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Author Topic: A Question For Our Resident Catholics.
BlackBlade
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I was reading the following from CNN,

http://tinyurl.com/3cfbey

I was not aware that divorced Catholics who remarry are barred from partaking communion. I thought it was interesting. I went to,

http://www.religioustolerance.org/div_rc1.htm

And tried to read up on the rationale for it, as well as the details of the whole thing. I understand that besides scriptures, there are the traditions of the early Christian fathers that warrants consideration, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned.

As I understand it, you cannot obtain a legal divorce from the church, and if through other channels a couple obtain a divorce, they are still, in the eyes of the church, married until one of the partners dies. Should either divorcee marry another person they are committing adultery.

The only thing that can lawfully separate two people who are married is an annulment. The qualification being that the two people were never truly married in the first place. Several factors can create such a circumstance, such as mental illness, a priest lacking the proper authority performing the marriage, or if at the time one of the partners was lacking the full use of their mental faculties.

The Pope can also annul a marriage that was never consummated. In this sense does consummate mean sexual intercourse?

I'd be much obliged if any Hatrackers could polish my statements, and clarify any errors in my understanding as well as adding to what I have already written.

I found it fascinating the church has such a strong stance against divorce. Mormonism is also loath to grant divorces, but certain conditions still make it a possibility.

edited for some punctuation and clarity.

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dawnmaria
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Yes, by consummate they mean intercourse. The points you bring up are some of the very reasons I have problems with Mother Church. My parents are divorced because my father fooled around. He has gone and found happiness in another religion. My mother stuck with our faith. She remarried a wonderful man. She is still married to my father in the eyes of the church and therefor cannot go to communion or receive Last Rites. She can go to confession and if she promises never to sleep with my step father again she'd be OK or if she gets an annulment which is a little hard with 2 kids from the union. So she feels a little bad going to church and partaking of the Eucharist. I had to convince her to go regardless of the "rules". I asked her if she really thought Jesus would withhold His love from her because she found a loving man after my dad. I think Jesus would want us to share in His Supper at any time we were able and to hell with man's rules. She goes, but I think she lost a lot of the good feeling over the whole thing. I don't think it's fair. I have tried other religions but I don't feel the same as I do in mine but I still disagree with a great portion of it. I sometimes think it's wrong on my part to even go at all, but I think God understands me and is happy to see me there regardless. OK, thanks for letting me get my 2 cents in!
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sarahdipity
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There are other reasons that you can get an annulment. Now I'm sure some more knowledgeable Hatrackers can be more precise but I believe that many marriages get annuled based on consent. If one person entered into the marriage basically deceiving the other than that marriage was not actually valid. Ie according to Catholics marrying someone for their money and lying to them about it may be grounds to show that the marriage never took place.

As far as I can tell the whole thing is complicated and while there are general rules it seems (and now people might get angry with me) that some dioceses are much more strict than others.

Also once again I am *not* an expert.

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kmbboots
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Annulments are difficult to get. I am trying to think of any priest I know (and I know a lot of priests)who would deny communion to to a remarried Catholic and I'm not coming up with anybody.

I am not surprised that our current Pope is nostaligic for pre-Vatican II days. It has to be pretty drafty in the Vatican with all the windows opened - stuff blowing around everywhere.

I think that the Catholic Church is (and you have heard me say this before) not just the Vatican and, sometimes, the Vatican has some catching up to do.

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Puppy
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It seems to me that if one spouse commits adultery, that really ought to be a fair reason to say that, at least in their mind, the marriage is nonexistent, and that an annulment is warranted.

Not doctrinal, of course just my own reasoning.

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sarahdipity
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Puppy, the idea is that it has to be nonexistent at the time of the marriage. In otherwords if the person was cheating during the period of the marriage then that might be evidence. But if 20 years down the road someone cheats that says nothing about their consent.

kmboots, I know plenty of priests that would in the Lincoln dioscese.

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Icarus
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That's reasonably accurate, BlackBlade.

quote:
Originally posted by dawnmaria:
. . . if she gets an annulment which is a little hard with 2 kids from the union.

This statement is inaccurate. Children are not an impediment to getting an annulment, and children from an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Annulments are difficult to get.

This is not consistent with my experience. In my experience, annulments in the US are extremely easy to get, if you're willing to say the right thing. Finding any grounds to say that you were deceived when you entered into the marriage will pretty much do it. Or saying you didn't have your full mental faculties because you were too young/immature to enter into the marriage.
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Shanna
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quote:
This statement is inaccurate. Children are not an impediment to getting an annulment, and children from an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.
Unless its my grandmother we're talking about. (that was a joke!)

I'm not a Catholic theologian but I come from a devout extended family. One of my uncles had a legal divorce while they were waiting for the annulment to be completed. Until that time, my grandmother still invited his ex-wife to all holiday and family functions and would not let him attend with his new wife. She now considers their children illegitimate (which is a remark on her character and convictions at her old age, rather than actual Church doctrine.)

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Icarus
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I'm sorry she does that; that's horrible. Do you think it would help at all to show her documentation that the Church does not agree? Or is she beyond reaching?
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Jim-Me
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Annulments seem to vary from diocese to diocese.

I have grounds for an annulment in my marriage, but it is precisely this point which is the reason I am not practicing. Due to a moderately unusual, but in all likelihood far too common, set of circumstances, right about the time I was beginning to find out what healthy love and sexuality were like, I got backed into a corner and left with no real choice but to end my marriage.

As a result, the best, in every respect, relationship I have ever been in, with the healthiest attitudes, both interpersonal and sexual, is considered sinful by the church's doctrine, which would have been a-OK with my folding over and allowing my ex-wife's demands to make both of us, and our children, miserable. This has led me to believe that the church's doctrine on this particular subject is wrong.

I still think there is much to be said for the church's continued insistence on the conection between sexuality and childbirth as well as their insistence on the permancence of marriage and the severity of divorce... but it's a situation where I think insistence on the "rules" has overshadowed what are basically good philosophical underpinnings and the Church has unfortunately conducted a reductio ad absurdum of its own philosophy.

Now, there is language in the catechism to remind all of us that what the church considers sexual sins are very complex, almost certainly deep psychological causes and therefore issues of responsible choice (required for a mortal sin) and culpability are nearly impossible to sort... and that those who are involved in these sins need to be treated with dignity and concern rather than fire and brimstone.

But the much stronger language of condemnation alongside contradicts this, denouncing things as minor and commonplace as masturbation as "intrinsically disordered" and "grave sin".

As I said, I have decided that this extreme is wrong... I am not yet certain what that means for the rest of my belief in the church, but for the moment I remain a non-practicing Catholic because of it.

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dawnmaria
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I totally agree with everyone that has said it depends on the diocese. When I lived in Mobile I was able to be an altar girl. When we moved to Northern Virginia. I could not. Now they can but not when I first moved here. That bothers me that the rules about any numbers of things can change depending on where you are. When we were in Mobile there was no way my Mom was going to even try to go for an annulment because she's heard stories about the kind of embarrassing sexual questions the Tribunal would ask you. They almost seemed to like making it as uncomfortable as possible. I would really like to see the Church make some changes that would bring it more into the 21st century. I know that there are a lot of people like myself that feel hypocritical going to church when they only believe about half of what they are hearing. I think the Church can retain it's basic principles and become a more loving, inclusive body. At least I hope so. I plan to send my kids to Catholic school and want to bring them up in the faith but I want them to not feel as conflicted as I do.
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The Pixiest
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I find it incredibly sad that so many people (not just the catholic church) take something as beautiful as faith in god and turn it into something that brings unhappiness to themselves and/or others. Things that have nothing to do with Love God and Love Thy Neighbor.

God is supposed to bring you strength and meaning. Not be a leash to deny you joy and even love.

Yeah, divorce is terrible and should be kept to an absolute minimum. But there are times of gross misconduct where the innocent spouse should be set free and allowed to move on with their life with a new spouse. Not deny them the sacrament.

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Christine
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As much as The Roman Catholic Church is supposed to be the "universal" church, it is amazing how different each parish and diocese is. I don't know a priest who would deny a member communion because of this. I am also led to believe that it is easier to get an annulment than it used to be. Most people don't try because it is a long process and, in the case of infidelity, the church likes to try reconciliation first. Often, infidelity is a symptom of something else going wrong. (At least, that's what they said in our pre-marriage counseling when my husband and I both said that we would not, under any circumstance, forgive our partner for cheating. We stick to that, btw. [Smile] )
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King of Men
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quote:
God is supposed to bring you strength and meaning. Not be a leash to deny you joy and even love.
Sez you. Why should you and not they get to define what their god is?
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rivka
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Oh, look! KOM posted in a religion-related thread and didn't say something condescending and snarky!

. . . never mind. False alarm.

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katharina
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*laugh*
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stihl1
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:


I think that the Catholic Church is (and you have heard me say this before) not just the Vatican and, sometimes, the Vatican has some catching up to do.

I love this quote.

As I have been told, annulments are not as hard to get as they used to be. And the church has eased up on giving them. In fact, we just spoke to a priest about this, my wife and I. My wife was married and divorced before I met her, and she's not catholic. We didn't get married in the church, but she has to have her first marriage annuled before we could have our marriage blessed. Which isn't hard to do, and the priest assured her that it was a matter of paperwork and not a big deal since neither of them were catholic, nor was the marriage done in the church. Once that happens, we can get the marriage blessed and recognized in the church.

I was told that even though my marriage wasn't in the church or blessed, I can go to communion. I have also done a bit of research about this because my sister was divorced recently and she has misconceptions about this as well. You have to have a marriage annuled as a catholic because marriage is a sacrament, and can only be done once. If you get divorced you cannot receive the sacrament of marriage again unless the first marriage is annuled, no matter what a court of law says. So if you get remarried without an annulment, no you cannot receive communion.

An annulment does not make your children illegeitemate. It does not affect the children at all.

So the church does make it hard to get divorced, yes. But there is a mechanism in place to work around a divorce, in certain cases. Frankly this doesn't bother me at all. People get married and divorced with too great a frequency imo, without respect to the institution and/or sanctity of marriage. People take marriage lightly, and think they can hop in and out of it like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Which is bad for the family structure, imo. Obviously there are good reasons for divorce, and I'm not passing judgement on anyone. But I do not disagree with the church's stance on the issue.

Further reading:

http://stjosephypsilanti.catholicweb.com/index.cfm/NewsItem?ID=21403&From=Home

I should add, catholics that get married in the church usually have to do a long stint of pre-marriage counseling and instruction before they get married. The church does this to try to head off any potential problems before hand, and to battle some of the reasons for divorce before the couple gets married.

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kmbboots
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A very good friend of mine tried for years (like seven) to get her first marriage annulled. That marriage fell into all the categories that should make it "easy" to have annnulled. No kids, deception, etc. After years of trying, she (on the advice of her priest) married her current husband in a civil ceremony. They are both very active in the archdiocese and her marital status is not a secret. She regularly receives communion from Bishops and the occasional cardinal.
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Tatiana
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I know of a couple who wanted to marry in the Catholic church and it was impossible because she had been married before in a civil ceremony. There was supposedly no possible way they could get married in the church, because her prior marriage still counted even though she was abused by her first husband and had been divorced a long time. Then she happened to mention that her first husband had been married before her, and suddenly it was all fine now. Because of that, her marriage to him was null and void, according to the church, and so she had never been married before and was free to marry in the church.

This entire proceeding struck me as completely arbitrary bordering on insane. Why should the happiness of this couple and their whole future together hinge upon a choice made by a third party (her first husband) in the distant past? It made no sense to me.

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TheGrimace
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quote:
Originally posted by dawnmaria:
They almost seemed to like making it as uncomfortable as possible. I would really like to see the Church make some changes that would bring it more into the 21st century.

While I agree that some of the strictures on annulments could probably be lifted/eased, and that it would be good if the church were more consistant as a whole as to what is valid grounds for annulment, the process is arduous for a reason. Basically Stihl touched on it, but the difficulty of annulments is at least in part intended as an added weight to the seriousnes of the sacrement. the church is trying to keep reinforcing Marriage as a very serious thing that should not be lightly entered into.

that being said, it is unfortunate that the letter of church law is not all that friendly to divorcees who can't get annulments (including my mother for example) but if you truly feel that you are not leading a sinful life then it is up to your concience whether you recieve communion and the like. Technically I think there are even allowances in church law for this kind of thing. I remember them in conjunction with birth control, but I'm reasonably sure the principle applies here as well.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by TheGrimace:
quote:
Originally posted by dawnmaria:
They almost seemed to like making it as uncomfortable as possible. I would really like to see the Church make some changes that would bring it more into the 21st century.

While I agree that some of the strictures on annulments could probably be lifted/eased, and that it would be good if the church were more consistant as a whole as to what is valid grounds for annulment, the process is arduous for a reason. Basically Stihl touched on it, but the difficulty of annulments is at least in part intended as an added weight to the seriousnes of the sacrement. the church is trying to keep reinforcing Marriage as a very serious thing that should not be lightly entered into.

that being said, it is unfortunate that the letter of church law is not all that friendly to divorcees who can't get annulments (including my mother for example) but if you truly feel that you are not leading a sinful life then it is up to your concience whether you recieve communion and the like. Technically I think there are even allowances in church law for this kind of thing. I remember them in conjunction with birth control, but I'm reasonably sure the principle applies here as well.

Exactly. Especially the part I bolded. ("Sinful", of course, being a relative term.)
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BlackBlade
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Thanks for all the responses folks, I've learned about alot this topic, which of course is what I figured would happen when I created the thread.
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TheGrimace
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Tatiana, I have to say that this story rings on incompleteness... afaik civil ceremonies (without any church participation) are not recognized as valid so the biggest problem in this case would be that she would potentially have to confess as sin her previous marital relations (i.e. since she wasn't married in the church then officially it would be extramarital sex). If her previous marriage had been in the church then this story would make sense (though if it were in the church then there would be a decent chance she could get an annulment and then get "re"-married based on the abusiveness of the relationship)

I suppose that the priest involved could just have been misinformed/misunderstood, but if she really was just married in a civil ceremony which was never validated by the church, then I'm reasonably sure that this was an incorrect situation.

but to be clear, the concept of an annulment is proving that the original marriage did not actually exist. Generally this means proving (as mentioned above) that one or both of the parties did not at the time posess the mental/spiritual capacity to enter into the marriage (i.e. too young, drunk etc...) or were actively tricked as to the nature of their partner (i.e. if your husband has been an abusive drunk all his life but hid that fact from you...) or extenuating circumstances such as a previous un-annulled marriage within the church.

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Jim-Me
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Tatiana, that sounds unbelieveably horrific. My only up-close experience with annulments was from hanging out with an Episcopal Parish that converted en masse to Roman Catholicism. Many of them were divorced and the annulments were all granted, nearly immediately (when you consider how long these things normally take), on the basis that none of the participants was Roman Catholic at the time of their marriage. I can't imagine why that Canon wouldn't apply in your friend's situation. A strictly civil ceremony for a non-Catholic simply shouldn't be an obstacle for someone wishing to now marry a Catholic in the Church.

While I am in complete agreement with you regarding the letter of the law overtaking the spirit of the law in Catholicism on sexual subjects in general and Marriage in particular, it sounds like, to me, that your acquaintances had an advisor who simply didn't understand Canon Law on this matter.

Either that or the situation is much much worse than I ever dreamed it was.

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stihl1
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I think that's just the problem. There are too many differences from priest to priest, parish to parish, diocese, etc. There isn't just one uniform set of guidelines. And IMO, it is because the individual churches are becoming more progressive, while the vatican has not. So you end up with this inequality where some priests or churches will grant annulments or interprit cannonical law more liberally, while others don't. I know my sister, who lives in Maryland, is having a hard time staying in her church because of how they approach certain situations. Whereas the churches here locally are more open.

As far as the case that Tatiana cited, it does sound kinda convoluted. And maybe incomplete. But it's also a great example as to why the church has its stand on marriage that it does. Someone who got married to someone else a long time ago now reflects on someone else's marriage and prevents that person from being able to complete the sacrament of marriage and to take part in communion. It wasn't meant to be like that, you're supposed to get married once and then you don't have these problems. Yet the church does what it can to help people in those situations.

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PrometheusBound
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There is a big difference between how the RC Church works in theory and how it works in practice. In theory, it is one of the very few closed-Communion churches in the world; in practice, most parishes practice a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I have more than once received Communion in a Roman Catholic Church, despite only technicaly being allowed to if I am incapable of finding a Priest of my own Church. Mind you, as my father always said, the only Priests in the church at the time were RC.
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kmbboots
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I know that divorced and remarried people are able to convert to Catholicism and are received into full communion.
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