CAF suggestions of annulment and breakups

Hi guys,

I’ve read some threads where people express issues within their relationships. I notice that much of the time if they are not married, the suggestion is to break up, but if they ARE married, a large number of people will suggest they seek an annulment. I want to get people’s feedback on this.

It seems like people are treating annulments as “Catholic divorce”. I’m not saying annulments are never possible or that they are not sometimes legitimate, but I see a great deal of suggestions in that direction, and frankly I find it a little disconcerting.

I also know that even JPII decried the ease with which people receive an annulment these days.

I had a discussion with some non-Catholic friends one time and said the Catholic Church does not allow divorce because Jesus did not allow it. They usually bring up annulments, and I explain the difference, and usually they understand it. But I feel that marriage brings two people together, like family. We may have arguments or get upset with or even become quite angry with a family member, but you cannot “divorce” from a family member.

Sometimes I see real stretches to try to fit an annulment situation into a box that really would fall under the category of “divorce”. For example, someone might say her husband is not showing much affection or they don’t have sex or he is involved with porn, etc. And people will say that indicates he did not plan on giving himself fully to his wife and therefore that’s grounds for annulment. To me, that’s a stretch. I don’t think the point of annulments is to stretch the definition as far as it will go to entertain nearly any situation. At some point annulment comes dangerously close to “Catholic divorce”.

Your thoughts?

I agree, although people on CAF have been supportive of me holding to my vows.

From what I understand, in most other areas of the world annulments are nearly impossible to get. When my husband filed for divorce I can’t tell you how many times it was suggested that I get my marriage annulled…so I can find someone that will “sweep me off my feet.”

But then again, I am a black and white kind of gal. “Let no man separate” and “for better or for worse” are pretty clear to me. I knew fully well what I was getting into when I made my vows to God. For me personally, even if my marriage were to be annuled, I would feel in my heart that I was still bound to my vows. Did I mention I am stubborn? :smiley:

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I hear you, and good luck with everything and good that you are sticking to your convictions. I have heard complaints about the annulment process being too easy, and as Jimmy Akin and other have pointed out, the sacraments are designed to be sturdy and not easy to break, so it seems contradictory that it would be “easy” to get an annulment.

Having said that, I don’t have any first hand experience with anyone getting an annulment or whatever.


I know you don’t need a random stranger’s approval, but I am really proud of you for being dedicated to the sacraments. My sister told me a story once about a woman she knew whose husband divorced her. Eventually they got back together and the priest told her that her marriage was still valid from the first time. The sacraments are visual signs for us as God already knows what is going on. You are a very strong lady.

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I came across the follow statistics:

*The United States has 6% of the world’s Catholics but grants 78% percent of the world’s annulments. In 1968 the Church there granted fewer than 600 annulments; from 1984 to 1994 it granted just under 59,000 annually. But more than 90% of the cases which were appealed to the highest matrimonial court, the Roman Rota, were overturned. *


The Holy Father said that annulments should be a last resort. “The indissolubility of marriage is a teaching that comes from Christ himself, and the first duty of pastors and pastoral workers is therefore to help couples overcome whatever difficulties arise. The referral of matrimonial cases to the tribunal should be a last resort.”


Great information.

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If I understand things correctly annulments are granted when there is evidence that the marriage was not valid at all to begin with. If the number of people getting annulments is high that would suggest that a large number of marriages were never valid to begin with and that’s something I instantly find suspect. I really couldn’t see that many marriages being invalid…only, at most, a very few.

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Exactly. I get the impression that people are sort of stretching the definition to include various things. Not saying annulments are like abortion, but I recall how they may make a legal provision to allow abortion for the mother’s health, but then that will end up getting stretched to include mental health, etc. so then it just get thoroughly watered down to the point where if a woman is having “anxiety” about pregnancy, she can get an abortion. I’m using this to show how something can be stretched.

So maybe they might bring it to the tribunal and say that at the time of the marriage the husband or wife wasn’t “mature” enough or something. But how can you really prove that? So that’s what my inclination is.

Not all annulments are granted by the Church. One case I know is that of my uncle, he married his GF and after 6 months she was running all over the street with no clothes on and shouting. It was later found out that she had some mental issues/disorder which she had before the marriage even started. The parents of the girl knew about this but did not tell my uncle so there was DECEPTION at the start of the marriage and he was given an annulment for the reason that the marriage was not valid to begin with. Getting the annulment was not easy. I think it took him 6 years to get it!!!

Comparing annulments to divorce: The two are very much different. You can get a divorce anytime, as what I understand if u dont love your husband or wife anymore, you can get a divorce but thats not the case in the Catholic Church…

Just a thought, but of we consider the deep and lasting changes in our culture in the USA over the past 40 years, it’s not completely surpriseing to learn that many, even Catholics, married without a clue as to the lifelong nature of marriage and the sacrifices and difficulties required in sustaining any marriage. IOW, with the past 40 yrs of devotion to comfort, materialism, free sexuality and relativism in this nation, who can be surprised that many entered marriage on a whim?

A divorce is a divorce and that’s the ending of a civil contract under the law.

Where the Church draws the line is insisting that there can be no re-marriage
for a Catholic divorced person, UNLESS an annulment has been granted by the Church.
The annulment states that the Church recognizes that, in a certain instance, there
was NEVER a valid Sacramental marriage between the partners.

There is no such thing as an automatic annulment for anyone.
As long as two people are bound by a marriage, the Church does NOT address
any issues related to a possible future annulment. Divorce ends the civil contract.

Many-- I would say most-- of the posts here are **extreme **situations, not run of the mill things for which a person should seek counseling and work it out. You do see advice to work it out often in those posts that aren’t extreme, more like “my spouse gets on my nerves”. Even in infidelity posts, people suggest counseling and Retrouvaille.

But, typically, on this forum the situation is pretty extreme. There are a lot of abuse situations, mental illness situations, invalid marriages outside the Church with spouses refusing convalidation, etc, presented here. So, of course a lot of the recommendations are to seek physical separation and in many cases civil divorce. That suggestion is often accompanied by the suggestion to have the marriage examined for nullity. That is every person’s right under canon law if there are grounds to do so. It doesn’t mean they will receive a decree, but for these types of extremem situations presented here, it is likely.

I think there are too many annulments, but don’t agree at all that they are as easy to get as many people apparently believe.

The discussions in CAF usually appear to be fairly good, including on this issue. When someone writes something that is wrong it is usually corrected fairly quickly. Most people seem to understand that annulments are not granted based on what happens during a marriage.

Excellent. Thanks.

This issue has really peaked my curiosity. I ordered Vasoli’s book. I have so many questions.

Obviously the premarital counciling is lacking in this country. Isn’t it a priest’s duty to identify cafeteria Catholics and not marry them in the Church?

If an annulment is granted based on defective consent then who decides if that person can consent to future marriages? It seems they could use the grounds for the first annulment as evidence for future annulments.

In the article I posted, one matrimonial judge admitted, if given time, any marriage could be found invalid based on grounds of defective consent. Also, many judges believe that if a marriage doesn’t work out then it was never valid to begin with.

Someone here mentioned mental illness…as someone who knows people suffering from that or depression or both, do these things make a marriage invalid to begin with? Or only if they’re definitively known but never disclosed to the other spouse?

You do realize that the article you posted is ONE article, reporting an opinion?

That’s a question that can be addressed in reference to a marriage before the Tribunal.
There are no specifics that would theoretically define every case in advance.

You can still get divorced if you love your spouse, and you can also have your marriage found invalid if you love your spouse.

The decree of nullity can come with a warning or prohibition. For example one man I know is prohibited, as stated on his decree, from marrying again in the Church until he and his intended meet with someone from the Church (can’t recall who) and that person can determine whether or not he can enter into this marriage. So it wouldn’t be just a matter of going to the local parish priest and entering into a marriage, their specific case would have to be reviewed in person with this other authority.

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