Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vision of Marriage

On Thursday I went to a workshop in Sioux Falls by our diocesan Marriage Tribunal. Wonderful. Never thought I'd say that about a 6 hour (total) drive and 5 hours of conferences, but they were wonderful. I really feel confident and hopeful about helping individuals in this regard.

What is a Marriage Tribunal you might ask? Sounds rather ominous, no? Maybe from a futuristic dystopia by Ray Bradbury?

As Catholics, we view marriage as a precious gift from our Lord and as a permanent endeavor for husband and wife. This permanence is reflected in marriage vows: "I Bob take you Judy to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."

At its heart, Catholic marriage is the grace filled choice of husband and wife for each other. We respect your choice, your promise. We assume that the couple is true to their promise. But we are aware that sometimes, something goes awry.

The American legal answer is divorce. As the word suggests, divorce is the breaking, the division of something. In this case, a marriage. The marriage was real, the marriage was there, but now we give up on those promises. The Catholic response, in union with this vision is an annulment. An annulment means to recognize as null, non-existent, that the real thing was never really and fully there.

An annulled marriage might have lived out some of the particulars or parts of a good marriage. There might be children, their might have been a beautiful wedding, but in some small, or even large, way the marriage wasn't real. We often describe it as simulated. Children play doctor, house, or war, but it really isn't present. Some couples play at marriage.

It is the Marriage Tribunal who gathers facts, investigates, and judges this.


Because you can't marry two people at once. If you promised (and really did promise) "all the days of my life," and you're still breathing, then you are still in that promise. We take you seriously.

And because we don't want you to make the same mistakes. Why?

Because we love you!

Maybe more thoughts later.

If curious for more visit these resources:


Adoro te Devote said...

What's really sad is that so many have given up on marriage altogether.

Divorce is assumed.

Several years ago I remember a conversation with a friend who claimed to be a practicing Catholic. She had given up on marriage, and told me to do the same; she said that living together was enough, and was expected. Because if I held out for marriage, I'd be lonely for life. She liked me ideals, but basically said I'd have to settle.

I wasn't a practicing Catholic at the time, although I was seeking and I WANTED to be observing my faith. And I never gave up on the idea of marriage, that marriage is for life, etc. My parents divorced when I was 8, and for good reason, but Mom and Dad both reinforced the bond of marriage. Neither remarried, and they both said they still loved each other. I believe it.

They were granted an annullment, so everything was done...but still, they did their best to reinforce the importance of marriage.

Then to face this world, where no one believes in marriage, everyone lives together before marriage, etc etc....well, for now, I've given up. I'm not willing to settle, and I will not accept the low standards of this world. I'd rather be single, but lonely? God is much better company than some guy I met in a bar, thank you very much. And he's a much more intelligent conversationalist, too.

OK, now I'm getting snarky so I'll stop there....

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

If you want a better book than the book by Dr. Peters, get the book by Robert Vasoli, "What God has Joined Together, the annulment Crisis in the Catholic Church"

If you want to communicate with someone who successfully defended a valid, Sacrament against the incredibly biased marriage Tribunal System of the Catholic Church, especially in America, where marriage is OVER IDEALIZED and made into something more then the straigt forward, reasonably simple commitment that God intended, but clergy have abused to excuse adultery and other marital sins, then write me. You have my email.

If your mind is open and you are a real Catholic, your eyes will be opened. If you are of the Kool-Aid drinking, follow the Bishop/Canon Lawyer crowd, don't waste either of our times. But it is your soul that you are responsible for and the Catholic Church in America is destroying marriages, period.

God be with you, Father.

And thank God for the Papal addresses to the Roman Rota on the Vatican website, for the Roman Rota itself and for Bob Vasoli, may God rest his precious soul!

Fr. Andrew said...

Actually, Anonymous, I don't have your email, that is part of the "anonymous" option on blogger.

Fr. Andrew said...

Secondly, your comments don't seem to make sense. What is over idealized about the American conception of marriage, at least as it is defined in CIC?

Further, my general presumption is that of obedience to my Bishop and his successors, not because I drink Kool-Aid, but because that was my vow at my ordination. I take that vow seriously: respect and obedience.

I am open to dialog with all, but if you insist on labeling me blind [the inference of your "open eyes comment] because my default position is obedience, I'm not sure you'd be happy with such efforts. God Bless you this Pascal time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Andrew,

I only realized after I posted my comments that, unlike in other places that I have posted, there was no place for my email. I then could not figure out how to get it to you, privately.

Regarding over idealized marriage, please try to read about what I mean in the book I suggested. That would make it very clear.

Just some things from the Diocesan website about nullity:

"intention against partnership of life"

I do not believe there is such a ground in Canon Law and this is a nebulus catch phrase all that has, frequently, been overturned in the Roman Rota on appeal.

Please see:,41

and related articles/info at that site

"The circumstances surrounding the failed marriage will indicate which ground will be assigned to
the case."

"There is no such thing as a "failed marriage", only people who decide to abandon their commitments to it."

Such terms usually denote subtle disregard for the PRESUMPTION OF VALIDITY that is the lynchpin of Canon Law; read related Papal addresses to the Roman Rota at the Vatican site about that presumption and the damage done in its absence in practice.

This also indicates a leaning toward the acceptance of the "divorce mentality" that is soundly condemned by the Popes.

Failure to recognize these signs as problems further indicates a
lapse in judgement and care in the proper respect for marriage and the Sacrament of Matrimony that is supposed to be a given in the pursuit of truth in Tribunals.

Remember, convalidation is the desire of the Catholic Church, not divorce and remarriage to another, particularly when their are children involved.

"Thus, an annulment has no effect on the legitimacy of children. Children born to a marriage recognized in civil law are classified as legitimate; both civil law and canon law in the Catholic Church agree on this question."

It does not matter what the legal or canonical "opinions" are regarding legitimacy of children.

What matters is what these processes do to children.

See marysadvocates website for references regarding the effects on children that are overwhelming.

My own children still suffer from our divorce as adults. Two of our children nearly committed suicide. One, will always have the self- inflicted cigarette burns on both her arms as a reminder, that her mother excused her near suiced by saying "every family has some problems, what do you expect me to do?" When instead she should have repented, ended her adultery and sought reconciliation. Her children would have, and still would, almost twenty years later, rejoice! But they know she will not becasue she has been told since the beginning, constantly, by priests that what she is doing is fine with the Catholic Church and with God, the Roman Rota is wrong!

The quote above side steps the reality and is pure spin, not charitable pastoral care! It is a typical comment on many Tribunal websites.

"Most applicants are persons who want the Catholic Church to witness another marriage for them. They may be Catholic or non Catholic. Some divorced Catholics apply in order to know whether they are free to marry some time in the future. Some apply simply to receive a sign from the Church that their former marriage is no longer binding."

The first and last of these statements are biased and should be warning signs to the disciplined and Catholic person.

If a person wants the Catholic Church to "witness another marriage for them". They show grave disrespect for the, still presumed valid, marriage and this shows their disregard for morality about marriage, particularly if they are Catholic. Dating itself is adulterous to a married person, which a "divorced" person is.
Why would one presume such a person would be inclined to tell the truth when they already show disregard for their vows and intent to engage in another "relationship", even though they are still married. They are, very likely, already invested in the adulterous, even if only mental/spiritual adultery, plans and hopes.

There is no "former marriage", such a reference on a Catholic website is a scandal and gravely wrong. I as a person who remains faithful to our vows and who persevered long under great pain and injustice, still, am deeply offended by this statement and violated by it as is our valid, sacramental marriage.

I would ask you please to approach the Bishop to have this site completely overhauled, with the consultation of successful respondents, like myself.

My point is made. I could likely go on and on about what to me are very wrong signs and symptoms of disregard for marriage and its validity. If you cannot see what I mean, than I do not want to bother you further. I know what I am talking about Father. There is bias and bigotry throughout the Catholic Church regarding marriage, in spite of its rhetoric otherwise.

I have no intention to argue about it. This is food for thought and prayer. I remain under its curse, this bias, which is real, evil and ubiquitous and is destroying the authentic view of marriage and is so insideous that even clergy and supposedly disciplined, Canonists, Theologians and Psychological/Sociological professionals are numb to it and indignant and insulting in their responses when it is pointed out to them, rather than prayerful, contemplative and honestly introspective to view such examples, particularly from the persepective of those of us whose lives have been changed permanently and horribly by unjust divorce and its widespread acceptance by the overwhelming number of people even throughout the Catholic Church, including, most dangerously and depressingly, the clergy at ALL LEVELS.

Thank you, Father.

Come visit, for awhile if you can, Bai MacFarlanes Yahoo group, to see some interesting experiences. Your call. I can only imagine how busy you are, Father. I understand, really.

God be with you, Father and thank you.


Fr. Andrew said...


If you are still checking, sorry for the gap. I had my annual retreat and then catching up to do. Your points on marriage are interesting and I will bring them up with what canon lawyers I'm friendly with. Your points on idealism in couple preparation is salient and I am in agreement with you there.

Regarding my diocesan website, that gets out of my expertise. I don't want that to be an excuse, but I will be attentive to your comments as I am able to.

Also, I trust the Rota to correct my diocese where necessary and I trust my Bishop to implement those changes where necessary.