After reading Sabby’s comment to my earlier post, I started to do a little research. From The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie – Marriage Tribunal – A Letter from Bishop Trautman, I found this information: (I am taking what I consider to be key points, there is more to the full letter)
The Church takes seriously its responsibility to promote and protect marriage and family because these institutions contribute to the good of each person, society, and the Christian community.
According to the teaching of Christ and the Church, the vow which husband and wife make to each other at their wedding is permanent and so is their union. It is indissoluble. They are to be faithful to each other for life. They are to be open to children and are to be ready and willing to nurture and educate their children. By God’s plan, marriage is an intimate partnership of life and love in which the husband and wife give themselves to each other completely and accept each other unconditionally. Their love and faithfulness to each other is in turn shared with their children. They become a family.
Every marriage (whether it involves Catholics, Protestants, Jewish persons or others) is presumed to be binding once it has been entered into by a man and woman. The good of all concerned, including children, society, and the Church, demands this presumption.
Unfortunately, many good and sincere people find themselves in conditions or circumstances that result in separation or divorce. Their faith and their membership in the Church are still important to them and often they would like the chance to marry again in the Church.
The law of the Catholic Church directs the Bishop to establish a Tribunal whose purpose is to investigate those broken marriages at the request of one of the parties in order to determine whether there is any possibility of an annulment.
The goal of the Tribunal’s investigation must always be the truth about each marriage that it studies in light of the Church’s teaching and discipline. An annulment can only be granted if there are sufficient proofs that the marriage was not valid from the beginning.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (our secret codebook) is actually online at Christus Rex, and the Sacrament of Matrimony is outlined here and under line 1650 we find this: “In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”[Mark 10:11] the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists.” They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. This is because you are living in a state of sin, and as long as that is the case you are not allowed to receive sacraments – this is from Old Testament law. It also goes on to say that the person who has remarried should still bring up their children in a Christian manner, so that answers my baptism question. There is more on the Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage too.
I know it seems “harsh” in our free love, open minded society. But is our world truly a better place? Are people happier after getting divorced? NO. Sure, there are situations of violence and abuse where the victim should get out. That is not the same as the situation that most divorced people find themselves in. I am one of them, I *know* I am far from perfect. I don’t claim to be. And I have heard so many other people say it too … “I still love him, but I am not in love with him…” or “I am just not happy…” Why do you think I stayed in a bad dating relationship for almost 8 years afterwards? Because I don’t think you should just give up. It hurts not only the spouses but also the children.
Here is the key line that applies to me in this situation: 2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Considering ALL of the circumstances surrounding my marriage – I did not “freely consent” and therefore I can request an annulment. I was in a shattered, depressed state of mind after losing one ovary to a massive multiloculated tumor. (which was fortunately benign, but we didn’t know what would happen to my other ovary in the future.) In the process of the surgery, I lost the child that I was pregnant with. I was terrified that I might not ever again have the chance to have children. (Jason was born afterwards, but I would still be at great risk if I was to be pregnant again.) I was clinically depressed. I was NOT thinking clearly or freely, all things considered. We had known each other for less than a year when we were married, and there were MANY things I discovered just weeks after we were married that showed me immediately how incompatible we were. Which brings me to one of the items evaluated in the annulment process – “whether you engaged in a cognitive or mental evaluation of what marriage is and whether you engaged in a critical evaluation of yourself and your spouse, asking whether your or your spouse were able to undertake and fulfill the essential rights and obligations of marriage. In other words, it is being asked if you knew what you were doing and you sufficiently knew yourself and your former spouse.” (From Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston which has an interesting “Q&A” format to answering questions about annulment.) Did I engage in those evaluations? No. So… time will tell, and I have a lot to learn. Should be an interesting road ahead.
As for the whole address issue, according to this, “the address of your former spouse would be a real necessity, unless you could prove an absolute inability to locate him.” So we can do it the easy way, or the hard way. Yeah. Like I have money to blow trying to locate him? Isn’t an e-mail a lot easier?
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