Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Annulment catholic church and Domestic Violence

Posted by Hannah at 7:27 AM

I came across an article called, 'A new theology of divorce'. Mike Sweitzer-Beckman is the author, and he was speaking about he was one of the statistics when it comes to children of divorce.  He isn't one of those that seemed all that harmed by it as he speaks of his parents, and later their new marriages and his new step siblings.

He spoke of a number of different circumstances of annulment that people he knew from the Catholic church had gone though personally.  I'm not Catholic myself, but I have heard about the process a number of times from people I know.  I wanted to point this article out, because it seems one of my most popular articles on this blog from the past was Marriage Annulment Grounds in the Catholic Church

There was a lady in my Domestic Violence group that was seeking an annulment due to the emotional abuse, verbal abuse, among other things that torn the marriage to pieces.  I will never forget her husband for one reason!  He delayed the divorce in court over wanting joint custody of their dog.  Can you believe that?  She offered him the dog, but he wouldn't take it.  It could cost a fortune to continue to fight about this, and believe or not she walked the dog down the driveway twice a week for pickup and delivery.   Her adult children pleaded with him to just TAKE him (the dog), because the arrangement was just silly!  It was his way of making sure he could keep control of something.  I remember one of the last things I told her was to give the dog away, and just tell him he got loose and he was lost.  That would place an end to the visitation of the dog.  I don't know if she did that or not, and I figure even her adult children would have agreed the plan.  They also knew Dad was just trying to keep contact.  Abusers are strange people on top of pure cruel at times!

She seemed to truly get a sense of healing from the annulment process, and I guess it was like a endorsement of sorts that the marriage was indeed over even in the eyes of the church.  I can see where that is pretty BIG for people don't you?

The author spoke of one women that dealt with domestic violence, and I guess the process was just to much for her.  I can't understand that as well:

The bishops' approach to dealing with divorced couples is disheartening. I have a friend whose mom was married in the church, endured years of domestic violence, and got divorced. She is now remarried and happy. Would God have wanted her to stay in that first marriage, continue to endure abuse, and not find happiness in another unitive, procreative relationship where she and others involved could more fully feel God's love? She attempted to file for annulment of the first marriage, but it meant having to recount all the times she was abused in order to complete the paperwork. It wasn't worth it. It's not that she's not committed to the church -- she still attends daily Mass and doesn't participate in the Eucharist. She's continued to play by the rules. I'm sure she'll approach the pearly gates, and God will forgive her for not filling out some paperwork -- and I imagine if God doesn't forgive her, it will be because she never sinned in the first place for getting out of this marriage and finding one where she could live God's call.

The last story he spoke about was of a man that divorced over adultery, and years later he and his xwife agreed to do the annulment process.  It wasn't approved, but it seemed he did get the healing he was after just doing the annulment process anyway.

In another case, a friend of mine got married in his 20s, and after about five years, his wife became unfaithful. It was a devastating blow to their marriage, and they both agreed that they were better off going their separate ways. She wanted to be with another man, and he never wanted this experience in marriage. Over a decade later, while earning his Masters of Divinity degree with hopes of working at a Catholic church doing youth ministry, he met a new love of his life. He attempted to get the first marriage annulled. His first wife was happy to participate in the process of filling out a lot of paperwork (and writing checks for filing fees of several hundred dollars). He respected the church's process at the time, and it helped him to more deeply analyze his first marriage. The local tribunal rejected the filing, saying that he didn't fully prove that love never existed in the marriage (anyone who gets married to someone they love can tell you that you can't disprove that at a later date -- you have to go with what you know at that time). The tribunal told him that he could always appeal the process -- and pay hundreds of dollars more -- but he figured out what he needed to from this process. He is now happily remarried outside the church, raising a kid, and working at a Catholic church as a youth minister. However, he will probably never fully participate in Church life again -- until, I imagine, when he passes on, and God deals with him appropriately (or doesn't deal with him at all since it's possible he made no mistakes in God's eyes).
 I doubt annulments will become part of any church culture outside the Catholic Church.  It does seem to give people a sense of healing that they do indeed need after a divorce.  I don't understand why that isn't truly addressed in a different fashion. 

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