My annulment's ready already?!

My annulment’s finished already?!

In a followup to his excellent analysis of the new merciful FrancisAnnulment edicts released this week, canonist Dr. Peters has a telling revisit to the story of the Pope’s niece, Maria.

Pope Francis’ niece, María Inés Narvaja, thinks she understands her uncle’s interest in fast-track annulments. Yes, the lawyer in me cautions that Maria’s attributions of statements to her uncle, then-Abp. Bergoglio, are hearsay, but, we’re not in a courtroom, we’re in the blogosphere. Besides what Maria says about the future Francis is illuminating.

Maria recalls that she (or her intended?) applied for an annulment but was told by Argentine Church officials that her case would take four years. She reacted with a young-woman-in-love’s “pffft!” and announced that she would marry civilly. Per María, her uncle endorsed the idea. Maybe, maybe not, that’s not the question here. The question is whether Maria’s (or her intended’s) annulment case would really have taken four years (despite 1983 CIC 1453, setting 18 months as the norm). Personally, I believe her.

I once worked on a marriage case that (fascinating canon-law-of-jurisdiction details omitted) could have been heard in either America or Argentina. Both tribunals turned to Rome for guidance, with the Argentine tribunal asking that the case be heard in the USA! They said their cases take an average of, yes, four years to process. That delay was not necessarily the Argentine Church’s fault; they probably did not have the resources to hear marriage cases more quickly. But it lends support to Maria’s claim about long delays in Argentine tribunals and that in turn would help explain Francis’ impatience to fix an obvious pastoral problem.

Of course, what might well be a serious problem in one Church need not be a problem in another, and a cure for a problem—setting aside whether the cure itself is really a good one—imposed where a cure is not needed can actually cause even more problems. Still, it’s an interesting insight into Francis’ attitudes.

‘Attitude’ is the appropriate word here.  Uncle Bergoglio’s attitude is bigger than the Church and its guidance, bigger than her teaching.  It’s the attitude of a Protestant ‘reformer.’

I think it’s probably true that Maria’s uncle, our Francis, told her to just skip the annulment and get remarried.  Based upon all kinds of similar unconfirmed stories Pope Francis seems to have spent his entire career waiving Church teaching and rules.  He hates rules almost as much as he hates those Pharisees.  Rules are the opposite of mercy, see.  You have to have the right balance they say, as if these were in opposition.  So trim some of those rules!  Be nice! (Be liberal.)

But of course, hating rules doesn’t make you merciful.  It just makes you criminal and if those rules violate God’s laws, it makes you sinful.

It’s not mercy to enable heinous acts like marriage betrayal.  On the contrary it’s ruthless to those involved.  It’s an injustice to all the other family members and wound to society.  People underestimate the damage done because it rides beneath the surface, like abortion.  Even murder relieves pain and yields benefits…for the living.  For some people, murder is mercy.

How does a man like Francis maintain such a twisted view on life?  It’s a mystery.

This story demonstrates something else which is very timely.  It reveals that Francis believes annulments are really just the same as divorces.  He couldn’t care less about the procedure because he couldn’t care less about the grounds.  It certainly is cruel and bureaucratic to make people wait a long time for some useless procedure.  The only problem is, it’s not useless.  It has to do with whether people were actually married.  It concerns their souls, their abandoned spouses, and everyone else.

These new declarations are just ‘no fault’ annulments.  Any excuse will do, especially if they both want it and neither side actually cares.



conservative but not resistant

Conservative but not Resistant

Patheos writer Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the latest to respond to the Wapo accusations of ‘conservative’ resistance, but he sure isn’t very nice about it or very conservative either.

The Post lists nothing specific from which they draw their conclusions.  They mention Cardinal Burke, who seems to have been sidelined fairly well these days, but little else.  Longenecker sees this as proof that there actually is no ‘conservative’ resistance to the Francis agenda among Catholics.

This article from the Washington Post gives a typical progressive slant on Catholic news.

The headline suggests that “Conservative Dissent is Brewing Inside the Vatican.” Ho  hum.

You can guess the tired narrative: Pope Francis is the great reformer who wants to clean up the corrupt Vatican Bank, open communion to divorced and re-married people, lift the ban on artificial contraception, give the nod to abortion, make way for women priests and green light same sex marriage.

Except of course that he’s spoken out clearly against all those things.

Talk is cheap, but the UN’s Paris global warming agreement is expensive.  “Does Francis care about the pro-death agenda of his policy partners,” a conservative might ask?

Nevertheless, he’s a subtle worker don’t you know, and he’s moving things along slowly but surely. Here a clever liberal appointment and there a back room deal. Here a little wink and nudge to journalists and there a promotion of one of his liberal buddies and a demotion of one the bad guys. In other words, the Vatican is working just like Washington DC and any powerful organization–it’s a network of crafty cardinals, manipulative monsignors and corrupt curial officials.

This kind of not-funny sarcasm is a liberal trademark.  You’re supposed to feel stupid.   At least in Washington they don’t pretend to be Catholic.

Of course there will always be politicking in any organization and the Vatican is no exception. Furthermore, there will always be disagreement and dissent within an organization.

Of course, but there’s no dissent in the Church Militant. The heresy is all on the outside – or is Father still talking about Washington?

Is there “dissent” amongst some conservative American Catholics? There is certainly some genuine ugliness rumbling in a few extreme traditionalist blogs, but must we take seriously flat earth bloggers who rant about the pope being a communist antiChrist, modernist, Jew loving, infiltrator who is ushering in the New World Order of Illuminati/Freemasons? Probbly not.

I think we’ve just crossed some of that resistance the Post laments.  You can tell by where Father chooses to bring down his hammer.  If we Catholics weren’t faithful, sincere, and effective, FrancisPriests like Fr. Longenecker wouldn’t smear us.

And if you can’t tell the difference between a destructive pro-communist Pope and a conservative, you belong at Patheos, not among the faithful ‘resistance.’  There’s more to it than a goatee and a gun.






Don't cry. Mercy is on it's way in just 45 days.

Don’t cry. Mercy is on it’s way in just 45 days.

Canonist Dr. Peters has a devastating look at the new ‘Fast and Cheap’ FrancisAnnulments just announced.

A few bits:

If the older canonical tradition wrongly assumed that a respondent necessarily opposed an annulment, this new norm wrongly, I think, makes relevant a respondent’s “consent” to an annulment petition. While a respondent’s participation in the tribunal process is always sought and is usually helpful in adjudicating marriage cases, his or her consent to a nullity petition is never necessary for the Church to exercise jurisdiction over a case and, more to the point, it is not indicative of the merits of the petition. Making mutual agreement to a petition an element of hearing that petition quickly risks confusing two things that the Church has long sought to distinguish, namely, the parties’ laudable cooperation with the tribunal’s search for truth and their collusion with each other toward a specific outcome. Treating nullity petitions in which the parties agree radically differently from those wherein they disagree, sends a dubious message.

Both parties agreeing to it has nothing whatsoever to do with nullity.

The new speedy annulment process, however, allows (I would say, pressures) bishops who are not necessarily canon lawyers (Canon 378), to rely heavily on a report drafted by someone who need not be a canon lawyer (Mitis, Art. 3), after conferring with an assessor who need not be a canon lawyer (Canon 1424), to rule upon a marriage that, besides enjoying natural (‘intrinsic’) indissolubility, might be sacramentally (‘extrinsically’) indissoluble as well. And note, these new speedy annulment cases are not cases that can already, under some circumstances, be processed quickly by documents because they deal with lack of canonical form or lack of canonical capacity. Canon 1686 mox 1688. No, these fast-track annulment cases plainly turn on questions of consent to marriage—consent, long and by far the most complex topic in marriage canon law. True, a judicial vicar must provide certification that the petition proposed for speedy processing meets certain evidentiary criteria, and the defender of the bond is allowed to respond to the petition, but the judicial vicar is not making a judgment as to nullity when he verifies the presence of certain evidence, and the defender has drastically less time to work on a case slated for expedited processing than he or she has for a formal case. In sum, this general lack of awareness of the inescapably complex legal nature of marriage consent shown in these new rules is disturbing.

New FrancisAnnulments demonstrate an ignorance and disregard for canon law and its practice.

Next, on the excuses for ‘fast-track…’

Looking at the examples offered—and setting aside the incoherence of some phrasings such as “abortion procured to prevent procreation”—they confuse several complex aspects of consent law, they seem to treat some fact patterns as if they were quasi-impediments to marriage, and they introduce into consideration some matters that have little (perhaps no) jurisprudence behind them with which to assist bishops assessing their significance in a marriage case. Worse, in my opinion, the enunciation of these factors is going to create crises of conscience among faithful who live with one or more of these conditions in their past.

All the conditions for FrancisAnnulment make most marriages invalid!  The married world must now either doubt Francis or their own lives.  This is really ‘pastoral.’  Not only is it faithless in practice, but it completely lacks common sense.    This must be that ‘New Evangelization’ everyone used to talk about.

The most confusing point about this list is that some of these factors, though presented as reasons for hearing a petition quickly, are actually grounds for nullity (e.g., simulation, force or fear); other factors, however, are most emphatically not grounds for annulment (e.g., brevity of married life); and others might, or might not, be suggestive of grounds for nullity (e.g., an extra-marital affair near the time of the wedding might show a grave lack of discretion of judgement or an inability to assume matrimonial rights and duties). Because traditional grounds of nullity have been mixed in among things that could be evidence for other grounds of nullity, and further mixed with things that are not grounds for nullity and often are not even evidence of grounds for nullity, confusion will—and already has, judging from questions I have already received from the faithful—erupt as to whether these factors are not just reasons to hear a case speedily, but are themselves proof of matrimonial nullity. Try to explain to non-canonists why one thing the pope listed (say, simulation) is grounds for an annulment but another thing he listed (say, pregnancy) is not grounds for an annulment.

There are grounds for annulment here which aren’t actually grounds for annulment.  But since they were already abusing the ‘grounds’ they had, I have to agree with FrancisChurch that at this point it makes no difference.  The end result is the ‘mercy,’  see?

Worse, many, many married couples have experienced one or more of these events in their lives. Unfortunately—again I say this has already started!—people with any of these factors in their lives are going to wonder, logically and sincerely, whether their marriage might be null. They will worry, for example, whether the fact that she was pregnant at the time of the wedding means their marriage is null. If not, why does it mean that an annulment case could be heard more quickly? Or, if he was not very active in the Faith when they married, did he just pretend for (technically, simulate) his wedding promises? Many of these questions are obviously highly dependent on fact analysis (e.g., what is “improper concealment” of infertility, what counts as “incarceration”?), and so one must ask, how are such cases reliably to be investigated, considered, and decided by a bishop (a man with about a hundred other things to do at any given time) in a matter of a few weeks?

Truly, a society seeded with false ‘catholic’ annulments is infected.   Ram them through and welcome more of them.  Hagen Lio!