Catholic World News
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 Pope’s message has a particular resonance in the US, whose Catholic Church tribunals account for more than half of the world’s 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 Church’s highest tribunal for marriage cases, the Holy Father warned against “the tendency—widespread and well-rooted though not always obvious—to contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other.” He reminded the tribunal’s 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.”
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.
Justice, Charity and Truth Must Guide the Roman Rota (VIS)
Pope Urges Church to Focus on Saving Marriages (AP)
From Zenit, "Marriages Should Be Assumed Valid, Says Pope" and "Annulment Isn't a Quick Fix, Says Dean of Rota"
From Catholic News Service, "Pope cautions tribunals against granting annulments too easily"
From "the inside blog," "Pope tells tribunals to get tough on annulments"
From CNA, "Charity, truth and justice must guide Vatican court, states Pope Benedict"
And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:
Benedict XVI: Marriage is indissoluable
January 29, 2010