Tuesday, July 4, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Okay, so the title and the pic is a bit of clickbait. But it ties in if you read on, or care. 

The National Catholic Register has posted a "nice" piece titled: 

"How to Save a Troubled Marriage: Advice From Couples Who Have Been Beyond the Brink."

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the article is another example of one of those things local (Guam) talk show host, Bob Klitzkie, terms "systemic rice-ism," a metaphor for the penchant of the establishment to propagate its narrative of choice in the face of facts which are usually the absolute opposite.

The Catholic Church, particularly in the U.S., otherwise known as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, has spent all sorts of money in trying to prop up marriage as the rate of divorce among Catholic couples is competing with the national average. 

The bishops (of course not all) seem to think that if they can just throw enough money and touchy-feely platitudes at the problem that the problem will go away. 

But it hasn't and it won't. 

And it won't because the real problem with Catholic marriages isn't "the world," the "seductions of modern society," or America's "divorce culture, nor any of the other grasping excuses the bishops offer up. 

The real problem is the bishops, their polices - or lack of them, and specifically the marriage tribunals they govern.

There are many problems, some of which are rooted in the 1983 reformulation of canon law, a reformulation which created a new purpose for marriage out of thin air, something called the "good of the spouses." I wrote more about that here

However, on a more immediate and practical level, and something each and every bishop has the authority to immediately fix, is the nearly unilateral requirement - by church authorities - that Catholics seeking a Decree of Nullity ("annulment") first procure a civil divorce. 

This is insane.

First, there is nothing in Canon Law that requires this.

Second, the Catholic Church officially does NOT recognize the dissolution of marriage, civil or otherwise. and it never will - because it cannot.

Third, requiring a civil divorce before initiating annulment proceedings functionally forces Jesus to bow to Herod, or, to be less metaphoric, said requirement functionally acknowledges the premier power of the state over the secondary power of the church.

And then we Catholics wonder why "the state" mocks us when it comes to our speaking up on social-moral issues? 

By requiring a civl divorce prior to the initiation of an annulment proceeding, our bishops continue to relinquish church moral authority to the state. Thus, it, the state, has every right to tell the church to "shut up and sit down." And it does, and we do. 

Note: Notice how we closed our churches without question upon order of the state as soon as the government forbid "sacramental services" but it was fine to go to Home Depot, Kmart, and your grocery store of choice - where you could buy all the booze you wanted but couldn't buy birthday cards or magazines.

Sumay Payless (during pandemic). 
Birthday cards and magazines off limits. 
But booze - all you want. 
Governor's orders. LOL.

At this point I shall yield to a true expert on the matter. The expert's name is Bai Macfarlane. Mrs. Macfarlane sets out the whole problem with great clarity in this 2015 address titled: 

The Current Marriage Crisis in the Light of the Original Creation and the Code of Canon Law.

A full PDF of Mrs. Macfarlane's presentation is here. A video recording of her presentation is here. And Mrs. Macfarlane's website, with many other scholarly presentations on this same matter, is here

BTW, the Patrick Madrid thing which gave rise to the title of the post can be listened to here

1 comment:

  1. Upon re-reading my post, I may have not made my point clear. Requiring couples to get a civil divorce before proceeding with annulment procedures functionally recognizes divorce between sacramentally couples - something the Church can never do. So why is "the Church" requiring this? It's no wonder that Catholic critics call our annulments "Catholic divorce." Bei Macfarlane lays this out in the above linked posts.