Annulments: Too Many or Not Enough

David raises the issue that perturbs so many so-called orthodox Catholics. He says:

It would be interesting to hear from any number of parish priests and canonists on this subject — you know, people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about, as opposed to those of us in the peanut gallery who read so much we just think we do.

I’m not a priest or a canonist, but I was responsible for assisting people in preparing their annulment cases for the tribunal, so I think I do know what the hell I’m talking about.

David sets the table sensibly and tells us over 80% of divorced Catholics remarry without bothering to get an annulment. It is true that some annulment cases are withdrawn before they are denied. Your parish priest or advocate might tell you going ahead is a waste of time and money–and this does happen.

So is it a problem that Americans have one-third of the world’s declarations of nullity and that most annulment petitions are granted?

Not for me. A lot of the rest of the world’s Catholics couldn’t care less about a canonical system that will give or deny permission to wed a second time. Five-sixths of Americans don’t, and our Catholics tend to be much more scrupulous about church law.

What’s the answer?

A bit more preparation on the front end, maybe even before the courtship. But honestly, danged if I know how to get the significant attention of adolescents. We’re pretty much in the hands of parents. Do they give good witness to the marital values of sacrifice, respect, regard, and commitment?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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