Pastoral suggestions for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod

June 26, 2014 § 60 Comments

New Sherwood brings us up to speed on plans for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  I figured since it is obvious that the Vatican is reading here, and has possibly gotten the message that the proposed Kasperite exception is actually viciously cruel to everyone, I’d add in my two cents on two other pastoral questions.  The first question is what adjustments should be made to the annulment process in the light of current conditions.  The second is what other pastoral matters need to be urgently addressed.

To the first question, I propose that annulments based on matters of ‘internal forum’ be immediately dismissed – and the marriages in question be considered presumptively valid – unless there is compelling, objective, third-party evidence of defective consent at the time of the wedding. The loose way things are run now makes material adulterers out of some unknown number of poor souls based on intrinsically faulty, question-begging appeals to subjective memories people think they might have of thoughts they may once have thunk.  This is terribly cruel, from a pastoral point of view.

To the second question, I propose that if it really is true that so many marriages are invalid, there ought to be a full-court press to educate the public about the truth of Sacramental Christian marriage (it is after all not complicated: it is something a ten year old can understand); and in conjunction with this there should be widespread promotion of convalidation in order to repair the sacramental irregularity of all of these putatively invalid marriages.  If that many people really are in invalid marriages, they need to be told as much and given the sacramental means to do the right thing.

§ 60 Responses to Pastoral suggestions for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod

  • Chad says:

    As a convert, I really don’t understand how the Church ever got to a point where people don’t understand what marriage is. I realize there are an ocean of lies out there about it, but it is exceedingly simple in form and function despite the depth being as such that saints could spend a lifetime writing and meditating upon the subject.

    The only explanation is that people are willfully making it harder than it needs to be; both on the parts of the laity and of the clergy. They hate having definitions, because that would mean judgment and no room for their false mercy to slip through the lies.

    Sadly, such false mercy leaves no room for Truth nor for real mercy.

  • Zippy says:

    Chad:

    As a convert, I really don’t understand how the Church ever got to a point where people don’t understand what marriage is.

    As a cradle Catholic, I understand it all too well.

  • Chad, speaking as one convert to another, I share your confusion.

    My pastor used to be the “defender of the bond” for the diocesan marriage tribunal. I once asked him if there was something broken about the tribunal process or if there really were that many Catholics living in invalid marriages. He immediately replied “Both.”

  • Zippy says:

    I believe Canon Law requires Sacramental Confession and reception of the Eucharist at least once each year. I suppose it could also require annual convalidation of all marriages, as one way to address the crisis of invalidity.

  • Blogmaster says:

    But Catholics would respond to an annual convalidation of all marriages in two ways. 1) Those in good marriages would do it gladly; 2) Those in vulnerable or troubled marriages, or in marriages where the spouses don’t agree, would opt out. In practical terms, it seems to me that this too would lead to a widespread presumption of invalidity rather than validity, further undermining troubled but probably valid marriages.

  • Zippy says:

    Jeff:
    I agree that that is a possible result. On the other hand, it would force everyone to actually think about what marriage actually means, and a big part of what drives modernity is our unprecedented capacity to ignore the things we don’t want to think about.

  • Blogmaster says:

    I’m on board with the reason for your idea, Zippy, but I think it would certainly backfire. Let’s take the case of a validly married couple where one spouse has dropped the practice of the Faith and doesn’t want to convalidate. Or, maybe one of the spouses is still a believing Catholic but is cantankerous like me and resents having his marriage’s validity questioned. How does the Church view their marriage under your proposal? Are they still presumed married after a refusal to convalidate? Can the believing spouse(s) still receive communion?

  • Zippy says:

    Jeff:
    Since they are my proposals they can be taken in the context of each other, e.g. my first proposal in the OP. That answers most of your questions right there, except that compelling objective third-party evidence of defective consent would have to obtain for the initial wedding and for each and every subsequent convalidation separately. Evidence for defective consent at any one (or all but one, even) of the exchanges of vows would not be sufficient. So it would strengthen the juridical presumption of validity even more than my first proposal on its own.

    As for a cooperating/uncooperating spouse scenario, it seems obviously just to me that the cooperating spouse should still be permitted Communion.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    I suppose it could also require annual convalidation of all marriages, as one way to address the crisis of invalidity.

    Does the RCC teach that marriages can go bad and become invalid? It seems contradictory to the insolubility of a valid marriage to conduct a convalidation more than once.

    Sounds like the makings of a type of TSA security line before you enter the annulment mill.

  • Zippy says:

    CC:

    Does the RCC teach that marriages can go bad and become invalid?

    Nope.

    It seems contradictory to the insolubility of a valid marriage to conduct a convalidation more than once.

    Baptism is once-and-done too, but conditional baptisms are done whenever there is any doubt. Convalidation, conditional baptism and the like do not presume invalidity: they remove epistemic doubt about invalidity. If the sacrament was not confected validly prior, convalidation confects the sacrament. If the sacrament was already confected validly, convalidation has no effect.

    Once a year could be too frequent, but I’m just spitballing in the combox here. If we take seriously the notion that there are lots of invalid marriages, the thing to do is not (as I’ve explained before, including in the OP) to make getting annulments even easier. The thing to do is remove doubt about the validity of these marriages. Frequent mandatory convalidation accomplishes exactly that, objectively speaking.

    Jeff’s and your objections are about how things are perceived subjectively by various people, and may have some merit on that front – for some people. But as far as the Church is concerned, frequent mandatory convalidation would remove any doubt the Church has about the validity of all these marriages about which it presently entertains doubt.

  • Zippy says:

    CC:

    Sounds like the makings of a type of TSA security line before you enter the annulment mill.

    Lest there be any doubt about what I am proposing, my first suggestion in the OP is to end the annulment mill. And that is certainly more important than this combox spitball, though I think as a pastoral proposal – a proposal to help the Church better pastor Catholics – that frequent mandatory convalidation may at least deserve more thought rather than summary dismissal.

  • Zippy says:

    I’ve heard that some of the folks who work in annulment tribunals complain that convalidations are a big pain, because they make it a lot harder to get an annulment. Each set of vows has to be proven invalid independently, and that makes it a lot more difficult to have the marriage annulled (that is, to grant priests permission to preside at a “new” wedding for one of the parties).

    That right there should tell you something.

    If that ultimately means that fewer people pretend to get married when they aren’t really getting married, that’s probably a better outcome than the present situation.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Peace, man! I realize you’re spitballing, and I’m not trying to get you.

    I didn’t know about conditional baptisms, so I want to leave that alone for right now.

    But as far as the Church is concerned, frequent mandatory convalidation would remove any doubt the Church has about the validity of all these marriages about which it presently entertains doubt.

    I hadn’t thought about it this way, but annual convalidation strikes me as addressing the wrong end. Is it the RCC’s position that the priest alone (or through the priest alone) that the confection is made; whether properly or improperly? I had not understood that. If that is the case, then it is the priests (or whoever ministers to marital issues) who need to be annually examined.

    The annulment mill is a (wrong) response to the congregants, right? The Church isn’t sending representatives out there and telling people to get an annulment. In effect, that is what you are spitballling that they do. I think this will lead to a lot of civil divorces. From the Church’s perspective those can’t be divorces because they weren’t married. It will be two people who quit cohabitating. The fornication in such an arrangement will have most likely ceased beforehand; witnessed by the desire to separate.

    If I’m unhappily married and you bring me for convalidation then I’ll just take the de facto annulment. Or is there a third “plane” of marriage, a limbo?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    Is it the RCC’s position that the priest alone (or through the priest alone) that the confection is made; whether properly or improperly?

    Not quite. It is actually the couple themselves who confect the sacrament, but a certain form is required. (Much as a certain form is required for valid baptism: uncertainties over whether proper form was followed is the most common reason for conditional baptism, since literally anyone, even a non-Christian, can baptize).

    Dispensations are sometimes given when it is not possible or desirable to follow proper form, and baptized non-Catholics are not held to proper form. So marriages between baptized non-Catholics are not invalidated based on defect of form.

    But anyway, only a tiny sliver of annulments rest on improper form, and improper form is easy to prove: if you went to the justice of the peace (or some other non-Catholic) instead of your priest, and you are Catholic, and you did not get a dispensation to do it that way from your bishop, the marriage is invalid. Otherwise you’ll be getting married under the direction of a priest and proper form will be followed.

    That is really kind of a sideshow. The annulment mill is driven by ‘internal forum’ cases (you can (very) loosely think of this as subjective matters involving the interior intentions and understandings of the persons involved).

    If I’m unhappily married and you bring me for convalidation then I’ll just take the de facto annulment. Or is there a third “plane” of marriage, a limbo?

    There is no de facto annulment. It wouldn’t work that way, especially if my first suggestion was followed. Refusing to convalidate does nothing whatsoever to any valid vows already made. As with conditional baptism, convalidation is a one-way street.

    The point is that if we take seriously the possibility that there are all of these invalid marriages out there, the pastorally crucial thing to do is convalidate them ASAP. Admittedly “convalidate everyone on a regular basis” is a bit of a bazooka; but it would git ‘er done.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    The annulment mill is driven by ‘internal forum’ cases (you can (very) loosely think of this as subjective matters involving the interior intentions and understandings of the persons involved).

    Understood.

    There is no de facto annulment. It wouldn’t work that way, especially if my first suggestion was followed. Refusing to convalidate does nothing whatsoever to any valid vows already made.

    So what state is a couple in if there internal forum was malformed, incorrect, whatever? An annulment is a declaration that no marriage took place; that it wasn’t properly confected. Are there other types of marriage to which the Church can hold a couple?

    A convalidation is a confection of marriage (or inert). I don’t see how you get away from the fact that annual convalidation is an admittance of the Church that it can’t tell a marriage when it sees one even though they are the confectors and arbiters (via the existence of an annulment process at all) of marriage.

  • jf12 says:

    The fundamental evil of modernity, and I know I’m treading on your turf but this is different, is the new incarnation of the serpent in the Garden. Back then the old boy tempted Eve with the potential for knowledge. Now, the temptation is the potential for ignorance.

    I’m not talking about pastoral waffling and inventing of gray areas.

    The straight and narrow path is now considered to be salvation through ignorance. “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do” is now considered to be a fine strategy, the easier plan of salvation. Be baptized in ignorance; confess your ignorance “I just didn’t know. I had my eyes closed, and my fingers in my ears.” Eat and drink your fill of ignorance.

  • Zippy says:

    Good comment jf12. The great thing about sanctifying ignorance is that it doesn’t require anything of you.

    Cane:

    So what state is a couple in if there internal forum was malformed, incorrect, whatever?

    That’s just a fancy way of asking what their state is if they didn’t consent to marriage.

  • Chad says:

    Zippy,
    I fail to see how your idea couldn’t be hung up on what (to my knowledge) is the largest factor of annulment – people claiming they lied about matters the Church considers essential – to death, children, family, etc.

    I fail to see how anything other than what we already have in place is needed. We have the very common sense and (to my knowledge) requirement of engaged couples to uave meetings with a priest.

    To my knowledge, the meetings are to educate themselves on what marriage is as a sacrament and smooth over initial bumps of moving in together.

    If that actually happened, we wouldn’t have an issue. A sheet with signatures next to the relevant parts of the catechism and a talk with a priest would be sufficient.

    It really is that easy.

    All we have to do is simply do what catholics have done for centuries.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    That’s just a fancy way of asking what their state is if they didn’t consent to marriage.

    Good, then I’m not totally off. My (poorly informed and merely sympathetic) suggestion would be to do as you say and immediately dismiss internal forum annulment inquiries. Next would be some re-confirmation of the bishops, and then priests; both with a special emphasis on the sacrament of marriage. That would lead from the head and close the borders.

    I do think, given the circumstances, a convalidation for everyone (by a “re-confirmed” minister) wouldn’t be entirely amiss. Regular intervals of convalidation would seem to undermine the Church’s ability to authoritatively pronounce on marriage.

  • Novaseeker says:

    I fail to see how anything other than what we already have in place is needed. We have the very common sense and (to my knowledge) requirement of engaged couples to uave meetings with a priest.

    To my knowledge, the meetings are to educate themselves on what marriage is as a sacrament and smooth over initial bumps of moving in together.

    If that actually happened, we wouldn’t have an issue. A sheet with signatures next to the relevant parts of the catechism and a talk with a priest would be sufficient.

    It really is that easy.

    Well, but the question is whether there was actual consent. Even if there is a paper signed where each party to the marriage states in writing that they formally consent to X/Y/Z, this does not necessarily mean that there was *actual* consent in the interior sense, which is the criterion — unless the canons were changed such that these written forms of consent would create an irrebuttable presumption for the tribunals of the actual, interior consent required to validly ‘confect’ the sacrament. I think you’d still need that canonical change in order for the “signing the paper” approach to work — otherwise, an advocate for annulling who had any degree of skill would be able to set it aside by producing the usual types of evidence that are presented to indicate a lack of *actual* consent, regardless of a piece of paper someone signed when they were in the ‘run up’ to getting married.

  • Zippy says:

    Right, the ‘piece of paper’ approach is what we have now. But only a very small percentage of people read the terms and conditions for iTunes and understand it all in its legal context.

    The comedian Don Freisen has a great bit called “not necessarily actually guilty per se” that seems appropriate.

  • CJ says:

    Zippy in order to suss out the contours of your proposal, I’d like your thoughts on two hypotheticals:

    1. H & W are both raised in a Protestant church that teaches marriage may be dissolved by the innocent party in the case of adultery. They marry in that Protestant church. H converts, W doesn’t and refuses to convalidate. W cheats on H and civilly divorces him. Annulment?

    2. H & W both Catholic, get married in the church but unknown to W, H absolutely, positively, doesn’t want children and secretly gets a vasectomy. She finds out, they divorce. Annulment?

  • jf12 says:

    Not as guilty as I could be, Your Honor.

  • jf12 says:

    I’ll repeat my contention with a different emphasis. A LOT of pastors now see part of their sympathetic role to be making sure that their flock is NOT fully accountable, in order to give them the fig leaf of ignorance. It is deliberate, and they consider it caring. “Let the blame for their ignorance be on me”, they piously pray, believing themselves to be in persona Christi in so doing. And I’m deadly serious.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:
    Case 1 is straightforwardly invalid. True sacramental marriage is indissoluble, so consent that explicitly carves out exceptions to indissolubility is straightforwardly defective.

    Case 2 depends on when he resolved to remain sterile and got the vasectomy. If it is something he came to after the wedding, no annulment. But getting a vasectomy before the wedding is objective evidence of defective consent (in this case w.r.t. openness to children), so that is straightforwardly invalid.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:
    I agree. Pastors are using ignorance as a kind of eighth sacrament.

  • CJ, Zippy: John Zmirak wrote a comic book/graphic novel that was a 21st century update of “The Grand Inquisitor.” Without spoiling too much, the villain plans to become even greater than Christ by making sure everyone is completely ignorant of Christian morals thus making it impossible for them to ever commit a mortal sin.

  • Karl says:

    You are a dreamer zippy. An upright man but a dreamer.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ Karl:

    Actually, Zippy is one of the most practical men I’ve ever known. Just exactly what has he suggested that’s so far outside the realm of reality?

  • I realize that this may come across as crass, but the fact that I myself am married should ameliorate that effect, I hope.

    I can almost LITERALLY not FATHOM what it means to say that “most married Catholics don’t know what marriage is/entails”. Are we to believe that they were asleep when pronouncing their vows? Your average Catholic wedding clearly indicates the monogamy and perpetuity of the Sacrament being invoked. Does it even make sense to say that the parties involved can’t grasp these words? If even Hollywood movies can get these themes across in many cases, I truly don’t grasp what the basis is for saying that “most Catholics don’t understand the nature of marriage”. I can see how most don’t grasp (or care to grasp) the REASONS for upholding marriage against anti-natal sins (contraception, sodomy, oral sex, homosexuality, adultery, etc.), but to say that the clear intent of having a wedding is just too hard for most Catholics to grasp seems… as specious as it is monstrous.

    If that’s the case–if it’s THAT easy to dispense with the marital obligations and penalties of marital sin–then I also don’t fathom how any other sin is not just as easily dispensed with. The death of a thousand qualifications has become a plague, and now the Vatican seems to be doubling down.

  • Zippy says:

    I suspect that religiously serious people drastically underestimate the power of indifference. A poll of “cultural Catholics” to (e.g.) determine what percentage think divorce and remarriage in a case of adultery is morally justified might be interesting. Personally I’d expect similar results to contraception polls and polls about the Real Presence.

    I don’t know why folks expect better results when it comes to marriage than we get with other doctrines. Just because you personally take doctrine seriously doesn’t mean that everyone else does. It is as ridiculous for Catholics to disbelieve in the Real Presence as it is to disbelieve in indissolubility including cases of adultery; but nonetheless many Catholics do disbelieve.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    I had the pleasure of being raised in a community of very orthodox Catholicism. I attended Catholic school all the way from K-12. Study of both sacred scripture and sacred tradition were part of daily life. I didn’t have any peers – at all ever – during that period of my life who weren’t serious, practicing Catholics. Everyone who was anyone in my life treated Catholic doctrine with the utmost seriousness and reverence.

    My subsequent encounters with the average “Catholic” over the years have left me with no doubt in my mind that this is the exception, not the norm.

    It doesn’t strike me as implausible in the slightest that there are plenty of “Catholics” who have trouble understanding that their indissoluble vows are actually indissoluble.

  • I know Catholics who went through 18 years of Catholic schooling who still didn’t know the most basic requirements of the faith such as being bound under pain of sin to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. I would not be at all surprised to know of married Catholics who don’t know the obligations of a Catholic marriage. Heck, there’s a lady in my parish who was divorced and civilly remarried but still serves as an EMHC.

  • […] And I’ve already given my suggestions as to what ought to be done about it. […]

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ Beefy:

    My point exactly. It never ceases to amaze me how willfully ignorant humans in general are capable of being.

  • What an incredibly strong post.

    Perhaps in addition to having review of the CCC, perhaps a review of the top 40 reasons people’s marriages are declared null. Signing a document stating that none of these reasons are in play would be the best sort of premarital agreement possible, even if not strictly binding. The act of signing — or refusing — would bring a new level of sobriety and seriousness to the premarital counseling sessions that would make it difficult for a priest to obscure.

  • jf12 says:

    @Zippy, re: “I don’t know why folks expect better results when it comes to marriage than we get with other doctrines.”

    I don’t know why either. Maybe some people think that “other cultures marry too”, so a Catholic (or any other sacramental view of) marriage has at least that foundation of worldly marriage to build up from. But that thought presupposes that worldly marriage IS somewhat sanctifying, at least as opposed to worldly non-marriage.

    I’m gonna follow this sheep trail before I lose it. In Genesis 2, we see previews, you might say, of some things like certain Catholic sacraments. The whole earth gets baptized “in the cloud” in 2:6. There’s food, there’s Spirit-giving and name-calling, and there’s marriage. Of these previews, the one that looks most the same as now (to me) is marriage; trying not to imagine naked hippie marriage.

    Anyway, we don’t tend to think that worldly bathing, or even non-Christian (e.g. Hindu) religious baptism has any particular sanctification, nor do we think that worldly eating, even if at a nice Christiany place like Chik-Fil-A, is sanctifying. So why marriage? I don’t know exactly, but I do consider a faithful married non-Christian couple (again, not to pick on anybody, e.g. Hindu) to be *far* more holy etc than unmarried fornicators.

    Maybe it’s because the couple are the priests of the grace upon themselves.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    I don’t know exactly, but I do consider a faithful married non-Christian couple (again, not to pick on anybody, e.g. Hindu) to be *far* more holy etc than unmarried fornicators.

    Natural marriage (you can think “Old Testament marriage” if that helps) is part of the natural law. So it is a better state than fornication even in pre-Christian or completely pagan cultures which have never encountered the Gospel.

    The Church teaches that Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament. (All seven sacraments were instituted by Christ). So marriages between non-Christians are ‘merely natural’ while marriages between the baptized are sacramental. But I’m pretty sure ‘merely natural’ is still sanctifying: pace (e.g.) Romans 2.

    Maybe it’s because the couple are the priests of the grace upon themselves.

    That is true of sacramental marriage. The role of the priest is to witness the marriage on behalf of the Church – to attest to its validity, part of which includes insuring proper form, etc. But the ministers of the sacrament are the couple.

    I’m not really ‘up’ on detailed theology of ‘merely natural’ marriages, but I expect that there is a kind of natural grace (obviously insufficient in itself for salvation, which requires supernatural grace) in doing the right thing under the natural law out of charity. We are straying into theological territory with which I am not really familiar though.

  • Zippy says:

    unwobblingpivot:

    … perhaps a review of the top 40 reasons people’s marriages are declared null. Signing a document stating that none of these reasons are in play …

    Great idea.

  • Blogmaster says:

    “… perhaps a review of the top 40 reasons people’s marriages are declared null. Signing a document stating that none of these reasons are in play … ”

    But then those same 40 reasons could be used to annul the signing of the document. I think we just need to get rid of the 40 reasons. You were sober, married in the Church, recited the words, no gun to your head – you’re marriage is forever presumed valid.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ Blogmaster:

    The entire idea is to prevent invalid marriages from taking place – preferably right from the get go, although convalidation is a lot better than a marriage remaining invalid.

    If a couple refrains from getting married because of this hypothetical document, then their marriage wouldn’t have been valid anyway, and material adultery has been prevented.

    Seems like a pretty good policy to me.

    Simply saying “suck it up buttercup” won’t make invalid marriages valid.

  • Blogmaster says:

    I think the far greater threat is that of valid marriages being falsely annulled due to those 40 bogus reasons. The second biggest problem is that of people entering into marriage with an eye on those 40 reasons as an escape hatch.

    The possibility of civil marriages remaining invalid does not present a crisis. If a couple is smart enough to sign a document like this, they’re smart enough to know what to do if their marriage isn’t valid.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    I think the far greater threat is that of valid marriages being falsely annulled due to those 40 bogus reasons. The second biggest problem is that of people entering into marriage with an eye on those 40 reasons as an escape hatch.

    The entire function of the hypothetical document is to prevent that from happening. It precludes the use of any of the 40 reasons as grounds for annulment.

    If a couple is smart enough to sign a document like this, they’re smart enough to know what to do if their marriage isn’t valid.

    The entire point is to make a formal declaration of “I have read and understand this document” mandatory before any Catholic marriage is performed. The entire point is to educate those who are not “smart enough to sign a document like this”. I actually agree that for those who would sign a document like this on their own, it’s probably not necessary.

  • jf12 says:

    @JustSomeGuy, the “formal declaration” is the wedding itself, if the presider (e.g. the priest) is even marginally competent. The hypothetical document is a second order declaration, the sort of thing bureaucrats love “sign here to acknowledge receipt of the documents you will have to sign.”

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @jf12:

    I agree that the wedding itself should be sufficient. However, reality shows us that – sadly – it isn’t. Stating the fact that this really shouldn’t be a problem in the first place doesn’t help solve the problem. I think making people acknowledge – in writing – marriage’s indissolublility before allowing them to marry would.

  • jf12 says:

    @JustSomeGuy, I appreciate the sentiment but reality is that if there are two places to sign then that means there are twice as many ways it can go wrong than if there is only one place to sign. Soon, we’ll have to require a third signature attesting to the fact that their signature on the hypothetical document was placed there in good faith etc.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @jf12

    Except now you’re griping about corrupt bureaucracy, which – while understandable – doesn’t discredit the idea at hand. Our proposal is for a single, binding document. The need to protect the idea from corruption doesn’t discredit it.

  • jf12 says:

    @JustSomeGuy, I have nothing in particular against the hypothetical *extra* document except that it will be *exactly* as powerless to keep the couple together as the official wedding itself, and is thus at best a waste of time, and it makes those marriages that didn’t need the *extra* (not *single*) document seem less binding. Right?

    “I lied” and “I still didn’t really understand and just went along” are just the first two of *thousands* of reasons why the *extra* signature on the *extra* document wouldn’t actually help.

  • Zippy says:

    It isn’t a dumb idea, as a part of pre-nuptial preparation, to require the couple to take a good hard look at common reasons for annulment and make sure that they are not present. This is not something that is presently done at all, as far as I know.

    I think unwobblingpivot’s idea has merit and is worthy of further exploration.

  • Zippy says:

    Another salutary reason for the idea is institutional. If the reasons currently given for a positive finding of nullity were more widely known – were required to be more widely known as part of the process – on the ‘front end’ by people on the path to marriage, my guess is that this would embarrass at least some pastors into an increase in sane thinking on the question.

    That is what I am trying to do in the OP, as well. If we stipulate that there really are all of these invalid marriages out there, it is insane not to have their convalidation as the top pastoral priority.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    I also like unwobblingpivot’s idea.

    It’s true that paperwork is not the answer to a question that is fundamentally spiritual in nature (as jf12 basically said), but it is useful for getting everyone–even and perhaps especially observers–to understand that the spirit is being ignored. It also lacks the implication that the Church doesn’t know a marriage when it sees one.

    I still believe the problem is not “confusion”, but “lying”, and lots of it by lots of people. Such a document helps bolster the spirit of those who might be tempted to let their observation of a perpetrated lie or fraud go unsaid.

    Or serve as evidence against them.

  • jf12 says:

    re: “It isn’t a dumb idea”. No, the motivation isn’t dumb, but we can look beyond to probable effects. The Rules already specify at least six months of instruction and guidance and other preparation for Pre-Cana.
    http://www.foryourmarriage.org/dating-engaged/getting-married-catholic/

    Pre-marriage retreats were *heavily* promoted in the 1960s, as far as I known specifically to stave off the divorce boom that had not yet happened. I and my to-be wife attended a huge ecumenical Pre-Cana retreat, the attendance of which was about half Catholic, at a monastery in Georgia in 1970. Hundreds of boomer couples, many hippies. Peak divorce was 1980.

  • Proph says:

    I routinely tutor people in statistics and other kinds of math. High school students, college-aged students, working professionals taking the occasional class or maybe going back to get a graduate degree after a few years or decades working, etc. I am still amazed even today how few of them care about learning. Session after session after session with people as dissimilar as its possible to get show up to tutoring with nothing more than their homework assignment and a pen, both of which they place in front of me, before sitting in stony silence.

    “So what in particular are you struggling with on this assignment?”

    “Oh, you know… I just… wanted to… work through this.”

    Mm hmm.

    You see the same thing in literature classes. Just read Dr. Bertonneau’s pieces on the topic.

    All of which is to say that Zippy is 100% right about this phenomenon he describes, which is in no way unique to Catholicism. Indifference is in the air we breath. They — math students, lit students, Catholics — just don’t care. They don’t care that they’re supposed to care. If you try to teach them, they won’t care enough to listen. They’ll sit through the class, sign the form, say the words, whatever, but it’s all just stuff you do because…. well, who cares why.

    Who needs the Walking Dead? The zombies are here, now.

  • […] if it is true that there are large numbers of invalid marriages among Catholics, that is just because those Catholics have taken to heart what the Bishops have been teaching. […]

  • […] People whose expectations about marriage come from what the Church does “pastorally” as opposed to what she says doctrinally in the fine print may have wrong ideas about marriage; probably in many cases to enough of an extent that they attempt marriage invalidly.  At least for most of them there is a sacramental way forward that does not involve perfect continence: convalidation. […]

  • […] the case of uncertain consent to marriage there is also a simple sacramental solution: convalidation.  This is how the Church has always consistently treated epistemic doubt about the validity of […]

  • […] and annulment proceedings.  I would expect to see most of the pastoral effort concentrated on education and convalidation of marriages.  If these vast numbers of marriages truly are invalid, the overriding pastoral priority is […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Pastoral suggestions for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: