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

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Comments

  • Right. The superior court and the appellate courts in the bigamy prosecution did not have jurisdiction to declare the first* marriage null and void. They could only say the State did or didn't have sufficient evidence to prove the existence of the first marriage. And they made no ruling with regard to the validity of the second marriage.

    A marriage can only be declared null and void if both parties to the marriage are before the court. FWIW, I've done a little more looking. The husband did in fact file an appropriate action in district court and obtain an annulment of the marriage one month after the NC Supreme Court issued its decision. After that, the wife tried sued the Universal Life Church in federal court for fraud. The Fourth Circuit found that her claims were barred by the statute of limitations and that she had failed to prove all the elements of fraud.


    * What I've been calling the "first" marriage was actually the second marriage for both the husband and the wife. Their earlier marriages both ended in divorce.
  • la vie en rouge - thank you for your second contribution about annulment. It was much more conciliatory in tone and much appreciated.
    Thank you also for explaining your own personal situation. I am often aware of the civil and religious status of posters here - only, of course, from what they have said themselves on these forums and I understand the sensitivities.
    On what is essentially a public forum I would not want to discuss anyone's personal situation, but I do wish you and your husband God's blessing and much happiness together in the future.
    I have one or two questions about the story of the saintly, innocent wife, the cruel conniving husband and the flibbertigibbet,but I shall leave these till later,when pressures of work are not so great.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    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.

    We understand this. Nobody seems to be confused about this at all.

    I'm a little curious, though, as to why you seem to be dismissing a sacramental marriage as unimportant. Your answer to everyone's complaint about retroactively invalidating marriages on what a number of us view as rather specious grounds seems to be a variation of "well, they still had a legal marriage."

    If a sacramental marriage is important, then it is important. And if we take the grounds on which Catholics are granted annulments as the standard for when a sacramental marriage doesn't exist (which is the claim of the Catholic church) and apply them to marriages that both members of the couple are happy in, I am completely convinced that we'd find that a decent fraction of them weren't valid sacramental marriages either.

    I find that something of a flaw in the Catholic church's identification of what a sacramental marriage is.
  • I am in no way dismissing a sacramental marriage as unimportant. It is really because it is so important that the Catholic church has the marriage tribunals. An annulment would only be granted when a couple desire it. AND it would only be granted if there were reasonable grounds to suppose that there were some impediments to a sacramental marriage.
    There seems to be, although you say that this is not the case for some of the posters that they do not find it possible to distinguish between a religious marriage and a civil marriage according to the law of the land in which the couple live.

    My daughter-in-law's marriage is legally accepted as a marriage by the law in the UK but it is not recognised by the authorities in her country of origin and at the moment her children would be considered in that country as illegitimate.

    There will be many Catholics whose acts of perfect contrition will not have been just as perfect as they might be, but we have to live with that and try to do our best.

    There seems to be some confusion about divorce and sin and who is guilty of the break up of a marriage. Divorce law in the UK does not recognise the concept of 'sin' nor indeed of the more secular word 'fault'.

    All marriage break up is desperately sad and sometimes a separation is the only way out of a difficult situation. Annulment is not a get out of jail free card. One should not suppose that there are no guilty parties in every case. Should the story which caused outrage to la vie en rouge be true (and I am not able to say whether it is or not as I know only what la vie en rouge has told me about something which she doesn't know too much about) then the callous and conniving husband is indeed at fault. and should at the very least confess his sins and make restitution for what he has done.

  • Forthview wrote: »
    An annulment would only be granted when a couple desire it. AND it would only be granted if there were reasonable grounds to suppose that there were some impediments to a sacramental marriage.

    Yet if "you were too young to know what you were doing" is an impediment to a sacramental marriage, then it would behoove the Church not to marry such young people anymore. Otherwise it is setting all such young people up for potential annulment.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    An annulment would only be granted when a couple desire it. AND it would only be granted if there were reasonable grounds to suppose that there were some impediments to a sacramental marriage.

    This encapsulates my difficulty, I think. Although obviously in practical terms nobody is going to go and investigate the circumstances of a marriage unless one or both of the couple desired it, a declaration of nullity doesn't actually depend on that. It declares that this marriage has always been invalid, because of some defect of intent at the time of the wedding.

    An annulment does not dissolve a sacramental marriage - it is a finding that a sacramental marriage never existed. It doesn't actually do anything to the marriage at all.

    So if we consider our hypothetical couple who break up after many years of marriage and successfully seek an annulment, they never had a sacramental marriage. It never existed. Had you spoken to this couple half-way through the life of their legal marriage, when they were perfectly happy together, they would have thought that they did have a sacramental marriage. They were, according to the Catholic church, wrong.

    And so it follows that their peers, who were in very much the same frame of mind on their wedding day, but have not subsequently undergone a breakup of their marriage, also do not have a sacramental marriage, and the fact that they have not sought an annulment is completely irrelevant to that fact. Because the annulment doesn't actively do anything.

    And so you find yourself, as I see it, rather stuck with the position that a whole lot of happily married people think they have sacramental marriages, but don't. And I don't think that's a sensible place to end up, which means there is either a flaw in my logic, or in the initial assumptions. And I think my logic is sound.
  • In times of matrimonial breakup there are often people who say - there is 'his'story,there is 'her' story and then there is 'the truth'
    La vie en rouge tells a story of a saintly accepting wife,a callous husband and a flbbertyigibbet. She said that the husband said that he had wedded and bedded his wife for 20 years, but now wanted to trade her in for a new model and he had a young girl waiting whom he wished to marry in a Catholic ceremony,so he'd need an annulment NOW.

    Are we to believe that this is the story which he told to the Catholic marriage tribunal ?
    If he did and the marriage tribunal granted him an annulment it would indeed have been aiding and abetting gross immorality,as one of our posters suggested.
    Does la vie en rouge know what the husband actually said to the marriage tribunal ?
    Does la vie en rouge know why the wife was apparently happy when the priest told her that she was,if she wished ,free to marry in a Catholic ceremony ?
    Does la vie en rouge know anything at all about the circumstances of the marriage 20 odd years before ?
    Was the wife involved in the marriage tribunal deliberations and decision ?
    Does la vie en rouge know if there was any defect of form or defect of intent at the original wedding ceremony ?
    Does la vie en rouge know why the husband was keen to have a Catholic marriage ceremony ?
    Does la vie en rouge know if the 'flibberyigibbet' perhaps wished to have aCatholic marriage ceremony ?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Previously said by me ....
    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.
    Nobody seems to have come back on either of these two points. Is there anyone who is prepared to have a go at explaining the answers to these - persuasively please, rather than just saying 'that's what the church teaches'?

    I'll reframe them as simple questions:-

    1. What is the basis for saying that there are some marriages that are 'sacramental' and others that are 'just marriages'? Where does this come from?

    2. As I said, I can see the theory, but can anyone persuade me that it's anything other than nonsense to claim that a person who is legally married to one person is actually still in God's eyes married to someone else?
  • Sorry,Enoch,I am very busy today but will try(only try !) to answer your pertinent question tomorrow
  • The King's GREAT MATTER was the important decision made in the 16th century about a possible annulment of King Henry VIII's 'divorce' or 'annulment' allowing him to trade in his long established 'wife' for a' flibbertigibbet' in the person of Anne Boleyn. Is it possible that la vie en rouge had this in mind when she told us of a modern event which mirrors the story of the King's GREAT MATTER ?
    As we know this led eventually to an 'englexit' of England from the wider Catholic Church
    or indeed at least to the secession of the continuing Ecclesia Anglicana from that wider community.
    The Church of England by law established has certain rights and privileges (within England).As I said earlier the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury (and some others) is protected in law and anyone else claiming such a title would no doubt be taken to court and treated as an impostor. However I am not sure that there is any definition in law in England as to what constitutes a 'sacrament' Linguistically the word 'sacrament' is in the English language and would be recognised as a word. What it means for Christians is surely left to the individual religious groups.
    As we know the Catholic Church recognises seven sacraments or special meetings with the Divine and amongst these seven ,Catholic marriage is one. Some people would say No there is just 'marriage'. It is, after all something which is known all over the world amongst all ? peoples. Many states will have a legal definition of what marriage means, but they are not all the same .I gave the example of my son and daughter-in-law who are legally married in the UK but not in the country of origin of my daughter-in-law.
    I may be wrong but I think that for the marriage of a French citizen to be recognized by the French state it must have been registered by an approved state official. Thus it is possible for a person to be considered as married in the UK but not in France.
    Many religious groups will have their own definition of marriage and also for 'divorce'
    I have a Jewish friend who had a legal/secular divorce through the courts in the UK but was only able to remarry in a Jewish ceremony when she had the requisite papers from the rabbinical courts.
    Even with the Established Church of England, as we know a person who has been divorced does not have an automatic right to have a second marriage in an Anglican church even although they might have that right to have a civil marriage.
    Civil marriage in the UK provides for marriage of two people of the same sex but I think that the CofE does not allow its clerics to marry a partner of the same sex (even although some have done so)
    Now you may say that the Church of England would recognise such marriages as marriages even although they may not have been solemnised in church and even although the parties may have been forbidden by their ecclesiastical authorities not to enter such a marriage.

    To come now to the 'Catholic' marriage and the nonsense of being married to one person in the eyes of the law butbeing married to someone else in God's eyes.

    The Catholic Church recognises (for what it is worth) marriage as understood by the law of the land in which it finds itself. However amongst the members of the Household of Faith, known generally as the Catholic Church, it has its own rules for those who wish to contract marriage within the norms of the Catholic Church. Following what it believes to be the clear words of Jesus Christ marriage may be contracted by two parties, one male and the other female and it is for life. Any other marriage, no matter how noble it may be, is not a 'Catholic' marriage.
    (It is the same with most of the other sacraments, such as for example Confirmation. Any Confirmation not carried out by a properly authorised minister of the sacrament is simply not a 'Catholic' Confirmation, however noble it may be and however much comfort it may have given to the recipient.)

    The reason why a Catholic (and we are only talking about Catholics here) can be legally married to one person and yet remain in the eyes of the Church as married to another person is because of the difference between civil and canon law. I know it may seem a nonsense but unless you wish,as indeed happened in the past, seek to constrain the Catholic Church in seeking to proclaim the Gospel we have to accept that there may be differences. No Catholic can be forced to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.
    A Catholic is, however, obliged to respect the laws of the country in which he or she lives and there may be, again as we know , tension between those two.
  • In an Evelyn Waugh novel the main character got back together with his divorced wife, because he wanted sex, and in the eyes of the church they were still married (both were RC). She was less than impressed when he explained this to her.
  • So did she get back together with him and have sex with him ?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Forthview thank you for your explanation about sacramental marriage, though I'm afraid it still doesn't answer my question.

    The CofE definition of a sacrament is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace". As far as I know, other ecclesial communities use fairly similar definitions. As you may also know, there's a difference between the CofE and the RC position on sacraments in that for the Cof E only Baptism and Holy Communion are sacraments ordained by Christ. Other sacraments may be referred to as sacraments but are not "sacraments of the Gospel".

    Be that as it may, though, this doesn't affect the question I'm still asking, and to which I have never been able to find an answer. I assume everyone agrees that marriage is "an honourable estate instituted by God in the time of man's innocency" signifying "the mystical union ...betwixt Christ and his church", blessed by his presence at the wedding at Cana and "not to be taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly" etc.

    So, my questions are still,
    • What is the basis for saying that this only applies to some marriages, rather than what is supposed to apply to all marriages?
      and from that,
    • What is alleged to be the difference between a 'sacramental marriage' and an 'any old marriage'?
    • What difference does being a sacrament actually make? - rather than 'this is a sacrament therefore .... ', which can often look like a circular argument.
    • where does the argument that there is a difference come from?
    • where does the argument, which appears to exist, come from that a RC marriage therefore has different obligations from other peoples' marriages?
    • is it therefore the RCC's teaching that the rest of us who aren't Catholics aren't really married at all but live in a sort of sanctified sin - if even that?
    • In which case are we entitled to commit adultery but Catholics aren't?
    • Because if so, why does adultery break other peoples' marriages but, it is claimed, doesn't break Catholic ones unless one or the other of the parties can demonstrate that the marriage was never a 'real' sacramental marriage, but only the outward and visible sign of one, without any inward and spiritual grace.
    I'm sorry if I sound a bit contentious, but I've been looking for the answers to these questions for 40 years and have never found any that go further than 'this is what the RCC teaches' rather than 'this is why it teaches it and where it got it from'.


    On your answer to my second question, I accept that the RCC is entitled to say, if it wishes, that to be a Catholic of good standing, if you're divorced you're required to remain single and not marry again. But I don't see how it can also say that a person should regard themselves as still married to someone who has meanwhile gone off and married someone else. That may be logically defensible, but it seems to me nonsense. Not can it be justified by claiming that this is "seeking to proclaim the Gospel".
  • Enoch at the moment I can only attempt to answer your second question. Marriage is indeed 'an honourable estate not to be entered into lightly.....' The civil law of the UK and of many other countries allows for divorce but it maintains the marriage bond by the continuing responsibility for welfare that the spouses may be directed to have for each other - in most, but not all cases it would be the man who has to pay for his former wife.
    The RC teaching is that even if the couple have separated and even divorced (according to the law) there is still a bond between them. Putting this bond and relationship into words means that they are in a relationship which has the same responsibilities to each other as in marriage, so much so that they should regard themselves as still married and still with the same obligations, even if they do not live together.
    In the belief of the Catholic Church all teaching of the Church about the sacraments is 'proclaiming the Gospel' 'Proclaiming the Gospel' is not only saying 'Jesus is Lord who shows us the way to eternal life' It includes all which follows from that.

    I understand what you mean by' logically defensible, but seems to be nonsense'. Perhaps one could say the same about the doctrine of the Trinity which is the cornerstone of the Catholic Faith.
    Don't worry at all about possibly sounding contentious. It makes me think about things.
    It is so easy for me to say, as I said on an other thread , perhaps slightly tongue in cheek, that there are only two rules,
    1. the Catholic Church is always right and 2.when something goes wrong, refer to rule number 1. Your questions make me ask myself why I believe this. So thank you.
  • The mother of a friend of mine married an RC (50 years or more ago). Because it was in an Anglican church her new mother in law told her firmly that it wasn't a proper marriage, and they were living in sin. When they divorced, some years later, the mil pronounced they were still married, and would be living in sin if they married anyone else.
  • I may be missing something, but I think, the ancient church's’ view of marriage was that I was when a woman left her fathers house, moved in with a man and started a sexual relationship with him. (Given there is no marriage liturgy recorded in the bible, that presumably evolved later,)

    So presumably moving in with a bloke and having sex with him is a sacramental marriage - at least on the first occasion you pursue such a relationship. The ceremony is the solemnisation/formalisation of that.

    On which basis a civil marriage is a marriage if it’s the first one ?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    The King's GREAT MATTER was the important decision made in the 16th century about a possible annulment of King Henry VIII's 'divorce' or 'annulment' allowing him to trade in his long established 'wife' for a' flibbertigibbet' in the person of Anne Boleyn. Is it possible that la vie en rouge had this in mind when she told us of a modern event which mirrors the story of the King's GREAT MATTER ?


    Many religious groups will have their own definition of marriage and also for 'divorce'
    I have a Jewish friend who had a legal/secular divorce through the courts in the UK but was only able to remarry in a Jewish ceremony when she had the requisite papers from the rabbinical courts.e other female and it is for life. Any other marriage, no matter how noble it may be, is not a 'Catholic' marriage.

    I had assumed that that was la vie en rouge's intention with her reference.

    In the old days (ie when I as a solicitor did a bit of family law work) it was standard procedure here when acting for the wife petitioning for the dissolution of a Jewish marriage to seek an order that the husband sign a Get to enable her to obtain Jewish recognition of the divorce. Some went as far as to seek an order that in the event of the husband's failing to sign one, that the registrar of the Court could sign on his behalf, just as could be done for any property transfer documents. AFAIK, the local Jewish authorities recognised the registrar's signing as valid.
  • Glad to hear about the 'Jewish' marriage and confirmation from Gee D that even the civil law recognises that there are people who have their own ideas of what is marriage.
    Enoch ,I will not have time to answer your questions for a few days but I will try when I have time in the middle of the week.
    At the moment you might like to think about the meaning of the word 'legal' .Surely it means what is 'laid down' by the state. In England the Archbishop of Canterbury has legal title to this mode of address and to the rights and responsibilities of the post. I don't think, however that the law gives him directions as to what he/she should teach about Christianity, except with the broadest of brush strokes.
    What is 'legal' in one country may not be 'legal' in another. For example in some countries it is legal to use cannabis and in others it is not.
    While there may be general agreement about what 'legal' means (in conformity with the law) there is no general agreement everywhere about the details of 'legality' except as an idea. Even the word 'justice' can mean different things to different people.
    We may try to talk of the 'moral law' and attempt to say that it should be universally applicable but ,morality again is a concept which can shift.
    'Sacrament' is a word which most Christians know (even although it doesn't appear in the Bible) but the word is understood by different people in different ways. While it is 'understood' by most people, it is not ,as far as I know ,defined by law in the UK. Thus the Catholic concept of 'sacramental marriage' may not be exactly the same as the UK state jurisdictions' understanding of marriage.
    Where there are differences we should remember Christ's words 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited September 8
    Forthview wrote: »
    Glad to hear about the 'Jewish' marriage and confirmation from Gee D that even the civil law recognises that there are people who have their own ideas of what is marriage.

    Where there are differences we should remember Christ's words 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's

    A couple of quick points. The orders about the Get were not so much the recognition you refer to but rather taking steps to protect a woman against a vindictive husband.

    As to your second: marriage here, and I suspect in many other places gains its validity from compliance with legislation in both intent and action. So it's Caesar's.
  • Civil marriage is indeed a marriage which conforms to the law of the land in the country where the ceremony takes place. In the UK it is not so much an opt out for religious marriages but rather an opt in to the civil marriage laws. Certainly the Catholic Church will not marry anyone in a religious ceremony who is not in a position to be married by the state. The ministers of the 'sacrament'(in Catholic eyes) being the couple and in the state's eyes the cleric who presides at the marriage ceremony. The marriage indeed gains its validity in the eyes of the state by complying with the norms of the state and the marriage gains its validity in the eyes of the Church by complying with the norms of the Church - two for the price of one.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    But church marriages here (very few these days) must comply with the Marriage Act just as those conducted by a marriage celebrant.
  • I'm afraid you're crediting me with being far more cultivated and thinking than I am. I had no thought of anything so intellectual as the King's great matter (and TBH most of my knowledge of that subject comes from Hillary Mantell). I was just talking about an actual 21st century lady of my acquaintance who IMO was treated abominably.

    Obviously I only got one side: my husband* ditched me and then got our marriage annulled so he could marry someone else. She didn't seem particularly angry or bitter about it TBH. Still feels deeply fishy to me that given the blindingly obvious reason for their separation (the husband taking off with someone else), a tribunal decided that it didn't work out because of something completely unconnected.

    * it's also telling to me that in a story like this we refer to the "husband" and the "wife" when they supposedly weren't really married in the first place.
  • Would the appropriate terms be "fornicator" and "fornicatrix"?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Would the appropriate terms be "fornicator" and "fornicatrix"?
    No, because @la vie en rouge's point is that they had been married for years, had children and that it looks like theological lying to say they were anything else.
  • Of course they were married for years. The only acceptable marriage in France is that of the state just as the only acceptable divorce is that issued by the state.
    Some people in France would say that there is no such thing as Catholic marriag ein France so there can hardly be an annulment of something which in the eyes of the law if the land didn't really exist.
  • This is the bit I don't grok. I don't see how Catholic marriages are different from just marriages.

    Also "annulling something that doesn't exist" doesn't make sense to me. The whole point is that in the eyes of the law the marriage does validly exist, and the only way to undo it is a divorce.
  • And that is no doubt what happened in the eyes of the law. I am sure that the contracting parties to the earlier civil marriage were quite aware that they were married in the eyes of the law and were also quite aware that they were divorced and thus free to marry in the eyes of the law. It seems that the husband was not quite the clean potato but that does not concern the law. What is intriguing is why he wished to have a 'Catholic blessing' upon his next union ?

    Is there such a thing as just marriage ? I would hope that for everyone who is married the marriage is something special. But that something special might be partly because the marriage has been blessed by the religious authorities of the community that one feels one belongs to and which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the state ceremony which does not call upon God to bless the marriage - that is the extra something which for religious believers turns the state celebration into a religious rite.
  • @Forthview could I ask you to please double space between paragraphs? The way you do it isn't spacing between paragraphs at all, and since there is no indent for the first line, it just looks like a massive block of text. The common way to overcome this online is to leave white space between paragraphs. It would really help me read it. And I'm probably not the only one.
  • @Forthview I don’t think you ever responded to my post, I’d appreciate your view ?
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    One thing that slightly annoys me is that my present denomination plays the annulment game as it modelled its marriage Canons on those of the Episcopal Church back in the 1950s. The actual marriage Canon is OK, but the one dealing with under what circumstances remarriage in church is permitted is clearly modelled on the 1958 PECUSA Canon which takes its cue from the 1917 Roman Code. If taken literally, it suggests that we would rather go rootling around in the circumstances of a marriage that happened 20 years ago than deal with the present reality that the marriage is over. Most of us tend to finesse the process so that although we go along with the present text of the Canon, the actual process operates more on the level of 'what went wrong the first time,' and 'how can we avoid this happening again?' This bishop also thinks the present Canon is outdated, so everyone seems to manage quite well.

    My own outlook is that it seems a Biblically defensible position is to allow divorce on the grounds of adultery, and, by extension, cruelty, neglect, and desertion. I am not usually one to bang on about context, but Our Lord's remarks on divorce were as a reaction to the lax practice of His time as anything else. In theory marriage is indissoluble, but pastorally speaking one has to deal with the fact that "shit happens." One thing I am real clear about with a couple where one or both parties is divorced and has a previous spouse still living is that permission to remarry is not automatic, and that you should not even be considering it unless you can be reasonably confident that the problems that occurred in your previous marriage will either not occur this time around, or will be handled better.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    The King's GREAT MATTER was the important decision made in the 16th century about a possible annulment of King Henry VIII's 'divorce' or 'annulment' allowing him to trade in his long established 'wife' for a' flibbertigibbet' in the person of Anne Boleyn. Is it possible that la vie en rouge had this in mind when she told us of a modern event which mirrors the story of the King's GREAT MATTER ?
    As we know this led eventually to an 'englexit' of England from the wider Catholic Church
    or indeed at least to the secession of the continuing Ecclesia Anglicana from that wider community.
    <snip>
    One wonders to what degree Henry VIII's difficulties were created by the fact that the marriage rested on a Papal Dispensation anyway, though most royal marriages did at the time thanks to the fact they were all related to some extent, and the fact that Karl V had a few thousand troops reasonable close to Rome. Henry had a reasonable case under the Canon Law of the time, and royal annulments were not exactly unheard of at the time, but he was not the biggest of the pope's problems at the time, neither was it important to appease him.

    That still does not alter the fact that Henry was being an arsehole with Catherine of Aragon.
  • Indeed PDR Henry was an arsehole with Catherine of Aragon and then was even more than an arsehole with his second wife Anne Boleyn eventually declaring her daughter,Elizabeth illegitimate. It was almost as bad as,if not worse than ,some of the medieval popes !!

    doublethink - I'm sorry that I haven't yet responded to your question and to tell the truth I can't remember what it was .The last few days have been very busy for me due to a big sporting event between Scotland and Belgium but it is over now and I shall give some thought to whatever your question was tomorrow and same with Enoch.

    Most of the questions really involve asking the same questions again and again and no doubt I shall give the same answers again and again and I am not hopeful of satisfying any of the questioners.

    Really they ask all the time in different ways
    1. what is special about a Catholic marriage ?
    2. is there such a thing as a Catholic marriage ?
    3. do Catholics believe that a non-Catholic marriage is not a marriage and if so how dare they think that ?
    4. does a Catholic marriage have any validity - anywhere ?
    5. how can the Catholic church tell someone 'you are married' when quite obviously that person is not ?
    6. would it just not be easier to say 'let's get divorced' ?
    7. is it not just ridiculous to look for some possible defect at the start of the marriage instead of saying ,as PDR says 'well,shit happens,let's move on.

    I'll try and answer these and then move tomorrow to both doublethink's and Enoch's specific questions.
  • 1.A 'Catholic' marriage is simply a marriage ceremony which has been conducted according to the norms and rites of the Catholic church. A 'Catholic ' marriage is also a commitment by the couple to live asfar as possible in conformity with the teachings of the Gospels ( and the Church).

    2. Is there such a thing as a 'Christian' marriage ceremony ? Is there such a thing as a 'Jewish' marriage ceremony ? Is there such a thing as a 'humanist' marriage ceremony. ? If these ceremonies exist,then so do 'Catholic 'marriage ceremonies.
    3.
    3. The Catholic Church honours and encourages marriage . It believes that Jesus raised marriage to a higher dignity than was the case beforehand. It recognises various marriage ceremonies as good. HOWEVER for those who claim to be Catholic and who wish to be married in a Catholic ceremony it lays down certain norms for a Catholic marriage. The Church teaches that those Catholics who have not married in the Catholic church or at least according to the norms of the Catholic church have not celebrated a Catholic marriage - something which appears to me as obvious.
    4.
    4. Validity and legality are dependent upon someone or something to give validity and legality. In secular terms the state gives validity and legality to the marriage ceremonies conducted according to the marriage norms of the state. The Church states to those who wish to be considered as 'married Catholics' how they should do this. Canon law applies to the children of the Church and generally has no force of law in the secular sphere.

    5. In a secular state the state can pronounce a marriage as having come to an end, though most states still consider the marriage bond as indissoluble in terms of obligations of mutual welfare on the part of the erstwhile spouses. The Catholic Church is not obliged, within its own society, to agree that a certain marriage has been dissolved in the eyes of the Church, although ,of course, it recognises ,if this be the case, that the marriage has been dissolved by the state.

    6.It would be easier to 'just get divorced' but the Catholic Church tries to follow what it believes to be the teaching of Jesus Christ that 'marriage' is between one man and one woman and is for life.

    7.Since the church believes that marriage is indissoluble it has to look at another possibility, namely that all the requirements for a valid marriage were not met at the beginning. It is the Catholic version of 'ekonomia' and is an attempt, only an attempt to help a couple when it is clear that something has gone seriously wrong with the marriage. It might be because one of the participants in the marriage is ,as PDR so nicely put it an 'arsehole' and perhaps that person was an 'arsehole' at the time of the marriage and the other party was blinded as to the true nature of the person.

    Some people would say that all the teachings of Christianity are ridiculous nonsense, that Jesus never existed, that he never rose from the dead and that all these ideas a figments of imagination and that it is just a way for one group of people to act as control freaks over others.

    Should a Christian always obey the law of the land and accept every jot and tittle of the law ? they answer is yes UNLESS there is a real clash between the law of the land and what is perceived by the Christian as the law of God. Then the Christian should obey the law of God and be prepared to take the consequences.
    Catholic marriage laws may at time clash with the secular law of the land, but there is no breaking of the law, should the Church refuse to marry in a Catholic ceremony someone who has a perfect right to marry in a civil ceremony. No law has been broken if the Catholic Church refuses to accept within a spiritual context a secular divorce and not to be prepared to marry a civilly divorced person..
  • Doublethink see my answer 3 above. Moving in with a bloke and having sex with him is certainly not automatically nowadays a sacrament. There has to be an intention to enter the state of marriage. From what I read of couples today there is rarely an intention to marry when they first have sex.
    Civil marriage is, of course, a marriage, just as you say but it is not a Catholic marriage, nor would it normally be a sacramental marriage as there is no explicit mention in a civil marriage (just because that is what it is !) of God nor indeed of sacrament.

    Marriage is a formalisation of a relationship between two people - it can be ,as it usually is, between two people, one male and one female. Civil marriage can be a formalisation of a union between two men or indeed between two women. These can indeed be loving and lifelong and lifegiving relationships described as 'marriage'
    A' Catholic' marriage is something which I have tried to describe above.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    6.It would be easier to 'just get divorced' but the Catholic Church tries to follow what it believes to be the teaching of Jesus Christ that 'marriage' is between one man and one woman and is for life.

    7.Since the church believes that marriage is indissoluble it has to look at another possibility, namely that all the requirements for a valid marriage were not met at the beginning. It is the Catholic version of 'ekonomia' and is an attempt, only an attempt to help a couple when it is clear that something has gone seriously wrong with the marriage. It might be because one of the participants in the marriage is ,as PDR so nicely put it an 'arsehole' and perhaps that person was an 'arsehole' at the time of the marriage and the other party was blinded as to the true nature of the person.

    I can perfectly well see another possibility here, albeit a rather unpalatable one.

    Accepting, for the sake of argument, that marriage is eternally indissoluble, another alternative is this: two people are in a indissoluble union, and the fact that it has gone wrong and become irreversibly toxic for one or both parties changes nothing. You married an arsehole*? Well, that’s unfortunate, but a marriage is indissoluble so you’re just going to have to stay married to the arsehole until one of you dies. Boohoo, sucks to be you.

    As I said, I find this argument unpalatable, but it makes more sense to me than trying to retcon reasons why a marriage has failed to live up to the ideal, such that it wasn’t a real one.

    Personally I prefer the route of saying that while marriage is meant to be a life-long commitment, sometimes the human reality doesn’t live up to that. ISTM that the same principle applies here that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Marriage was created by God for the benefit of people. It’s not some perfect Socratic ideal that exists for its own sake and that people fit themselves around.

    * I’m also not keen on the idea that the person was an arsehole all along and the other party just didn’t notice. People aren’t all good or all bad and they change over time. The fact that a person ends up cheating on their spouse (say) doesn’t mean that was their intention all along.

  • I take all your points, la vie en rouge, apart from the fact that marriage is 'eternally' dissoluble. In Heaven there is no giving and taking in marriage.
    You might have noticed that I did say that the person 'might' have been an arsehole. We are all 'arseholes' at times and some of us are 'arseholes' all the time, even although we manage to cover it up before others.
  • In the UK there is the possibility of a civil annulment, the grounds for which cover all of those which can be the basis for an RC annulment, so really there can be no possible justification for the RC church in the UK continuing to carry on with the farce of "religious" annulment other than for the purposes of keeping the faithful under the cosh.

    IME there are occasions where if you take the grounds for a divorce and match against those given for an RC annulment, it immediately raises doubts over whether one or the other petition should have been granted. For example, I know of one couple where the civil divorce was given on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, with adultery as contributory cause, while the annulment was on the grounds that true consent had not been given on the part of the adulterous partner. I'd argue that if the partner was an admitted adulterer then they must have given "true" consent: you cannot say you have been adulterous while at the same time not considering yourself to be "properly" married, the two positions are incompatible.

    It is beyond time that the RC church stopped the charade of issuing annulments.
  • This "we're all arseholes sometimes" is attempting to elide the fact that in some marriages one of the spouses beats the other until they pass out. Wives get raped brutally by husbands. Being able to escape a marriage like that for the victim is a good thing, indissolubility of marriage be damned.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited September 11
    Forthview wrote: »
    5. In a secular state the state can pronounce a marriage as having come to an end, though most states still consider the marriage bond as indissoluble in terms of obligations of mutual welfare on the part of the erstwhile spouses. The Catholic Church is not obliged, within its own society, to agree that a certain marriage has been dissolved in the eyes of the Church, although ,of course, it recognises ,if this be the case, that the marriage has been dissolved by the state.it is clear that something has gone seriously wrong with the marriage. It might be because one of the participants in the marriage is ,as PDR so nicely put it an 'arsehole' and perhaps that person was an 'arsehole' at the time of the marriage and the other party was blinded as to the true nature of the person.

    I think that the first sentence of this is more accurately expressed as: most states still consider the marriage bond which is now dissolved as having given some rights, perhaps permanent, in terms of obligations of mutual welfare on the part of the erstwhile spouses.
  • Enoch - I am going to try to answer your questions now. I am sorry if there are longish passages. Again I am not sure if I can give you what you would see as satisfactory answers,but I shall try.

    1. marriage is an honourable state....instituted by God... signifying mystical union....blessed by Christ's presence at Cana...' while this may indeed be a good basis for any marriage it is not mentioned in a civil ceremony in the UK and absolutely not in a civil ceremony in France. There is no guarantee that couples marrying in a civil ceremony would be giving consent to any part of the above statement which you quoted.

    2.what is the difference between a 'sacramental' marriage and 'any old marriage' ? 'any old marriage would be your definition not mine. A 'sacramental ' marriage would be when a couple are aware that they are entering into a state like the one you described in the first question and they are asking for God's blessing. A civil marriage does not ask for God's blessing. (Certainly in Scotland the couple, if they have music at a civil wedding are not allowed by law to use any sort of even vaguely religious music.)

    3.What difference does a 'sacrament' make ? this is something for the believer of follower of a particular faith to decide. Assuming that we have some sort of general agreement as to what the word 'sacrament' means, what difference do any of the sacraments make to the lives of some people ? What difference has the 'Proclamation of the Word' made to many people over the centuries ? To some people it has enriched their lives, to others it has made little or no difference.

    4.Where does the argument that there is a difference between Catholic marriage and others come from and does not everything go round in a circle. ?
    I am going to try to answer your other questions all in one, leaving out your questions about adultery which I shall try to answer later

    Civil marriages, as well as religious marriages conducted by some religious bodies allow for divorce. I take 'divorce'; to mean legal dissolution of the marriage. The Catholic Church also allows for civil divorce (calling it 'legal separation') but does not permit re-marriage in church.

    RCs may or may not haver different obligations from others depending on what the obligations are, arising from others' understanding of marriage. I can give the RC point of view and position but I cannot compare and contrast that with the many different understandings of what marriage signifies or is.

    The Catholic Church most emphatically does not teach that non-RCs aren't really married but it does teach that those who claim to be practising Catholics who have not married in a ceremony approved by the Church have not entered into a 'Catholic' marriage.

    Enoch - I am aware that you are possibly looking at 'marriage' from a Christian perspective and that perhaps you wish to know about the RC teaching on marriages contracted, for example ,in an Anglican church.
    If the couple have sincerely asked for God's blessing ( and that goes for Catholics too) our faith tells us that God will not disappoint.
    However one sometimes gets a case of a Roman Catholic who has been married in an Anglican church (without approval from the Church and these days one can get approval from the RC church authorities),then that marriage is not recognised as a Catholic marriage. That is no doubt the reason in the story from Robert Arnim that the Catholic mother of a (presumably Catholic) son who married in an Anglican church that this was not a real marriage.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    This "we're all arseholes sometimes" is attempting to elide the fact that in some marriages one of the spouses beats the other until they pass out. Wives get raped brutally by husbands. Being able to escape a marriage like that for the victim is a good thing, indissolubility of marriage be damned.

    I'm with you on your last sentence, and would never seek to defend any marital violence, physical or psychological.
  • 'Indissolubity of marriage be damned' say mousethief and the Organist. The word 'damned' already indicates some sort of religious background as the state does not recognise 'damnation' When we put things into a religious context and more specifically into a Christian religious context and even more specifically into a Catholic context we have to try to remember the words of Christ 'He who puts his wife aside and marries another commits adultery and she who puts her husband aside and marries another commits adultery'
    In another context Jesus reminds us to love God and our neighbour and more specifically to love those who hate us.
    Trying to reconcile these ideas in a world where indeed some people are arseholes all of the time and most people arseholes some of the time is very difficult. Few people can achieve perfection but there is something positive in trying to show a picture of what the ideal could be like. be interpreted as 'That is the job of the Church to try to point the way forward. Understandably the Church frequently fails and anything which the Church says can be interpreted as trying 'to keep the faithful under the cosh'.
  • For example, I know of one couple where the civil divorce was given on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, with adultery as contributory cause, while the annulment was on the grounds that true consent had not been given on the part of the adulterous partner. I'd argue that if the partner was an admitted adulterer then they must have given "true" consent: you cannot say you have been adulterous while at the same time not considering yourself to be "properly" married, the two positions are incompatible.

    While I have problems with the Catholic Church's approach to annulments (as I've said before, because an annulment is a finding that a sacramental marriage never existed between two purportedly married people, it is vanishingly unlikely that we wouldn't find that a whole pile of "happily married" Catholics aren't actually married if we were to apply the same standards to their states of mind at the time they were married), I don't think your argument here holds water.

    You're conflating the state of legal marriage with what the Catholic Church calls sacramental marriage. Your example is perfectly consistent. The couple were legally married. Nobody denies that this was the case. Therefore the spouse that was shagging someone else was, in legal terms, an adulterer.

    I suppose that the Catholic Church found that the adulterer didn't properly intend to keep themself only to their partner when contracting the marriage, so had defective intent and a sacramental marriage was not formed. That's also consistent.

    Note that in the UK, this kind of defective consent is not grounds for legally voiding a marriage. Forced consent makes a marriage legally voidable; a lack of intent to keep your pants on around other people does not.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    'Indissolubity of marriage be damned' say mousethief and the Organist. The word 'damned' already indicates some sort of religious background as the state does not recognise 'damnation' When we put things into a religious context and more specifically into a Christian religious context and even more specifically into a Catholic context we have to try to remember the words of Christ 'He who puts his wife aside and marries another commits adultery and she who puts her husband aside and marries another commits adultery'
    In another context Jesus reminds us to love God and our neighbour and more specifically to love those who hate us.
    Trying to reconcile these ideas in a world where indeed some people are arseholes all of the time and most people arseholes some of the time is very difficult. Few people can achieve perfection but there is something positive in trying to show a picture of what the ideal could be like. be interpreted as 'That is the job of the Church to try to point the way forward. Understandably the Church frequently fails and anything which the Church says can be interpreted as trying 'to keep the faithful under the cosh'.

    So the Catholic church says to the battered woman, "Stay in your marriage because Jesus wants you to"? What kind of Jesus is that?
  • Forthview wrote: »
    Doublethink see my answer 3 above. Moving in with a bloke and having sex with him is certainly not automatically nowadays a sacrament. There has to be an intention to enter the state of marriage. From what I read of couples today there is rarely an intention to marry when they first have sex.
    Civil marriage is, of course, a marriage, just as you say but it is not a Catholic marriage, nor would it normally be a sacramental marriage as there is no explicit mention in a civil marriage (just because that is what it is !) of God nor indeed of sacrament.

    Marriage is a formalisation of a relationship between two people - it can be ,as it usually is, between two people, one male and one female. Civil marriage can be a formalisation of a union between two men or indeed between two women. These can indeed be loving and lifelong and lifegiving relationships described as 'marriage'
    A' Catholic' marriage is something which I have tried to describe above.

    Isn’t sex in itself supposed to be the sacrament ? Hence why you can declare marriage null without it.
  • I am happy for you,doublethink, to be of the opinion that sex is the sacrament. There is, however, more to a Catholic marriage than 'just' sex.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Many thanks @Forthview for taking so much trouble to reply. My apologies if this is a bit long.
    Forthview wrote: »
    Enoch - I am going to try to answer your questions now. I am sorry if there are longish passages. Again I am not sure if I can give you what you would see as satisfactory answers,but I shall try.

    1. marriage is an honourable state....instituted by God... signifying mystical union....blessed by Christ's presence at Cana...' while this may indeed be a good basis for any marriage it is not mentioned in a civil ceremony in the UK and absolutely not in a civil ceremony in France. There is no guarantee that couples marrying in a civil ceremony would be giving consent to any part of the above statement which you quoted.
    It's not part of the civil ceremony. That is CofE teaching on marriage. Does that make it heretical to a good Catholic? The CofE take is probably, though this may not have been explicitly defined, that this is the aspiration for all marriages.

    2.what is the difference between a 'sacramental' marriage and 'any old marriage' ? 'any old marriage would be your definition not mine. A 'sacramental ' marriage would be when a couple are aware that they are entering into a state like the one you described in the first question and they are asking for God's blessing. A civil marriage does not ask for God's blessing. (Certainly in Scotland the couple, if they have music at a civil wedding are not allowed by law to use any sort of even vaguely religious music.)
    We're getting tied up with the form of marriage here. Again the CofE take is probably, though this may not have been explicitly defined, that whether you're married in a church or not, the duties and responsibilities the couple owe each other are the same. The Preface to the marriage service sets those out - different versions in different language - but they are of the nature of marriage, not any particular sort of marriage.

    That was also the case with pre-Reformation church courts, which had jurisdiction over all marriages, however they came into force. That passed to the CofE and then from the 1850s to the court system. So it looks as though any change in that, and any notion that there is a difference in kind between a Catholic marriage and an 'any old marriage' only entered into Catholic canon law after 1558.

    And since a CofE, CinW or CofI wedding involves people getting married before God and seeking his blessing, and I suspect the same applies to a CofS one and all other specifically Christian ceremonies, whoever conducted by.

    Incidentally, am I reading you right that a Catholic marriage is not made 'sacramental' because it's a nuptial mass, and that a Catholic marriage that does not include a mass is doctrinally equally 'sacramental' as a marriage?


    3.What difference does a 'sacrament' make ? this is something for the believer of follower of a particular faith to decide. Assuming that we have some sort of general agreement as to what the word 'sacrament' means, what difference do any of the sacraments make to the lives of some people ? What difference has the 'Proclamation of the Word' made to many people over the centuries ? To some people it has enriched their lives, to others it has made little or no difference.

    4.Where does the argument that there is a difference between Catholic marriage and others come from and does not everything go round in a circle. ?
    I am going to try to answer your other questions all in one, leaving out your questions about adultery which I shall try to answer later
    It seems to me, from outside the RCC mindset that both those two points are 'circling' round the same circle. It's the claim that the marriage is sacramental which seem to me to be pleaded as the reason why the RCC says it cannot, rather than should not be dissolved.

    I can't see, and nobody has answered the question, why that follows.

    None of us are saying divorce is desirable or a good thing.
    Civil marriages, as well as religious marriages conducted by some religious bodies allow for divorce.
    The civil law provides a mechanism for the dissolution of marriage. It's not, as far as I am aware, an incident of any form of Christian religious marriage. The civil law will dissolve Catholic marriages in the same way, and for the same reasons, as anyone else's.
    I take 'divorce'; to mean legal dissolution of the marriage. The Catholic Church also allows for civil divorce (calling it 'legal separation') but does not permit re-marriage in church.
    Not quite. Even I, from outside the RCC can see that that isn't the RCC position. As far as I can see, the RCC position is that the original Catholic marriage continues to exist, and that if either party enters into a marriage with someone else, that's either bigamy or legalised adultery and bars that person from the sacraments until they die, the other party to the second marriage dies or the second marriage is itself dissolved. And that is irrespective of how the first marriage ended. The only way out is if someone can persuade the Marriage Tribunal that one of the parties to the first marriage didn't know what they were doing.
    RCs may or may not haver different obligations from others depending on what the obligations are, arising from others' understanding of marriage. I can give the RC point of view and position but I cannot compare and contrast that with the many different understandings of what marriage signifies or is.

    The Catholic Church most emphatically does not teach that non-RCs aren't really married but it does teach that those who claim to be practising Catholics who have not married in a ceremony approved by the Church have not entered into a 'Catholic' marriage.
    Well that's a relief

    Enoch - I am aware that you are possibly looking at 'marriage' from a Christian perspective and that perhaps you wish to know about the RC teaching on marriages contracted, for example ,in an Anglican church.
    If the couple have sincerely asked for God's blessing ( and that goes for Catholics too) our faith tells us that God will not disappoint.
    So if the requisite sincerity exists, is a CofE marriage in RC eyes sacramental too? And if that sincerity wasn't present, can the Marriage Tribunal annul it? How does the RCC treat the marriages of people who become RC when already married? Does becoming a Catholic make your marriage sacramental, or do you get a let out clause, the opportunity to junk your wife and choose a prettier Catholic one instead?

    What happens if you love your wife and you both want to remain married to each other, but she doesn't want to become a Catholic?
    However one sometimes gets a case of a Roman Catholic who has been married in an Anglican church (without approval from the Church and these days one can get approval from the RC church authorities),then that marriage is not recognised as a Catholic marriage. That is no doubt the reason in the story from Robert Arnim that the Catholic mother of a (presumably Catholic) son who married in an Anglican church that this was not a real marriage.
    As far as the CofE is concerned, that was a real marriage. It would also have been if celebrated in a Catholic church or before a registrar.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Isn’t sex in itself supposed to be the sacrament ? Hence why you can declare marriage null without it.
    How is sex, whether loving, wholesome and a symbol of the couple's commitment to one another or a coupling like brute beasts "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace".
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited September 13
    Forthview, you may already have dealt with this, but what is the Catholic Church's position where a couple are married in a civil ceremony, later divorced in the civil courts, and one then wishes to marry a third person in a Catholic church? Is a church annulment needed?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Depends on whether the Catholic church regards the original civil marriage as sacramental. I understand that some civil marriages may be regarded as sacramental, if they take place between baptised Protestants. But I'm not entirely clear how and where the line is drawn in practice.

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