CWN - January 29, 2010
Granting easy access to marriage annulments is an offense against both justice and charity, said Pope Benedict XVI on January 29.
The Popes message has a particular resonance in the US, whose Catholic Church tribunals account for more than half of the worlds annulment decrees. Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II before him, has repeatedly argued for a more vigorous defense of the marital bond.
In an address to the Churchs highest tribunal for marriage cases, the Holy Father warned against the tendencywidespread and well-rooted though not always obviousto contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other. He reminded the tribunals judges and advocated that the marriage laws of the Church are oriented toward the spiritual welfare of the individuals, and applying those laws properly is itself a work of charity. Ultimately, he reminded them, the Church's juridical activity has as its goal the salvation of souls.
Without truth charity slides into sentimentalism, the Pope told officials of the Roman Rota, at the opening of its judicial term. Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth.
Pope Benedict acknowledged that a marriage tribunal comes under pressure to announce the nullity of a marriage, due to the desires and expectations of the parties involved, or to the conditioning of the social environment. But he argued strenuously against lowering the standards of canon law in order to achieve a declaration of nullity at any cost. He decried the use of pseudo-psychological theories that see any marital problems as evidence of nullity, observing that this approach has the deleterious effect of transforming all conjugal difficulties into a symptom of a failed union whose essential nucleus of justice-- the indissoluble bond-- is thus effectively denied.
The Pope went so far as to suggest that tribunals should do their best to save marriages intact whenever that is possible. In most American dioceses, couples are required to file for a civil divorce before submitting an annulment application. But the Pontiff suggest that effective efforts be made, whenever there seems to be hope of a successful outcome, to encourage the spouses to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal cohabitation.
Recognizing that some Catholics who have divorced and remarried want to obtain annulments in order to resume their active membership in the Church, and regain access to the sacraments, the Pope expressed sympathy for their goals but cautioned against offering a false advantage. If the first marriage was valid, he reasoned, then the remarried couple is living an objectively immoral situation. Under those circumstances, he said, it is wrong for a tribunal to ease the way towards receiving the Sacraments, at the risk of causing people to live in objective contrast with the truth of their own individual state.
Vatican City -- In a speech to the judges and lawyers of the Roman Rota, the church's central appellate court, on January 29, 2005, Pope John Paul II emphasised that all those involved in ecclesiastical tribunals have the duty to conform to the truth about marriage as the Church teaches it.
He noted a concern in recent years regarding declaring failed marriages null and void for principally "pastoral" reasons. Many of these annulments have been granted out of feelings of "false compassion" and with little regard for objective truth.
Based on 2002 statistics, 56,000 requests for annulment went before local diocesan tribunals that year. Of the 46,000 granted, 31,000 came from North America, compared with 9,000 from Europe. This contrasts with numbers in the mere hundreds in the U.S.A. of the 1960s.
Concern caused by these numbers has prompted the Vatican to issue a revised handbook of rules for Church marriage tribunals. Entitled Dignitas Conubii (The dignity of marriage) and issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the document gives instructions "aimed at ascertaining the truth" of whether a marriage actually existed.
Cardinal Julian Herranz, president of the Council, while emphasizing that the dignity of marriage must be defended "even if this requires going against the current", refused to commit himself on whether fewer annulments would be granted under the updated rules.
The previous tribunal guidelines date back to 1936. (FiLes from Zenit. Yahoo!news. Cath. Register)
That was Pope Benedict. Pope Francis has already trumped Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum. Who’s gonna stop him from trumping the Seventh Commandment?
Jesuit Gone Wild!