Skip to comments.Politics: Annulments, Rome, and "Heads of State"
Posted on 12/03/2004 12:46:09 PM PST by 1stFreedom
"Second instance appeals 'are for heads of State'"
The investigations into the validity of the marriages of well known Catholic politicians were highlighted during the recent elections.
These high profile case have brought the issue of declarations of nullity to the forefront of Catholic Political and spiritual concerns.
But much is not understood about the process, and the politicians are not immune from this. (Hence one such politician calling it "catholic gobblygook").
Not only is there much misunderstanding, there is much that is kept secret.
Its a well kept secret in the Catholic Church that marriage tribunals often issue declarations of nullity for reasons which are not permissible under canon law.
The prevailing attitude of many tribunals is that the investigation on the validity of a marriage is a pastoral process, and that canon laws are merely a set of suggestions.
The laws concerning defective consent and the use of discretion are broadly reworded. The situations which are acceptable under these broadened rules go way beyond the intent of the writers.
(The writers being Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Egan, etc, are still around and often have to correct people's misrepresentations of their intent.)
Cases which shouldnt even make it past an initial phone call are often accepted without having any real standing.
For example, this statement comes from the Archdiocese of Cincinnatis brochure on the subject: 'No case is too weak to explore the possibility of a declaration of nullity. Let the officials be the experts who decide the merits of the case.'
No case is to weak to reject it during the initial phone call to the tribunal? What exactly would be a case that would get rejected via phone? If someone called up and said they thought their marriage was null since Jupiter was out of phase with Saturn, that it's enough to warrant a serious investigation?
Another secret is the right of the respondent (the spouse who didnt file the petition) to appeal the first instance ruling directly to the Rota, thereby bypassing the local second instance tribunal a tribunal which often rubber stamps the first instance judgment.
The appeal of the declaration of nullity of the marriage of Sheila Rauch and Congressman Joe Kennedy brought to light the ability of a respondant to appeal to the Rota. Though most respondants still don't know about this option, more and more are becoming informed despite the best efforts of the tribunal to try and hide this right.
Why appeal to the Rota? Of the lack of discretion/defective consent second instance cases handled by the Rota, 90% are overturned -- and 10% are upheld. That casts a serious shadow of doubt over the decisions of the local tribunals.
(Only a small percentage of cases are appealed to the Rota, but this statistic is indicative of just how wrong and off base many of the tribunals are. )
In essence, the tribunals are declaring valid marriages null, something the Church acknowledges that it does not have the authority to do. (This is known as the doctrine of the permanence of marriage.)
This scandal has been brewing for quite some time, and word about the abuses that take place by tribunals is getting out.
In response to the notification from the tribunal, I immediately called the tribunal and told them that I wanted the Rota to handle the second instance. I followed up a few days later with a certified letter.
A few days later I received a letter from the first instance court stating that I had a choice of either the Rota or the local second instance tribunal handle the case. Initially this struck me as good news, but then I realized it never said anything which reflected that the case was not being sent to the second instance court.
I called the second instance court and my file was sitting on their desk! My case never should have reached their desk in the first place!
I called this tribunal and let them know of my intent. I was told that I would have to give testimony, and then a three judge panel would hear the case, and then they would determine if it would go to the Rota or not. It was simply a sly way of telling me that I had to have the second instance handled locally without actually saying so.
I immediately sent a certified letter to this other tribunal letting them know my intent to have the Rota handle the second instance. (One has 15 days one has to respond to the notification of first instance.)
A few weeks later I listen to a voicemail from the Judicial Vicar of the local second instance tribunal:
We have to talk about your wish to have the Rota handle the second instance. The Rota is really for third instances, second instances are really for the heads of State, and there are costs involved
I was flabbergasted at having a Monsignor tell me a lie. Second instance tribunals ARE NOT for heads of state! He was going to do and say everything he could to discourage my wish to let the Rota handle the second appeal, as reflected by this misinformation in his voicemail.
I left him a voicemail restating my intent, that this was a right I intended to exercise, and that he respect my decision and refrain from trying to talk me out of it.
I received a voicemail the next morning stating that the case will be remanded back to the first instance court and they will give you the paperwork to forward the case to the Rota.
Contrary to what others may tell you, my experience is not isolated. When people try to exercise the right to have the Rota handle the second instance, they are often told that the process could take ten years, that it costs thousands of dollars (it doesnt), and that they can only appeal the third instance to the Rota if they have new evidence.
My sympathies are with you - this must be a very difficult process.
Again, not being catholic, I have no say in the matter, but it would appear to me that the catholic church should have firm and unalterable standards for annulment. It should not matter who the individual is or how much money the person could or does contriubte to the catholic church should have no bearing upon the decision.
One point that would and should be a block to any annulment is children. The church simply should not be able to say a marriage never took place if the couple had children. That is the same as saying the children do not exist.
I'm sorry you are having problems. I have been through the annulment process. I have no complaints and it did not cost much.
Sorry, meant to put 1stFreedom's name on that last post and just ping ThomasMore and Salvation.
No, it isn't. Perhaps you should stay with your first instinct:
Again, not being catholic, I have no say in the matter
Why not just let it go? It's possible you might desire marriage with another in the future.
??? Children aren't actually directly caused by marriage. I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of marriages with no children, and, sadly, plenty of children whose origins did not involve a marriage.
If he doesn't believe its true, he shouldn't marry another in the future whether an annulment is granted or not. I recognize he has the right to rely on Church judgment, but if you don't agree with it, in this sort of case there is nothing to compel you to remarry. In my case, if my wife wanted to leave me, I'd fight it tooth and nail. If she wanted an annulment, you can guarantee I'd fight that. Maybe that's just me, but I know I'm validly married, and I can't accept anything that disagrees with that.
Anulment thread ping: Anulment fighting for dummies...
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