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Getting the Church Off the Sidelines when Spouse Files for No-Fault Divorce

3/10/2012 - 8:30 AM PST

Catholic PRWire

WESTLAKE, OH (March 10, 2012) - During the US bishops "Ad Limina" visit to Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, he emphasized that grave societal problems, bearing an immense human and economic cost, are caused by the weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant. In the U.S., when a Catholic spouse disregards the importance of the indissolubility of marriage and abandons his or her wife, the Church is a silent observer. With the support of two canon lawyers, a non-profit-organization is providing the faithful with a way to formally invoke the intervention of the Church when one breaks apart his or her own family.

When couples marry in the Catholic Rite, each says, "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life." Such people are willing to start a family only under certain conditions: if bride and groom both agree to be together until death, remain sexually faithful, and promise to support the children and each other in a marital home for life.

The Catholic Church, our culture, and the civil laws used to recognize that keeping these vows was a good thing, but with no-fault divorce, that has all changed. Don't we all know a faithful spouse and good parent who had been a defendant in a no-fault divorce? These faithful spouses are separated from their own children most of the time and ordered to pay child support for a second household in which they are not even allowed to live.

I'm not shocked that the animalistic sexual liberation ideologues don't lift a finger to try to protect children and faithful spouses from typical no-fault divorce. But I'm disappointed at the indifference of the Catholic pastoral leadership that celebrates all these church weddings. Catholic leaders are silent bystanders when members of their own flock force no-fault divorce on their families, against the will of the other spouse who has been faithful.

There is now a formal way to get the Catholic Church off the sidelines and involved. Mary's Advocates, our non-profit, pro-marriage organization, is offering a "Vindicate Rights Petition" so a faithful spouse can use canon law to formally ask the Church to intervene.

For those who profess to be faithful Catholics, forcing no-fault divorce on one's family is untenable, according to The Catholic Code of Canon Law. In the U.S.A., however, the Church response is commonly to offer the 'pastoral care' of giving annulments. An annulment, a decree of invalidity of marriage, is an official statement from a Catholic Tribunal in which they say the couple was never married in the first place. What child of divorce wants that kind of 'pastoral care' when one parent chooses to abandon marriage and force a family break-up?

Two forward thinking Catholic Canon lawyers are supporting the "Vindicates Rights Petition." Canon Lawyer, Fr. Chuck Zmudzinski, C.P.M., J.C.L of the Fathers of Mercy in Auburn Kentucky describes the pastoral landscape from his perspective. "Now that almost every marriage that appears before the Church's tribunals in the U.S. ends up being declared invalid, I fear that many pastors take the side of the spouse who wants to divorce and remarry and actually encourage divorce and annulment, leaving the abandoned spouse with little or no recourse, and the children of the broken home are the greatest victims of this injustice." ... "there should be a serious effort by the pastors to bring the offending spouse to repentance and save the marriage."

Canon lawyer, Philip C. L. Gray, J.C.L, from Hopedale, OH, describes what he sees happening to Catholics when one wants divorce, "In the vast majority of cases today, divorce has become an 'easy out' to avoid responsibility, pass blame, obtain revenge, or somehow justify problems in the marital relationship or between parents and children." After Gray reviewed the Vindicate Rights Petition, he says, "The legal and doctrinal foundations for these petitions are well established. In my opinion, unless a petition in a particular case suffers from a defect identified in law, these cases should be accepted and heard. Not doing so would express a departure from the expectations of the Natural Law and the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church."

Natural laws are the life-principles that we are all ordained to follow, whether we consciously think about it or not. It is natural that every married couple has disagreements and challenges, but it is not natural for a dissatisfied spouse to force the permanent break-up of his or her own family. Children, by nature know this, and the Vindicate Rights Petition is a way to involve the Catholic Church in keeping families together. Dissatisfied spouses should work on bettering their marriage, rather than abandoning them, and it is time for the Catholic Church to start formally telling them just that.


Mary's Advocates  OH, 44145 US
Bai Macfarlane - , 


divorce, catholic marriage rite, no-fault divorce, Pope Benedict


Catholic Church

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1 - 2 of 2 Comments

  1. Patrick Brown
    1 year ago

    Hoosier1, you're wife may be gone, but God is EVERYTHING. Enjoy your life knowing that God loves you, and you love God. Devoting more time to the Lord our God will make you happier and see things differently about your wife. Pray for her, forgive her, and move closer to God.

  2. Hoosier1
    2 years ago

    Good thoughts here, but too late for me; the divorce is final. Little attempt by my wife to work through our mutual problems with help from the church. I understand we both have our faults, but now that the legal system says it's over what can I do to continue to enjoy life.

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