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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Annulment Process ... Really, this is what Jesus wants?

To marry in the Catholic church, if you have been married before, one must go through the annulment process.  It can be short or long and arduous.  But whether short or long, the process is a pain, and I do not see I see its' value. 

Annulments examine the processes and activities undertaken prior to the previous marriage with the goal being to determine if the first marriage was a sacrament.  This right here is a problem.  While I know some people who "should have known better than to marry ..."; most divorced people I know will tell you that they weren't abused, their former partner wasn't unfaithful prior to the marriage, that there were not real signs that the marriage was doomed to be one of the 50% of marriages that end in divorce. 

Most people I know say that they tried and tried to make it work.  They say that even when they finally got divorced, they still loved/hated (opposite sides of the same coin, if you ask me) the former spouse.  Most people I know say that they changed over the years and were genuinely unhappy with no happiness in sight at the end of the tunnel. 

To make matters worse, if you are marrying someone who isn't Catholic and who is divorced, their marriage has to be annulled as well.  Well! Try explaining that to a non-Catholic!  From a non-Catholic perspective, it is none of the churches' business what happened in their past.  And by the way, I totally agree!

So...

Dear Catholic Church: 

Here ye, Here ye!!!  Marriage AND Divorce are hard!  From the outside looking in, it may seem easy, but it is not.  And while I frequently hear "oh, they just didn't try hard enough" or "they gave up to quickly" or (my favorite - NOT) "divorce is so easy today that people jump right into it"... I have yet to meet any divorced person who agrees with these statements.  And I know A LOT of divorced people.

Catholic Church, I love you, I know how good and great you can be, but I also know that you can be wrong and hurtful.  I am on the receiving end of the hurt right now - and really, I don't see Jesus in this process, so I have a few things to say... 

You, my beloved church have never been married, nor divorced. 

You, my beloved church do not know the pain felt when the decision is made, or thrust upon you, to end the dream that you dreamed for such a long time --- even when the dream has turned into a nightmare. 

You, my beloved church, can read all the books, listen to all the stories, hear about the joys and the sorrows, but until you have walked in my shoes, you will never know what it was like. 

You can no more "know" about marriage than you can "know" what it is like to go through child birth!

Yet, you believe that you can make a decision about people's lives based upon your formal education and training.  Let me tell you, nothing matches or beats EXPERIENCE when it comes to marriage and divorce.  NOTHING.  It is hubris that allows you to think that you have all the answers.  No one has all the answers except God.  Not you, not me, not the pastor of any parish, church, synagogue, mosque or temple.  NO ONE HAS ALL THE ANSWERS EXCEPT GOD. 

Have you not learned that the hubris you exhibit is doing damage to the people who are trying so hard to follow Jesus, to worship in the church He commissioned that we now call "Roman Catholic"? 

On the issue of annulment I believe you are blind.  How can you see the speck of dust in the people's eye when you have a timber in yours?  Do you not remember our history?  The horrible mistakes made in the distant and recent past?  The leaders of the church thought they were right at those times also.  Hubris! 

Is this really what Jesus meant you to do when he gave the keys to the kingdom to Peter?  Jesus wanted you to set up the annulment process?  Really?

Would Jesus ignore the pain of so many - self inflicted or not?  Really, you think the answer is "yes"?  Really? 

Would Jesus put up barriers to the blessing of a new marriage when the old one is legally gone and the former spouses have moved on?  Really? 

It is hard for me to believe the God of Love that I have come to believe in more and more each day would sanction this action of the Church - any more than God sanctioned The Crusades or movement of 'troublesome' priests from parish to parish.

I don't believe that a love for Jesus and your fellow human beings is at the core of the annulment process.  I believe it is yet one more error made by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, and while  the error won't be corrected in time for my wedding to be blessed by the Church, I have faith that one day it will be corrected.   Until that day, I will pray that we, as a church, will exchange the hubris for compassion, understanding and love. 

There is enough hubris in this world... we need not add to it.

Sincerely,

Every Person In Pain Over This Arbitrary Process