“Cultural Catholicism” and marriage nullity
June 28, 2014 § 43 Comments
The phenomenon of “cultural Catholicism” can be baffling to adult converts to the Faith, because for the most part adult converts to the Faith are, by self-selection, people who take religion seriously. They cannot imagine what it is like to go to Mass still drunk and hung over from the night before and have to leave Mass early to vomit. They cannot fathom hearing the same words over and over for years, even reciting them yourself, without knowing or much caring what they mean or how they fit into a theological schema.
In short, religiously serious people drastically underestimate the power of indifference.
Nevertheless I am led to understand that the phenomenon of cultural Catholicism is very real. I’m not going to look up any polls, because we all already know what they say. Large numbers of Catholics practice contraception and don’t believe in the Real Presence, just as two examples of divergence between pewsitters and doctrine. Many of those Catholics receive the Eucharist anyway.
And many of them marry in the Church.
Now, I am not even slightly sympathetic to the post-hoc psychobabble rationalizations commonly used to justify annulments. In the thread at New Sherwood Jeff Culbreath catalogues some examples that would be hilarious if there weren’t large numbers of people taking them seriously.
But I am perfectly willing to believe that many ‘cultural Catholics’ approach the marriage altar sacreligiously, either firmly convinced that the Church is wrong or entirely unaware of and ambivalent to doctrine. I am sure that many approach thinking that if their spouse ever cheats they will divorce and marry someone else. Like adults speaking in the world of Charlie Brown, whatever is said by the priest is just noise, part of the ritual: a stream of jabberwocky with no connection to reality. What else might we expect from a population of Catholics who don’t even believe in the Real Presence?
And given that marriage ideas have marriage consequences, it follows that, just as there are unquestionably large numbers of sacrilegious receptions of the Eucharist, and an unknown number of sacrilegious confessions, there are are almost certainly large numbers of invalid marriages.
And I’ve already given my suggestions as to what ought to be done about it.