Friday, September 18, 2015

What will we make of quickie annulments?

Here's another problematic aspect of the annulment reform.

Every now and then I hear some one has married following an annulment. I think, I expect most Catholics think, 'well, I'm glad they sorted that out properly'.

If someone told us of the circumstances of the annulment, and it sounded terribly dodgy, I would still try very hard not jump to the conclusion that the second marriage was in reality adulterous. I would say to myself: 'I don't have all the facts, I was not the judge in the tribunal.'

In a few years time we are all going to encounter cases of people who have had 'quickie' annulments. Assuming the reform proceeds, and until it is reversed, I suspect that few people will find it necessary to go through the 'ordinary' procedure. That is the way in the post-Conciliar Church: the exception is the rule. This appears to be the plan: the Holy Father himself has said the reform aims to help not just a few people at the margins, but rather -

"The enormous number of faithful who, despite wanting to look after their conscience, too often are turned aside by the juridical structures of the Church.”

Now when in a few years time we encounter a person who has had an annulment, we won't be able to quiet any misgivings by telling ourselves that it did at least go in front of a panel of canonical experts for serious discussion. Instead, what will we do? Will we just roll our eyes?

One of the consequences of the reform is that couples whose marriages really were invalid will be placed in the same category as any number of couples whose marriages have been annulled without any serious consideration. All of them, then, will be unable to get married again in a way which is genuinely publicly recognised. When they tell faithful Catholics they are licitly remarried, they will see rolling eyes.

This is very unjust for people who have, in some cases through no fault of their own, gone through the trauma of an invalid marriage and separation. But it won't be the fault of the people who roll their eyes; it will be the fault of the people in authority who refuse to consider petitions for annulment seriously, on their merits.

What we are going to end up with is a category of licit 'second class marriage': people of whom we say 'oh they remarried after an annulment.' It will be as if the Church were to recognise, alongside marriage, concubinage. The perception of the reality and indissolubility of first marriages will also be undermined, but nothing like as much as the reality of second 'marriages' following a quickie 'annulment'.

A second-class annulment will give couples only a second-class marriage.

The couples celebrating the possibility of 'getting married in the Church' after years of living in an 'uncanonical' situation will be the first to notice, sadly, the hollowness of their victory.

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  1. A few thoughts following on from your post.
    there is no such thing as 'remarriage' after annulment, just marriage. Also not every person desiring annulment is accepted into the process if there is no chance of an annulment being granted,the marriage tribunal will assess each case in brief prior to the start of the annulment process and the person in question will be given an idea of the likelihood of a successful outcome.Many people wanting annulment are not granted one. You do not seem overly familiar with this topic.



    1. Now that "lack of faith" has entered Canon Law as grounds for being shoved into the quickie annulment process, any idiot who so desires will be able to get an annulment at will.

      In fact, the overturning of the principle "ex opere operato" now puts all of the Church's sacraments in doubt. Previously it was only necessary that a couple intended to do what the Church does - i.e. intended to get married - for their consent and the sacrament to be valid. Now a totally subjective test of having sufficient faith is necessary.

      Also, at one stroke all the natural marriages on the planet involving a member of the baptized and a non-baptized, or two non-baptized persons, have effectively been adjudged as null, because they have no faith at all. Way to go Frankie Twoflats!

    2. 'John': presumably it to these people rejected out of hand by the tribunals that the Holy Father referred when he said, as I quote in the post:

      "The enormous number of faithful who, despite wanting to look after their conscience, too often are turned aside by the juridical structures of the Church.”

      These are the ones who are targeted by the reform.

    3. Ah, the condescension of liberals!...

      It is correct that when chanceries realize that the prospects of annulments are slim, the procedures are not even started. That is why the statistics for nullity are so skewed: "99% of all annulments are granted !"

      As usual, liberals use these statistics in their favor: "see, since almost all annulments are granted, that means the procedure must be made easier, faster!", or, "80% of all marriages are null". When in fact what it means is that the current procedure is so good that it prevents most people from pursuing annulments in the first place, preserving the integrity of the Sacrament and the presumption of its validity.


  2. What little experience I had with declarations of nullity from some years back in the US was often times bound by restrictions concerning one or both parties. The marriage was null e.g. because something essential was lacking. Oftentimes the judgment required that permission to marry be granted, if at all, when counselling had taken place. Oftentimes the priest preparing the subsequent church wedding ignored entirely or gave short shrift to the tribunal's instructions. In the end, the second union was often a repeat of the first. How is matrimony served by haste at any point in the process?

  3. Two comments

    The first is that the concept of "Catholic Divorce" will now exist whether we like it or not, so far have the barriers been pushed wit these two documents.

    Secondly this referral to "enormous numbers" . How enormous, a thousand, twenty thousand, half a million?

    What makes me angry is the situation of those Catholics who have married and stuck to their marriage vows. They have been completely and rather insultingly ignored in this current obsession with the doubtful.

    If the Holy Father thinks all, this will result in vast numbers of additional Mass attenders flooding in and receiving Holy Communion, let alone even going regularly to Mass, he is wrong.