Synod’s Preparatory Document: Communion for Divorced and Remarried Not Proposed

At least, not so far, and for that I suppose we should be grateful. Rorate Caeli has published some of the relevant text.

The preferred “solution” seems to be faster annulments, easier annulments, more annulments: i.e., “streamlining” annulments. Because, as the pope casually suggests, probably 50% of marriages are invalid anyway, so the Church needs needs to pick up the pace! This “solution” will be equally disastrous for Christian marriage – just as the present regime of easy annulments is already an immense catastrophe – but it has the virtue of leaving Catholic dogma untouched on paper even if rendered meaningless in real life.

As for pastoral care, the document proposes:

“Pastoral charity impels the Church to assist people who have suffered the breakdown of their marriage and are living with their situation relying on the grace of Christ. A more painful wound results when these people remarry and enter a state of life which does not allow them to receive Holy Communion. Clearly, in these cases, the Church must not assume an attitude of a judge who condemns (cf. Pope Francis, Homily, 28 February 2014), but that of a mother who always receives her children and nurses their wounds so they may heal (cf. GE, 139-141). With great mercy, the Church is called to find forms of ‘accompaniment’ which can support her children on the path of reconciliation. With patience and understanding, she must explain to these people that their not being able to celebrate the sacraments does not mean that they are excluded from the Christian life and a relationship with God.”

Contrast this with the words of Our Lord: “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.”

“In referring to these complex situations, many responses highlight the lack of a specific pastoral ministry for these people in some dioceses. Many bishops’ conferences mention the importance of offering these members of the faithful a means to participate actively in the life of the Church through prayer groups, liturgical functions and charitable activities. They also refer to some pastoral initiatives, such as giving an individual blessing to those who cannot receive the Holy Eucharist or encouraging their children’s participation in parish life. In this regard, the role of movements on conjugal spirituality by religious orders and parish commissions for the family cannot be undervalued. A particularly meaningful recommendation is to include a prayer for people in difficult situations in the Prayer of the Faithful at parish and diocesan liturgies.

Oh, man, containing my sarcasm here is just too hard. But I will restrain myself. Unless I am missing something, this document contains not a word about calling the divorced and invalidly remarried to a life of virtue; nothing about leaving their sinful lifestyle in order to return to the sacraments; nothing about the necessity of taking up their cross and following Christ. Kyrie eleison!

42 thoughts on “Synod’s Preparatory Document: Communion for Divorced and Remarried Not Proposed

  1. If a majority of ‘Catholic’ marriages are really invalid — and I’m inclined to think that that is perfectly plausible — then by far the highest pastoral priority should be teaching Catholics the truth about sacramental marriage (which is not complicated) and offering convalidation for any whose unions might be doubtful.


    • Quite so, Zippy. Funny how the idea never occurs to Pope Francis or his confreres. But I disagree about the invalidity of the majority of Catholic marriages being even remotely plausible. The indissolubility of marriage is probably the Catholic Church’s best known doctrine, even among non-Catholics and pagans. In any case, if one could be morally certain that 50% of Catholic marriages were invalid (which I dispute), proclaiming this to the world would still be hugely irresponsible, as it would erode the traditional *presumption of validity* that is necessary to keep vulnerable marriages from disintegrating based on a false hope of invalidity.


  2. We are, perhaps, on the road to establishing the Protestant “personal relationship with Christ” meme? If the the “I’m OK, you’re OK” touchy-feely catholicism starts to get a foothold, it will disintegrate the foundation of those who are Faithfully living their vows after years of being abandoned – by their spouse for a new Prince/Princess and by the Hierarchy through easier and even more-specious annulments. It would bring more pressure to bear upon them to cave to this “new evangelization” and just “move-on” to a new, more happy life. They will be further ridiculed and perhaps even marginalized by other Catholics and forgotten by a Hierarchy apparently more interested in condoning sin than converting the sinner; more interested in preserving illegal aliens families than the Catholic families in their own Dioceses; more interested in promoting the cult of man rather then the Cult of Christ. It is sad to see them scramble to soothe the hurt feelings of mere humans, rather than to comfort the Sorrowful Heart of their Creator.

    Makes me want to cry…


    • “If the the “I’m OK, you’re OK” touchy-feely catholicism starts to get a foothold…”

      STARTS to get a foothold??? With respect where have you been for the last 50 years? The modernist heresy is running the Church. The heresy we are living through in our time makes Arianism look like a parking ticket.


      • It was a play of words referring to the upcoming Synod…that its already affected the mainstream is a given. Probably should have used a different analogy, but… the fingers type faster than the brain thinks, at times. I was in 8th grade when the big changes were coming, so I’m well acquainted with them.


  3. Pingback: Pastoral suggestions for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod | Zippy Catholic

  4. Jeff:
    I’m one of those cradle Catholics – went to parochial school, etc – who didn’t undertstand that it is mortally sinful to skip Mass without a good reason until I was in my thirties. I’m not even going to catalog for you the timeline and content of my personal understanding of marriage.

    And if I may be so bold, I am in fact a little smarter and a little more curious than the average bear.

    I’d suggest that you are far, far too optimistic about how well Catholics in general actually understand Catholic doctrine. That probably stems from your personal experiences, as my view certainly stems from mine.


    • Yes, it does stem from my personal experience. Growing up a nominal Lutheran but virtual pagan, I always knew that Catholics didn’t allow divorce and I can recall several conversations about it with my fellow barbarians. But let’s suppose that a majority of Catholics really don’t know this. Is it really possible that the priest who marries them would fail to remind them? And if he does fail to remind them, isn’t “’till death do us part” still in the vows?


      • Jeff:
        Yes, priests can fail to say it, and yes, people can fail to treat the vow as something other than just the traditional words you recite. You don’t get it because of who you are and who you have been. And who you are and who you have been is a good thing. But it is blinding you to the reality.


      • OK, but it still seems to me that, objectively, the vow itself really makes the escape hatch pretty small. Trashing or forgetting one’s vows is one thing, but being ignorant of them is another.


      • Jeff:
        That there are exceptions that supply an ‘out’ is a background assumption. “Thou shalt not kill” looks like a pretty unequivocal commandment too. But, but, but.

        I’m telling you that – and this is actually to your credit as a human being and a Catholic – you do not get it.


      • I concede the possibility, Zippy, though it boggles the mind.

        Still and all – and I think you will agree – the fact that the vows are what they are should eliminate the claim of “I didn’t really mean it that way” as grounds for annulment. Unless, as you have written, there are witnesses to the spouse having been intoxicated or otherwise out of his mind. And so in this scenario, where a person really didn’t understand the vows, we have a possibly invalid marriage that must nevertheless be presumed valid by the Church and society. Because the alternative would inevitably lead to the systematic finding of sacramentally valid marriages to be invalid, and that is infinitely worse for all marriages.


  5. “Too many annulments.” Ah, the old and unproven canard. (I suppose I must now elaborate.)

    First, if you think annulments are easy, ask someone who ever went through one. I can tell you from experience that it has the potential to be one of the most gut-wrenching tribulations of your life, reviewing the intimate details of your past, and finding those who will attest to those details. And even if it weren’t, anything that takes twelve to eighteen months can hardly be called “automatic.”

    How many annulments are too many? I would contend that one failed marriage is one too many, especially if children are involved. But in order to determine the percentage of Catholic marriages that are deemed null and void, you would have to be able to study all of them, and this is impossible. Of the first marriages that fail, many who remarry do so outside of the Church. As sad as this is, it also means that their resolution was outside the system, and that there are any number of failed marriages whose validity was never determined one way or the other. Furthermore, nearly every divorced Catholic, at least in North America, who takes his case to his pastor, is discouraged from proceeding unless he has a good case to begin with. This means that a good many failed marriages that would be deemed valid never go through the tribunal system, and so do not figure into the percentage. That is why the overwhelming number of petitions submitted are found favorable; they were already “vetted” beforehand.

    The process is often deemed as an occasion for “healing,” although one cannot imagine being “healed” if one is tied to vows where the other party has abandoned them and married another outside the Church. It should be an occasion of coming to terms with a failure in one’s life, and whatever the outcome, knowing how to move forward (which is a bit more involved than “no more dating and no more sex”). Bishops should also be held accountable for upholding the canons regarding marriage, which include prior approval of marital separation, with penalty for those who abandon spouses without cause.

    I am reminded of something Father Peter Stravinskas once said, that given the state of pre-marital catechesis, it is a wonder there are not more annulments, as so many couples enter into the sacrament without the slightest idea of what it truly entails. If marriage and the family in our culture, and if the sacred teachings of the Church, are truly under attack, it is not unrealistic to expect this to be a casualty. Maybe some of you can start there, instead of dumping on people whose only “mistake” is trying to get on with their lives.


    • David, no one is dumping on you, or on Catholics who pursue annulments for valid reasons. And I’m sure you’re right about many annulments being difficult and even traumatic. But your statement – “nearly every divorced Catholic, at least in North America, who takes his case to his pastor, is discouraged from proceeding unless he has a good case to begin with” – strikes me as off the mark. Why should the majority of Catholic priests today be any better at vetting annulment cases than they are at delivering an orthodox homily?


    • ” … although one cannot imagine being ‘healed’ if one is tied to vows where the other party has abandoned them and married another outside the Church.”

      Indeed, one may never be healed from the abandonment of a spouse in this vale of tears. Remarriage won’t heal it either. Sometimes the only moral response to a tragedy is to endure. I say this boldly, knowing full well that I would respond very miserably myself apart from a superabundance of grace. But abandonment is not grounds for annulment. If it were, then spouses would be abandoning each other right and left in times of difficulty … oh, wait.


  6. “David, no one is dumping on you.”

    I did not say that anyone was. I mentioned no one specifically, but I cannot imagine what other reaction you would expect after referring to “the present regime of easy annulments,” especially without any proof of it being “easy.”

    “Why should the majority of Catholic priests today be any better at vetting annulment cases than they are at delivering an orthodox homily?”

    That is a good question, but it is not “off the mark” according to every priest and every canonist with whom I have ever broached this subject. With such examinations, as with orthodoxy, it is a matter of the will.

    “Abandonment is not grounds for annulment.”

    Again, I did not say it was. But it is usually what puts the quest for one in motion. Obviously, if one is not abandoned, one is unlikely to pursue the matter.


    • Like most people, my “proof” that we have a regime of easy annulments is mostly anecdotal. But there are so many Catholics with anecdotal evidence these days that it’s foolish to disregard it.

      There is some objective evidence as well.

      1. With 6 percent of the world’s Catholics, the United States generates 60 percent of the world’s annulments. Are Mexicans, Brazilians, Italians, and Irishmen really that much better catechized on this point?

      2. One study found that 92% of annulments in the United States were overturned when appealed to the Roman Rota. That indicates a problem, don’t you think?

      3. The Church has adopted new criteria for annulment that is highly exploited in the United States: “defect of discretion of judgment and/or incapacity to assume and fulfill the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of a psychic nature”. “In 1986, under the current jurisprudential system, on the authority of an assistant secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference it was stated that ‘approximately 90% of separated and divorced Catholics could obtain annulments from the Church.'”


    • “Obviously, if one is not abandoned, one is unlikely to pursue the matter.”

      In my experience it has been the one doing the abandoning who pursues the annulment. So, dueling anecdotes.


  7. To answer each numbered item:

    1. There is nothing to indicate that Catholics in other countries are any better informed of their Faith than in the United States, but the tribunal system in many countries, especially Europe, is not particularly well-managed. Annulment cases in Europe can take up to ten years. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger expressed concern about this.

    2. Your figures only take into account those which are appealed to the Rota. How many of those are not? Figure that into the percentage, and I can tell you if it “indicates a problem.”

    3. A church official offers speculation, and I am not sure what that proves.

    Finally …

    “In my experience it has been the one doing the abandoning who pursues the annulment. So, dueling anecdotes.”

    My point was that, with a marriage that stays together, there is generally no attempt to determine its validity, especially when it is assumed. So, differing anecdotes, yes, but hardly dueling.


  8. Just take a look at some of the things that may constitute “defect of consent” in the Church today. (Courtesy of a popular Canadian apologetics website operated by Father Maurice Levesque, a Roman Catholic Diocesan priest of Saskatoon):


    * The marriage vows must be free of pressure. A person cannot marry because one or more parents have arranged the marriage.

    * Nor can a boy feel obligated to marry a girl because she is pregnant and refused to have an abortion, he believing that marriage is the right thing to do under the circumstances. (This should not be understood to mean that the Catholic Church permits abortions.)

    * The consent of both parties must be an informed consent. There must be present an amount of assessment and weighing of the obligations, responsibilities and expectations of marriage before one consents.

    * Marriage resulting from love at first sight, especially when the person has never dated anyone else, can be viewed as one or both parties not having the necessary faculty to enter into a marriage agreement.

    * The consent of a party is questionable when the person was escaping from an unhappy home life that was marred by abuse, alcoholism, fights, quarrels, etc…

    * A man’s consent is questionable when he was recently widowed, is still grieving, has a demanding job and is concerned with the upbringing of his children.

    * Some psychological problems justify the annulment of a marriage. The Church recognizes instances of psychoses such as schizophrenia or manic depression. It also asserts that conditions such as homosexuality and alcoholism often undermine the capacity for a permanent union.

    * There is the situation when one is psychologically unable to meet one essential criterion of marriage, the close and intimate personal relationship of mutual support and affection. Frequently, this was evident before both parties were married. But this was ignored because one party believe that he/she could “change” the other person during the marriage.

    * The abuse of alcohol, cannabis or other forms of abuse and violence is hardly compatible with the Church’s definition of marriage as a community of life and love. Such are grounds for an Annulment.

    * While adultery may indicate an underlying immaturity stemming from the time of the wedding, it is important to note that in and of itself, adultery is not grounds for annulment.

    * An aversion to sex, such as finding it disgusting, invalidates a marriage.

    * In January, 2007, the Vatican ruled that the overbearing influence of a mother or father, meaning the psychological autonomy needed for marriage was lacking, is another reason to invalidate a marriage. (Example: A mama’s boy.)


    These are loopholes big enough to justify any annulment request. Indeed, it is entirely believable that 90% of marriages could be annulled under this regime.


    • “Indeed, it is entirely believable that 90% of American marriages could be annulled under this regime.”

      Maybe, maybe not. But since the percentage applies to ALL marriages, not just those which end in divorce, it is going to be very hard to prove. No, make that impossible. So the size of the “loopholes,” assuming the listing you give is at all authoritative, is largely a matter of conjecture.

      “To summarize, if you married someone with Original Sin, or have been affected with Original Sin yourself, your marriage is probably invalid.”

      That does not follow, since Original Sin has never been specifically identified as grounds for an invalid marriage.

      (I will say this for you; you do your homework.)


      • This one is my favorite:

        “There is the situation when one is psychologically unable to meet one essential criterion of marriage, the close and intimate personal relationship of mutual support and affection.”

        Slam, dunk!


  9. As to the “too many annulments” canard, I wonder how many of those who offer the assertion have bothered to consider whether there is not a serious failure to educate properly those who seek to marry?

    I have been through an annulment (33 months, it took), and easy is not a word I would use to describe it. My wife’s annulment took 36 months. And in her case, having been raised (atheist) in the PRC, and married there (to another atheist) under some pressure from her family, I would argue that the annulment was not needed. But in some dioceses, all marriages are considered potentially sacramental, no matter how they were made.

    How the Tribunal process is conducted is left as an exercise for the diocese. Truly, this needs correction. The canons are universal, not diocesan. In my own experience, the fee was $500, which we were told, does not cover the expense. However, when I questioned the very slow process, the stock answer was that it is all handled by unpaid volunteers. I don’t believe both statements can be true.

    And to state here what has become for me a continuing theme: Each parish (I believe) should offer a continuing adult class in the CCC. How many in the pews today understand their faith? How many understand all that the Church teaches? And to invert a meme: If you do not build it, they will not come.

    My summary:
    1. Teach the faith. And teach in particular, those preparing to marry, to be sure they are capable of entering into a sacramental commitment.
    2. Standardize the implementation of the Tribunals.
    3. Do something about the fees, to render them equitable. (Currently, I know the fee in Chicago is $900, in Atlanta, $500, and in Nashville, $0. Equity? Hardly!)


  10. Zippy: “And quite a steaming pile of rationalization.”

    Blogmeister: “There is the situation when one is psychologically unable to meet one essential criterion of marriage, the close and intimate personal relationship of mutual support and affection.”

    Relax, fellas. More like a steaming pile of someone’s opinion, and not a very good one. If the above were true, there would be no such thing as a valid marriage, since all of them fit this description at one time or another. The capacity to enter into an indissoluble union is part of forming a valid intention. A man who is perennially unfaithful to his betrothed at the time of forming the bond (an important distinction here) is one example of a “slam dunk” case of defective intention. The author’s use of sentimental jargon renders that criterion almost meaningless.


    • David, it’s not just “someone’s opinion”, a quick google search turns up language like this everywhere on respectable Catholic websites. For example, from John T. Catoir, J.C.D. –


      1) A lack of due discretion. For example, suppose a woman has married her deadbeat husband because she was pregnant. He refuses to go to work, sitting around the house drinking beer all day while she supports the family with an outside job. She does all the shopping, cooking and childcare. After a few years she decides she has had enough and begins divorce proceedings.

      Someone advises her to approach the marriage tribunal for an annulment, alleging that she married in haste. In other words, she lacked the discretion necessary to spot his personality disorder. Her husband promised to take care of his family, but clearly he did not have the character or the desire to do so. She claims that if she had known what kind of a misfit he really was she never would have married him.

      If she can prove that he behaved this way, the tribunal will probably grant her an annulment.

      3) Psychic incapacity. If a person is incapable of fulfilling the burdens and obligations of marriage, the marriage can be annulled. You cannot make a promise to do something you are incapable of doing. For instance, a paranoid schizophrenic may have behaved normally at the time of the wedding, but later, when the illness becomes full-blown, the marriage falls apart.

      It is only because of our new knowledge in the field of psychology that we have come to understand that a latent condition can affect the consent retroactively. Some of these cases involve persons who are psychotic, but not all. A serious neurosis can also affect the capacity to marry.

      These cases are becoming more common. Neil Clark Warren, a psychologist and marriage counselor, estimates that in 75 percent of all divorces at least one party is emotionally unhealthy. In countries where there is a vigorous drug subculture, Warren’s claim is not an exaggeration.

      Forty years ago people were told, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” This is too simplistic a rule when it comes to mental or emotional illness. We learned this new jurisprudence from the Sacred Roman Rota. Decisions of the Rota are only made available (with names deleted) 10 years after they are issued.

      When I was the judicial vicar in the Diocese of Paterson in the early 70’s, I began reading the decisions of the Roman Rota on a regular basis and was amazed to find that they were granting annulments to people who were extremely immature. I also found that the Rota had been granting annulments in cases involving psychotics and neurotics as well. The American Church was 10 years behind in its jurisprudence.


      ” … in 75 percent of all divorces at least one party is emotionally unhealthy.” Gosh, who isn’t “emotionally unhealthy” to some degree? You have to have near-perfect foresight – clairvoyance, practically – in order to enter into a valid marriage under these appalling new standards. If your spouse changes in any negative way, in a way you did not predict or could not have predicted – or if you didn’t know every aspect of your spouse’s personality, upbringing, influences, tendencies, weaknesses, etc. – your marriage can be easily annulled in the Catholic Church today.

      This approach is truly diabolical because one of the reasons for marriage is the mutual support of spouses “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”, etc., come whatever hardships may come. When a spouse becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, or suffers from depression, or what have you, that is precisely when the grace of his or her marriage is needed the most. But today it’s seen as an opportunity to bail. None of our grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ marriages could have survived an annulment challenge in today’s tribunals. What a joke.


  11. I know of a man I admire whose wife left him for another. He has raised the last two sons. We didn’t know how much he had been suffering in his marriage for years from his wife. I am sure many of those “justifications” for annulment were present in and before his marriage. Yet, he is faithful. I think he is correct, but he is still suffering and faithful. The “great plan” God has for each of us is the cross!


  12. I realize that this may come across as crass, but the fact that I myself am married should ameliorate that effect, I hope.

    I can almost LITERALLY not FATHOM what it means to say that “most married Catholics don’t know what marriage is/entails”. Are we to believe that they were asleep when pronouncing their vows? Your average Catholic wedding clearly indicates the monogamy and perpetuity of the Sacrament being invoked. Does it even make sense to say that the parties involved can’t grasp these words? If even Hollywood movies can get these themes across in many cases, I truly don’t grasp what the basis is for saying that “most Catholics don’t understand the nature of marriage”. I can see how most don’t grasp (or care to grasp) the REASONS for upholding marriage against anti-natal sins (contraception, sodomy, oral sex, homosexuality, adultery, etc.), but to say that the clear intent of having a wedding is just too hard for most Catholics to grasp seems… as specious as it is monstrous.

    If that’s the case–if it’s THAT easy to dispense with the marital obligations and penalties of marital sin–then I also don’t fathom how any other sin is not just as easily dispensed with. The death of a thousand qualifications has become a plague, and now the Vatican seems to be doubling down.


  13. I suspect that religiously serious people drastically underestimate the power of indifference. A poll of “cultural Catholics” to (e.g.) determine what percentage think divorce and remarriage in a case of adultery is morally justified might be interesting. Personally I’d expect similar results to contraception polls and polls about the Real Presence. That reservation at the time of the wedding would render consent invalid, just as disbelieving in the Real Presence renders reception of the Eucharist a sacrilege.

    I don’t know why folks expect better results when it comes to marriage than we get with other doctrines. Just because you personally take doctrine seriously doesn’t mean that everyone else does. It is as ridiculous for Catholics to disbelieve in the Real Presence as it is to disbelieve in indissolubility including cases of adultery; but nonetheless many Catholics do disbelieve.

    That said, the kind of psychobabble post-facto rationalizations Jeff is posting are of another species entirely. Any half witted fool is capable of consenting to marriage. I’m prepared to believe that many don’t, but not for the kinds of reasons that dominate operation of the annulment mill.


  14. Pingback: “Cultural Catholicism” and marriage nullity | Zippy Catholic

  15. Pingback: Binding Up Burdens | Peace, Joy, Pancakes

  16. ABS remembers the bride really pissing him off one time in the mid 1980s. Is there a statue of limitations that would prevent me from getting an annulment?

    Modern Catholic realism was cribbed from Strawberry Fields and if the majority of marriages today are invalid then what about my putative parents marriage?

    Am I really the bastid my friends always told me I was?

    Since 1962-1965 BCE (Bestest Council Ever) a new springtime in the Church has been created wherein the psychological darnel has crowded-out the Traditional wheat and now everyone is slowly becoming inured to the idea that a thing can both exist and not exist.

    Whatever did our progenitors do prior to modern psychology?

    O, and why are we paying such respect to categories created by those who hate us?

    It was the slithering shrinks who assured our Prelates that Fr Fanny-Fancier was Jake to go back into ministry after he was caught caressing his catamite in a canoe on a retreat in the Ozarks but I do see any of those bastids being sued or having their reputations ruint?

    No, far from it; we are only too happy to have our haters lead us around by the nose.

    Lord have mercy…


  17. If all of those pseudo psychological reasons for invalidity of consent were REAL, then the real solution that the Pope is asking for with regard to marriage would be this: force people to go through a grueling 6-year program of studies (with masters degree), and a series of intense personal interviews and investigations, (all paid for of course by the individual), as candidates for the sacrament of matrimony, before they were admitted to the sacrament. Kind of like seminary training. Then at the end of all that, their marriage would not be annulable without the direct verbal consent of the Pope (kind of de-frocking a priest). (I just threw in the “verbal” part to get Francis’s consoling phone call to the struggling woman in Argentina). There, now we will cut down on BOTH divorces AND annulments.

    Oh, wait – then people won’t bother asking the Church for marriage in the first place, would they.

    Can we take Francis’s insistence that living the charity of Catholicism is simple (not the same as easy) together with Pope St. Pius X’s insistence that the interior requirements necessary for the worthy reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist are really very simple, (“what is it that you receive in Communion”…”Jesus Christ”…Ok, sign the boy up”) and point out the natural consequence:

    The inherent interior requirements necessary to enter into the state of marriage are really very simple. If one can understand the meaning of the words of the vows – even if one has been told by someone in his past that the vows aren’t real – that is sufficient unless one has a CURRENT mental condition that makes one literally and legally incompetent. Simply have the priest, before the vows are exchanged, declare (in a very loud voice, with all the pomp and ceremony of The Impwessive Cwergyman): “Whatever you have been told in the past notwithstanding, these vows are LITERALLY TRUE and are to be held as literally true. Now, repeat after me…”

    Immaturity of the mind is not an impediment to marriage unless one literally has the mind of an 8-year old. Immaturity of the emotions is not an impediment unless one literally has not the capacity – like an 8-year old – to desire sex or children. And in both of those cases someone in the families should be able to say “but he is retarded and cannot act responsibly. That’s why we have to put him to bed at night.” A person who asks for an annulment on the grounds that they (now) have a mental illness that interfered with consent should be told simply: “but you are not in a mental institution! Unless you are legally incompetent, and were legally incompetent back then, you’re married. It’s simple – just like the Pope says.”


  18. The need for tribunals is real. The need for discovering the validity of marriages is legitimate based on the authority given the church. The problem is in how that is being carried out. Serious study of the behavior of our tribunal judges is needed. If they are not following Canon Law then they should be immediately removed from office!

    Simultaneously, we desperately need clarification on the Catechism and Canon Law. What is meant by phrases like “lack sufficient reason” and “grave defect of discretion of judgement”? We need the church to clarify with SPECIFIC examples. Does this mean “I was so nervous on my wedding day that I threw up in the vestibule” . . . or does it mean “I have a severe mental handicap. I am not able to maintain relationships or hold a job”? One can see the problem if the former is an example of invalidity. The church is foolish to assume all marriages are valid if the vast majority of them are declared invalid for such minor reasons. Certainly, God does not intend it to be this way!

    Another issue is the loosey-goosey way annulment cases are handled. Canon Law does a fair job of protecting BOTH parties from false testimony, witness collusion and other abuses. If judges ignore the law due to bias for the petitioner (even with good-intention) we end up with false annulments. This is a SERIOUS situation! Consider this . . . a person lies in their testimony to the tribunal and is granted a false annulment. They “re-marry” and perhaps even have children. Now, the church “sees” them in a valid marriage but God knows they are in an adulterous relationship. This is grave sin. Let’s assume the other two conditions for mortal sin are not met and the person dies. The sin is venial and, by the mercy of God, will be cleansed in purgatory. But what happens if the person is convicted by the Holy Spirit about their deception during the annulment while they are still alive? Now they realize the first marriage is still the valid marriage and the current relationship (perhaps with children) is adulterous. WHAT A PICKLE!!!

    These situations are not uncommon and describe the CRITICAL need for a sweep of our current tribunal judges to be sure they understand not only the letter but the heart of church law–and routinely follow it . . . in addition to the clarification of many of the canons regarding the annulment process.

    The church has a lot of work to do and we would all do well to step up our prayers during this time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s