The pope’s comments on annulments were getting some attention here and there this weekend. It’s hard to comment on incomplete statements, so I’ll just touch on the underlying assumption here that people seeking annulments are already in second marriages. They’re not–not all the time. I’ve known many people who were not in sacramental marriages, and long before any second spouse entered the picture, approached the Church for a declaration of nullity.
Second marriages aren’t always the sacramental target of annulments. Lots of non-Catholics request them so they can be received into the Church. You’d think the hierarchy would be more interested in evangelization and lassoing in new believers than propping up tribunals with more busywork. More “misdiagnosis: sacraments” from Rome.
Americans also get a bad rap for piling up about a third of all church annulments. It’s not really that American Catholics have a disregard for sacramental marriage. It’s probably American legalism bred into us. Catholics in other parts of the world don’t bother nearly as much with the annulment process. Europeans, I suppose, don’t even find a second opportunity to explore sacramental life in the Church.
The Orthodox have a sensible, sacramental approach to divorce and remarriage. While I know adopting their approach to marital sacramentality isn’t likely to get adopted in Rome any time soon, I suppose canon lawyers can breathe easy their workload isn’t getting lighter anytime soon.