Having absolved women for terminating unwanted pregnancies, Pope Francis yesterday announced the widening of absolution for couples terminating unwanted marriages. The instrument of this convenience, called an “annulment,” is the most bizarre invention since the Middle Ages practice of selling of indulgences. Annulment means, in a word, that the marriage never happened.
Why get a divorce when you can get an annulment? Why live with the shame of a failed union when for $800 you can buy a clean scorecard showing a union that never existed? Tuesday’s motu proprio papal initiative (much like an Obama executive order) waves all but small administrative fees while streamlining and expediting the burdensome procedure that previously required two tribunals to cosign.
All this reminds me of a movie I saw long ago about gypsies. In one scene, an attractive gypsy woman undergoes her annual rite to become a virgin de nouveau. She has been promiscuous all year but the ceremony purifies her, and afterward her relatives exclaim in joy, “Maria is a virgin again! Life is good!”Now, granted, this article is by a Protestant and full of a multitude of misunderstandings. But honestly ask yourself: is it any wonder? Has anything said and done by our church leaders in recent years helped to made it easier, for example, for those of us who are converts to explain all this to our evangelical brethren?
Before the pope announced his new annulment rules yesterday, a significant percentage of people who would begin the process didn’t follow through with it. This is partly because of the onerous expense and partly because of the lengthy questionnaire requiring one to find fault with one’s spouse in order to prove the marriage was flawed from the start. But, of course, all this folderol will be remedied by Tuesday’s papal decree. Especially the reduction of the questionnaire is all to the good, I’d say. After all, the act of rehashing your spouse’s faults on paper sounds to me like adding the sin of slander to the sin of splitting.
[Hat tip to JM]