GrandpaD, sorry about your misfortune. I am in a similar position regards marriage. However, I have not remarried, and will not until the Church establishes that I am free to marry, and that my fiance is also free. In the meantime, we live as brother and sister, that is, celibate, and therefore are able to have the Sacraments. In case you didn’t know about this option, you might give it some thought. Believe me, I love this woman with all my heart, but I love the Lord even more, and I will not give up the Eucharist or Reconciliation merely for the sake of having sex.
I am extremely puzzled by what you say regarding the “Catholic Church” squeezing you for thousands of dollars each year. I am also a military retiree, enlisted, and have belonged to several parishes in various parts of the country (U.S.). The closest I have EVER EVER come to anything similar to what you’re describing is when our children were in Catholic elementary school in New York. The parish required that parents of students give a minimum level of financial support to the parish apart from collections on Sunday. This of course was monitored. Failure to meet the minimum would cause the school tuition to rise dramatically. And understand that NO student was ever forced out. If parents could not pay, all they had to do was explain this to father and the principal, and it was taken care of by the parish.
I have never heard of anyone coming to a home and demanding money. This is so far outside my experience of Catholicism, I can’t relate to it, and I’m sure others here are having the same reaction to your story.
In any case, you’re in my prayers for your situation with your marriage and your health. BTW I agree with you for the most part about tithing. When I was a fundamentalist I was a tither, and I still give a large amount of money, but I no longer keep track of it the way I once did, making sure I met that magic 10% figure no more no less. I came to see it as legalism. Now, I give what I am led to give. When the Lord leads, I try to follow, and I have been so blessed!
U.S. Army 1968-1989