Unconditional Love -- But Not for Your Spouse

November 2000

Across our desks has come the new book, Catholic Divorce: The Deception of Annulments edited by Pierre Hegy and Joseph Martos (Continuum). Yes, divorce can be unavoidable in certain cases, but the overall message of this liberal Catholic volume is something else, namely, that annulments are a pain and a sham, and the Church should toss out her doctrine of the Indissolubility of Marriage and just accept divorce and "remarriage."

Ah, but we do remember that liberal Catholics are the ones who've been telling us that the only important thing about our Faith is Unconditional Love -- meaning sacrificial love, suffering love, forgiveness, tolerance, turning the other cheek, accepting differences, being a wounded healer, etc.

But when it comes to marriage, it seems that all those values are thrown out the window, as liberal Catholics show themselves eager to embrace our culture of divorce and multiple marriages. Is your spouse difficult, abusive, unreliable, unfaithful, alcoholic, dysfunctional, screwy, or lazy? Well, don't forgive him (or her), don't tolerate him, don't bear with him, don't give him another chance, don't try to bring him around -- and please don't talk about Unconditional Love! Forget about all that, as well as your vow of "for better or for worse." Just dump him and "marry" someone else, and expect the Church to automatically bless you!

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New Oxford Notes: November 2000

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Seeing how I just completed going through a full-length Nullity Investigation, I'll make the following comments. First of all, an Annulment is NOT a Catholic divorce. For those who fear God, and have great reverence for the authority granted by Christ to the Catholic Church, it is quite a thing to enter the Catholic Tribunal process with honesty and reverence.

Many, many Protestants argue for days on end as to what constitutes "Biblical divorce" (often with the right to remarry as being part-in-parcel of the "divorce"). The Catholic Church does not do this. Christ taught the indissolubility of a Sacramental Marriage, period! However, not everyone enters the Sacrament of Marriage. That authentic Marriage is a Sacrament is what the Catholic Church proclaims.

For Catholics the Sacrament of Marriage is based on EVERYTHING the Scriptures teaches about the purpose for marriage and what defines its goods. The 3 fundamental "goods" of a Marriage Sacrament our:

1) Indissolubility
2) Fidelity
3) Complete openness to Procreation

These are what Catholic marriage vows are based upon. Now also recognize that these vows had to be entered into freely (as stated above), with no coercion, with a sound mind, a base level of maturity, AND full awareness that this is what is meant by marriage in Catholic terms.

The Church recognizes and mandates these as essential grounds to forming a last marriage bond. If one or more of these are intentionally excluded at the time the couple exchanges vows, and this can be proven through Tribunal Canon Law proceedings, then NO Sacrament of Marriage was covenanted. It's that simple!

It is indeed sad, terrible in fact, that anyone would lie to an Ecclesiastical Tribunal in order to obtain an annulment. How could their new "marriage" ever truly be blessed? How could they ever receive the most Holy Eucharist with a clear conscience before a living God?

I will also say that my former marriage was annulled because we absolutely excluded children from our marriage. Looking back, this was a great evil. However, I can say with great confidence that we would have never married one another if children had been in view. I will say nothing about her, but I was at that time (in my early 20's) very simply an immature, self-centered individual with little-to-no real formation for marriage or family life.

Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, that in His infinite Wisdom, He gifted The Catholic Chruch with such great understanding on the definition and grounds of what constitutes Christian marriage. This process has brought great healing to my life and has allowed me to enter the Catholic Church with full recognition of the holiness of my present, wonderful Christian marriage of almost 10 years.
Posted by: BriBow
June 27, 2007 07:16 AM EDT
While I am not divorced I have a dear friend who is and is going through the anullment process. I wonder if the author knows anyone who has been or is being emotionally or physically abused. My friend, a devout Catholic convert, turned quickly to her priest for advice. She asked if she should endure the pain and his answer was no. Her husband lied during counseling, emotionally abused her, threatened her physically and told her that his private life, meaning his affairs, were none of her business. He flaunted his mistress and ignored her and the children. She wanted to forgive, to keep her marriage intact but he wanted no forgiveness, just the facade of a Catholic marriage. She couldn't take it anymore. The children were suffering also. Her friends are all traditionalist, not liberal Catholics. We saw her try, saw her suffering and were comforted by our Priests assurances that he was unable to comprehend the meaning of a Sacramental Marriage.
The author of this piece seems so callous. I pray you never know the heartbreak of divorce, the terrible cost to the children. However, I think it would do you good to do some volunteer work with abused women in crisis. It may open your eyes to the suffering some people must endure.
Posted by: Artsgolfer
June 27, 2007 08:52 AM EDT
I don't think the author of the editorial is being callous in his assessment. The point of the article, as I read it, is that the legitimate annulment process has been abused so widely in the United States that it has come to be seen as a farce of farces; thus, some will label it rightly as "Catholic divorce," even though rightly executed, annulment certainly is not Catholic divorce.

Some years ago Sheila Rauch Kennedy wrote a book criticizing the abuses of the annulment process in the US. Joseph Kennedy divorced her in order to marry a younger babe. He applied for and received an annulment from the Archdiocese of Boston. Rauch appealed the annulment with the Vatican. Just this month the Vatican ruled to reverse the annulment, becasue the process was not properly followed. Rauch's contention was that it is abusrd to say that her marriage to Joesph Kennedy, which produced two children, never took place sacramentally or otherwise. The annulment was an insult to Rauch, an insult to the annulment process, and an insult to the Church.

According to the Church, neither desertion nor wife-beating (empotional or physical abuse) nor infidelity is grounds for an annulment.

Reasoning that the annulment process is sound because some men beat their wives is a non sequitor. The former has nothing to do with the latter. Reasoning that a man (or woman) must do volunteer work among abused women in order to understand annulments is also logically fallacious.
Posted by: charing cross
June 27, 2007 11:32 AM EDT
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