Monday, November 29, 2010


Last week we saw that marriage is a life long union of a man and a woman, joined by God.  A Catholic marriage, once validly entered into, is dissolved only by death.  Jesus, in Matthew chapter 19, makes this clear.  But, as we know, divorce has become common.  Statistics vary, but anywhere from 40% to 50% of first marriages end in divorce, and the numbers jump to 60% to 75% for second marriages.  While the Catholic Church does not recognize the validity of civil divorces, we do recognize that marriages fail, and that Catholics are not immune from this reality.  But once a person is married in the Church, they are not free to marry another, even if they are civilly divorced.

The Church struggles to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus while living His compassion toward people in need.  Since a marriage, validly entered into, can not be dissolved the Church performs an investigation to see if the failed union was valid from the beginning.  This process is commonly known as an annulment, which is different from a divorce. The Church’s declaration of nullity states that certain conditions existed at the time of the wedding ceremony, which prevented the union from being valid.  A civil divorce simply states that a marriage bond is broken, for whatever reason. Grounds for an annulment  include emotional immaturity, external pressure to marry that impairs one or both of the spouses’ free will, lack of understanding of what a Church marriage is, or a lack of intent to live such a union.  The other main ground for nullity is if the couple is related by blood or marriage.  Problems that arise after the couple is married are not grounds for an annulment. For more details you can go to the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Chicago website (http//,

A declaration of nullity does not mean that a relationship, in the human sense, never existed. It means that a sacramental marriage, because of certain impediments, was not validly contracted on the wedding day.  Any children from the union are legitimate, and both parents are still responsible for their material and spiritual well being.  It says that a marriage did not fail by accident, but that the grace of the sacrament was not present because the union was not valid.  It also allows these people to attempt to marry again in the Church. 


  1. Father,

    What is practiced in the Catholic Church in America makes
    a mockery of marriage. If you do not accept that, you are
    a part of the problem and need to stop listening to
    canon lawyers and the clergy, most of whom are corrupted
    beyond their understanding by their cultural cesspool

    Just the sad truth, Father, from more than twenty years of
    living what I wrote about.

  2. I guess I need to know how you see the Catholic Church in America practicing marriage to know what you mean. Is getting an annulment too easy (I knew a layman who quit working at the tribunal of a major archdiocese for this reason)? Too difficult? Is marriage preparation not stringent enough?

  3. I suggest you read the Marysadvocates website for
    starters, then get Robert H. Vasoli's book on
    annulments. You can contact Bai Macfarlane. The
    Marysadvocates site is hers.

    I don't have the time other than to say that the
    overwhelming bent of Catholic pastoral emphasis is
    nullity, when it should be reconciliation, with teeth.

    I do not care to enter into any argument. I have had
    more than enough of those. Grievences about the
    ENTIRE process are ignored, even when documented,
    even in the Vatican. The horrors perpetrated by priests
    who support adultery are legion.

    I have named names to the Church and sought intercession
    with countless bishops, here and in Rome. The cadre of
    clergy are corrupted, thoroughly. The Holy Father and those
    who report to him know the realities but do nothing except
    vomit out oral platitudes.

    We who remain faithful, ceaslessly have sought help, which
    instead is given to those who violate their marriages. Benedict
    knows this, first hand; yet, he talks and talks and talks and talks.

    Please tell Bai, the name of this laymen? Why is his testimony
    not everywhere in Catholic blogs. Surely what he/she has seen
    must be scandalous. We need to know of this information!