Divorce and Communion: the "traditionalists" aren't very traditional

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Comments

  • Ekonomia is very practical but it also tends to become the rule in a lot of ways. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but there are many old canons that have been ekonomized so much that they are a dead letter. A lot of the penitential canons of, say, St Basil the Great, were proposed as relaxations of previous standards, but even these relaxed canons seem really harsh to us today.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    That sounds like the Jewish Talmud - the practical adaption of the scriptures into everyday living. The rabbis didn't abolish the Torah, but they avoided implementing some of the more draconian provisions such as the stoning to death of 'stubborn and rebellious' sons (Deut 21: 18-21).
  • Part of it in the Orthodox Church comes from the fantasy that it never changes. So when it changes, rather than changing it, you have to use the loopholes like ekonomia.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I did think that the Orthodox church was unchanging. But I think the system of ekonomia sounds like a very sensible and pastoral approach to theology. Who would want to live like Basil the Great?
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Well, scripture says “let no man put asunder” - does that leave any theological space for recognising when God wishes to separate what he had once joined ?
    @Doublethink what are you saying there? Is there, or should there be, any space for saying God might wish to separate people? People get divorced because one of them or both of them either repudiate their marriage or do something that has that effect. Letting anyone introduce the extra claim
    "Well God told me to walk out on you"
    strikes me as self-deception of the highest order.

    What's the difference between that and,
    "Isn't it wonderful that when you had become fat and middle-aged, and had lost interest in sex, God brought this pretty young secretary into my life who tells me I'm wonderful".
    ?

    Well, I suppose I was thinking about something akin to the death of the marriage. In the scenario you mention - its all very well not want to let scumbag persue his secretary, but what about the welfare of the woman he is currently married to ? Would a loving God wish to keep her tied to a man who has abandoned his emotional committment to her ? Or a man who badly mistreats his wife, who engages in domestic violence or coercive control ?

    I think sufficently sinful treatment of one's partner could probably kill a marriage, in the sameway it is possible to estrange one's children.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    Bullshit I understand. Booltookey is a new word for me. I like it !
    Why is 'annulment' weaselling out of a marriage but perhaps not if one calls it 'divorce' ?
    Annulments are not normally granted for adultery,as adultery is breaking the marriage bond,whereas 'annulment' is saying that there was no sacramental marriage bond.

    An annulment takes a marriage, goes back to the wedding, and tries to prove some kind of defect, so that the sacrament didn't take. It says "you thought you were getting married, you intended to get married, you've behaved as though you were married for the last N years, but actually you weren't good enough. Your intent wasn't pure enough, so the sacrament didn't take. Perhaps someone can explain to me why that isn't Donatism, because from where I'm sitting, that's exactly what it is.

    It also suggests that there are any number of couples who think they have a sacramental marriage, but actually don't - because surely there can't be a 1:1 correspondence between couples who successfully seek an annulment and couples who had some defect in their intentions at the time of marriage.

    (An annulment doesn't dissolve the sacrament - it purports to be a finding of fact that the sacramental bond never existed. As such, the bond never existed regardless of whether the couple pursues the annulment process.)

    A divorce is at least a more honest statement of "we tried to make a go of it, and it didn't work out."
  • The annulment system is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a really lame M Night Shyamalan twist movie ending.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Doublethink I thought you might be saying something else. I thought you were implying that God might actually want to divide people, rather than that he might accept that this was the sad and tragic consequence of what one or both parties had done to the other.

    I think one of the most important consequences to draw from Incarnation is that Jesus is not an idealist. He lives with and works with us in spite of our inadequacies. He doesn't see things as they ought to have been but as they are.

  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    And yet that same Jesus said ; Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery -and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

    I don't understand when Mousethief says that the Orthodox church does not permit divorce, but allows remarriage, although I certainly do understand and admire the idea of 'ekonomia'.
    An annulment does not say that a relationship, even a loving relationship, never existed . It does not even say that a marriage never existed between the parties, but only that the marriage was not canonically valid. The 'annulled' marriage would be considered as a'putative' marriage if one of the parties was in good faith at the time of the marriage.
    Some people would say, including a leading canonist of the 20th century, Cardinal Gasparri , that 'invalidity of marriage' might be a better term.

    Yes, it is understandable that when some people hear of a marriage which has lasted 25 years with children and even grandchildren ,they find it difficult to accept that the marriage never existed and that the children are 'illegitimate' (I don't think that term exists now in British civil law) This is emphatically not the case.

    Yes, again it may seem like smoke and mirrors ,but many religious ideas seem like that to outsiders , not only Catholic marriage laws.

    Only a generation or so ago most people would have disapproved of divorce. That has changed and the Church has to try to find some way of helping its faithful who find themselves in a difficult position. In a post Christian society the whole idea of marriage has changed, just think of the new ideas of same sex marriage for which the Catholic Church has to provide, at least within the next 100 years, some answer.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited August 30
    Thus the sin lies in how the death of the marriage happens (not necessarily as dramatic as above), but asserting you can not recognise the marriage is dead seems wrong likewise, if you marry again I don’t think that is some kind of continuing adultery and thereby a sinful state. What sin there was lies in the ruin of the previous relationship, not the existence of a new one.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    An annulment does not say that a relationship, even a loving relationship, never existed . It does not even say that a marriage never existed between the parties, but only that the marriage was not canonically valid.

    It says that there was never a sacramental marriage. Nobody is claiming that it tries to pretend that a relationship, or a legal marriage, never existed. But it does assert that a sacramental marriage never existed.
    Yes, it is understandable that when some people hear of a marriage which has lasted 25 years with children and even grandchildren ,they find it difficult to accept that the marriage never existed and that the children are 'illegitimate' (I don't think that term exists now in British civil law) This is emphatically not the case.

    Nobody is talking about illegitimacy either. That's completely irrelevant to the discussion.
    Only a generation or so ago most people would have disapproved of divorce. That has changed and the Church has to try to find some way of helping its faithful who find themselves in a difficult position.

    I don't think anyone would disagree with this intent. I don't think that anyone is arguing that the Church shouldn't "help its faithful who find themselves in a difficult position". I think you also know where good intentions end up :wink:

    Here are some specific questions for you:

    1. With respect to the couple that had an apparently successful marriage with kids etc. for 25 years, and have now had their marriage declared sacramentally invalid. This couple have spent the bulk of the last 25 years thinking and behaving as though they were (sacramentally) married, and have now decided that actually they weren't quite in the right frame of mind a quarter century ago, so were never actually sacramentally married at all. It is vanishingly unlikely that there is a 1:1 correspondence between couples with imperfect intent 25 years ago and couples who now seek an annulment; the corollary of this is that there exist many happily married Catholic couples who do not in fact have a sacramental marriage, even though they think that they do. Should this idea trouble you?

    2. Can you explain how allowing these kinds of imperfections of intent to invalidate the sacrament differs in logic from the Donatist heresy?

    I understand why you end up in this position - if you want to maintain that a sacramental marriage is indissoluble, and also want to permit divorced couples to remarry, then the only way to square that particular circle is to claim that a sacramental marriage never existed in the first place, and then you jump through whatever hoops you have to jump through to convince yourself that this is true.

    It is my claim that the kinds of defects that are found in annulled marriages are also present in a great many successful marriages that are never annulled (because they are never investigated, because the couple are happy in their marriage). And if this is true - that under current Catholic understanding, a great many marriages of Catholics are not in fact sacramental marriages - then it suggests that you have an internal logic problem with what you are calling a sacramental marriage.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I agree with @Leorning Cniht.
  • It is my claim that the kinds of defects that are found in annulled marriages are also present in a great many successful marriages that are never annulled (because they are never investigated, because the couple are happy in their marriage). And if this is true - that under current Catholic understanding, a great many marriages of Catholics are not in fact sacramental marriages - then it suggests that you have an internal logic problem with what you are calling a sacramental marriage.

    It also means there are a hell of a lot of Catholics "living in sin."
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    A marriage is considered as a valid marriage until its validity might be questioned. While there may well be many Catholics 'living in sin' it would not be because their marriages are not considered as valid. For those who believe in good faith that their marriage is canonically valid,then there is no problem - it is considered as canonically valid.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    A marriage is considered as a valid marriage until its validity might be questioned. While there may well be many Catholics 'living in sin' it would not be because their marriages are not considered as valid. For those who believe in good faith that their marriage is canonically valid,then there is no problem - it is considered as canonically valid.

    So as concerns living in sin, the actual validity is irrelevant, only the appearance of validity. But when it comes to divorcing annulling, all of a sudden the actual validity of something that happened 25 years ago becomes important.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Mousethief- it is highly unlikely that a couple who have been living happily for 20 + years would just wake up one day and say - our marriage is not sacramentally valid - we want an annulment. While it is theoretically possible I am sure that you will agree with me that it is over time that people realise that things are not going well and then might look back to see what might not have been perfect at the time of the marriage ceremony. Of course there might be some occasion,which literally in a few seconds turns what has been conceived up to then as a happy marriage for one or both of the parties into a living hell.
    Again in that case we would assume that at least one of the parties would have been aware that he or she had not been acting honourably.,long before that moment.

    My understanding of the Donatist heresy is that it started at the consecration of a bishop where one of the consecrators was not considered (to mix religions) as 'kosher' The Donatists then considered any sacraments administered by these men as invalid. The pope at the time decided against them,but eventually the Donatists formed their own church,rebaptizing any converts to it.

    The Church is quite clear that without full and freely given consent there can be no real sacrament.If we take the case of a person who may have entered marriage without being fully aware of the obligations,there is no sin on that person's part,simply ignorance,which fortunately is not a sin. Those who have entered marriage ,knowingly under false pretences,have indeed sinned.The ministers of the sacrament of marriage,even if they are aware of the defects of the marriage at the time of the ceremony are not likely to be ministers of another sacrament to any other member of the faithful (saving,of course,the administration of emergency baptism,which according to the Church anyone can do)
    Personally I would leave the Donatists out of it.
  • I'm not sure your argument redounds to the credit of the practice of annulment. Finding your marriage turning into a living hell doesn't mean it wasn't done right, it means you are broken people unable to make it work, like all those non-Catholics who get a divorce. If a couple can't hold it together and seek divorce, then hey presto! it magically turns out that there were problems at the start. How convenient.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    The Church is quite clear that without full and freely given consent there can be no real sacrament.If we take the case of a person who may have entered marriage without being fully aware of the obligations,there is no sin on that person's part,simply ignorance,which fortunately is not a sin. Those who have entered marriage ,knowingly under false pretences,have indeed sinned.

    The question of who has sinned, and whether or not a couple is living in sin, is a bit of a side issue. I think the central issue is this "full" consent business. For all that they have been through the appropriate wedding preparation courses, what fraction of young couples entering marriage are truly "fully aware of the obligations" to the standard that is applied in an annulment investigation? I'm not so much questioning the idea that a separated couple can look back 20 years and find defects in their understanding of marriage so much as suggesting that if perfectly happy couples undertook the same investigation, they would also find that they hadn't fully understood what they were signing up for.

    And so, by Catholic standards, none of those people has a valid marriage.

    You argue, reasonably, that none of these people know they don't have a valid marriage, and so aren't sinning. OK, but so what? If a whole load of ordinary people turn out not to have managed to validly contract a marriage even though they thought they did, how sure are you that there isn't something wrong with this understanding of what a valid marriage is?

  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Marriage is generally perceived in almost every society as 'a good thing', which brings both joy and obligations not only to the couple concerned but to the wider family also.
    Yes, we realize that at times human beings are weak, selfish, unjust and cruel and that a loving marriage can turn into a living hell, where the best thing is for the couple to separate.
    Certainly most secular jurisdictions recognise this and have a process of separation called divorce. Amongst other things this process can free the couple to contract a second civil marriage and start again with a new partner.

    Yes, it would be easy for the Catholic Church to say - we agree with divorce and the Catholic Church does not necessarily disagree with divorce. It is wrong to assume (as some people do) that divorced Catholics are 'living in sin'. The problem only arises if one or both wish to celebrate a 'second' Catholic marriage.
    Unfortunately, perhaps, the Catholic Church feels itself to be constrained by the teaching of Jesus Christ, where the Church believes that marriage and the marriage bond is indissoluble.
    Civil jurisdictions, unhampered by the teachings of any religion, also consider in some ways the marriage bond to be indissoluble as in many cases the parties have to continue to the end of natural life to provide financially for one another.
    The Catholic process of annulment usually comes into play when one of the earlier contracting parties wish to contract a valid Catholic marriage with another partner.
    And I suppose that it is some sort of a fig leaf which allows, if granted, of course, the injured parties to start a new life within the communicant membership of the Church.
    Now Mousethief seems to have some particular grouse with the annulment process and the interference of the Church in the private lives of those who claim to be members of the Church. Mousethief tells us about the idea of 'ekonomia' and I have said that I admire it and have long admired it. But for an Orthodox Christian to contract a second, third or even fourth valid marriage recognised as such by the Church, he or she must submit to the judgement of the bishop who acts, as it were, in the place of the Sacred Roman Rota and gives a judgement on eligibility or otherwise for a marriage which could no doubt be celebrated more easily in a civil ceremony. If the bishop has discretion to allow a second, third or even fourth ceremony of marriage, why not a fifth or sixth etc. ?
    Now I may be wrong, but I think that in England the only justification nowadays for civil divorce is 'irretrievable breakdown of marriage' There are no guilty or innocent parties as there used to be. But again, if I understand it, an individual bishop or even vicar can refuse to give permission for a CofE marriage ceremony to take place, even although the couple may be legally free to wed.
  • I have already said, no fourth marriage is allowed. Even third marriages are very very rare.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    I have already said, no fourth marriage is allowed. Even third marriages are very very rare.

    Am I correct in understanding that includes even remarriage after being widowed.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    I have already said, no fourth marriage is allowed. Even third marriages are very very rare.

    Am I correct in understanding that includes even remarriage after being widowed.

    You know what, I don't know that. The arguments always seem to revolve around divorce-and-remarriage and not death-and-remarriage. Although if you've buried three spouses I'm not sure why you'd take a chance on a fourth. If only for their sake.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    ... Although if you've buried three spouses I'm not sure why you'd take a chance on a fourth. If only for their sake.
    Tobit and Sarah did, but it reads as though all her previous marriages had never been consummated.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Because her husbands were all murdered by a demon. So she's something of a unique example in marriage case law.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Because her husbands were all murdered by a demon. So she's something of a unique example in marriage case law.

    You can never get those pesky demons to give a deposition.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    One of the themes of Tobit is meant to be the importance of marriage. But all marriages have their demons.
    :naughty:
  • Annulment is more than smoke and mirrors IMO. It is, or can be, bloody cruel to wronged spouses, who not coincidentally are usually women IME.

    I met a lady this had happened to. Married twenty-odd years, five children, and then her husband decided to trade her in for a younger model. He sought – and got – an annulment so he could have a second marriage in the Catholic church with his flibbertigibbet.

    The lady told me that a very nice priest had explained to her that she (!) wasn’t mature when she got married, and that’s why they’d never really been married after all. She seemed to find it comforting and good for her. Personally I was outraged at the priest for telling her that after she’d been faithful to her husband all that time and raised five children of his, the whole thing was just a figment of someone’s imagination. The irony to me is that even under a strict interpretation of the Bible, she would have been within her rights to divorce him (for adultery and abandonment).

    The other thing that strikes me as odd and incoherent, this being France, is they must have in parallel got a civil divorce. While Monsieur was mucking about getting the Catholic church to say that his wasn’t a bona fide marriage after all, the State was making him go through the drawn-out, expensive process of getting a divorce. Given the five children, he also would have been ordered to pay maintenance – and the fact that they had been married, not in some other kind of relationship, would factored into this very real-world consequence).
  • The priest was wrong (as indeed priests sometimes are) to say that they hadn't been married at all. Their marriage was, if one believes what was said, canonically invalid. I am glad that the lady felt comforted by what the priest said to her. The 'figment of someone's imagination' is perhaps la vie en rouge's interpretation, rather than what was actually said.
    It appears also that the French State was cruel in making the husband to go through the expensive process of divorce. Although all cases of matrimonial discord are sad, I am glad that it is not only the Catholic Church which causes outrage to la vie en rouge.
  • @la vie en rouge -- it seems like that is exactly the sort of thing that our Lord's statements about marriage is meant to prevent. The Catholic Church's end run around this is exactly what I (and some other posters) are complaining about. It's both hypocritical (or self-deluding), and does more harm than good.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    The priest was wrong (as indeed priests sometimes are) to say that they hadn't been married at all. Their marriage was, if one believes what was said, canonically invalid. I am glad that the lady felt comforted by what the priest said to her. The 'figment of someone's imagination' is perhaps la vie en rouge's interpretation, rather than what was actually said.

    Well obviously it's my spin but that's what it sounds like to me. Someone who went through a wedding ceremony, spent over twenty years sharing a life and a bed, and had five children, believing herself to be married, gets told that was never really married after all. It adds insult to injury.

    It appears also that the French State was cruel in making the husband to go through the expensive process of divorce. Although all cases of matrimonial discord are sad, I am glad that it is not only the Catholic Church which causes outrage to la vie en rouge.

    You misunderstand me. The State made him get a divorce because that's what you have to do if you want to marry someone who isn't your current spouse. It's quite right that the State expects it. Long and expensive is just what a divorce is like because undoing a marriage is a big deal, especially when there are children.
  • Indeed I don't understand you. I don't understand how you can complain bitterly about an annulment and then complain about the price of acivil divorce but say then it is quite right for the state to do this.
    If you say that the Catholic Church is colluding with the husband and his 'flibbertigibbet'
    is the state not doing the same in colluding with the husband and granting him a divorce which you say is very expensive and thus bringing money to the state ?
    You cannot have it both ways.
  • It's not the state's business to enforce morality. That way madness lies. Morality is the church's bailiwick. And what we are complaining about is that the church is condoning and abetting gross immorality while washing its hands through the phoniness that is the annulment process.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Shipmate
    edited September 2
    No. The Catholic church should also have the balls to call a spade a spade.

    The State calls it a divorce because that's what it is and it is a necessary condition for anyone who wants to leave their current spouse and marry a different one. In the case in point I'd actually have far more respect for the church of Rome if they'd refused to allow him a second wedding ceremony. Actually I believe many churches who do marry divorcees have major reservations about couples whose relationship began in adultery.

    ETA divorce doesn't make money for the State, it makes money for divorce lawyers.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Forthview the position is the same in all six jurisdictions in the UK. I suspect the same applies in virtually every other country. The law does not recognise a Roman Catholic annulment as ending a marriage. A person who relies on one and then marries someone else commits bigamy and will go to prison. To remarry a person has to obtain a civil divorce. Not only will you not get an annulment for the facts that will get a civil one. The grounds on which the RCC grants annulments won't get you a divorce in the courts.

    Indeed, somewhere I've read that so as to avoid this conflict, the RCC in England and Wales (and possibly elsewhere, including Scotland where I think you are) won't let you apply for a Catholic annulment unless you have obtained a civil divorce first.

    A divorce through the civil courts can be very expensive because the courts will order the matrimonial property to be split up, and is likely to order the payment of maintenance for the children and the ex-wife. A Catholic matrimonial tribunal doesn't have the power to do that.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    @Forthview the position is the same in all six jurisdictions in the UK. I suspect the same applies in virtually every other country. The law does not recognise a Roman Catholic annulment as ending a marriage. A person who relies on one and then marries someone else commits bigamy and will go to prison. To remarry a person has to obtain a civil divorce. Not only will you not get an annulment for the facts that will get a civil one. The grounds on which the RCC grants annulments won't get you a divorce in the courts.

    Indeed, somewhere I've read that so as to avoid this conflict, the RCC in England and Wales (and possibly elsewhere, including Scotland where I think you are) won't let you apply for a Catholic annulment unless you have obtained a civil divorce first.

    A divorce through the civil courts can be very expensive. The reason is not because the courts make you pay the state a whacking great fee for awarding one. It's because the courts will order the matrimonial property to be split up, and is likely to order the payment of maintenance for the children and the ex-wife. A Catholic matrimonial tribunal doesn't have the power to do that.

  • Would you not also have more respect for the State if it refused to grant a divorce ?
    You cannot have it both ways,I repeat.
    The Catholic church calls an 'annulment' an 'annulment' because that is what it is,just as the state calls a 'divorce' a 'divorce ,because that is what it is.
    I take your point,la vie en rouge, about it being divorce lawyers who make money. I would imagine that ,just as one has to pay for various marriage certificates there will be money to be paid for divorce certificates.
  • Enoch I have stressed on several occasions that an annulment by a Catholic tribunal is an annulment of the Catholic marriage and concerns those who wish to be involved in the internal affairs of the Catholic Church. It is not an annulment of a marriage contracted with the aid of the state authorities.
    All citizens of any state would have to enter marriage (and exit from it) via the state in order to have their marriages recognized by the state. Many religious groups will have their own laws and customs connected with marriage,amongst these groups there is the Catholic Church which has its own religious customs and laws for those who wish to contract a marriage recognised as such by the Catholic Church. I understand exactly what you say about legal jurisdictions within the UK and agree with you.However,as far as I know the UK does not define what a Catholic sacramental marriage is,no more than it tries to define any other doctrine of the Catholic Church which is not in direct and harmful contrast to the customs and laws of the UK
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    @Forthview the position is the same in all six jurisdictions in the UK. I suspect the same applies in virtually every other country. The law does not recognise a Roman Catholic annulment as ending a marriage. A person who relies on one and then marries someone else commits bigamy and will go to prison. To remarry a person has to obtain a civil divorce. Not only will you not get an annulment for the facts that will get a civil one. The grounds on which the RCC grants annulments won't get you a divorce in the courts.

    A divorce through the civil courts can be very expensive because the courts will order the matrimonial property to be split up, and is likely to order the payment of maintenance for the children and the ex-wife. A Catholic matrimonial tribunal doesn't have the power to do that.

    Exactly. The decision by the Rota is only of any effect in the eyes of the Catholic Church. A marriage is valid here because the service lay or religious complies with the provisions of the Marriage Act. It ceases to be recognised as valid either because a court has decided either that there was some defect which makes it valid and annuls it, or that the ground* for divorce has been established. No doubt there are jurisdictions where religious law governs matrimonial relationships and I'm particularly thinking of Islamic countries here

    * There is only one ground for divorce here - irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the only permissible evidence of that is living separately and apart for 12 months as at the date of starting the proceedings . Rarely is there a dispute about this but rather arrangements for the children, maintenance and property settlement.
  • I am nor sure if Enoch has understood me over my last few posts that I have been trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to state that a Catholic annulment is exactly that. It is an annulment of a sacramental Catholic marriage, nothing more and nothing less.
    In many countries, including the UK a marriage is given legal effect by the state. Often in the UK a civil marriage AND a religious marriage are carried out together, using the state formularies for the civil part of the marriage and suitable religious formularies for the religious part of the marriage. Annulment of a Catholic marriage only affects the Catholic part of the marriage ceremony. It would not affect the civil effects of the marriage ceremony (which in spite of civil divorce can still leave the parties financially responsible for each other - till death do them part)

    At one time in the UK practice of the Catholic religion was considered treasonable but these laws have long been abrogated. Catholic bishops in England,are, as far as I know not allowed to use the titles of long established Anglican sees - thus there is no Catholic bishop of London, but rather of Westminster. The state is, however, as far as I know, normally neutral as regards the territorial titles of Catholic bishops.
    Similarly the state allows the practice of Catholicism, but remains quite neutral ,for example, about what the definition of a valid Catholic Mass might be. As long as the service does not disturb the peace ,it may go ahead without let or hindrance.
    In the same way the state does not really concern itself with Catholic canon law and would remain quite neutral about the effects of a Catholic annulment.
    A Catholic citizen who has obtained a civil divorce has had the civil and legal effects of the marriage ,in effect ,nullified. Should that Catholic wish to marry again in a Catholic ceremony, then he or she would have to have the previous Catholic marriage ceremony nullified by the appropriate Catholic tribunal. The state remains neutral as to whom various religious bodies will provide marriage ceremonies for.
    Of course it is quite clear that ,
    a) a Catholic who has received an ecclesiastical annulment has NOT received the same as a civil annulment nor indeed a civil divorce
    b) A Catholic who has received a civil divorce but NOT received an annulment is free to marry again in a civil ceremony or indeed with in addition the religious ministrations of any body willing to provide them. That Catholic would, however, not be free to marry in a religious ceremony in a Catholic church. The state would have no power to force the Catholic Church to carry out a ceremony of which it (the Catholic Church) did not approve.
  • Mousethief I have only one word to describe your previous post - a word which you yourself earlier used and that is 'bulltookey' (I like that word , I do !))
    You say it is not the state's job to enforce morality. Why then do we have courts, lawyers, trials, prisons and even death sentences in certain jurisdictions, if not in an attempt to enforce morality ? (That is, of course, morality as understood by the state).
    Perhaps by morality you are aiming to indicate sexual morality, only. Even there most states, at least in the Western world tend to enforce monogamy in marriage and classify bigamy as illegal (and therefore 'immoral')
    Your next sentence about the Church condoning and abetting gross immorality while washing its hands through the 'phoniness' which is the annulment process is a hard and harsh statement and I accept that it probably accurately expresses your opinion.
    An annulment in Catholic terms ends the sacramental effects of a Catholic marriage.
    If this is 'gross immorality' is not a divorce equally 'gross immorality' ? Is not the end result the same ?
    If it is the case that a Catholic annulment tribunal is aiding and abetting gross immorality, is it not the case that an Orthodox bishop ,by investigating the reasons for the collapse of a valid Orthodox marriage is also aiding and abetting gross immorality by allowing a second and possibly, but rarely, even a third Orthodox marriage ?
  • The way you describe it “annulment” doesn’t sound all that functionally different to a divorce to me, given that the main reason people get them IME is so that they can have a church wedding with a new partner. Note that a divorce certificate in the Old Testament was just that: a declaration that a woman was once again free to put herself on the marriage market.

    Except… there is an aspect of annulment, as it is practised, which I find fundamentally dishonest. It goes looking for reasons why a couple were never really married instead of honestly facing up to the painful fact that one or both of them didn’t keep their (usually) sincerely-meant promises. And those broken promises are something that requires honesty and repentance if you are going to give marriage another go with a different person IMO. I can’t help feeling that annulment, at least in a case like the one I described, makes a mockery of this process of repentance. It’s a get-out from facing up to the reality of human sin which led to the breakdown of the previous marriage. Which I presume is what MT means by “abetting immorality”. Abandoning one’s wife and children for a younger, prettier woman is a sinful, faithless thing to do. As I said, the irony to me is that the wife would have been quite within her rights to seek a divorce. However, instead of censuring the husband for his adultery and enjoining him to repent, the RC abets the sin by providing a get-out clause: I wasn’t really cheating on my wife because it turns out that we were never properly married in the first place. Well that’s convenient.

    Full disclosure: I am married to a person who has a living previous spouse. He freely admits that his first marriage was a monumentally bad idea doomed from the start, and that he was warned and should have known better. And also that he had a whole load of repenting to do when it (inevitably) went rude bits up. I think if he had been a Catholic seeking an annulment he might well have got one on account of being Far Too Young, but I prefer it as it is – he faced up to the fact he made a very bad decision and was going to have deal with its consequences. Which meant a divorce.
  • Sorry to be late weighing in on this:
    Apparently in North Carolina back about 1980 a man sought a civil annulment of his first marriage on the grounds that the minister was a Universal Life Church (ULC) minister (mail order) and so the marriage was not valid. He was seeking an annulment since he was facing charges of bigamy and if his first marriage didn't exist the bigamy charge would vanish. The courts bought the claim and he got off though the state legislature quickly passed a bill stating that all ULC officiated marriages within the State before a certain date in 1981 were valid if they would have been valid with a different officiant and hadn't already been voided.
    Not quite.

    As far as I know, there was no effort to have the first marriage annulled. The defendant was charged with and convicted of bigamy, and had made a motion of nonsuit—essentially a motion to dismiss the charges— to the trial court on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to submit to a jury that the first marriage was legally formed. The NC Supreme Court agreed that nonsuit should have been granted because the formation of the defendant's first marriage did not meet legal requirements in that the couple did not express their intent to marry in the presence of (1) an ordained minister of any religious denomination, (2) a minister authorized by his church or (3) a magistrate.

    In that first marriage, the officiating "minister" was the bride's father, who had a certificate of ordination from the ULC, but who was a Catholic layman. The Supreme Court said: "A ceremony solemnized by a Roman Catholic layman in the mail order business who bought for $ 10.00 a mail order certificate giving him "credentials of minister" in the Universal Life Church, Inc.—whatever that is—is not a ceremony of marriage to be recognized for purposes of a bigamy prosecution in the State of North Carolina." State v. Lynch, 301 N.C. 479, 488 (1980).

    So the Court's decision rested primarily on the evidence that as a Catholic layman, the bride's father could only meet the requirement of "a minister authorized by his church" if he were authorized by the Catholic Church to officiate at weddings. However, the ruling also suggested, particularly with its description of the nature of the ULC and the words "the Universal Life Church, Inc.—whatever that is," that the ULC is not a "religious denomination" within the meaning of the statute. So even though the Court specifically noted that it is "not within the power of the State to declare what is or is not a religious body or who is or is not a religious leader within the body" (301 N.C. at 488), the decision was widely interpreted to mean that mail-order (or internet) ordinations or certificates of ministry do not, or at least might not, meet NC's legal requirements for solemnization of marriages. As a result, the General Assembly passed a law validating all marriages solemnized by a ULC minister prior to July 3, 1981. The NC Court of Appeals has since held that marriages formed since that date in which a ULC minister officiated are voidable.

    Gee D wrote: »
    I imagine that the position in North Carolina is much the same in effect as here - a marriage is only valid if performed by a person properly licensed to do so - and that means properly licensed under State (or Federal here) law.
    Again, not quite. As noted above, marriage officiants are not licensed in North Carolina.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Forthview you may not be surprised if I say that I agree with @la vie en rouge. At the core of my disagreement with the RCC is that I think the annulment jurisdiction is enshrining a lie to get round some of the consequences of a doctrine which produces results which however theologically logical, don't make sense. It's also a bit random who will get the benefit of this and who will be refused. You'll say that that's because I'm irredeemably Protestant, and that I'm letting worldliness subvert the purity of the true Christian position, but it seems to me that annulment as administered by the RCC is doing the same.

    Once you say that as a matter of doctrine a marriage cannot be broken, you have two options. You can forbid all remarriage on any grounds except, virtually, bigamy and non-consummation. That was almost the position in England from about 1600-1857. Or you can produce some way of pretending some marriages that obviously have taken place and bear all the marks of marriage, never did.

    At least it's more honest to recognise that, whatever the theory, marriages do break, and that it's things like adultery, cruelty, etc that break them.

    There are two other things I don't get.

    1. That there's some difference between a sacramental marriage and any other sort of marriage. I can't see where that comes from. And even if it comes from somewhere, I don't see why that makes adultery somehow less destructive of and less inimical to sacramental marriages than 'just marriages'. and

    2. I can't see how anyone can really say that somebody who is legally married to one person is actually in God's or the church's eyes married to someone else - who may meanwhile be married to a fourth person anyway. I can see the theory. I can see where it comes from. But I think it's nonsense.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    Mousethief I have only one word to describe your previous post - a word which you yourself earlier used and that is 'bulltookey' (I like that word , I do !))
    You say it is not the state's job to enforce morality. Why then do we have courts, lawyers, trials, prisons and even death sentences in certain jurisdictions, if not in an attempt to enforce morality ?

    To ensure the proper order and running of the state, and to protect its citizens' rights and property and persons.
    Perhaps by morality you are aiming to indicate sexual morality, only. Even there most states, at least in the Western world tend to enforce monogamy in marriage and classify bigamy as illegal (and therefore 'immoral')

    Um, no. I do not mean to indicate sexual morality only. And I am definitely not big on the idea of the state enforcing sexual morality.
    Your next sentence about the Church condoning and abetting gross immorality while washing its hands through the 'phoniness' which is the annulment process is a hard and harsh statement and I accept that it probably accurately expresses your opinion.
    An annulment in Catholic terms ends the sacramental effects of a Catholic marriage.
    If this is 'gross immorality' is not a divorce equally 'gross immorality' ? Is not the end result the same ?

    Ah, whataboutery. Wondered when this would turn up.
    If it is the case that a Catholic annulment tribunal is aiding and abetting gross immorality, is it not the case that an Orthodox bishop ,by investigating the reasons for the collapse of a valid Orthodox marriage is also aiding and abetting gross immorality by allowing a second and possibly, but rarely, even a third Orthodox marriage ?

    In the Orthodox Church we understand the divorce to be a sin, often involving being temporarily excommunicate as penance. It is not taken lightly or as a mere matter of convenience. But once the marriage no longer exists, the remarriage is not a sin, although is treated differently from the first marriage -- the order of service for example is penitential, and contains prayers about the divorced persons "not being able to stand the heat of the day" and such things. And if you divorced your spouse so you could take up with a cute young thing, you are not likely to get permission to remarry at all.

    So no, comparing the Orthodox and Catholic understandings of divorce, it's something of a false equivalence.

  • @la vie en rouge

    You exactly captured my sentiment on the Catholic Church's idea and use of annulment.
    Enoch wrote: »
    At least it's more honest to recognise that, whatever the theory, marriages do break, and that it's things like adultery, cruelty, etc that break them.

    This is also my position.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Sorry to be late weighing in on this:


    Not quite.

    As far as I know, there was no effort to have the first marriage annulled. The defendant was charged with and convicted of bigamy, and had made a motion of nonsuit—essentially a motion to dismiss the charges— to the trial court on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to submit to a jury that the first marriage was legally formed.

    How is that not an annulment? It was, admittedly, not a direct request for annulment so my wording was misleading but a side request (asking the court to rule a particular marriage as not valid) of another legal action (defending against a bigamy charge), but, it was still a civil annulment. The state had recognized the marriage (it had accepted the paperwork) and then ceased to recognize it retroactively. What else is an annulment?

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    A civil, non-religious, annulment flows litigation between 2 parties, those who went through the form of marriage. The case Nick Tamen links was a criminal prosecution to which neither "wife" was a party - the parties being the State and the accused.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Sorry to be late weighing in on this:


    Not quite.

    As far as I know, there was no effort to have the first marriage annulled. The defendant was charged with and convicted of bigamy, and had made a motion of nonsuit—essentially a motion to dismiss the charges— to the trial court on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to submit to a jury that the first marriage was legally formed.

    How is that not an annulment? It was, admittedly, not a direct request for annulment so my wording was misleading but a side request (asking the court to rule a particular marriage as not valid) of another legal action (defending against a bigamy charge), but, it was still a civil annulment. The state had recognized the marriage (it had accepted the paperwork) and then ceased to recognize it retroactively. What else is an annulment?
    No, it was not a civil annulment. It was not a civil action or order of any kind. It was a defense in a criminal case.

    This was a holding by the Supreme Court that based on the evidence presented at the trial court, the State could not prove the existence of the first marriage and therefore could not prove bigamy. Note the quote above: the first marriage ceremony was not “a ceremony of marriage to be recognized for purposes of a bigamy prosecution.”

    An annulment in this state can only be issued by the district court. It is a judicial finding that the marriage was null. Only the husband was before the court in this criminal proceeding; the wife was not a party to the criminal proceeding. An order of annulment cannot be entered unless the wife is also before the court and has an opportunity to be heard.
  • But the first marriage ended up null and void and the second marriage ruled valid so how was the first ended?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    No, it did not end up null and void. The result of the bigamy prosecution was that the accused was found not guilty because the prosecution could not prove 2 marriages with no divorce in between. For there to be an annulment decree, there would need to be a separate suit between the parties.
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