sure, we need basic catechesis for many Catholics but we also need to talk about this kind of practical stuff, the stuff that is ripping the heart out of our Church.

  37. “The
    Church determines whether or not a couple is sacramentally
    married, but it is a divorce court that dissolves a legal marriage.” [quoth Clinton]
    Not according to traditional canon law. I would note that a finding of illegitimacy was very important in Canon Law traditionally because illegitimate persons could not receive Holy Orders.[sayeth Don]

    I’m not a laywer, but I think the right term for your reply is “non-responsive.”
    .
    He teased.
    .
    Maybe I should just ask, how is any of that germaine to the question of marriage?

  38. David,

    There is zero interest in helping or understanding what is needed, on the part of the Church.

    I have asked for help for over 25 years and through 2 annulment processes. I know what I have experienced.

    As to your prayers. Kindness is always appreciated. Thank you.

  39. Years ago, I asked our pastor to allow me to speak at marriage preparation classes. He declined and indicated that he knew I would
    be truthful, but that he doubted very few would seek marriage in the
    Church when they heard my experiences.

  40. We may judge these matters materially, leaving all formal judgment to God. Where I read it escapes me for the moment but it’s something about “Ignorance Being the Eighth Sacrament”. Perhaps founded upon His words from the Cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Ignorance takes work to dispel but honesty takes but an act of the will for which Grace is always at the ready. By force of Grace beyond my deserving I am happily bound with the bride of my long distant youth. Deo Gratias.

  41. “Maybe I should just ask, how is any of that germaine to the question of marriage?”

    The Church traditionally determined who was married and who was illegitimate. From a Church standpoint, as applying Canon law, that is still the case. The Church simply has changed the rules regarding both annulments and illegitimacy.

  42. No, because by definition a rubber stamp judicial proceeding has no interest in truth.

    But you already objected that it currently has only a 3% rejection rate; that means your fear that some places would feel pressure to grant an annulment automatically is already in practice, by your reasoning.

  43. Karl,
    Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, 1st part of the 2nd part, Question 59, article three…addresses whether sorrow is compatible with virtue and reason. Unlike the Stoics, he says it is but one must tame it into moderate sorrow…

    ” For there is an evil which can be present to the virtuous man, as we have just stated; which evil is rejected by reason. Wherefore the sensitive appetite follows reason’s rejection by sorrowing for that evil; yet moderately, according as reason dictates. Now it pertains to virtue that the sensitive appetite be conformed to reason, as stated above (1, ad 2). Wherefore moderated sorrow for an object which ought to make us sorrowful, is a mark of virtue; as also the Philosopher says.”

    Ask God to detach yourself from your ex wife in the sensitive appetite ( the lower part of the soul) while keeping her in the upper part of your soul…intellect and reason….for your vow’s willing of her predestination to Heaven. You’re attached at both levels. I think God wants the sorrow in the sensitive part of your soul to lose a lot of weight…a lot. And pray for her once a month and tell God to work on her for the remainder of the month and that you’ll pray again next month. Get her out of the lower part of the soul by asking God for that. ” Ask and you shall receive” Christ…” You do not have because you do not ask” James. I will be praying that God orders the lower part of your soul in this matter and frees you from her not simply…but in the sensitive appetite….keeping her by vow in your will not in your emotional attachment.

  44. The Church traditionally determined who was married and who was illegitimate.

    I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case. But I won’t dispute it, since I don’t have the time to investigate further.

    From a Church standpoint, as applying Canon law, that is still the case. The Church simply has changed the rules regarding both annulments and illegitimacy.

    Since it’s a matter of canon law, and not doctrine, that’s within the Church’s purview, is it not?

    We may not believe that this is the right way to go about solving the problem (and I hope it’s clear that I don’t care for this reform any more than you do), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a real problem.

  45. “I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case.”

    Remember Henry VIII?

    “that’s within the Church’s purview, is it not?”

    Oh entirely, except that the Church is supposed to be safeguarding the teaching of Christ, and when it comes to the indissolubility of marriage Christ was quite clear.

    “about solving the problem”

    When it comes to people not living by the teaching of Christ, the solution is not to seek to find ways around that teaching.

  46. “that means your fear that some places would feel pressure to grant an annulment automatically”

    Is that this reform makes a bad situation worse. I guess the powers that be at the Vatican are shooting for 100%. Pope John Paul II regarded the tribunals on annulment to be a disgrace in their operation, and he was resoundingly correct. I can imagine what he thinks of these “reforms”.

  47. It’s not dissolving a marriage. It’s figuring out if there was ever a marriage in the first place.
    You might as well oppose reconciliation out of fear that people will abuse it to keep sinning. (Which they do…ain’t nothin’ that can’t be turned. :/ )

  48. Here’s a question– what’s the source on the idea that Mary would have become illegitimate if her parents’ marriage was found to be invalid, rather than that she would have simply been disinherited (as she was)?
    I know that Henry’s daughters WERE declared bastards, at least according to the English history sources I found, but dude was making things up on the fly, there.
    “My daughter will not be a princess” is more than enough reason, beyond anything else like what it would mean for her to be abandoned at 40, for Catherine to oppose the whole “the waiver was invalid the marriage didn’t happen” gambit.

  49. She was declared to be a bastard by Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Parliament. The same would have happened if the Pope had annulled the marriage. Elizabeth would later join Mary in bastardhood, on this point the Pope, Cranmer, and Parliament being in rare unanimity.

  50. I rather imagine it was Parliament’s action that was determinative rather than Cranmer’s.

    Or the Pope for that matter.

  51. Parliament would have had no power to act until the Church first determined both the validity of the marriage and the legitimacy of Mary. That is why Henry established the Church of England rather than simply have Parliament pass a statute declaring him divorced and Mary a bastard.

  52. Cranmer issued the decree that, due to consanguinity, the marriage was invalid.
    I can’t find anything declaring Mary a bastard, though; since she would’ve been born in a putative valid marriage (her mother, at least, meant it to be valid), the even after an annulment she wouldn’t suddenly become a bastard.
    I can’t find anything where Mary is considered a bastard, although her half-sister Elizabeth came up a couple of times as “The Bastard Queen.”

  53. …holy crow, the more I read about this Cranmer fellow, the more I think that the loons they keep getting in that position these days might come by it honest.

  54. Delegitimating Mary it seems to me, was about making sure that no claim to the throne would attach to her, and thus largely a secular concern.
    .
    I further think that we ought to keep in mind that the demarcations between secular and ecclessial authority/jurisdiction weren’t as defined (or were differently defined) in the 16th century as they are now. That’s an unsupported opinion, obviously, but I don’t think it’s out of left field.
    .
    Finally, there’s something odd about using a Protestant proceeding to determine Catholic custom (for want of a better word). Not wrong, necessarily, just odd.

  55. By doing what he did Pope Francis the “Merciful” has effectively eliminated the annulment process by essentially leaving up to the testimony of the person seeking the annulment. The problem with this is that it gives the impression that the Church actually approves of annulment but, in fact, is only accepting the annulment seeker’s testimony.

    Further I question why the Church got into the annulment business in the first place as Christ explicitly said: Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” This would seem to mean the Church should not be involved as Christ gave it no competence to annul marriages.

    I think the entire burden of deciding the moral validity of sacramental marriage should rest with the person(s) seeking divorce. The Church should not be in the business of proving “get out of jail free” cards in order salve consciences.

    Please comment on this if you will.

  56. Mr. Dowd,

    I think it is that an annulment is an assertion that there never was a marriage. Pennsylvania has the same legal instrument and obtaining one doesn’t sever the legal relationship, it acknowledges that there never was one.

  57. Michael Dowd wrote, “Further I question why the Church got into the annulment business in the first place as Christ explicitly said: Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” This would seem to mean the Church should not be involved as Christ gave it no competence to annul marriages.”

    How do Christ’s words address the question of who is to decide whether one person is married to another?

    After all, there must always be a considerable number of persons who could not say off-hand whether they were married or not. It is only when the question has been decided by a tribunal that their doubts can be removed. But although they do not know if they are married, and no one could tell them with certainty till the action was tried, it is nevertheless true that they must be either one or the other. There is no half-way house. As long as there are impediments to marriage and as long as marriage requires the consent of two people, that is simply unavoidable.

    Thus, the only question is, who gets to decide? If marriage is a sacrament, then it falls to the Church to decide who is or is not married, just as it falls to the Church to decide who is baptized, or who is ordained to ministry.

  58. Mr. Dowd,
    The point of all of this is justice. Without justice, you “create” people such as myself who are now completey disillusioned and publically so. While the options of the Church are limited by the choices and the behaviors of spouses, the option of formal excommuniction has always been available in the case of public and permanent adultery but was seldom, if ever used. In our case, criminal(by fair standards) behavior has been involved by my wife and by clerics, with no attempt to address these crimes. THIS, should not ever have been allowed to be tolerated in any credible legal process.

    CONSEQUENTLY, the Catholic Church is itself, corporately, criminal in its practices. BUT, there is no place for me or anyone, to appeal for help.

    I doubt there is any resolution available, period, in a human sense.

  59. Karl; It sounds like your wife and the cleric stacked the cards against you. There will be JUSTICE. It will come on judgement day!!!! This is your CROSS in this life. It is my opion that the pope is bringing down the Church with his Personal teachings. You must stick with tradition. Regarding the first comment posted by david s.; You must still assist at Sunday Mass even if you are living in sin because it is the 3rd commandment. None compliance is also a mortal sin and must be confessed if and when you repent of your other sins! Sorry, but the alternative is Hell!

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