Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wish I were a Canon Lawyer...

Though I never thought I'd say it, the world may need more canon lawyers. As I've read Ed Peter's blog about Church Law [Canon Law] I've found myself nodding to myself quite often. This case is no exception. When someone publicly and boldly violates the Church's laws why do we not respond according to those laws?
In fewer than 500 words, McElvaine manages to insult meanly and repeatedly Pope Benedict XVI and to impugn (sophomorically, I grant, but nevertheless clearly and directly) a half-dozen important Church teachings on sacraments, ecclesiology, and moral doctrine. If McElvaine's column does not constitute a violation of, among other norms, Canon 1369, then folks, I am never going to recognize it when it is violated.
I often see virtuous couples of all ages refraining from the Eucharist. Why? Because they are in irregular marriages and are awaiting annulments. I also know faithful spouses and parents who attend Mass every Sunday but are not Catholic and do not receive. This allegiance is inspiring. The betrayal of various media friendly Catholics is infuriating.

[For everyone's sake, Comments have been turned off]


Chris said...

glad to see "The Vision" back in business, Fr. Andrew :)

Fr. Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

but of course! :D

Anonymous said...

"Virtuous couples" in "irregular marriage"!

What a disgusting thing to say. How offensive it is to a man who is the "VICTIM" of one of those "irregular marriages".

I am also sure you do not see how you and other priests, the vast majority of them, like you are part of the problem, not the solution.


Irenaeus said...

That guy was such a maroon...I wanted to hit him in the mouth. That's why I'll have centuries in purgatory. *sigh*

I mean, I get the world's idiocy. But people who are supposed to be part of the's like they're cannibals or something. Maybe I'm tempted overly by the idea of a pure church, but it's one thing to have a church of sinners; it's quite another to have people who's fundamental express orientation is worldly, satanic.

thetimman said...

You mean, you're not Unknown Canon Lawyer X?

merdy said...

You were taught canon law in seminary, weren't you Fr. Andrew? What is needed is not more canon lawyers but more priests and pastors who believe in SEVEN sacraments [ie. INCLUDING HOLY MATRIMONY!]

c. 1060, 1061.3, [and many more] PRESUME and PROSCRIBE validity to first Marriages. I have been scandalized/ many other first spouses I've heard from have been scandalized by clergy, such as yourself WHO DISREGARD PRESUMED VALIDITY OF FIRST MARRIAGES and who tolerate and pander to ADULTEROUS, MUTINOUS SPOUSES LIVING IN SERIAL POLYGAMY!

I'll mirror your statement -- changing a few words: "Though I never thought I'd say it, the world may need more /c/a/n/o/n/ /l/a/w/y/e/r/s/ well-formed priests. As I've read /E/d/P/e/t/e/r/'/s/ Fr. Andrew's blog about Church Law [Canon Law] I've found myself nodding to myself quite often. This case is no exception. When /s/o/m/e/o/n/e/ a Priest publicly and boldly violates the Church's laws why do we not respond according to those laws?"

I fully agree Fr. Andrew -- priests like yourself ought to be charged with dereliction of duty, disregard for the Sacrament of Matrimony, inciting abandonment of valid first Marriages, approval of public adultery and polygamy, [you get the idea...]

"No!" Fr. Andrew, "virtuous couples" in "irregular Marriages" is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as "sinless" adultery and "sinless" polygamy!

Personally, I find your brand of of "marital mutiny sentimentality" infuriating and scurrilous! For your homework I suggest you read Ed Peter's nemesis' book: What God Has Joined Together: The Annulment Crisis in American Catholicism; 1998 [by the late and virtuous Professor Robert H. Vasoli]. You may find in Vasoli a wiser and stronger voice of Truth that weans you from your disneyesque views of Marital traitors.

May God have Mercy on you and on your "six-Sacrament" ilk!

Fr. Andrew said...

"Karl" and Merdy-

The Church permits annulments. I as a servant of Holy Mother Church seek to reconcile couples to Our Lord through the annulment process. I'm not sure why you have a problem with that?

Those couples who are irregular, for whatever reason, yet who are trying to regularize their marriages and their lives are worthy of encouragement and support. Such couples who exhibit docility in seeking reconciliation- "though their sins by red as blood-" are far more laudable then those who presume on presenting themselves without examination. That was my point.

Furthermore, their "serial adultery" [serial is a presumption on your part] is not being tolerated nor pandered when they are told they are to abstain from the Holy Eucharist. Surely it is a grave punishment for them to be unworthy of reception? Additionally, you do not know whether they have been counseled to live as brother and sister throughout the process. Very presumptuous.

Merdy, why this sudden and passionate accusation against the way Holy Mother Church exercises this ministry of her legitimate authority?

You also seem to be jumping to conclusions about me and exercise of my priestly obligations. Which is disconcerting. I suggest less smoke and more heat if you wish to have a discussion in the combox.

Timman- you have me at an impasse. Either answer will lesson the identity of Unknown Canon Lawyer X. A "yes" will reveal me as said person. A "no" will reveal that it is not me, lowering the pool of possible candidates. To which I can only give, "no comment." A well crafted question of which any lawyer- civil or otherwise- should be proud.

Irenaeus said...

Isn't there a canon about raging at a good priest via the internet? If not, there should be. Wow. One post in several months, and two impassioned comments.

Folks, if Fr Andrew isn't a good and faithful priest, then there aren't any.

Seriously, though, I cannot imagine the hurt people who have been cheated on or abandoned feel. I can imagine few things worse, but most of them involve Nero's Circus.

merdy said...

The Church permits annulments. [Vasoli's book describes and documents in detail WHY the great-majority of said annulments are dubious when the Rota declares a majority of them to be invalid.]

I as a servant of Holy Mother Church seek to reconcile couples... [My point exactly. Why are you oblivious to the "faithful spouses" abandoned by the "irregular" couple? 1 Cor. 7:10-11 says your favored "irregulars" ought to be living singly and seeking to be reconciled to their first spouses! St. Paul says nothing about remarrying outside of the Church and of abandoning their first spouses! You presume St. Paul's words to be moot by affirming cohabitation in adultery to be a greater good than God's Command communicated by 1 Cor. 7:10-11!] Our Lord through the annulment process. I'm not sure why you have a problem with that? [These irregular-couple-spouses shouldn't even be dating, even less living together! You say nothing about Can.1085ß1 "A person bound by the bond of a previous marriage, even if not consummated, invalidly attempts marriage." [or]
ß2 Even though the previous marriage is invalid or for any reason dissolved, it is not thereby lawful to contract another marriage before the nullity or the dissolution of the previous one has been established lawfully and with certainty.]

Those couples who are irregular, for whatever reason, yet who are trying to regularize their marriages and their lives are worthy of encouragement and support. [Yes. 1 Cor. 7:10-11 says that God Commands them to live singly and to seek to be reconciled with their first spouses! Not to be pursuing adulterous second unions! Frankly I'm shocked that you don't understand this basic teaching!] Such couples who exhibit docility in seeking reconciliation- "though their sins by red as blood-" are far more laudable then those who presume on presenting themselves without examination. That was my point. [My point is you're cooperating in their adultery by not steering them back to their first spouses and/or instructing them to cease cohabitating [per God via St. Paul] -- regardless of whether they have a state-issued certificate of permitted-adultery or-not!]

Furthermore, their "serial adultery" [serial is a presumption on your part] is not being tolerated nor pandered when they are told they are to abstain from the Holy Eucharist. [It involves more than c. 915. Your acknowledgement that they "...obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion" is your frank admission that they are NOT LIVING IN VIRTUE! They are obligated by c.1151 to be living with their first spouses! ...not with adulterous ones!] Surely it is a grave punishment for them to be unworthy of reception? [...which their choices and actions bring upon themselves! What about the "grave punishment" of their abandoned spouses who have been exiled into the single life against their wills and in violation of the Marriage Vows of their mutinying spouses?] Additionally, you do not know whether they have been counseled to live as brother and sister throughout the process. [Do you counsel engaged couples to cohabitate as they prepare for their first Marriages?] Very presumptuous.

Merdy, why this sudden and passionate accusation against the way Holy Mother Church exercises this ministry of her legitimate authority? [What makes you certain your pastoralism can ignore Holy Scripture and canon law?

You question my "passion" Fr.?

"But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth." Apocalypse 3:16

and [esp. regarding the children of aborted first Marriages, many of whom abandon their Faith and engage in sinful activities patterned after their mutinous parent's actions]

...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
—Matthew 18:4-6

...reason-enough to be "passionate".]

Jodi said...

I too bristle at the words "virtuous couples" in "irregular marriages". I was separated from my husband for three years. I was encouraged by more than one priest to petition for a decree of nullity. I honestly can't recall any priests who strongly encouraged reconciliation - although one did praise me for my witness to marriage. I wished I had as much pastoral attention as those "virtuous couples". It takes a lot of time and energy of a priest to fill out annulment paperwork. From what I am assuming, I think most priests in the US spend more time encouraging annulments than encouraging marriage reconciliation and/or supporting separated spouses who are honoring their vows.

Anonymous said...


"I think most priests in the US spend more time encouraging annulments than encouraging marriage reconciliation and/or supporting separated spouses who are honoring their vows."

That would be my experience. I have not received one word of support from my pastor for being faithful to my vows. Rather, he told my wife that he had known people in her situation that have been able to obtain an annulment. This was said to her before I ever was even "enlightened" by my wife that we had marriage problems. The "other man" whom she would be unfaithful with, had absolutely nothing to do with our problems, or so she claims. Father's comments to her that planted the idea that she could break her vows to me also were said to her before he had ever spoken to me to see if maybe, just maybe, her judgement was clouded by an ever increasing emotional attachment to another married man.

Does anyone here think that maybe my pastor should have encouraged my wife to work on the marriage, stay away from the "other man," and keep her vows, if for no other reason than that there are now four beautiful, innocent children who are facing a world of pain because of my wife's actions?


Irenaeus said...

David, yes, but let's all not jump all over Father for a blog post.

I will say this: I suspect many lenient priests think they're being 'pastoral' in this regard by encouraging the annulment process...which shows how being 'pastoral' isn't always being a good pastor.

Fr. Andrew said...


Thank you for what is a very good insight that raises two difficulties in modern American parish life. First, anonymity, and second, cavalier attitudes towards marriage. As a young priest I am growing to be aware of them on a frequent basis.

Anonymity is impactful, especially in large parishes, where I have very little idea as to the ongoing reality of most parishioner's lives. I can try to get an idea through outward signs but often it is only the current blaze that gets attended: funeral, weddings, and baptisms. I cannot tell you how often these are the only touchstones I have with most parishioners. Often, they are uncomfortable with even these moments. I try to reach out in various ways: cold calling, inviting them over- but so often I do not know what is going on. Thus I might be unaware of marital stress or even infidelity until long after many poisonous [but not permanent] wounds are dealt.

And then, in a continuation of this anonymity and in American idyllic privacy, many couples refuse intervention and offers for help. Thus, most frequently, we only encounter the divorced couple long after things are in motion. This isn't an excuse but a diagnosis.

The second issue, the cavalier attitude- which David mentions as well- is serious. Most American Catholics live with the assumption of divorce. I am quite explicit in my pre-marital instructions that divorce is not an option. Yet they breathe in divorce on a daily basis.

Because of this, the parishioners encountered are often divorced for several years and now seeking annulment for one of two reasons: rarely- clarity in the past, and more frequently- seeking marriage.

In all of this, I feel the weight of Pope Paul VI's quote in Evangelii Nuntiandi:

56 Today there is a very large number of baptized people who for the most part have not formally renounced their Baptism but who are entirely indifferent to it and not living in accordance with it. Today however it shows certain new characteristics. It is often the result of the uprooting typical of our time. It also springs from the fact that Christians live in close proximity with non-believers and constantly experience the effects of unbelief. Furthermore, the non-practicing Christians of today, more so than those of previous periods, seek to explain and justify their position in the name of an interior religion, of personal independence or authenticity.

Fr. Andrew said...

Again, my own inaccuracies plague me:

The hypothetical virtuous yet irregular couple is laudable in their desire to follow the Church and the humility to abstain from the Eucharist in direct and sharp contrast to public figures, authors, politicians, professors and more who flaunt the name Catholic while daring anyone to impose valid canonical penalities so that they may play the martyr in the court of public opinion.

I thought I had made that clear. I hope it is now clear.

Fr. Andrew said...


I will address your passionate claims when they do not include presumptions against my person.

Anonymous said...

I toyed with the idea of pursuing a canon law career after marriage and kids. I wanted to get into church matters and had a professional background in legal/public policy matters. I saw how many more years of schooling would be ahead of me. Then we moved from DC to STL. It looks like Cath U in DC is the only U.S. canon law program available. That's part of the problem, if there is indeed a shortage of canon lawyers.

Jodi said...

Fr. Andrew,

I appreciate how frustrating it is to pastor people who aren't really interested in being "pastored".

I moved during my separation and one pastor just gave me the number of the tribunal, the other one listened to what I thought about decrees of nullity in the US. The second pastor didn't realize I was separated until I told him several months after attending his parish - after he inquired about my husband. He said he didn't want to pry - he must have been burned by American privacy, like you mention.

I had friends who I encouraged to abstain and go to confession because they were in an irregular marriage. I was a little surprised that the pastor did not recommend it, he knew them longer than me, went out to dinner with them, etc. It is mortal sin after all. They didn't like it - but after thinking and praying about it they did it. I think that approach is much more genuine than continuing to commit adultery/fornication right up to the convalidation and just go to confession right before - it is like pre-planned contrition. The couple said things to me that they heard from the priest that made me wonder if he understood marriage and canon law correctly. He made comments that they had a natural marriage, just not a sacramental one. (Nope - the man attempted marriage in the Catholic Church and then this was his second attempted civil marriage) Anyway - one's practices reveal one's beliefs. This pastor was so orthodox, it just grieved me that he didn't seem to take this seriously.

merdy said...

Posted by Fr. Andrew at 4:09 PM; Saturday, June 28, 2008

"David refused to slay Saul who was seeking to slay David. David respected the dignity of the anointing Saul had received and, rather than dispatch him, used that as a moment to call Saul to conversion, as shown later in the chapter."

Every baptized married couple receives an annointing in the dignity of Marriage raised to a Sacrament in Christ. If only all pastors had the same reverence [held by David of Saul] for the spouses' Sacrament and exercised their office to call wayward spouses “to conversion” …rather than illicitly-impugning them [c. 1674.1 (allowed only to spouses)] -- as-if the reverence due their Sacrament was only a passing, figment-of-their-imagination.

"…Irenaeus …made peace the aim and object of his life …n'[o]t by being silent in the face of opposition to Christ. Even if that opposition was by a fellow bishop, priest, or baptized Christian, he would boldly proclaim that invitation to fully follow Christ.

St. Irenaeus, pray for me that I may not be too polite to proclaim Christ. That I may not be too polite to challenge others. That I may not be too polite to risk a martyr's death. That I may invite everyone, especially those who have received the dignities of Baptism or Orders, to fully follow Christ. St. Irenaeus, pray for me that my priestly life may give witness that the glory of God is man who is fully alive." do I pray, Fr. Andrew.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: Uh, welcome back?


Unless you edited this post after it first went up, I'm not sure why everyone is so angry?

I admire people with the cojones to refrain from Eucharist when they know they are supposed to. They accept the Church's teachings.

I agree. We do need more interpreters of Canon Law. It's a very intensive programs of study. Few can get thru it.

I'll offer a DM Chaplet for you, Father! :-)

Debbie said...

Dear Fr. Andrew,

I see that you are young and a priest for less than three years. I do not know what the seminaries are teaching these days, but I can bet you did not learn the faith clearly if you grew up in the 1980's. Most doctrine was already whitewashed in children's catechisms or CCD materials, or from whoever was teaching and sin was no longer clearly defined. Everyone was taught about Jesus' Mercy and not his Justice. Children were/are not taught to have a (filial) fear of God.

You said:

"I often see virtuous couples of all ages refraining from the Eucharist. Why? Because they are in irregular marriages and are awaiting annulments."

There is so much wrong in this statement that it is frighteningly clear how little priests know and are taught about this HOLY sacrament! How can you, Father, help us get to heaven when your compassion and the compassion of most priests today is clearly misdirected and false?

People with true virtue based on holiness would never find themselves in "irregular" marriages. In fact, if a marriage is irregular, than it is no marriage at all. Marriages are irregular because of disobedience. The disobedience could have begun with infidelity to a spouse and continued with disobedience all the way through a divorce. Divorce is "A GRAVE MORAL OFFENSE" which equals Mortal Sin. We do not get to heaven when we "persist" in mortal sin. Maybe there are a handful of really dumb people out there who do not know they have sinned, but there would have to be an equal number of dumb Church ministers (priests and otherwise) who fall for this, believe this, see no wrong with this while Mortal sins on top of Mortal sins of souls they are responsible for are clearly evident.

Do not fall for appearances. There are many nice people out there. But your job is to help them know the consequences of their actions and to guide them back onto the right path. Otherwise, why be a priest? Be careful of false compassion. This is a trick of the devil. Remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

You also say they "are refraining from the Eucharist" as though they are being so good and patient and maybe this is what you are misinterpreting for virtue. Plain and simple, they cannot receive and so no credit should be given them. Those who truly know Jesus and love Him in the Eucharist would never allow themselves to be in this situation.

You also say they "are awaiting annulments." This gives the clearest picture of the annulment mentality by the priests and hierarchy in our Church. Mind you, the Church in the US, not in Rome. They are awaiting annulments? Is this all it is--a process that takes time like when waiting to get a passport after all the paperwork is done??? Yet, this is what the Church in America has done--and continues to do--for more than thirty years. Treat it as a process with a pretty sure result. There is plenty of information and proof out there regarding this.

And then when the "awaited" annulments come through to these poor irregularly- married Catholics who have steeped sin upon sin on their heads, does anyone remind them of the current state of their souls in Mortal sin? It seems that Annulment has become the eight sacrament which must have baptismal effects that immediately washes away all the sins caused by the disobedience, infidelity, fornication, adultery, divorce and re-marriage of these people. Do you see now how false this compassion is when it is given as you gave it? When you desire to help these people, do you realize those who have been painfully left behind, abandoned, divorced against their wills. Little children, entire families, left without their rightful mother or father. These are wounds that never heal.

You said in a later post that "The betrayal of various media friendly Catholics is infuriating."

Those of us who have been betrayed by our own priests and bishops who refuse to teach about the sins of infidelity, fornication, adultery, divorce and re-marriage, and how by doing this they also betray the Church whose teachings they were ordained to defend and protect with all their might even until death, for all the souls that are lost because of their lack of courage and fear of speaking the truth--THIS IS INFURIATING, Father! In scripture, these sins are always followed with the warning or promise of hell. And you want to show compassion in this rather than rescuing them from certain damnation? There is no compassion without truth, Father.

You are a young priest. Do not listen to what other priests are telling you unless they are holy. Please study the Church documents on marriage, read what the early Church Fathers said on marriage, read what the saints have said on marriage and what has been said of marriage in the last thirty years. If God never changes then why the stark changes in recent years? Because we have missed where the devil turned good into evil and evil into good.

Be compassionate, Father, as Jesus was compassionate by doing what you were ordained to do and that is to help save souls, not coddle sinners. Jesus never told the adulterous woman to take the rest of the afternoon off. He did not condemn her, but He made it clear that He did not want her to commit that sin again. Be truthful in season and out and do not try to be popular and loved. Pray hard and long each day so that your faith will stay strong.

I will pray for you.

God bless.

Debbie N.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Am I insane or just not understanding all this vitriol? I don't think anyone really gets what you are saying, Father.

I'll go pray again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


"I admire people with the cojones to refrain from Eucharist when they know they are supposed to."

If I may, let me replace "cojones" with "integrity." Do people who have attempted marriage while still married in the eyes of the Church, really possess integrity? Or, would real integrity consist of following Church law, and when a truly grave reason exists, seek the bishops permission to separate, always with the goal of reconciliation with the separated spouse. This would seem to be the real issue of having integrity; doing what is right with regard to their marriage. If one is living in a ongoing state of mortal sin, which is what one IS doing when they attempt to marry while still married to his/her first spouse, they do not receive grace, and should the person die in a state of unrepentant mortal sin, will go to hell. I do not say that with vitriol, anymore than Debbie's comments were not said with vitriol. It is fact. So, no grace is merited to those living in adultery by their not receiving Holy Communion. At best, by refraining from receiving the Eucharist, they do not heap the mortal sin of sacrilege on top of their ongoing adultery with each reception of Holy Communion.

"They accept the Church's teachings."

Except the teaching that says that they have a presumed valid marriage until proven otherwise, and by going ahead and attempting marriage to another individual, REJECT the Church's teachings on marriage, which were received by Christ, Himself. So, sadly no, they do not accept Christ's clear teaching that "what God has joined, let no man put asunder."


Anonymous said...

I tried to post this yesterday, but it seems not to have gone through.

I am not at all sure why the posts here have been described as angry, and vitriolic. I have seen only a couple that may fall into that category.

Respectfully, I do see that there are readers who have been trying to have others understand that there are many forgotten people in this USA when people begin to speak well and 'pastorally' about divorced and married again --
that being the first spouse.

Forced, unilateral, no fault divorce is an evil that is compounded by the lack of pastoral/Tribunal understanding that is prevalent today, and the
attitude of so many that has the deserted spouse turned into the 'one who is wrong' when they seek the assistance to save their Covenant, their Sacrament, their Valid marriage. There are many of us, and few have been able
to find help to reconcile our marriages.

Many are actually forced into divorce by the spiritual direction that their spouses were given by pastors who never atttempted to speak to us, nor attempted to counsel both together. Often, this is even in spite of adultery
being committed and lied about by the very one that they are counseling to seek a divorce in order to be able to petition (be eligible for) Nullity.

It cannot be presumed nor guaranteed that any marriage will be found Null. Yet daily, all over the USA, in parishes and on Catholic forums, people speak of a Declaration of Nullity as though it is a rightful entitlement to
everyone. It is not.

The only 'support' group available in the US are groups for divorced and separated, where no one is told that they are not to be dating or acting like they are 'single'. In these groups, there is help to formulate petitions that will enable them to 'get' their annulment, yet seldom, if ever, is anyone encouraged to reconcile with their spouse, or prepared for the possibility that their marriage will NOT be found to be Null.

There was another man who did not like this fact of indissolubility and validity. He demanded that everyone give in to his wishes, even demanding oaths be sworn. He declared himself to be head of the Church, and sought to change the rules. Just as so often happens today, he also was unfaithful. He also 'put away' his first wife.

Two stood against him -- one a Lawyer, one a Bishop. That man started his own Church, and then had the two men who stood with the Church murdered.

Many in the Catholic Church in the USA have begun to speak very much like Henry VIII who also 'attempted civil marriage' while his first wife, Catherine of Aragon was still living, a prisoner of the State for 'standing firm' for her marriage and her vows, right up to her final letter that she wrote
to her husband as she was dying.

The two men who gave their lives in support of her and the Church were St Thomas More and St John Fisher.

There is one time in the three year cycle of Sunday readings that Jesus' words on the ndissolubility of marriage are read (Mark 10) in Masses around the world. One time in three years that the topic is handed to any Priest or Deacon -- yet, when is the last time you heard any sermon speaking
Truth about those words in relation to adultery, divorce, attempted second marriage, indissolubility, reconciliation to first spouse, living 1Cor7:10-11? When, if ever, has any priest spoken out against no fault, forced and unilateral divorce as evil on that one Sunday in three years? I believe it is Cycle B.

In the many years since forced no fault hit our family, I have never heard it mentioned, ever. And I have not had anyone else able to tell me that they did, either. Nor have I heard it at any other time.

When we hear the 'pastoral' words that 'comfort' those who have not followed the teachings of the Church spoken, and especially 'for the sake of their children', we have to try to remind everyone of OUR children, and ask why no
one remembers them, and helps us when we ask instead of telling us to get on with our lives, etc.

When we hear (and read) from the Tribunals, and others, we are not treated as the Church teaches. We are called 'former spouse', in spite of the fact that the Church does not recognize Civil divorce. We are not 'former spouses'
in the eyes of our Church. We are still married, and in presumed Valid marriages until death parts us, or two Tribunals find a Null verdict.

We are not told that we can appeal to the Rota as the Court of Second Instance. On the contrary, we are most often strongly discouraged from doing so.

Instead of help to defend and reconcile, we are told that we cannot know that our marriage IS valid.

Yes, we can, because our Church teaches us that NO ONE can put us apart until death, and all first marriages are to be presumed valid until proven Null. Even then, the decision can be appealed.

Reminding people of these facts does not make me angry or vitriolic.

My marriage is valid and sacramental. There has been no proof offered to disprove what my Church teaches. I have been placed in the 'Tower', and have been asked to step aside. Instead, I look for true defenders.

"Lawyer Thomas More stood by Katherine.
Bishop/Cardinal John Fisher stood by Katherine.
There is no Thomas More today to stand by us.
There is no John Fisher today to stand by us.

Today "they" are helping Henry instead."

Irenaeus said...

Cathy, you are not insane. Fr Andrew is an orthodox, holy priest, and all I can come up with is that certain people are so hurt they're not acting in total charity towards father.

the perils of public blogs...

Anonymous said...

Declarations of nullity have increased 10,000 percent in the U.S. since the 1970s. Something is seriously wrong with this figure. Marian Crowe in her 1996 article in Commonweal magazine helps us understand what has happened.

For those who don't want to take the time, Crowe argues that Catholic annulments today are Catholic divorces, and the time has come for the Church to accept divorce/remarriage. That's what I have thought all along. Surely some of you have thought that also. The sin of adultery hardly exists anymore. But is anyone thinking of the children?

Irenaeus said...

I wouldn't doubt at all that annulments are too easy and marriage prep too shallow (to say nothing of the shallow catechesis people get growing up before marriage). But I do think that Father Andrew is acting in good conscience in accord with the Catechism and Canon Law, and that those under his care are also acting within the rules and procedures of the system.

So yes, there are problems, but I don't think Fr. Andrew is responsible for them. He's the kind of guy who will actually take the time and effort to make sure his flock is being properly catechized, and that couples prepping for marriage are being properly...prepped.

Cathy_of_Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy_of_Alex said...

I posted earlier but my comment did not take.

I, and Father, have been completely misunderstood. At NO point, did I say I was happy that marriages are broken or dysfunctional or not sacramentally valid or anything of the kind.

However, I still applaud people who refrain from receiving Communion based upon a serious sin, any sin, and that's what I meant to call out.

Unfortunately, others want to project their issues onto me and Father.

Father (Andrew)Dickinson has taught me much about charity. Some of the commenters here should stick around and maybe he can teach you some as well.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Hmm. Remember we are the Body of Christ, people? This combox looks a bit like piling on for fresh meat.

Anyway, there is a graduate level certificate program for people who want more facility in canon law (not lawyers, but pastoral ministers and priests) at Saint Mary's University in Mn. That's a response to the only JCL program in the USA being at Catholic U (which I think is true).

Debbie said...

To those who are upset from the wounded parties’ defense of marriage, I’d like to make a few points. First, you have no reason to feel put upon. We are not attacking anyone. There is no reason to be super-sensitive and feel personally criticized. It is evident that you do not understand the crisis proportions the annulment process in the United States has grown to and the devastating damage and massive wounds it causes. It should be no surprise to anyone why we are now fighting same-sex marriage throughout our country. The devil has dimmed the sanctity of marriage and the annulment scandal has played a part. The silence of the Church on the teachings of divorce and those other sins I mentioned have also played a part. The silence in the face of no-fault divorce throughout our country—a communist invention—has also played a part. The Church is expected to speak out against errors.

We are also not attacking Fr. Andrew. We are attacking a “mind-set,” an “annulment mentality” which has permeated our Church in the last 30-40-years. And if you really are a fan of Father’s and love being Catholic, then you should just listen and try to learn fully what is and continues to go on. And know that even Rome sees the problem here in the United States. So we are on the right side. We are not attacking our Church, we are defending fully its teachings, teachings that many priests and tribunals are not defending. This is the second scandal the Church needs to address. And I would hope that soon God sees to purifying it once again as He did with the sexual abuse scandal. In fact, that is my prayer to God on a daily basis. There is no good in whitewashing adultery. A fool could understand what it takes to get married. For the American Catholic Tribunals to claim hundreds of thousands of people did not know what they were doing when they got married must have the devil laughing his head off.

Did St. John the Baptist feel compassionate towards Herod and the adulterous marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodious? Did he scratch his head and say “Gee, what can I do to help this virtuous couple stay in their adulterous marriage? They are so good and really deserve to be together?” Not for a moment!! He immediately and fearlessly defended the Truth and corrected them both. He didn’t care about being popular, or loved. He was not afraid of their anger. He defended the Truth bravely until he lost his head. And here we are, more than two thousand years later and the Church is coddling and pandering to these same adulterous couples. How many have died with the blessing of the Church, or the inaction of the Church, or the false compassion of the Church? Where could they be now? Heaven?

Notice how even the Church has become politically correct. People are no longer in “adulterous” marriages. They are in “irregular” marriages. Why? So as not to offend? It is scandalous! Like St. John the Baptist wasted no time and minced no words, every priest needs to address these people in the same way. Yes, show compassion towards the sinner by leading them out of their sin. Yes, they will get angry and attack and stay away from Church. But, are they sincere in wanting to be in Church anyway without repenting? Yes, they may cut the Church off in the collection basket. So what! God’s law and defense of His teachings come first.

There may be a handful of true invalid marriages and that’s where the Tribunals must do their work to help. But something happened that now all one has to do is fill out a few forms and like magic, they were never married. The tribunals have become like giant erasers.

So when we hear of a young priest--and I do want the best for Fr. Andrew--seem to be falling into the same trap, well, at least I would like to come to his rescue.

I would just like priests to be reminded of a few things any time they begin to feel compassion towards couples in grave sin.

When they see “couples” in “irregular marriages” they need to be aware of these problems:

They are in the sad state of adultery which will take them to hell.

There is very likely a valid marriage, and a valid marriage partner that they left. And God more than likely wants the true marriage reconciled. And most definitely wants the sinful “marriage” to end immediately.

That there must be children whether small or grown who deserve to have their parent back in an intact home, or to have both their parents together no matter how old they are.

Divorce is not usually mutual. Both sides do not usually agree to it. It is mostly one-sided against the will of the innocent spouse and children causing tremendous lifelong wounds.

Marriages do not die. One person ends it by giving up breaking his or her vows.

Divorce does not end a marriage. Only the death of one spouse ends a marriage. And reconciliation is possible and should be strongly encouraged even after a divorce.

Those in adulterous marriages awaiting annulments have already probably committed many mortal sins to get there. Maybe some of these are: infidelity to their true spouse; abandonment of their true spouse, children and marital home; leaving families financially destitute and broken; divorce; probably birth control; public scandal;
adultery, adultery, adultery which is disobedience to God’s Laws in everything.

How will they get to heaven with so many mortal sins? Jesus’ mercy does not stretch to cover those who want to remain in their sins. Priests must help get these souls back in God’s grace through correction which may help their repentance and conversion.

We need our priests to be courageous and defend the Church with their very lives.

God Bless.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Debbie: You, basically, just accused Father of failing at his calling and ministry, of somehow not being capable of reading the news or understanding Church teaching, of lacking courage, and of being too charitable?

Did I miss anything?

Thank the Lord you are here to save him and educate the rest of us dummies. Yes, thanks for stepping up.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debbie said...


You said:

"Debbie: You, basically, just accused Father of failing at his calling and ministry, of somehow not being capable of reading the news or understanding Church teaching, of lacking courage, and of being too charitable?"

I read my post again, and do not see that this is what I did.

Again, please understand, we are not attacking Fr. Andrew nor you. We do not even know him. But our ears "hear" what we have heard over and over and what we know is erroneous. I am sure he is a good person and wants to also be a very good priest and probably is in many ways. I have already been praying for him. But there is a very strong leaning towards annulments in our country by our Catholic Church through her priests. We "heard" through his statement what we have heard so many times and while it may come from sincerity and a charitable heart, it is sometimes misdirected. Our statements which come directly from pain, experience and much research, wanted to strike a chord to make him aware.

You are reading far too much on a personal level and seem overly sensitive as though we just want to bash this young priest. We do not. I hope he has a long and holy priesthood and is responsible for helping to save many souls. But it is the responsiblity for all of us to defend the truth.

I am praying for Fr. Andrew.


Fr. Andrew said...

I'm glad you are having a good discussion. Please write your name on anonymous posts (as some of you have done). I deleted a few that were unsigned. A simple name would suffice. If you would like your comment reposted, request this through the combox and I will do so.

Further, the post from today that I deleted had some unnecessary detail. I will repost their comment, at his request, but in an edited fashion.

I'm still not certain what fruit you are gaining from this exchange?

Blessed Feast of the Annunciation.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Hi Father: Blessed Friday to you and all here.

Adoro said...

Wow. Sorry I haven't been by in awhile, and I find I can't even GET THROUGH all the vitriol here so I skipped to the end not finding much intelligence otherwise.

I think that your commenters, with a few exceptions, don't understand the canonical definition of "irregular marriage" and have inflicted their own definition, which has involved condemning YOU in spite of their own ignorance.

I apologize on their behalf.

Clearly they speak out of a position of pain leading to anger, and clearly you have seen that. Just the same, I'm sorry you've suffered this. It isn't fair. You've done and said nothing wrong.

I think a lot of people would be very interested to know that attacking a priest is not only a sin but can incur canonical penalties, especially under Canon 212.

Father is too nice to cite this canon which OBLIGATES the faithful to act with reverence towards the Office of the Priest, both with regard to their own dignity and the man who holds the office.

Let us ALL remember that we are in the presence of Christ, even as we comment in internet comboxes and we owe respect and obiesence to Christ no matter where we might be typing.

I'm sorry, Father.

Anonymous said...


In reading your comments, I don't think you have been quite fair with regard to some of the posters who have spoken out against the scandal of easy annulments that one would be hard-pressed to deny.

I think it is rather misleading to characterize this thread as having "all the vitriol here." While there may have been a few comments with quite strong thoughts, the majority of the comments from those of us who find the current situation with regard to the marriage tribunals issuing a 10,000% increase in the number of declarations of nullity compared to 40 years ago, are actually well reasoned, thoughtful replies. Go back and read some of the posts from Nana, Jodi and Debbie. Also, even with some of the stronger posts, unless you have walked in their shoes, you have no idea what they have gone through.

You say with a few exceptions, that the commenters don't understand the canonical definition of "irregular marriage." On the contrary, I think many of us, who took our marriage vows very seriously, understand all too well the canons regarding marriage. We understand that far, far too many valid marriages have been "torn asunder" by our own Church. And where is the charity in your post when you label them ignorant? You may disagree, but they are by no means ignorant on this issue.

You mention Canon 212. In this canon there are three paragraphs. In para. 1, yes, we are to show Christian obedience to what our priests declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church. However, this is not the same as "do whatever they tell you, or believe all they say." When what is taught or ordered is lawful, then yes, one is bound by Christian obedience. When Fr. Charles Curran was dissenting against Humane Vitae, I would suggest that one would not be obligated to be obedient to his dissent.

Para. 2, which you omit, states that, "Christ's faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church." I would submit that what you refer to as "vitriol" and "ignorance" is actually the exercise of can. 212, para. 2.

Para. 3 states, "They (meaning the faithful) have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful." Again, we are exercising our right, and indeed our duty in speaking out against easy annulments. Yes, it also says that due reverence to the pastors and the common good and the dignity of individuals must be given/be taken into account. For the most part we are doing that as well. I wonder when we are labeled ignorant, vitriolic, etc., if our dignity is being taken into account.

I can assure you, even those whom you believe to be filled with vitriol, that they have come to have a good deal of knowledge regarding the canons on marriage. We have to. You see, unless you have tried to defend your marriage as a respondent, you have no idea how little regard many, if not most, tribunals will have for your right of defense. Therefore, by necessity, we have to do our best to learn canon law, if for no other reason, that to attempt to prevent our rights as respondent from being ignored and/or trampled.

If you think I exaggerate, you have no idea. As one being dragged through the process, I have very little reason to believe that the tribunal has any interest in protecting my right of defense. And I know several of the posters that offend the sensibilities of some here, have experienced similar indignities.

Regarding your comment on can. 212, "which OBLIGATES the faithful to act with reverence towards the Office of the Priest," can you explain how that works in real life, when my pastor planted the seed in my wife's mind that she could abandon our marriage, when he told her that he knew people who were in similar situations that have been able to obtain annulments? All based on what she had told him, never calling me in to speak with me, or with both of us, before coming to this rash judgement on the state of our marriage. Was my pastor violating Canon 1060 which states that, "Marriage enjoys the favour of law. Consequently, in doubt the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven." If the validity of the marriage is to be presumed, until proven otherwise, did he not speak calumny against our marriage, by judging it to be on par with those marriages that had been declared null, based on a one-sided, surface impression of the so called "facts?"

Let following canon law go both ways, can we? Perhaps our dignity can be upheld and respected, and acknowledgment given to the fact that we faithful also have a right to speak out.


Anonymous said...

The ignorance here of what actually goes on, in more than a few cases, as marriages are torn apart by the misapplication of Canon Law and misguided "pastoral practices" through priests who are far to helpful in pushing annulments at the expense of working to heal marriages is typical. It is what marriage faces. It is what those of us who remain faithful to our vows face as well.

Simple bigoty.

Nice reply, David.


Adoro said...


I really don't want to get into the marriage issues, was making a simple comment, and perhaps I should have read through everything.

I guess my biggest issue is that people here are attacking Fr. Andrew even though he has nothing to do with your situation and it's COMPLETELY inappropriate to do this.

If you have an issue with something, you need to take it to the source, whether it's a priest or a bishop, etc. Spouting off on another priest's blog doesn't fix the situation, it's disrespectful to him and to anyone to reads, causes scandal, and should not be happening.

Check out canons 1369 and 1373.

Recently got a lecture on these in a class, and because of what goes on in so many internet comboxes like this one, we need to be very careful.

THAT'S really my main point. Sorry I didn't emphasize that earlier.

I will not be back to respond; please do not email me and tell me to go to some yahoo group I've never heard of and have no intention of visiting.

If you have a problem, take it to those who are supposed to be handling it.