Archdiocese reaches out to Catholics alienated by marriage issues
Cincinnati (Catholic Telegraph) — Few issues cause as much confusion among Catholic laypeople as those pertaining to marriage, divorce, remarriage and annulment (more properly known as a declaration of nullity).
With more than half of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce, the questions can be as plentiful and varied as the people and their situations. What a cousin or sister or brother-in-law or best friend encountered in a divorce and/or a declaration of nullity cannot be used as the basis for whether or not someone should seek to reconcile their marital situation with the Catholic Church.
Because of an awareness that so many Catholics need to learn more and to be reconciled, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is reaching out to Catholics who are separated from the church over marriage issues — no judgment passed and confidentiality assured.
“We Miss You,” a series of evenings with Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr to talk about marriage issues, will be held on several upcoming dates in order to provide this opportunity: Thursday, Sept. 3, at Good Shepherd Parish in Montgomery; Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Lehman High School in Sidney; Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Hilvert Center of St. Ignatius Parish in Monfort Heights; and Monday, Sept. 21, at Incarnation Parish in Centerville. All meetings are scheduled from 7-9 p.m.
“I cannot offer you instant solutions or miraculous cures for problems or difficulties arising from previous marriage bonds,” Archbishop Schnurr wrote in an open letter to Catholics announcing the upcoming sessions. “I do offer my sincere care for you in an effort to look at ways that may eventually lead to reconciliation for you with the church.”
Each program will include two brief presentations — one by Archbishop Schnurr and another by Sister of Mercy Victoria Vondenberger, the canon lawyer who serves as director of the archdiocesan Tribunal Office — as well as an opportunity to discuss specific concerns with experts on church marriage law.
In 2004 Sister Victoria authored Real People, Real Questions, published by St. Anthony Messenger press, which answered some of the more common questions Catholics usually have about marriage and divorce.
Procurator/advocates and other clergy will also be present to lead small group discussions and answer individual questions people may have. A similar series of meetings was held in 1994 with excellent response and attendance throughout the archdiocese.
“No matter how long you have been away from the church,” Archbishop Schnurr said, “I hope to have the opportunity to meet with you at one of these evening sessions.”
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an annulment is “a declaration by a tribunal (a Catholic church court) that a marriage thought to be valid according to church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union. Unlike civil divorce, an annulment does not erase something that was already there, but rather it is a declaration that a valid marriage was never actually brought about on the wedding day. A declaration of nullity does not deny that a relationship ever existed between the couple, or that the spouses truly loved one another.”
But it is important that people understand that not every marriage can or should be declared null. Infidelity, for example, is not in and of itself grounds for nullity. Each situation is unique and often complex — as complex as is marriage itself.
Another area that creates great confusion is cost. Misinformation about the expenses related to annulments abounds. According to the USCCB, fees associated with the annulment process vary within the United States, but most tribunals charge between $200 and $1,000 for a standard nullity case. Fees are typically payable over time, and may be reduced or even eliminated in cases of financial difficulty. The entire process usually takes about 12 -18 months to complete the entire process.
The process of addressing one’s marriage issues can be a very healing one, rather than something that brings pain, say those who have been through it.
Notes Gina (last names are not being used for this article), seeking the nullity of a marriage “helps you close the door to a chapter that sometimes never gets closed. It allows you to work through it in a systematic fashion. You look at more than just yourself.”
She did not find the process to be a difficult one, but does recommend that people “pray about it, discern over it, then definitely talk to other folks who have had a positive experience.” While you will find some people who see it is a negative, Gina said simply, “It’s a great thing.”
Wisely, she notes that even when people in irregular marriage situations are not estranged from the church and the sacraments, they may still “feel estranged.”
- - -
This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Telegraph(www.catholiccincinnati.org), official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincincinnati, Ohio.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Marriage & Family News
- Small comfort: Two friends die in each other's arms at destroyed Oklahoma school
- Teenage birth rates drop dramatically among Hispanic women, girls
- Our Contraceptive Chickens Have Come Home to Roost
- Combating the Secularist Elitist Attack on Motherhood: Learning from Jesus and Mary
- Freeing Ourselves from the Hideous Strength of Contraception and Abortion
- Two Opposing Visions of Women, Part One
- Two Opposing Visions of Women, Part Two
- Answering the Question: The Right to Marriage and Infertile Couples
- 'Sexually aggressive behavior' in males traced to print advertisements
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?