Adventures in Second Marriages

broken bandsdotCommonweal looks at some Cardinal Kasper detractors. Some of their own readers take them to task for giving a platform to one of the more conservative enclaves. Indeed, my friend Crystal offers the obvious question in the commentariat:

Interesting how vowed religious have such strong opinions about a relationship they have no experience of.

Another dearth of experience is in the situation that happens more frequently than divorced spouses reconciling.

Say you have an inquirer, Mary, who is interested in the Catholic Church. As she gets involved in the parish and does the intake process, the interviewer sighs in relief to learn she has only been married once. But then it gets tangled. Her husband, a non-Catholic, has been married previously. I’ve known situations of people being evangelized who were married for years, if not decades. But the institutional focus is on a first marriage that lasted months, if not weeks. Contact is lost, and the possibility of an annulment is mostly a pipe dream. Probably crack.

You readers do know what happens if the pastor is one of those JP2/B16 straight arrows, right? The husband must get an annulment. Doesn’t matter if he’s not Catholic, or has no intention od becoming one. The whole procedure is hung up on convincing people totally outside the Church to undergo a “healing” for-pay process of which they likely have little to no understanding.

Adding an unnecessary burden?

test tubeCrystal’s point is aptly considered. I think we have far too many busybodies in the Church these days–people who offer opinions to those outside their circles. Even theologically astute folk who might find themselves out of their depth. I think care is needed in these situations. I think cross fertilization in most instances is good: lay people discerning seminarians, priests counseling engaged couples, lay associates of religious orders, women and men religious serving parishes, lay people in Roman dicasteries. But such persons are responsible for seeing the whole picture, not just offering a serum concocted in their own test tubes.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Adventures in Second Marriages

  1. Jen says:

    I should add that I know more than a few Dominicans who’d disagree with the people who wrote the journal article.

    Something similar happened to my parents around the time of my first communion as Mary. It was a really ugly scene and a story too long for a blog comment.

    tl;dr I think the RCC could learn a lot from the Orthodox on this subject. Things aren’t perfect in this world. Things break. Things need to be fixed or acknowledged that they can’t be fixed.

  2. John McGrath says:

    “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.” Why do some pastors want to leave the ox in the ditch and others want to help get the ox out of the ditch? Because rules have taken the place of moral and ethical reasoning in how the RCC educates its clergy.

  3. Jim McCrea says:

    I know a priest who is a former married Protestant. He divorced (no kids), converted and then was eventually ordained.

    I wonder if he had to get an annulment of his Methodist marriage before being ordained? Does anyone know the intricacies of such a thing?

    • Devin says:

      An annulment is not strictly necessary since married men can be validly ordained. He would just need to be released from the celibacy requirement as he would still be married in the eyes of the Church to his civilly divorced wife unless the marriage was found null from the start. He would obviously be expected to live a life a continence given his circumstance. I did a quick google search and it the Diocese of Richmond requires an annullment and they imply that this is universal at least in the United States.

      • Jim McCrea says:

        I don’t understand why he would be released from the celibacy requirement. What am I missing here? He is no longer married, nor does (so far as I know) plan to be married anytime in the future.

      • Devin says:

        If no annulment was granted, the priest would still be considered married to his spouse even though they were civilly divorced and no longer living together. So without an annulment, the celibacy requirement would need to be dispensed. But it looks like the Church requires a declaration of nullity before ordination so the celibacy dispensation is a moot point.

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