I was challenged at dinner last night by a worldly, French, materialist-secularist from a fundamentalist-evangelical background (!) with the following:
Can you please tell me how it is that the Church can take a legal marriage, recognized by the State, and annul it?
It doesn’t. The state marriage and a sacramental marriage are two different things.
No, they’re not!
Um. Yes they are. A Catholic marriage is a sacra . . . .
Well, I think that is SO presumptuous of the Church. Who do they think they are to override the laws of the United States?
The Church was here for 1800 years before the United States and had been performing marriages all that time. That kind of gives the Church a leg up on the situation.
That’s ridiculous. Everybody knows that when two people are legally married according to the government then that is a marriage. Where does the Church get the idea they can dissolve it?
It doesn’t. It determines that a marriage never existed in the first place according to the strict criteria by which she judges – criteria that have nothing to do with civil law.
That’s outrageous. I will never understand!
Hail, Mary, full of grace . . . .