Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why the brouhaha over streamlined annulments?

Here are two contrasting views:
  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "Faster Annulments: Building a Raft Out of the Wreckage" (Patheos, September 8, 2015):
    Some people complain that there are too many annulments, and no doubt there are some abuses. Some annulments are given out lightly and I expect with the new rules even more annulments will be doled out too quickly and automatically. However, that need not be the case [huh? did I miss something?], and the more efficient rules will mean that the obvious cases for annulment can be dealt with more quickly and this will help all those involved in the pastoral care of those in broken marriages.

    Is it necessarily a terrible thing that there will be more annulments?

    I will never forget what one pastor said when discussing this matter: “Of course there are more annulments than ever before. That’s because there are more invalid marriages than ever before.

    I’m sure nobody would dispute the fact that marriage and weddings in our mixed up society are a total mess. [Emphasis added by Guy Noir]
    (Our correspondent, Guy Noir, remarks: "[I]f marriage is so difficult a concept to grab hold of, so rarely now actually realized, maybe the communion ban on divorced people should not be an issue at all -- ban most everybody! Buying into the new meme, it could convincingly be suggested but that Church invite to communion only bonafide singles and those they believe were actually and validly married in the first place. Because they seem to think this latter group is a pretty small one, such a practice would be far sounder and much safer, since under a Franciscan diagnosis society has produced within the Church a morally-addled mess. Running with the hospital analogy, the majority need saving before feeding, confession before Mass. And, I guess, somewhere in there, marriage. Yes, I agree, let's make things as complicated as we possibly can!")

  • Roberto de Mattei, "A Would Inflicted on Christian Marriage" (Rorate Caeli, September 11, 2015):
    ... The indissolubility of marriage is a Divine and unmodifiable law of Jesus Christ. The Church cannot “annul” a marriage in the sense of dissolving it. She can, through a declaration of nullity, verify its inexistence, due to the lack of those requisites which assure its validity. Which means that in the canonical process, the Church’s priority is not the interests of the spouses to obtain the declaration of nullity, but the validity of the marriage bond itself [my ephasis].

    ... In Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio this view has been overturned. The interest of the spouses has primacy over that of marriage. It is the document itself that affirms this, by summarizing the fundamental criteria of the reform in these points: the abolition of the double-sentence in conformity, substituted by only one sentence in favor of the enforceability of the annulment; the attribution of monocratic power to the bishop, qualified as sole judge; the introduction of an expedite process [brevior], de facto uncontrollable, with the substantial downsizing of the role of the Roman Rota.

    ... Favor matrimonii is substituted for favor nullitatis, which comes to be the primary element of the law, while indissolubility is reduced to an impracticable “ideal”. The theoretical affirmation of indissolubility of marriage, is accompanied in practice with the right to a declaration of nullity for every failed marital bond. It will be enough, in conscience, to deem one’s own marriage invalid, in order to have it recognized as null by the Church. It is the same principle with which some theologians consider a marriage “dead”, where according to both, or one of the spouses, “love has died”. [emphasis from Rorate Caeli]
For anyone interested in delving deeper, I recommend, from Canonist Ed Peters' blog, In the Light of the Law:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an absurd statement. "Love has died" (and therefore our marriage is null.) Love between spouses may die (or more rightly be killed by neglect) but the bond of marriage never will until one of the spouses has physically died. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Has history ever seen more adults acting like petulant children? New Hashtag: WeareallHenryVIIInow.