High Anullment Rates vs Indissolubility of Marriage

In your opinion do you think there is a danger that the Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, a dogma, is called into question when anullment rates are so high in the US. Is there a danger Catholics begin to see it as “divorce Catholic style”?

Not at all.

There is always a danger that Catholics will fail to learn or comprehend the faith. Many misunderstand or ignore the teachings of the Church. This is no different than any other teaching.

Officially No,UNofficially YES!

A sad reality of secular pressure, lack of marriage prep planning, being “Inlove”, being in a hurry to marry instead of taking a year or longer to allow that “INLOVE” feeling to wear off. Advice givers telling people that if you are not happy in your current situation then you owe it to yourself to get out.

I am engaged and part of the pre-wedding planning that the Church strongly encourages is Engagement Encounter Weekends or some form of instruction before the wedding. It brings to light possible problems and differences that will accure in the strongest of relationships and practical God centered ways of working these issues out.

Anullments and divorces would be a thing of the past ( or at least greatly reduced) if two things were to accure #1 Make God the very Center of your marriage, and #2, Slow down and take full advantage of Pre-Cana or other forms of marriage prep instruction.

are we not currently discussing this question on another thread started by OP?

Yes, but that does not mean that I also think that the cases that were found invalid were somehow not invalid. I believe they were and that the problem starts in the area of Catechesis and Marriage preparation. But yes Catholics and others do see Annullment as something that is done to a valid Marriage to undo it.

No, it’s from a different perspective.
And I might add that I regard the decrees of nullity as what they are, I don’t question the authority of the Church in this or in anything else for that matter. I just wondered what signals this might send to others.

Some Catholic probably do see it as a “catholic divorce”, but you have to consider that some Catholics don’t know/believe in even Transubstantiation. It is not a problem of the faith but of the people. A lot of it can probably be attributed to poor catechesis and apathy.

The scandal of the annulment situation in the US is that there is not a heck of a lot more of them.

There should be FAR more.

I have seen the lit offered to friends of mine before their wedding in a Catholic parish known for being rather “average”. Not traditional, not liberal, rather run of the mill.

If they had been counting on that literature for ANY insight or preparation into the fullness of the Catholic understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony, they would have been in some SERIOUS trouble.

What has the real effect on a lack of appreciation on the indissolubility of marriage? Not really talking about the indissolubility of marriage and its purpose beyond some pius platitudes that all smitten young lovers would agree to readily. “Yes, I wanna be with her for the rest of my life.”

I have felt that way half a dozen times… It’s not enough. And its certainly not anywhere near objective if they are still in the “having great sex”/playing house phase. Gentlemen, she is not going to stay 22 forever, ladies, maybe you can’t change or fix him. Can you both live with that?

I hope I don’t sound too cynical but pimping the parish out to be a Vegas wedding chapel is all too commmon in far too many places.

"You are living together already, having sexual relations, on abortifacient birth control, (with no plans to stop or understand or observe the Catholic teaching on contraception), have signed a pre-nup, haven’t been to Mass since the last wedding you attended, haven’t been to confession since grade school and you want a Catholic wedding?"

What should the answer be to that one? For my friends “Suzie & Tom” it was:


“Sure! What date did you want?”***

In this case, “Suzie” - God love her, and a friend of mine - was raised Catholic but rather openly told Father (and they showed me their pre-meeting questionaire) that she is now an athiest and does not believe in a concept of God at all. Father really should have asked “Aside from the great backdrop for wedding photos, or an effort to please your parents, is there any good reason why you want to have nuptuals in the context of a faith and service you reject?” I can’t think of any compelling answers to the positive on that question, but if there are any, how many could offer them?

So I stand by my thinking - there likely should be far more annullments. The preparation has been lousy and young couples have had their applications to be wed in parishes rubber stamped for far too long. Too many priests for fear of alienating bridezilla & groomzilla have been afraid to stand up and talk about the truths and teachings of Christian Marriage. I suspect many fear being rebuffed as “pious and over devotional” or they know that eyes will get rolled at them if the address the duties and obligations of child reaering and being open to life.

Does Father have the training and intestinal fortitude to stand up and speak some hard truths?

Does Father have the training and intestinal fortitude to stand up and speak some hard truths?

I don’t think a priest can be expected to see or know the unknown. How could a priest be expected to see what the future holds for a couple?

In my life I have come to realize that the biggest problem about not knowing or understanding something - is the fact that I don’t even know that I don’t know…does that make sense?:banghead: If I knew a piece of the puzzle was missing I would keep looking until I found the missing piece. More often than not I don’t get the luxury of realizing that something is missing, or that something’s wrong. Usually something breaks or someone gets hurt and then I realize what was wrong and do my best to fix it.

There’s promise in every person and in every couple who wants to get married. But if the couple has any of a number of issues, how can they even begin to prepare themselves for a life together? How could the priest know all of the possible issues that people have?

My ex is an alcoholic. I didn’t know that 15 years ago - my ex didn’t know that 15 years ago, heck my ex still will not admit to alcoholism. How could my priest know alcoholism would reek havoc on our lives?

Even 15 years ago we could have made different choices that would have changed the outcome…the drinking could have stopped, a better job could have been held, we could have both surrendered to God early on…even my marriage had promise 15 years ago. I don’t believe that its any one decision that we made, I believe things snowball and early in the relationship the snowball can be stopped easier then 10 years farther down the line.

I don’t think there is an easy or even a one answer fits all.

Terri

Catholics begin to see it as “divorce Catholic style”?

Being a new Catholic I don’t know how Catholics see it. I love the official stance of the Church on Marriage as sacramental.

However my Evangelical Fundamentalist relatives view it that way. They’ll say there is just as much divorce in the Catholic church they just call it anullment instead.:shrug:

I am of the view that there are not too many divorces in the U.S., rather that there are too many “marriages”. Clearly, societal degeneration and the general lack of preparedness of many seeking marriage, as well as unrealistic or improper expectations has lead many to enter into what they believe is a “marriage” but which in actuality becomes a trial co-habitation.

The marriage vows should be stressed and repeated throughout the preparation period, allowing time for the couple to reflect on their true and correct meanings and import. Why must we make “informed consent” for the simplest of medical procedures, but accept marriage almost as a right to be exercised even by the most capricious of couples? The drive-though chapels in Las Vegas are but a symptom of the evil one’s atttack on the Sacrament.

The entire concept of legal divorce has also weakened the Sacrament of marriage, as it appears ready to provide an “escape hatch” should things just not work out. Is this not a reflection of the all-too-common attitude also toward abortion as an escape? American Marriage has morphed somewhat into a trial period in which couples test their compatibility. Such is not the nature of the Sacrament, and it should be more difficult to marry, not made easier. The evil one relentlessly attacks the meaning of every Sacrament, diluting even the Sanctity of life itself.

Christ’s peace be always with you.

Terri, a reread of my post might clear up that I am not proposing the priest needs to be “Father Amazing Kreskin” or clarvoiyant.

But what the future holds for the couple that is already living together, using (especially abortifacient) birth control, is not attending Mass on a regular basis, is not going to confession on a regular basis or has signed a pre-nup or already had episodes of infidelity… Any of these things can be some warning signs. Start to ask about them and actually talk about them, and go from there.

I am not proposing crystal balls or mind reading skills are necessary. Straight talk that is unihibited by concearns going unreceived should be the norm. Some common sense is in order.

And they would be ill informed for thinking that.

Of the millions of marriages that fail yearly among Catholics who get divorces, how many seek annulments? How many remarry outside the Church or without reference to it?

Cases that actually go to the tribunal - if they have been prepped well by people with understanding and informed consent of the process are usually cases that are actually have merit. Unlike the civil legal system in the US, people with cases that have little merit aren’t as prone to seek this recourse.

There isn’t an annulment for every divorce or remarriage out there… The idea that “Catholics just call divorce annulment” is a common fallacy, but still a fallacy.

Yes, I think so. The credibility of the teaching has been called into question on many different fronts.

No. There have been questions raised as to why many Catholic couples are not getting married today but are living together without the benefit of marriage.
The marriage rate among Catholic couples is experiencing a decline.

This is absolutely true, especially when it comes to “no fault” divorce, that recent innovation.

No fault divorce lets the couple know, up front, no matter the preparation, no matter the perceived level of commitment, no matter what’s in the vows, that legally, this contract is entirely unenforceable: Either party may walk out at any time, with no need to show cause. What other contract in the world provides such a generous legal out? Not your mortgage, not your payday loan, not even the terms of service we so blithely click on when entering websites.

Now, I must say that marriage preparation was generally not much better 50 years ago than it is today. In many respects, it was worse. But: before the boyfriend even popped the question, and at every point thereafter, it was clear to both parties, that once this marriage was made, there was no going back. It was for life.

Yes, there were some exceptions, but mostly people realized going in, that there was no going back. That’s what’s changed.

(And if one party did want out at some point, he or she would have to prove just cause, to a judge–even civilly, why this marriage should be dissolved, and the grounds would have to be proven.)

It depends on whether you are talking before or after Vatican II.
Before Vatican II, for example, in the year 1930, there were in the USA 9 annulments approved for that year.
After Vatican II, in recent years, it has been running at more than 60,000 annulments per year. So if you take the figure of 50,000 per year over a 20 year period, you would see that there have been more than 2 million people affected by annulments in a twenty year period. And how many Catholics are there in the USA total? That is quite a large percentage of Catholics in the USA affected by the annulment process, is it not?

Ah Bob, we have been down this road before… BUT worth considering or explaining is how this trend correlates to the larger social trends.

It will take a bit to sell me on “I am such a faithful Catholic I will only live & sleep with you because I think you will try to get an annulment which is wrong!”

Could we look at some actual annual numbers?

Than could we look at the precentage of annulments granted to divorces sought?

2M - that’s a lot of people over a 20 year period to be sure… Baring in mind that population increased 60M in that same time period…

So tacking down the real correlation or prevalence of annulments and divorces is a little tricker than just pointing to “lots and lots”. Relative to the real divorces and failed marriages, I say there are rather few.

I recall discussing this over a time a few months ago with you. Perhaps we should try to dig out the old thread and start back where we left off…

If you insist on comparing annulment statistics with divorce statistics in the USA, then here are a few to start with:
Divorces in the USA
1930: 195, 961
1979: 1,179,000
1998: 1,135,000
Annulments given out by the Catholic Church in the USA:
1930: 9
1989: 61, 416.
The divorces have increased by a factor of about 6 (5.9)
The annulments in the RCC have increased over the same period by a factor of 6824, or more than one thousand times as much as the divorces in the USA at large.

Here are some numbers for annulments.

1952 thru 1956 (worldwide) 392

United States only:
1968 – 328
1978 – 27,000
1984 - 36,461
1985 - 53,320
1987 - 60,570
1988 - 50,000
1989 - 61,416
1990 - 62,824

Something seems to have changed between 1968 and 1978.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.