Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fwd: Where the Catholic Church should focus on marriage

Where the Catholic Church should focus on marriage


If the Catholic Church is going to be consistent with her own teaching on marriage, pastoral care could be provided when a couple breaks up, rather than focusing so much on so-called second marriages.
On October 22, Vatican Radio's website republished an article by the director of the CDFthat was in Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, speaking about the issue of re-marriage and the reception of the sacraments.  The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, clearly stated that the Church is not going to change her teaching restricting people in so-called second marriages from receiving Holy Communion if they live like husband and wife in the second marriage.
Müller's article has sections on scripture, tradition, present day Magisterium, moral theology, and pastoral care.  Concerning the possibility that someone in a so-called second marriage might be free to have his new marriage blessed by the Church, Müllerwrote about getting an annulment decree for the first marriage:
"Today's mentality is largely opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage, with regard to its indissolubility and its openness to children. Because this influences many Christians, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than they were previously, because there is a lack of desire for marriage in accordance with Catholic teaching, and there is too little socialization within an environment of faith. Therefore assessment of the validity of marriage is important and can help to solve problems."
If it really is so impossible for someone who lives in a divorce-culture to enter a valid marriage, shouldn't the Church forbid priests to witness marriage ceremonies at all? For example, in the U.S.A., 50% of the marriages end in divorce, so the Church could conclude that all the people in the U.S. are raised in a divorce culture, influenced by this culture, and probably enter invalid marriages – so to protect from this, we should simply forbid Church marriages.
How many fathers of the bride are going to be comfortable walking their daughter down the aisle when the Church itself, according to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, says that many Christians probably enter invalid marriages because today's mentality is opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage?
Canon Law does recognize that if someone lied on their wedding day when promising to be married for life, open to children and faithful – then that marriage is invalid (c. 1101, simulation). However, one has to answer the question: did the person lie when promising to be married for life, or did the person sincerely make the promise and simply break the promise later?   
Canon Law recognizes that, if a person suffers from a grave psychic anomaly, or is mentally ill, that person might be incapable of entering a valid marriage (c. 1095). Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, in their annual addresses to the Roman Rota, cautioned against granting annulments based on psychological grounds too loosely: "One must avoid pseudo-pastoral claims that would situate questions on a purely horizontal plane, in which what matters is to satisfy subjective requests to arrive at a declaration of nullity at any cost, so that the parties may be able to overcome, among other things, obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist" (yr. 2010).
Archbishop Müller's article clearly focused on the debate concerning the civilly remarried and the sacraments, which has been making headlines as news commentators speculated that the teaching might be changed during the upcoming extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops to be held in 2014 to discuss pastoral care for families.
Repeatedly in Müller's article, he referred to people who "find themselves" in second marriages. People don't "find themselves" in second marriages. Someone abandoned the first marriage by a free will choice. When a Catholic makes that choice, the Church could be a better shepherd to those lost sheep that abandon marriage – when the abandonment occurs – not years later after a second "so-called" marriage happened.
During the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the pastoral care for families, they could study the situation of professed Catholics abandoning marriage while acting as if they are doing nothing wrong. In the US, marital abandoners feel justified because they think they deserve an annulment.
There is a whole section in canon law on the pastoral care for those in troubled marriages relative to separation and divorce. Marriages could be saved and scandal prevented if the Church started practicing the law as it was intended (c. 104, 1151-1153, and 1692). The Church can teach about the difference between morally legitimate reasons for separation of spouses compared to martial abandonment which is a grave offense against nature and immoral.
For more information see LINKS to Annotations and Commentary on the Code of Canon Law recommended by the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. See here.
Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates. 

Fwd: Bai Macfarlane, upholding marriage, Are we getting shut out from normal P.R. avenues?


Upset over annulment?  We'd love to hear from you!

Were you served with an unwanted annulment filing? Are you in a state of disbelief that so many marriages are annulled in the English speaking world every year? (95% of U.S. decisions 2010) Would you like to see the Church better uphold the dignity and sanctity of marriage in this regard? If you answer yes, please answer our survey so we can let Pope Francis and others know what's really going on.


Fwd: Catholics launch survey defending marriage and plead with Pope Francis

If you meet the criteria after the first two sets of questions, then please do fill out the survey. 

"Divorce tears marriage apart. It desolates both husband and wife. It leaves the children not only in tears but also in misery. We do not deny that there can be serious disagreement between husband and wife, but divorce is not the solution. When husband and wife have a disagreement, they should reflect, pray, sit together and discuss. Accept fault where you are wrong, ask for pardon, or consult a priest or other spiritual adviser, but do not divorce."
~~Francis Cardinal Arinze

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: BAI
Date: Sun, Sep 22, 2013 at 8:26 PM


News reports quote Pope Francis speaking on September 16 to priests in the diocese of Rome about divorce, annulment, and remarriage (see Spero article). The Pope said, "The Church must now do something to solve the problem of marriage annulment." 
However, the news stories offer no specifics about the problem to which the Pope is referring.  A network of divorced Catholics in the United States, united by Mary's Advocates, a non-profit educational organization, hope the Pope is referring to the problem of lower-court tribunals granting annulments erroneously.  When Church tribunals issue annulments, the tribunal, after an investigation, officially says that the couple never was really married in the first place because their marriage was invalid. This enables either ex-spouse to morally enter a second marriage with someone else. 
Speaking to the priests in Rome, referring to the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics, Pope Francis said "The problem cannot be reduced merely to a matter of who can receive communion or not, because to pose the question in these terms does not enable an understanding of the real problem. ... It is a serious problem regarding the Church's responsibility towards families living in this situation."
As Mary's Advocates' founder, I believe that in United States, the Church will fulfill its responsibility towards families living in this situation by getting more involved years earlier, long before anyone enters a second marriage. People don't just 'find themselves' in second marriages. Someone chose to withdraw from the first marriage.
The Church could better serve families by adhering to her own canon law on separation of spouses (c. 1692-1696, 1151-1155). Catholics are supposed to have official Church intervention when they separate and especially before anyone files for civil divorce. It would be merciful to the children, the faithful spouse, and even the marital abandoner, if the abandoner forcing no-fault divorce on his or her family was instructed by the Church to stop, and instead to reconcile. The Church can, at least, give instructions to a marital abandoner about the difference between a separation plan that would be in accord with divine law, compared to the expensive and immoral plans served out by no-fault divorce civil courts.
A survey has just been launched wherein Mary's Advocates are asking those who are divorced and not remarried to describe the pastoral care they received after their so-called ex-spouse filed for an annulment. For example, in one survey question, participants are asked to indicate whether a diocesan staff person encouraged their spouse to file for civil divorce as a prerequisite to getting an annulment, which was very likely to be granted. See survey LINK.  
If Pope Francis doesn't know what it is really like in the United States for a Catholic spouse to face allegations against the validity of his marriage, after his Catholic spouse forced upon their family an immoral no-fault civil divorce, this is our chance to tell him.

Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.

Fwd: Staunch Catholic Priests defends marraige, new book

It is nice to know that there is a priest who does see that there are things that need to be looked at in the US Tribunals!  God Bless!! 

"Divorce tears marriage apart. It desolates both husband and wife. It leaves the children not only in tears but also in misery. We do not deny that there can be serious disagreement between husband and wife, but divorce is not the solution. When husband and wife have a disagreement, they should reflect, pray, sit together and discuss. Accept fault where you are wrong, ask for pardon, or consult a priest or other spiritual adviser, but do not divorce."
~~Francis Cardinal Arinze

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bai
Date: Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Jaimes Ponce would make a very interested guest on Talk Radio or TV

Staunch Catholic Priest Defends Marriage, New Book about Annulments


Today we commemorate the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, who lost his head for defending marriage. Fr. Jaimes Ponce, author of a new book comparing how Catholic Tribunals in the U.S. handle nullity cases in contrast to the authorities at the Vatican, could be a modern John the Baptist. In nullity cases, a Catholic Diocesan Tribunal is asked to decree that a valid marriage never existed. In Ponce's book, "Lack of Internal Freedom on Matrimonial Consent: An Analysis of Rotal Jurisprudence and American Sentences," he explains that while doing research, he was cautioned by his peers. "Some tried to dissuade me by stating that I was treading on forbidden territory. Others stated that my career would end with the defense of the dissertation."
In doing his research, Fr. Ponce, with a letter from his bishop requesting their cooperation, sent surveys to tribunals requesting some statistical information as well as copies of two tribunal decrees. Ponce writes, "Out of the 75 questionnaires sent, only six of them provided all the information requested.  Another six provided only partial information, which proved to be useless for this research."
Those surveyed were promised that their identity would remain anonymous.  Ponce's purpose was to explore how the lack of internal freedom to exercise one's will affects one's ability to consent to marriage as it relates to canon 1095, n 2. Ponce describes the opinion relayed in a personal interview by a Judicial Vicar (director) of one tribunal in the Southwest:
[The Judicial Vicar ] "states that one reason for the overwhelming use of this canon throughout the United States tribunals, and in particular in his tribunal, is that 'we all feel more comfortable with can. 1095, n. 2.  Even if evidence abounds for other grounds, we prefer to use this canon because it is very broad and it is easier to develop a sentence based on it.  In other words, can. 1095 is more easily applied to any case.  We do this in spite of being reminded every year to read the allocutions to the Roman Rota.'"
Ponce continues, "The allocutions of our Popes to the Roman Rota are a constant reminder to Catholic Tribunals from around the world to follow some guidelines in adjudicating cases concerning matrimonial nullity."
Familiarity with basic canonical principles might be a prerequisite for a reader to appreciate Ponce's book, which focuses on one particular aspect of grounds for nullity: lack of internal freedom relative to canon 1095, n 2.  Publisher, Bai Macfarlane, director of "Mary's Advocates" says, "I hope we find an author who explores another aspect of canon 1095, n 2. We need Vatican clarification defining the 'essential obligations and rights of marriage' about which the parties must have adequate discretion of judgment. I've heard that Catholics mistakenly think that nullity should be granted based on lack of discretion of judgment, after one spouse alleges that he didn't know the other well enough before marriage."
From the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Bishop Michael Sheridan provided endorsement on the back cover of "Lack of Internal Freedom on Matrimonial Consent." He states, "The most overused and misused canon in the judgment of the validity of marriages by the tribunals of the United States is canon 1095, n 2."
Deacon Edward Peitler, a Catholic licensed counselor with a Masters in Clinical Psychology in the Diocese of Charleston, recommends that clergy and clinicians who are involved in the annulment process read Ponce's book. After previewing it, Peitler says, "I have been asked on a number of occasions to complete annulment questionnaires on couples I have seen for marriage counseling who later divorced.  I routinely refuse to answer questions asked of me in the tribunal questionnaire because I am required to make a clinical judgment on the mental state of the petitioners at the time of their marriage that in most cases predated the counseling I did by many, many, years.  This is tantamount to crystal ball reading - a talent I do not possess."
Fifteen years ago, Oxford University Press published a book by retired University of Notre Dame professor of sociology, Robert Vasoli. In the conclusion of his book, "What God has Joined Together: the Annulment Crisis in American Catholicism," Vasoli says, "Until the needed changes occur,  de facto the American Tribunal system will continue to be in virtual schism with Rome with respect to defective consent annulment."
Macfarlane, publisher of "Lack of Internal Freedom on Matrimonial Consent" says "We wanted to publish Fr. Ponce's book because we are disappointed by how little support we found for marriage amongst Catholics, especially amongst the clergy. When a spouse chooses to abandon marriage and force divorce on the family, too many times the faithful spouse (who never wanted the divorce) is advised that the marriage never really existed in the first place, and the pastoral solution is to get an annulment and find a new partner."
Mary's Advocates works to uphold marriage, and includes a network of lay people who assist each other using canon law to defend their marriages against accusations of nullity in U.S. Catholic Tribunals. Macfarlane says, "Some of the simplest rights of the defendants are disregarded. For example, when the case first starts, defendants are not even provided a copy of the petitioner's complaint, as required by law. So defendants don't even know in a general way the alleged facts being proposed to prove that they never had a valid marriage."
"Lack of Internal Freedom on Matrimonial Consent: An Analysis of Rotal Jurisprudence and American Sentences," copyright 2012 by Fr. Jaimes Ponce is available at Mary's Advocates and Amazon for about $35.00. 643 page