I’ve been reading this thread a bit and I was suprised at how many people seem to have got an annulment of their marriage. I live in Sweden and I’m active in the Catholic church here and I have never even heard of anyone who has got their marriage annulled. I know this one woman who was left by her husband, he ran off with her best friend, got remarried in the protestant church…and she has been left childless and lonely. She didn’t get her marriage annulled, and neither did several other people in the church that I know of.

Does anyone know how common annulments really are? And how come the Catholic church is much stricter in some countries and more lenient in others? Shouldn’t it be a world church with the same rules all over the globe? And what are the grounds for annullment? The priest in my parish say very clearly that abuse or abandonment is NOT ground for annullment. Is it the same in other countries?


This statement is ambiguous. Do you mean that she took a case to the tribunal but her marriage was found to be valid, or that she never even tried to obtain a decree of nullity?

No, there are no published statistics.

On what do you base this assumption?

There are many factors other than your perception which could make it seem as though this were the case. For example, there are very few Catholics at all in Sweden. By comparison there are millions of Catholics in other countries. So, proportionately, there would be more cases going to the tribunals in those countries and by comparision would seem to have “more” decrees of nullity.

Yes, it is a worldwide church and the grounds for a decree of nullity are the same in all of the Latin Rite. They are defined in Canon Law.

I suggest you get a copy of the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It explains the entire concept very well.

He is correct. And, yes, Canon Law applies to all Catholics.

Again, obtain a copy of the book I recommend. It explains how the defect must be present at the time the vows are exchanged.

Abuse and abandonment are not grounds to seek a decree of nullity-- however, subsequent behaviors may be evidence of a defect present at the time the vows were exchanged. If the person can produce evidence of the mental state of their spouse before the wedding-- not intending a permanent bond for example-- then the subsquent abandonment is evidence of, but not grounds for, that prior mental state.

It’s not always clear cut, but a decree of nullity is difficult to obtain.


It might not be culturally acceptable in your country to petition for a declaration of nullity. That does not mean that should someone ask to have a tribunal hear their case it would not be granted.

As far as whether or not abuse or abandonment are legitimate reasons for an annulment, in and of themselves no, because things that happen after the marriage are not justification for a valid marriage to be declared null. However, they can be indications of problems that were present before the marriage take place. If there is enough evidence to indicate that the problem existed before the couples took their vows, then the fact that one person was psychologically unfit to give consent or the other had no intention of being faithful or the marriage lasting can mean that a tribunal would find that no marriage actually took place. This is true in the US, Europe, everywhere. I recently took a class on the annulment process, and the person giving it, who is the head of a tribunal, said that the head of the Roman Rota is very firm in regards to physical or emotional abuse that “no one should have to live in hell to go to hell.” I’ve spent some time trying to fully understand what exactly was meant by that, but I do know that it was supposed to be an indication that abuse cases should be brought before a tribunal.


I think that fysical abuse ought to be a reason for the marriage to end. Also I do feel very sorry for the women I know who were left by their husbands and now can’t remarry or have any kind of romantic relationship. But then again, maybe God has a special plan for these people and maybe their suffering will result in something good?

I have lived in both Catholic and non-catholic countries and my experience (although I don’t have any figures to prove it) is that the church is much “stricter” in the countries were catholicism is a minority. Even mass is different. When I lived in Ireland Sunday mass took about 45 mins and there was singing and everything was in English. Here in Sweden it’s still in latin and mass is always longer than an hour and very serious (I’m not complaining about how long mass is, I’m just remarking on the difference) I found that the priests in Ireland were a whole lot more lenient than the ones in Sweden. I think I’d like a balance between the two. I think you should take the rules seriously, but I also think that you can have some “happy” singing in mass sometimes and perhaps think about the children more so that they can understand mass (perhaps lie a little low on the latin)

Ok, now I have moved on to a completely different subject :slight_smile: What I meant to say was that the priests in Sweden are very very reluctant to agree to an annulment, whilst I have met many people from Catholic countries who have got their marriages annulled without much problem. So it made me wonder if it is easier in certain countries. I met one Canadian woman who got her marriage annulled because her husband beat her, that would never happen in Sweden.


The Church doesn’t teach that one must stay residing in the same home as an abuser. The Catechism clearly states that separation of the spouses may be necessary in these cases, and even divorce to protect the spouse and/or children can be tolerated.

That is NOT the same thing as being free to marry someone else. The marriage may still be valid.

Only a tribunal investigation can determine whether the marriage is valid or not.

In our sex-soaked society, secular society would have one believe that celibacy is a fate worse than death. However, the eternal disposition of our souls is far more important.

The tribunal is open to all. The priest has no authority to deny someone a petition to the tribunal. That is an abuse.

No, now see, you are inaccurate here. Abuse during the marriage is not grounds for a decree of nullity. Perhaps she explained it that way, but you do not know the details of the case.

The grounds for nullity are the **same **worldwide. Therefore, your assertion that Sweden has more restrictive grounds or rules is not accurate.

You are basing very large assumptions on anecdotal evidence you are hearing second-hand from lay persons describing their experience… they are likely leaving out major details that would give a more accurate picture of what occurred. A canon lawyer describing their case would likely be much more accurate and detailed. It would then become evident why a decree was granted or denied.


You are right when you say that people seem to be obsessed about relationships in our society. Personally I don’t feel called to marriage at all, or to be a nun. I feel called to a life as single and even though I feel tempted sometimes, most of the times I am really happy because this is what I feel is right for me. I don’t need sex. I don’t need a husband. I am perfectly happy without (on the other hand I’m only 27 so I might change my mind, even though it doesn’t feel very likely) But what if you feel called to marriage but your husband decides to leave? That must be very very hard. It would be like me getting forced to marry even though I don’t feel that that is my calling.

A priest can change his mind about his calling. I know several priests who have taken their vows and then years later changed their minds and fallen in love with a woman, left the priesthood and married her. I heard only today that one of the Karmelite nuns left the convent to marry the gardener. And to become a nun you have to go through a LONG trial period before you take your final vows. But with marriage there is no trial period, once the vows are taken that’s it. Now I’m not saying that that is wrong, marriage is sacred, but so is the vow to become a priest or a monk or a nun. Why are they allowed to leave their vocation and enter an other one but a married person isn’t?


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