So many annulments, what does this say about marriage?

I believe that you are right. The Holy Father has expressed concern about the situation in the American Church. However the question remains as to where the real problems lie.

Overall I think that those who do feel that the annullment priocess is not as robust as it could be should make their voices be heard in thier diocese and more importantly, also make their hearts and talents are available and used to better prepare Catholics for life and marriage. This can be cone by 1) Example of Good Christian married life; 2) Teaching Children and Adults the Beauty of the Faith in bible study, Catachetical studies, RCIA etc. 3) Support for those Catholics in Troubled marriage situations.

Peace
James

It’s disheartening to admit that one possible reason for the large number of annulments these days is people not having a proper understanding of marriage. Much easier to place the blame on the Church, catechesis, or anyone else other than ourselves. The plain fact is that disobedience is at an all-time high, even when people are being properly instructed on what is and is not acceptable. My own anecdotal observation of events among people I know leads me to believe that it’s mostly not the Church’s fault.

For every one of my friends and family who has divorced over the past 15 or so years, only maybe one case was a surprise. For all the rest, not only was it no shock but most people who knew the couple were commenting before and right up to the wedding that they didn’t know how long it would last. In at least two cases that I recall, more than one person actively counseled them to not get married. But of course they did anyway and it was no surprise when a divorce followed less than four years later.

With that kind of thing being so prevalent, is it any wonder we see a large number of annulments being granted?

I feel that it`s a sham too, no wonder a lot of Catholics dont take their faith seriously

In my view your statement is, while not entirely wrong, putting the cart in front of the Horse.
I don’t think that the Annulment situation alone is a very big factor in how Catholics view their faith. In fact I would say that it is more likely that the annulment situation has come about BECAUSE many Catholics since VAT II don’t take their faith seriously.

Let the responsible people in your Diocese know that you believe there may be a problem and offer your help in finding a solution.

Peace
James

Has anybody else noticed that even folks who are famous ( ex-Brad and Angelina, the Kardashian sister who’s pregnant unexpectantly & back w/her BF ) and have kids out of wedlock ,set the tone on how acceptable it is to play house, fornicate, make a mockery out of something that is so sacred and if things get bad, just leave the relationship w/o even thinking about how it will affect their children.

What is really sad that I read how Obama is very much against abstinence only programs in school and that sex education should be in school to teach boys how to use condoms safely to prevent the spread of STDs & girls can have the school RN even prescribe the pill.

When it’s brought up that nobody has ever gotten HPV, HIV, or an STD by being abstinent,& waiting for marriage, society tends to turn a blind eye & claim that for the good of our children they need to learn how to practice safe sex. How much safer can we get if we follow what the Lord has taught us in the Bible???

Since our culture, as a whole ,doesn’t respect the sanctity of an unborn child, they truly don’t seem to respect the woman as a whole person. She is treated as an object to satisfy the male’s urges w/o taking her feelings & emotions into consideration.

I wish NFP was taught in high school so the teen girls could learn that it’s ok to say NO and to teach the boys at an early age to respect women & her fertility. Will that day ever come or are we doomed???

Actually, an annulment means that a marriage took place and then was “erased” from the books. This is why - contrary to popular lingo - the Church does not “give annulments”.

The Church will review a couple at the time of the wedding and see if that wedding produced a marriage. If they find that wedding did not make a marriage, they state the marriage was null - it was non existant - and grant a decree of nullity.

Words mean something.

Think of all the people walking around today who think they are married, but really aren’t married. Sort of like a reality show: “Think You’re Really Married?”

Hi,

I have been through an annulment and it is not easy to get, it is not a sham or a Catholic divorce, and you don’t have to be wealthy to get one.

The marriage is not wiped away as if it never existed.

It does not render children from the union illegitimate.

For anyone who would like to understand the annulment process, I recommend reading this book:

ANNULMENT: THE WEDDING THAT WAS ; HOW THE CHURCH CAN DECLARE A MARRIAGE NULL

The author is Michael Smith Foster and the ISBN is 0-8091-3844-1.

Peace.

Jean

abstinence only is a good idea in theory but has proven not practical in society and it isn’t knew. a study of the birth, marriage, and death records left over from the pilgrims and their ancestors shows that better than 60% were pregnant before they were married. and these were out “puritans”. but in those days they simply locked the girl in a room and made her tell which boy put her in this way, then marched down to his house with the pastor and they married on the spot.

i’ve known a few kids who waited until marriage and that’s admirable but certainly not the norm or ever going to be the norm. it’s been proven out that abstinence only hasn’t born much if any fruit at all with all the millions thrown into the program, it’s a total waste. most kids will experiment with sex even kids with strong religious backgrounds.

as for teachign NFP in schools i think that is completely irresponsible to try and teach children how to have unprotected sex without getting the girl pregnant, many teens try this it’s called the rythm method and many teens end up pregnant and in for a long tough life.

I think I am still quite skeptical.
These people may have all kinds of reasons that they should never marry, but they are adults, and they are doing it willingly. I think if the same criteria for “annulling” baptisms was implemented, how many parents would have been found to really not understand or intend what is really meant by baptism? How many people baptized as adults are imperfect in their understanding or intentions? I suspect, all of them, because we are imperfect.

I have heard any number of divorced people who want an annulment searching for a reason that will be accepted. “I’ll make this argument”. Honestly, in many cases (clearly not all, I do think there are real reasons to annul some marriages), it seems like they are looking for an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

I am probably also influenced because a friend of mine worked in the local tribunal for annulments. He was shocked and horrified, and had to leave the position. It turned into a real crisis of faith for him.

it does not matter what you “know” or think you know about the marriage of your friend or relative who has since received an annulment. If you are not the canon law tribunal of the diocese you do not and cannot have all the relevant knowledge related to the conditions for validity that were absent at the time of the marriage. If it were that easy to judge by outward appearances there would be no need for any legal process to determine the facts. References to anything that happened after the wedding are irrelevant except insofar as they may shed light on circumstances that existed at the time of the original contract.

i’m not catholic anymore and i have my opinions on annulments being catholic divorce but i don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, some marriages are toxic and need to be dissolved. but for the fellow catholics in here railing against annulments when you call annulments “shams” and “catholic divorces” etc… don’t you realize that it can be very painful for your fellow catholics in here that have gone through the annulment process and firmly believe they’re reconciled to the church?

here they are trying to be “good catholics” and no matter what they are forced to feel stygmatized because they got an annulment. i think you guys could be a little more sensitive to the fact that many people have annulments and are in good standing with the church.

if you factor in the amount of drug and alcohol abuse not to mention rampant mental illness like severe depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar, sociopathy etc… which would make a marriage under these circunstances impossible you can see that tens of thousands of marriages SHOULD be voided…

I don’t entirely agree with this, except insofar as any individual case is best judged by those who know the details.

However, I don’t think it is wrong to consider/discuss the practice as a whole, unless one would wish to apply that to all matters of doctrine and practice. That is, the authorities always get it perfectly right, they never go astray.

Certainly, I think we could say that if individuals are treating annulment as a type of divorce, then something is very wrong. And not perhaps just with their understanding of the process, but their motives in seeking it.

I did find an article on the Pope’s statement on annulments, here’s the link. It’s from the Guardian, which is prone to the same problems as other sources, but is generally a well respected source.

Here is a slightly better one from Catholic News Service. I wish I could find the speech he gave.

It think that this is a huge point to make. If people are not approaching the process honorably and answering the questions frankly and honestly then they are committing the sin of False witness and then Fornication if they remarry. This will come out at their judgement for all will be revealed. Of course you see the problem for the Tribunal in determining which person is being honest and which is not. Do they assume honesty or dishonesty on the part of the applicant? I think that they would assume honesty because, why would a person apply for an annullment if they do not care about “sinning” (by lying on the application).

As for myself, this was one of the reasons that I hesitated to apply for an annullment. My situation was rather complicated and I just wasn’t sure if I could honestly justify it. It was only after reviewing the questions and weeks of prayer that God let me know that it was OK to go ahead. Then the answers came easily and honestly. The Deacon who was working with me and reviewed my application made almost no changes and those that he did suggest were mainly Gramatical.

I am probably also influenced because a friend of mine worked in the local tribunal for annulments. He was shocked and horrified, and had to leave the position. It turned into a real crisis of faith for him.

I am sorry to hear this. I hope he was able to recover from it.
I am sure that there are abuses at each stage of the process, from people lying on applications to tribunal members who are either to lenient or too strict. No such process could be perfect in every case and every diocese.
I can only state that we should try to control that which we can.
Try to make a good marriage.
Try to teach others by example and word.
Try to help others in bad marriages.
If a divorce and annullment is needed, Be honest and forthright.
If the Annulment is granted, praise God and move on in grace.
If the Annulment is denied, praise God and move on n grace.

Peace
James

We are suposed to be married for better or for worse, the minute things get a little rough for some they run for an annullment, how can You say that these marriages never took place, To me its the same as a divorce, people are raising their children & in later yrs they are asking for an annullment, 50% or more people dont stay married, yrs ago when U married in the Church You stayed married, & a lot of people suffered through really tough times for ther Sake of Their Church, now there are many reasons You can ask for an anullment, & the lamest excuse is to me that God wasnt present at their marriage

I understand what you are saying, but this sounds a bit like the “you shouldn’t say homosexual behavior is wrong because it hurts people’s feelings” argument.

I generally think most people have good intentions with the vast majority of their actions, so I don’t think it is any different with people seeking an annulment.

I have noticed, though, a rather layer-like approach by some, kind of see what argument will stick, which it seems to me is very much the wrong attitude. I have also encountered the view several times that if someone seeks an annulment, than clearly the marriage must never have existed, or they would not seek an annulment. That is, the break-down of the marriage shows it was never valid in the first place.

I don’t think the majority of annulments sought are related to pre-existing mental illness or substance abuse, though those might be good reasons. Though as long as the person was aware of the issue, and the person with the difficulty was able to really consent, I would think it wouldn’t invalidate the marriage?

it’s nothing like that since people who get civil divorces and annulments through the church process are in good standing within the church and should not be judged by their fellow church members. they went through the process the church you believe to be incapable of error and were given the thumbs up. while practicing homosexuals would be in a state of mortal sin. the comparison is not at all the same.

i think people stating that catholics annulments are a sham and they’re committing adultery etc… are really doing damage to what is supposed to be their brothers and sisters “in Christ” this is another thing that really drove me from the church, i saw too much of stuff like this and almost no caring for your brother. it was all the rules, and here the rules aren’t even good enough, folks here know better than the church they profess to be the one Christ started and promised can’t err… i don’t really understand it.

Well, I don’t actually think the Catholic Church is free of error, and I’m not Catholic - but let’s imagine that I am…

I would not be inclined to make a blanket statement that people are committing adultery etc, firstly. I would say that someone who misrepresents themselves in the annulment process puts themselves in a similar position - that is, they are committing a sin.

Also, it is not the case that the Church is considered to be perfect in all things, or that they cannot err. Obviously if individuals err within the system of granting annulments, which we know happens at least sometimes, this would cause an error in the decision of the tribunal. As well, we can see from what the Pope has said in the articles I linked to that he thinks there is a larger problem with the annulment decisions being made in North America.

And finally, my point with comparing it to what people say about talking about homosexuality didn’t have to do with homosexual behavior being especially similar in kind to divorce. It had to do with the idea that we can’t talk about a subject if it is a sensitive one for people.

I am sure it would be very disconcerting/upsetting/stressful for someone who had been granted an annulment to think that perhaps it ought not to have been given. My view on this is that if they pursued it with good faith and obedience, God is just and merciful and will take that as the sum of their actions on the issue. That doesn’t relieve the hierarchy of the need to make sure they are acting according to church teachings, and making changes to ensure it if required.

May I add my two cents?

I too, have gone through the annulment process, and was granted one. It was a gift, really and truly, from God Himself.

It pains me greatly that so many Catholics (and non-Catholics, but especially the Catholics…) feel that annulments are shams and legalistic wrangling. I have several members of my family who feel that, and have divorced and “moved on” to new relationships and marriages.

For those who approach the Tribunal openly, honestly and prayerfully, it is truly a life-altering experience. For me, it was part of my journey back to home to Rome (as I was not yet a practicing Catholic again when I requested the annulment, but felt compelled to request one anyway). By the end, I understood what had happened “the first time around”, and was willing to accept whatever decision the Tribunal handed down.

Someone quoted that the divorce rate among second marriages is around 80%, and I can see that being very true for someone who hasn’t undertaken the rigorous, emotional and humbling experience of an Annulment.

I have since remarried, to a wonderful man whom I met only two months into my annulment process, and who waited patiently and prayerfully with me for almost two years to see if it was granted. We have a wonderful life together. And no matter what happens, we know that we are truly married.

(And no, it’s really not expensive, and the fee is waived if you do not have the means to pay.)

This is precisely correct. In the first place the person seeking the annulment must be completely truthful with themselves and with the Tribunal.

Also, it is not the case that the Church is considered to be perfect in all things, or that they cannot err. Obviously if individuals err within the system of granting annulments, which we know happens at least sometimes, this would cause an error in the decision of the tribunal. As well, we can see from what the Pope has said in the articles I linked to that he thinks there is a larger problem with the annulment decisions being made in North America.

This is certainly true that the human factor can cause errors to creep into the process. If those errors are honest ones, that is the person applying and the persons judging are truly trying to be honest fair and just before God, then even anerror is forgiven.
I certainly believe the Holy Father has just cause for concern over the state of the Church in America - and not just because of the number of annulments.
Be that as it may - Those who, like myself, have approached the process honestly and openly and been granted an annulment need feel no shame or wonder whether the annulment is valid or not. We need only feel sad that the first marriage failed. A failed marriage is always a sad thing.

I am sure it would be very disconcerting/upsetting/stressful for someone who had been granted an annulment to think that perhaps it ought not to have been given. My view on this is that if they pursued it with good faith and obedience, God is just and merciful and will take that as the sum of their actions on the issue. That doesn’t relieve the hierarchy of the need to make sure they are acting according to church teachings, and making changes to ensure it if required.

Very Well said indeed. Great summation!!

Peace
James

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