Annulment - Will the Church ever change its stance?


#1

I was married at age 19…after taking instruction into the Catholic faith. I was also pregnant with my son. During the marriage we also had a daughter. We divorced after almost 10 years of marriage.
The divorce took place 35 years ago. I am very close to the entire family, as well as my ex-husband, and am blessed that love and forgiveness were present, and exist to this very day.

I understand that I must go through the annulment process to be “a Catholic in good standing.” However, I can’t imagine having people I love be witnesses, and create that hurt all over again. In addition, I have been married to someone for 23 years, who also went through divorce. My husband also has had a stroke.

I am currently in my 3rd year of Lay Ministry, and knew that I must have my previous marriage annulled. However, marriages would further hurt the people that were most affected all those years ago. I am struggling with this daily, since when I read the actual way that by definition the church defines it…it seems contrary to love, mercy, understanding, and forgiveness that has already been given by God. Seeking discernment!


#2

The annulment process is not meant to dig up dirt or make people relive painful memories. They ask for a factual account of what happened, the conditions of the marriage, etc. so as to make a decision based on the annulment request. I went through it and the hardest part is just writing out all the answers because it is time consuming. Also, you do need to get witnesses to help answer questions.

It is not contrary to love and understanding, etc. The Church uses the process to dissolve a marriage which is otherwise indissoluble per our Lord’s teaching. It would actually be more unmerciful not to offer the process.


#3

It is nice that you are friendly with all of these people. You must know that a Christian cannot be validly married to two men. Is the first or second valid, or neither? Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to be fully reconciled with Christ? Please discuss this problem with your pastor.


#4

The Church will never change its stance. Exploring the potential for a declaration of nullity is the only way to regain the friendship of God. It may be hard to hear, but it’s the only correct approach. If you fear mere men so much, you should truly tremble before the face of our Lord. He loves you, and needs you to do what is necessary to come back to him, however difficult for you that may be. For your own sake.


#5

It may seem that it’s contrary to these things. But really it’s not. I mean, the Church preaches the truth about marriage. It might be difficult to hear it but it’s always for the good of souls rather than to spare feellings. God didn’t just forgive, He also made rules and give commands. I know people who divorced and remarried and who eventually came back to the Church and realised that they cannot receive the Eucharist or be in ministry. It might have been hard but there are reasons for these things.


#6

I appreciate the question. My wife and I had to go through the process when we became Catholic. My advice to you would be to schedule a meeting with your priest, and even sending an email to your diocesan tribunal. While everyone here is well-intentioned, we all will offer opinions with varying degree of accuracy. This is too important to trust to the likes of us. You are in my prayers.


#7

I appreciate your response. For myself, I am not at all concerned about going through the process.
I would gladly accept full responsibility for it…though I know that is not possible. Perhaps I am “hung up” on perception of definitions. This was very helpful. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness!


#8

Thank you very much for your response. I do intend to speak further with my pastor. I do have an additional question. I have been told that annulment is not Christ’s law, but man’s law. I mean no disrespect…I would just like to know from another perspective. Thank you in advance…


#9

Eric,
Your thoughtfulness and insight are so appreciated. Thank you for your prayers.


#10

Adam,
Thank you for your kind response. I appreciate your thoughts, and beliefs. It will help a great deal.


#11

Thanks. I’ll keep you in my prayers.


#12

Do you wish to remarry? If not, there is not a reason to have your marriage investigated.


#13

If they love you as you say they will want to see you make this present marriage right with the Church. JUST get the annulment process started and do it asap for your soul’s sake. They will understand.


#14

The OP wrote that she’s been remarried for 23 years…


#15

I’m guessing that you’re bringing it up as a way of asking “is annulment what Christ intends, or is it ‘just’ a potentially-mistaken man-made rule?”

I think I’d answer that, since Jesus gave authority to the leaders of the Church (see Mt 16:19), then that means that the laws of the Church are the laws of Christ. Another way of putting it is that “Christ intends the Church, and gave them the proxy to set laws in His name.”


#16

Does anyone know how annulments are handled if the ex spouse can’t be tracked down or refuses to cooperate?


#17

OLD AGE maybe? I somehow missed that.

Er, yeah, around here any sort of person in a public ministry or work in the parish must be in a valid marriage. Begin the process. It only becomes harder as the years go by.


#18

Yes. Attempts are made to notify the spouse that a nullity petition has been entered, and to invite the spouse to participate in the process. Sufficient time is given for the spouse to respond, after which – if the spouse does not respond – the process continues without the spouse’s participation.

In other words, a nullity case does not remain in limbo indefinitely in the absence of the participation of the respondent.

:wink:
I’ve noticed that I’ve done the same from time to time, too!


#19

According to Christ Himself, it’s the allowance for divorce and remarriage that is a man-made exception.

The specific annulment process is certainly human-designed and could perhaps be improved, but the basic idea (you can’t validly marry someone else while your first spouse lives unless there was something unlawful or deficient about that first wedding) is entirely in line with the teachings of Jesus. The process is simply the accepted way for human investigators to determine whether such a deficiency existed.


#20

This part is incorrect. An indissoluble marriage is indissoluble. The process is used to determine if a marriage actually took place, if it is a valid marriage. If a marriage is valid it can not be made invalid by any means.


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