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Divorce & Remarriage, a Witness from the Other Side

I want to share a response to my remarks about Catholic teaching from a man hurt and angry about his wife’s divorce and subsequent remarriage. While we only know his side of the case, I found myself very sympathetic toward his concerns. No annulment was granted and yet it appears that her pastor permitted her to return to the sacraments. This is problematical and, not privy to the situation, I am at a loss as to what the extenuating circumstances might be.  The reader should be warned that while I censored a couple of words, the language is sometimes harsh and crude.  Further, we have many good people who have suffered divorce, received proper annulments and have started to rebuild a life wounded by  an earlier bad and invalid marriage.  I praise the Lord for how the Church and divine grace has brought healing and hope to their lives.  But this post is about someone who is still hurting and who feels left out or abandoned.  We do not know the grounds for the divorce or why the annulment was denied.  What we see is a man angry that his wife divorced him; angry that she has married again and will not be coming home; and angry that a seemingly passive Church will not excommunicate and punish her.        

Here is what Karl wrote, please note that my response immediately follows:

As a victim of a destroyed marriage due to the Catholic Church’s acceptance and encouragement of divorce, adultery and remarriage without an annulment (which is exactly the situation I faced), your question of divorce is invalid and shows that you really do not know what is going on in the Catholic Church.

I speak from experience.

I have seen tremendous evil and have begged for intervention at every level in the Catholic Church and only am ignored in spite of the FACTS!

Father Joe, the Church is a whore and the clergy are her pimps and none of them care to really understand the evil they are about.

With a broken heart, I say this is absolutely true and if the Pope had the COURAGE to give me a private audience, along with my adulterous wife, her lover and all of our children, he would be heartbroken if he opened his mind, which I think is beyond him. He would see what I have seen and see how my pleas for justice and for healing a Sacramental marriage have been ridiculed and ignored, while the adultery of my wife and her lover, in the face of two Roman Rotal decisions in favor of OUR SACRAMENT have been encouraged and supported for now over sixteen years!

Show some guts and get me a Papal audience, at the Church’s expense and the Pope will never be the same about these issues if he could but open his mind and LISTEN.

For the record, such as this commentary, it is a scandal and should not be said, unless it IS true; before Jesus Christ I have stated herein what is the TRUTH and am very willing to be held accountable for it, but only by those capable of objective, truthful analysis and free from assailing by any legal entity or ecclesial entity. I know their blood thirst for vengeance.

You may be a nobody among priests, Father Joe, but what you have read here is the TRUTH. Ignore it or say it is the rant of a madman and your Savior will know what is in your heart.

You can also be assured that there are many others who have experienced what I have and know this but who are ignored by the Catholic Church.

We DO NOT NEED OR WANT kind words. We DO NOT WANT spiritual direction.

We want accountability among the priests and bishops for what has been done to us. And we want it done publicly since publicly our marriage has been violated.

We want JUSTICE, not VENGEANCE.

We want our SACRAMENTS RESPECTED AND SUPPORTED BY ACTIONS NOT WORDS AND FALSELY PIOUS WORDS!

We want our marriages healed, which in cases like this can only be accomplished with Canonical sanctions – EXCOMMUNICATION.

Excommunication is supposed to be used to restore a person to the state of grace but instead nothing is done while our spouses are completely accepted by the Church as a couple, albeit not married in the Church, but nevertheless functioning as a married couple, while usually deceiving all by saying the arrangements are “brother and sister.” All this is with Rotal decisions stating just the opposite.

When was the last time brothers and sisters dated or took a romantic vacation together?

I dare you to have the [deleted] to preach about this scandal from your pulpit. I would come to hear you and answer questions if you had the guts and were willing to openly challenge the Bishops and the Pope.

I would like to hear what you think, but do not waste my time with piety if you are moved to believe that there is some truth in what I have told you. (I have heard so much [deleted] empty words from priests!) But I am passed being patient/understanding unless the person is willing to go to the wall with me on this issue.

You have no idea of the rage that this injustice breeds or the guilt we feel for our rage and our desperate desire to get rid of all the anger, to heal our marriages to forgive and to be forgiven. But not a single Bishop, at least in the US, cares enough to make this a prominent issue for the press, since the rest of the Church will do NOTHING.

Karl

RESPONSE FROM FATHER JOE

Dear Karl,

I am sorry about what happened to you in your marriage. Even the Holy See has offered subtle warnings and guidance about the large number of annulments in the United States. The response is usually that we have the largest number of canon lawyers in the world or that Americans are generally immature and have difficulty making true commitments. Along with you, I think there is rampant abuse in the system. However, just because divorce and remarriage seems easy in this nation, and I have only had two annulment cases out of countless ones submitted that were turned down, still the truth remains that Jesus hates divorce and it is labeled “sin.” Admittedly, there are priests who would disagree with me, at least as to how this teaching is expressed. Certainly the Separated and Divorced Catholics groups might find such a verdict painful; however, I find disturbing that a number of sanctioned support groups often function as dating services for men and women who are not free to marry or even to have romantic relationships (adultery) . I must quickly add that this is NOT the case with all groups which focus on healing after these losses.

I know it is anger and frustration speaking when you label the Church “a whore” and all her clergy “pimps.” But remember, that no matter how sinful the membership (including the clergy), the Church is holy because Christ is holy. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. As for clergy, yes we have more than our share of rascals; but I would contend, from my own associations, that most of them are good men who love the Lord and sacrifice much in the service of his people. Good priests keep their promises, just as we want married couples to keep theirs.

It would seem that if the Roman Rota ruled in favor of the sacrament of marriage between you and your wife, then the Pope is actually already on your side. Unfortunately, it is a big Church and even papal universal jurisdiction has a hard time breeching the mechanizations of the local churches and the various bishops. One of the reasons that Rome insists that a second tribunal affirm or cancel the decision of the primary tribunal is to help insure justice.

I know a good man, and a devout Catholic, who suffers daily because his wife left him for another man. He fought the divorce and later he tried to stop the annulment. However, he failed. He still goes to Mass and often he weeps at prayer in loss for her and in distress about the Church. He is absolutely convinced, despite the verdict of the marriage tribunal, that she is still his wife. He spurns suggestions that he should date and marry again. That would be adultery, he tells everyone, and knowing him I would be inclined to agree with him. I never met his wife and cannot say what kind of person she is, but knowing her husband (or ex-husband) my impression of her is not good. I am not blind that such things are going on. But neither can I water down what has always been the official teaching of the Church, and a prohibition (against divorce) that comes from the very mouth of Jesus.

The difficulty is that there are some invalid and unlawful marriages.

If the groom sleeps with the maid of honor the night before the wedding, I would say there is something seriously wrong already with the necessary intention.

If the man is partially paralyzed and impotent, he cannot lawfully consummate the marriage.

If there is an absolute opposition to children and intercourse is always contraceptive, the marriage is negated by the rejection of its principal object or good.

If the girl’s “pappy” forced the boy to marry his daughter at the end of a shotgun, then coercion negates the authenticity of the bond.

I have even turned down weddings that other priests eventually witnessed, as when one or both of the parties is mentally deranged. I recall one lady who was a heavily medicated paranoid schizophrenic. The drugs that drowned out the invisible voices would deform any child conceived. I recommended that she keep a platonic friendship, but that God was not calling her to marriage. They went to another priest and he did the deed. She got pregnant and had to go off medication. As a screaming insane person, necessity required that she be tied to a bed for months. Her husband walked off, like I suspected he would. The child had all sorts of defects and was eventually taken away from her. It was a real mess. She was incapable of the responsibilities of marriage. And her spouse was a lazy bum.

Prenuptial agreements are the big topic these days. They imply a level of doubt that invalidates the vows. Such contracts are forbidden to Catholics, but couples sometimes lie to priests.

These are real if extreme cases, but they represent some of the genuine areas where tribunals are “supposed” to judicate.

I have even had guys who were married before who tried to hide their previous bonds! One girl had gotten married by a bogus priest!

Another fellow had a vasectomy and failed to tell the bride. She wanted a big family and found out afterwards that all he wanted was to violate her virginity.

I have seen it all. I am not the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand. And yet, I sympathize with you and share your concern about laxity in the annulment system.

I have never met the current Pope myself and so I am the last one to ask in getting you an audience with him. However, he is no fool, and I think he is aware of the abuses that are happening. Much is going on behind the scenes to improve things, but I suspect it will move too slowly to assist you. I am sorry for the pain you feel. I do not know about any “blood thirst for vengeance” and do not know the particulars in the case your wife brought against you. However, I can promise you my prayers and personal good will.

Yes, I suppose you could say that I am a “nobody among priests,” but every priest can forgive sins and confect the Eucharist, and so in this light I always feel especially privileged and blessed.

I beg you not to reject the compassion, spiritual direction and formation that the Church and good priests have to offer. You may not want kind words, but I suspect that Jesus would want me to extend them to you, all the same. As for direction, I must encourage you to stay close to the Church and to Jesus. Our Lord’s sacred heart knew what it meant to be betrayed and abandoned. Find solidarity with him in prayer and hope to enrich and live your life. We really have little or no control over what other people do. We do have some say about what we, individually, do. We all have crosses of some sort or another. Join yours to Christ’s. Life is not fair. People we want to respect disappoint us. The “happy ever after” ending of fairytales often does not materialize…at least not in this world.

It is right to want “accountability” among our priests and bishops, but as the Scriptures tell us, “vengeance” belongs to the Lord. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is that great Tribunal before which we will all one day stand.

People argue for the censure of excommunication these days as if its imposition would cure everything. It does not restore a person to a state of grace. Indeed, it often hardens hearts and people walk away from the faith entirely. It does the opposite from what we might expect. The person is cut off from the Church, the sacrament of salvation. What we should not forget is that which is most basic in regard to rebellion, and that is plain old mortal sin. It does not have to be imposed; the person incurs it immediately and directly by enmity with God and the violation of his commandments. Clergy and other Church officials who do not take their responsibilities seriously, or who are hypocritical, will be punished by God. People who “knowingly” commit adultery will be punished as well. St. Paul says that adulterers, fornicators, and homosexuals will have no part in the kingdom of God. It does not get more serious than that. Please do not forget, that while righteous indignation is permissible, violent anger and seeking revenge are also serious sins. Jesus gave us a response pattern; he forgave his murderers from the Cross.

Catholics not married in the Church are not truly married. You write, Karl, that your wife and her “new husband” are “…functioning as a married couple, while usually deceiving all by saying the arrangements are ‘brother and sister.’” There is a peculiar arrangement permitted by the Church where pastors can allow a couple not married in the Church to feign such a situation in the attempt to avoid scandal. It is called INTERNAL FORUM. However, the couple has to be elderly and the annulment has to be impossible to receive. They are forbidden to publicize the true nature of their relationship and they are forbidden to have any sexual congress. They must live as brother and sister. Is this what happened? [Rome and certain canonists, I learned recently, have become much more strict and hesitant to tolerate internal forum situations.]

The trouble here is that the companionship and affection owed to the lawful spouse is still withheld (or given the wrong party).

Almost everyone in my last parish was elderly. It was a small place. Over the years, however, I have spoken about the sacrament of marriage and the evil of divorce. A number of my priest friends have done the same. I am not sure this necessarily brings one into opposition with the Pope and every bishop, either. Archbishop Wuerl has said wonderful things about the indissolubility of marriage in his catechism and television program.

Let us avoid vulgarity. Dialogue must be respectful. I am a priest and I belong to the Church. The question is not whether I will stand with you, Karl, but whether or not we will both stand with Jesus.

You do not want to hear pious talk, but honestly, there are some wounds that cannot be healed in this world. Life is messy and we struggle in a society of sinners with too few saints. All God is asking of you and me is that we be faithful. We may never know success, but that is okay, as long as there is fidelity.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Peace,
Father Joe

12 Responses

  1. You’re correct Karl. The Church of Rome is the Great Whore.

    FATHER JOE: You are a bigot who has made himself an enemy to the Church established by Jesus Christ. You will have to suffer the eternal consequences.

  2. There’s something insidious about nurtured and nourished anger in someone; it drains and depletes those who come close. I’ve had such people in my life (not marriage), and I lived with them and I prayed and tried to help them in all ways for decades.

    They, however, seemed to feed and thrive on my concern and love for them, while rejecting every opportunity to heal and resolve issues themselves. They felt they had a right to be so violently angry, and they wanted me to be a willing support of such tendencies. I had to hate like them, and it took too much out of me to be someone I was not.

    When I found myself entertaining suicidal thoughts, that was when I decided enough was enough. And I left.

    As I write this, my thoughts are with Karl’s wife.

  3. Father Joe,

    Not going to get involved again, but it is interesting to re-read.

    But you would do well to recall that excommunication is medicinal. It is not a form of punishment. Its purpose is to restore the relationship with God through the Church.

    I have returned to regular Mass attendence but the certainty in my opposition to the practices of the Church regarding marriages, in their complexity, remains, moral and close to absolute for me. Returning to the Eucharist would need to mean substantial unity in my acceptance of what is going on, which I will not do. What she teaches, were it practiced or even seriously attempted with respect to marriage, would call each of us, regardless of our silly human feelings(much more often than not vanity or veiled vanity), to do “what is right” rather than “what I feel is what I want to do”. This is what should be the point of the choices, pastorally, that the Church should employ. It simply does not.

    Glad to “see” you online again. I wish you well, Father Joe.

    Karl

  4. Okay, some distinctions have to be made.

    First, what is the Christian doctrine here? The Church teaches that divorce is a grave offense in the eyes of God. It runs contrary to the teaching of Jesus regarding the indissolubility of marriage.

    Second, while divorce is regarded as a grave matter and sinful, NOT everyone who is divorced has committed a sin. Culpability for the sin rests with the person or persons willingly seeking the divorce for a selfish or faithless cause. Who then is guilty? Take this for an example. John is tired of old Sue and divorces her so that he can have fun with young Tammy. John is guilty but Sue is innocent and might even be regarded as the victim. Here is another instance. Fred and Martha are having marital problems. Martha says “no way” and walks away from the marriage. Divorce is more than the legal status; it also includes abandoning the spouse. Martha is guilty. Here is still another. Sam and Maggie have had trouble with their marriage from the beginning. They were immature and got married young. When she got pregnant, they rushed to get married. Now Martha finds out that Sam has been unfaithful from the very beginning. When she confronts him about this, he becomes both verbally and physically abusive. No one can oblige her to take such punishment. She separates from him for her own safety and that of the children. Although she later seeks a divorce, the gravity for the failure rests with Sam. A marriage tribunal might later determine that neither of them came into the marriage with the required understanding and disposition. Further, Sam showed throughout the courtship and marriage that he would not remain faithful to the vows he made before God. A tribunal might very well find grounds and declare the marriage null-and-void. That would free Martha to marry, not simply again, but to do so validly with someone else.

    Other sins are frequently associated with divorce. The chief among these is adultery. The sin of violating the marriage bed is very hard to forgive. If such sins reflect a perpetual state of misbehavior and a faulty understanding of marriage, the sacrament itself is put into question.

    If anyone is guilty of the sin of divorce, he or she can take recourse in the sacrament of penance, as we would with all other sins. If a marriage can be salvaged, that should also be pursued. However, that is frequently not in the cards. If a Catholic gets an annulment, the lay person is free to marry another in the Church. Again, the understanding is that any sin of divorce (from either one or both of the earlier partners) has been resolved.

    Sorry if this seems a bit complicated, but these matters are inherently messy and difficult.

    Finally, regarding children of bonds given annulments, their status as legitimate is not changed. The prior marriages in the Church were declared invalid, not unlawful. They were recognized by the civil authorities and by the Church. The matter of legitimacy and children cannot be revoked.

  5. I have a couple questions.

    Once one receives an annullment from the Church, does the “sin” go away?

    Also, what if there were children created in the marriage that now did not happen, how does the church view them?

  6. Wow. This one is so completely over my head that I really hesitate to comment. However, the force and passion with which Karl wrote really moved me so here are my thoughts.

    I think your response was about as balanced, truthful, and compassionate as one could hope for.

    I have to say that I am most concerned about this person’s emotional and physical well-being. This kind of sustained and deep anger is really self-destructive.–such enduring bitterness and rage cannot be sustained without taking its toll on the individual. My instinct would be to give him a hug (which admittedly wouldn’t solve his problem), but tell him that he has to find a way to let it go and to seek professional help towards those ends.

    When someone doesn’t love you any longer, there is no “healing the marriage.” It’s not going to happen. She has moved on, apparently years ago. And perhaps she was there only in body and not spirit for some time before leaving. He might have forced her into staying in body, but who would want a person on those terms? People have to freely give themselves to each other; love cannot be coerced. Even if you’ve been married, if the other person walks away, there is nothing you can do to force them to stay–but more importantly why would you? Their staying w/you or coming back would be meaningless. You’d be in a one-sided marriage; it would be degrading.

    Sometimes people do reconcile, depending on the cause of their separation and if they still have some kind of love for each other–even if it is just a deep bond forged of years together or love for the children they have together. But the root causes of the rift must be addressed. And if love of any kind no longer exists, stick a fork in it, it’s done.

    Another thought occurs to me: what if she and her second husband were to stop attending a Catholic church and go to another? I would put forward that his anger is not so much that she continues to receive the sacraments, but that she is no longer with him, and has made a happy life with another. If she were to go to another church(or no church) where whether she received communion or not was not a factor, most likely he’d still be stuck in anger and resentment.

    Bottom line is that he seems to want the church to somehow “force” or “coerce” his wife back into their marriage. But as I said before, that just won’t happen, especially after his efforts to excommunicate her. Seeking to punish her by denying her the sacraments is not going to rekindle any warm and fuzzy feelings.; it only further alienates her from him. No matter his own internal reasons and rationale, it comes off as hateful and vindictive to her–especially as it seems that it has been a long time. She’s not going to come back at this point because he is successful in having her ostracized and excommunicated.

    I struggle to understand such a mindset and can’t help wonder what marriage with such a person would have been like. Perhaps the priest who deals directly with this couple knows. Or perhaps he was the most gentle and loving of persons until this happened; we can not know for sure as we don’t really know these people personally. While we can certainly sympathize with the obvious pain and anger Karl feels, we just don’t have the other side.

    I pray that Karl will somehow find God’s peace. I’ve already learned that life isn’t always fair and the good guys just don’t always win like in the movies. And in matters of the heart, all bets are off; the mind sometimes wants to go the “right” way, but the heart refuses to follow. I guess that’s why we have to keep our eye on the prize (the afterlife).

  7. The doctrine about the indissolubility of marriage cannot expire. Men and women might be unfaithful and sometimes they may enter relationships that are not true marriages…but God is the author or marriage and he insists that it is “until death do we part.”

  8. Dear Fr. Joe,

    Thank you. I just wish that people who “hit” on your site and who are faithful Catholics would bring this issue up with their priests and ordinaries.

    Like you, I know there are instances of invalid marriages which do rightly need to be attended to by the Church both canonically and pastorally. It would be the other side of the injustice coin to refuse to
    investigate and act on such unions. I would never want to be associated with that injustice.

    What is so frustrating for someone like myself who has a background in science as well as in certain legal matters is to be confronted, as I have been, with mostly men who although well educated are closed-minded on a subject which is supposed to be decided with moral certainty (which in my opinion should always lead to the same decision by people adequately educated in law, its interpretation and application) yet who are perfectly comfortable and accepting of the certainty of their being “correct” when in they know the statistics I quoted before in my earlier post and they are aware that Rotal Jurisprudence in these instances stands directly in opposition to their position, is a Papal decision by virtue of its place in the Church and as such carries with it the requirement to be accepted as setting the “standard” for judgement/application of Canon Law and yet thay are perfectly comfortable with the huge diparity of “morally certain” conclusions and do not ever question themselves seriously.

    When a layman such as myself voices these concerns even faithful Catholics usually close ranks around these priest, bishops, theologians and canonists to accept absurdity as being consitant with
    logic and with Catholic teaching, esecially in the Papal allocutions before the rota which are published on the Vatican website(these are loaded with truth that is precise and taught by the Pope himself). For me this is the arrogance or ignorance particularly from educated clergy and laymen.

    In other words, how can all be right with the world when my moral certainty disagrees with your moral certainty based upon the same set of facts and laws. We are not talking the “preponderance of evidence” standard here or even the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. We are talking about extremely little margin for error and about a decision that decides the existance of a valid marriage or not.

    With just my background, if I were to judge a case like one of these and reach a different conclusion than the court which sits at the apex of the Church legal system regarding normal marriage cases, I would be shaken to my core and be forced, by my own ethical and moral standards to find out how I could be of such a divergent opinion becasue I woould be treading on Holy Ground dealing with possibly “invalidating” a Sacramental marriage wrongly. That is exactly what we are dealing with here, the possible wholesale sacrilege of perhaps violating hundreds of thousands of Sacramental marriages.

    The Catholic Church remains in torment to this day over perhaps maybe a thousand cases of child abuse. But the ultimate of child abuse, the violation of the Sacramental marriages which each child has A RIGHT TO UNDER CATHOLIC TEACHING on perhaps an unimaginable scale,replacement of a fathyer or Mother with another person is not of sufficient interest to seriously investigate to ensure that truth is sought and found in every case.

    This oxymoronic situation literally causes me to seethe with anger that
    I am morally certain is righteous. And when I present these arguments to well educated people and their simple conclusion is to
    accept the status quo I cannot not bear such apathy.

    Most of these marriages involve multiple children. The child abuse scandal is miniscule compared to this and the damage done by unjust annulments is far worse because there is NO LEGAL RECOURSE before the state or the Catholic Church. To say that there is is intellectually, horrendously dishonest. At least criminally abused children can fight for their rights. Our children cannot, nor can I.

    But very, very few care except for those of us respondents who have been destroyed by this system and the very few, like you, who will even listen.

    I am sorry for going on and on father but it is the prison I have been in since 1990 and there is not even DNA, which can help prove my innocense and set me free.

    I would rather have been abused by a priest as a child, or been put to death in a merciful manner than to have lived and continue to live
    underthe circumstances I have for so, so long. yet, when I cry out in agony, even some of our children, who themselves cannot be free of this prison other than to live with it as it perverts their every choice in life, are cruel and tell me to give it a rest.

    Prayer does not work, sacrifice does not work, endless attempts to forgive do not work. There is no Demerol for me, no Morphine. The cure is so simple – justice but that is a price that my soul is not worth to the Catholic Church. I read the Episle of James, the one Luther called “so much straw” and I ache when I see how dead in faith the Catholic Church really is. I need food and it will not give me any. I need clothing and it will not give me any. I am cold and it has no heat for me.

    There is no room at this Inn for me. I will wait in the animals’ stall until
    my Church remembers me. But I cannot live with my Church, she is far too unfaithful and cruel. When she repents and requires repentence from my wife I will return to both. That, justly, is all I want. It is what our children need. It is what my wife, Donna, needs.

    It must suffice that I remain faithful to my vows, loving to our children and willing to forgive(or at least keep trying to).

    God bless you, Father Joe.

  9. I sympathize with your pain, although not being in your shoes, I cannot begin to imagine the hurt you have gone through. I am particularly cognizant of the deep discomfort you must have felt at your grandchild’s baptism. As a priest I have felt something of such moral quandaries when around family members married outside the Church. It is very upsetting.

    As hard as the baptism experience must have been, you can at least take some comfort that your grandson has received the first of his sacraments. Praise God for that, and I hope he will he receive his other sacraments and formation in the Church.

    Again, I am not aware of the particulars in your case, and this is not the forum to go into them and breech privacy. It is my perspective that there are increasing efforts to correct abuses regarding marriage cases in the Church, albeit, admittedly, quite slowly. The late Pope John Paul II seemed to share many of your concerns, but as with the current Holy Father, the moral authority of popes is often stripped of teeth and fails to be absolutely compelling in an age where there is wholesale doctrinal dissent and ethical passivity.

    You are talking to a priest who has spent some time in the “figurative” dog house for strong stands that seem to fall on deaf ears, like with the wrongful admission to holy communion of politicians who legislate on behalf of anti-life policies and enable abortionists to murder babies.

    Karl, I will keep you in my prayers. Please, in return, keep me in yours.

  10. To Father Joe,

    It is sad that men like you are in such a minority in the Catholic Church.

    I have and remain faithful to my vows.

    But the “silent” scandal of the annulment/divorce/remarriage/adultery
    problem in the Catholic Church is a cancer that I do not think will go away with the incremental approach that has been followed heretofore. This approach sacrifices innocent men and women and children on the altar of false charity and make their crosses, which we all who are or at least were Catholic understand and do our best to embrace, a lifetime of lonliness and painful unwarranted suffering, for the sake of preventing a schism which already is destroying the Catholic Church.

    I sat in the back of the Byzantine Rite Catholic Church, I was Latin Rite and married in the Latin Rite, during the Baptism of my grandson while his grandmother(my wife) and her lover, who are prominant members of the congregation were openly and a large part of the ceremony. I was disgusted and hated every single momentI I spent there. I attended for love of my children and grandson. But I have no respect for the Eparch of the Byzantine Rite who is fully aware of the situation and the priest who officiated, who is completely aware of the situation and embraces and encourages it.

    And I have no Canonical recourse to any type of justice, in spite of two rulings by Papal Courts that witness to the embrace of adultery and all the crimes which support it by the Catholic Church and all the clerics who are illicit ministers by virtue of their crimes against a Sacramental marriage.

    This is institutionalized persecution of faithful Catholics by the Catholic Church itself. I do not know what to call it other than Heresy.
    Perhaps Apostacy is another word that is appropriate.

    Forgive me but go ahead and censor this. I am not the scandal. I am a victim of the scandal and you are a part of it if you do censor this.
    I am that lost sheep that the Pope should reach out to even if all his brother Bishops walk away from him. Since he does not, he already brings judgement upon himself.

    Please do pray for me, my wife and for the clergy to see that what they are practicing is not true charity but a short-sighted secular appeasement that mercilessly punishes the innocent and that is self- perpetuatingly encouraging the destruction of others through the violation of Saramental marriages on a huge scale.

  11. I am sorry, Karl, that you find my words empty. But they come with much conviction and from the heart.

    You fault Pope John Paul II with doing nothing about the large number of annulments, but there were clarifications made to canon lawyers that forced a rethinking about what constituted mental incapacitation and lack of due discretion. It was also during his pontificate that the stress was made for a second tribunal to review and to affirm or disavow the findings of the previous tribunal court.

    As for the Pope having the power to unilaterally change canon law, my response would be, yes and no. The Pope himself is under those canons that flow from from divine positive law and ancient tradition. Further, the Pope would not want to act in a way that violated or did damage to the collegiality he shares with the rest of the world episcopacy. He does not absolutely need the approval other bishops, but there is a maxim that a law that is not received and followed has no binding authority.

    I am not a canon lawyer, but I am hard pressed to see how retired Rota judges could help in censuring liberal American canonists when they themselves are among the principal authors of the new code that you want overthrown. Which codes do you find objectionable? It was my understanding that the problem was not the code of canon law but false interpretations given to canons by certain experts and lawyers.

    Back in January of 2000, Pope John Paul II had this to say to the Roman Rota:

    “Certainly, ‘the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed’, and in this case the parties ‘are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged’ (CCC, n. 1629). However, declarations of nullity for the reasons established by the canonical norms, especially for the lack or defects of marital consent (cf. CIC, can. 1095-1107), cannot conflict with the principle of indissolubility.”

    “No one can deny that the current mentality of the society in which we live has difficulty in accepting the indissolubility of the marital bond and the very concept of marriage as the ‘foedus, quo vir et mulier inter se totius vitae consortium constituunt’ (CIC, can. 1055, 1), whose essential properties are ‘unitas et indissolubilitas, quae in matrimonio christiano ratione sacramenti peculiarem obtinent firmitatem’ (CIC, can. 1056). But this real difficulty does not amount ‘sic et simpliciter’ to a concrete rejection of Christian marriage or of its essential properties. Still less does it justify the presumption, as it is unfortunately formulated at times by some tribunals, that the predominant intention of the contracting parties, in a secularized society pervaded by strong divorce currents, is to desire a dissoluble marriage so much that the existence of true consent must instead be proven.”

    “In order to affirm the exclusion of an essential property or the denial of an essential end of marriage, canonical tradition and rotal jurisprudence have always required that this exclusion or denial occur through a positive act of will that goes beyond a habitual, generic will, an interpretive wish, amistaken opinion about the goodness of divorce in some cases, or a simple intention not to respect the obligations one has really assumed.”

    “In conformity with the doctrine constantly professed by the Church, therefore, we must conclude that opinions opposed to the principle of indissolubility or attitudes contrary to it, but without the formal refusal to celebrate a sacramental marriage, do not exceed the limits of simple error concerning the indissolubility of marriage, which, according to canonical tradition and current legislation, does not vitiate marital consent (cf. CIC, can. 1099).”

    “Nevertheless, in virtue of the principle that nothing can replace marital consent (cf. CIC, can. 1057), an error concerning indissolubility, by way of exception, can have an invalidating effect on consent if it positively determines the will of the contracting party to decide against the indissolubility of marriage (cf. CIC, can. 1099).”

    “This can only occur when the erroneous judgement about the indissolubility of the bond has a determining influence on the will’s decision, because it is prompted by an inner conviction deeply rooted in the contractant’s mind and is decisively and stubbornly held by him.”

    The kind of supervision you suggest by Rome would shut down the American tribunals overnight. Even now, a single appeal to the Rota can take months or years. What we need instead is people on the American tribunals that we can trust and bishops who will not allow a false compassion to cloud the truthfulness about annulment verdicts. Maybe the answer would be to censure or punish those on tribunals who regularly have their decisions overturned? They could be stripped of their mandate to sit on such trinunals and forbidden to write and teach commentary on the code. However, we would no want to go so far as to hurt good honest people working for the tribunals. Neither would we want to withhold annulments from those who deserve to receive them.

    The Roman Rota itself has addressed the problem again and again:

    “The continually, daily increasing number of marriage cases especially in some regions of the world in which the ground is defect of discretion of judgment and/or incapacity to assume and fulfill the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of a psychic nature constitutes a grave problem for the Catholic Church regarding the sanctity and stability of the matrimonial bond. Although this phenomenon is to be placed most especially in modern times both in a more profound investigation of anthropology and in a more perfect knowledge of the doctrine about the nature of marriage, there is no one who does not see that ‘cases of the nullity of marriage because of the above mentioned grounds are to be handled with the greatest of caution,’ as the jurisprudence of our forum advises. The Supreme Pontiff has recalled all this to the mind of all who offer their services in tribunals in the administration of justice, with the purpose and plan that any shadow of arbitrariness in the handling of these kinds of cases should promptly vanish (cf. 1987 allocution, no. 7.”1).”

    It is not for a priest to preach and act in such a way that he would force his bishop to revove and silence him. Every pastor must be committed to proclaim the truth, but always with charity. A priest takes a solemn vow or promise of obedience, not to God directly, but rather to his bishop. Failure to obey the Ordinary is understood by the Church as a grevious sin. This means that priests are not their own men. They surrender something of their own self-determination by the acceptance of holy orders. A priest is obliged to follow even the poor decisions of his bishop; although, no priest or lay Christian, can ever be obliged to commit an act that is clearly and objectively evil or wrong.

    Karl, I must be honest with you, calling Pope Benedict XVI a “heretic” is not something I can easily stomach. It is the same charge brought by fundamentalist anti-Catholics and sede vacante latin traditionalists. I came close to deleting your comment, but the discussion was important.

    Note, however, such slurs against the Holy Father mean that any future comments will be moderated first.

    Given that your wife will not return to you, I again suggest that you turn to prayer and embrace celibate love as the only recourse open to you. Lobby in a respectful way for orthodoxy in the tribunal courts and against the evil of no-fault divorce from the civil ones.

    God bless!

  12. Father Joe,

    To me, although I believe you are sincere, your words are empty.

    These are the word I have heard time and time again from those in positions to actually do things but who chose not to. This is what John Paul II did when he often spoke of the large numbers of annulments and his dissatisfation with them but he did nothing!

    The Pope is the only person in the Church who has the power to unilaterally change Canon Law. He does not need the approval of his fellow bishops.

    With his intellect he knew what was going on in the Tribunals in the United States and elsewhere but especially here. He knew marriages were targeted for annulment. They were not examined, they were targeted. Canonists who disagree are corrupt and do not have the integrity to admit it.

    To investigate this is a simple, but comprehensive process involving employing statistical experts to study the annulment system and take statistically valid samples of annulment decisions throughout the U.S. and then to have these decisions and all the evidence(which the Catholic Church does retain) evaluated for each decision using a group of retired Rotal Judges.

    This would allow comparison of what the final decisions were in the U.S. versus what the final decisions would have been using Rotal standards. But, control of the process cannot be held by the Church directly. This must be administered by independent people with the appropriate backgrounds, who are beyond ecclesial mal-influence but who are doggedly orthodox in their Catholicism.

    Presently the only comparison we have is comparing the rate of Rotal overturning of American Tribunal decisions, which is about 90%
    being overturned when the case has been appealed to Rome after the first instance decision has been decided in favor of annulment. This is a poor statistic but it is a clear sign that further investigation is
    not just important but, if not done, is actually criminal negligence on whomever administers the worlds Tribunal system.

    This is the Pope’s system and he should be accountable for it regardless of the fact that he is Pope. John Paul did nothing of the sort and this omission alone should automatically eliminate him from ever being considered for Sainthood. It is a staggering failure on his part when juxtaposed with his two decade history of spoken documented concern over the large numbers of annulments. He was all talk, no action! It is time for Benedict to take the bull by the horns and find out the facts. I believe more than one million annulments have been granted in the U.S. since the expanding of the ground began in the 70′s.

    If the analysis determined the rates of annulment were comparable ithis would be strong evidence that the system, overall, could be said to follow the standards of the Rota. If not the entire U.S. system should be shut down and rebuilt. Either way it would give some direction where to look to improve it.

    This will not happen because such action would be strenouosly opposed by the large majority of U.S. bishops who are committed to pushing for annulments by action, as evidenced by the annulment stats in nearly every diocese in the U.S., while paying only lip service to defense of marriage and the healing of hurting and broken marriage through every method available to them. As one of your other articles alluded to, by Cardinal Gagnon I think, the American Church is already in schism. We who have been abandoned by our Sacramental spouses have been left for dead and abandoned by the Catholic Church in its vain attempt to bridge this schism by appeasement rather than through enforced orthodoxy.

    If such a comprehensive review of annulment cases were ever done and resulted in a statistic which showed that the Rotal standards are not being followed by the American Church in its Tribunals in black and white through valid statistical analysis, rank and file Catholics would never accept it, nor would the American Bishops and the schism would formalize and at last we would know who were and were not Catholic. I believe this will happen in time anyway. We should face it now in Orthodoxy rather than when it will no longer matter.

    Were I a priest today I would preach this over and over from my pulpit and I would force my ordinary to agree or remove me from my parish and try to silence me. I challenge you to take this to Bishop Weurl, who on the surface appears to be somewhat Orthodox. If he does not agree that such an analysis is called for immediately, then he is not Catholic. He may have a different opinion about timing but the work needs to be done and anyone who disagrees is not concerned at all about Truth, which or rather WHO is Jesus Christ. Jesus requires the pursuit of Truth.

    There is no more important issue facing the Church than the defense of marriage and the Church’s obligation to require Catholics to be faithful or to be out the door. We have a double standard where those living in adultery are accepted and not judged, as they continue to actively persecute their abandoned spouses who are under complete assault by the government and the Catholic Church, which only leads to deepening confusion among Catholics(and their young children who now have very confusing split loyalties) and is making the Catholic population much more Protestant than Catholic and actually just more like hedonistic pagans, holding on to the trappings(vestiges) of Catholicism for the sake of appearances or tradition.

    The most sublime absurdity is that the Catholic Church requires divorce to initiate the annulment process. It forces spouses into a legal system so corrupt regaring marriage that all hope for reconciliation is destroyed. Just look at Bai MacFarlane. Her’s is not an unusual case. I lost everthing because I would not accept the jurisdiction of the court over our marriage until the Catholic Church decided about our marriage and its validity. I also could not defend our marriage in a no fault environment and in opposition to my wife who had resources enough to bury me while my attorney abandoned our case when my little money ran out. This is exactly what the Catholic Church knows and requires!!!! It is open HERESY. The Pope himself is guilty of not shutting this down. To me he is a HERETIC until this injustice is addressed and a public forgiveness is sought in person in the U.S. by the Pope to an audience of those unjustly divorced. I would tell the Pope to his face that he is a HERETIC and would ask him to repent.

    No talk Father, Action. The stats demand further investigation, NOW.

    Do not claim Orthodoxy if you do not see it immediately.

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