Praised be Jesus Christ! The following is reprinted with permission of the author: “Marriage is an extremely important sacrament in the Catholic Church. We support families and their spiritual growth from baptism, first communion, and confirmation to marriage preparation and beyond. What follows is some information from our diocesan website about divorce, annulment, and the healing ministry our Church can provide. Please take a closer look, as there are many misconceptions about this topic. Divorce is unique among life experiences. There is no precedent that can prepare an individual for it. Divorce is a process, not an event. Legal divorce can be pinpointed to a moment in time, to the signing of a court decision, but not so the experience of divorce. The experience of divorce is the result of a series of incidents that eventually erode a relationship between a husband and wife. The ending of any marriage that has endured long enough for the two partners to invest portions of their lives, money, emotions, and dreams is often a devastating experience. Persons who have experienced the heartbreak of divorce are in need of much healing. One of the healing ministries of the Church open to the divorced is the annulment process. It is a unique way of bringing closure to a sad chapter in life. The annulment process may very well reveal that although two people struggled mightily to sustain a relationship, something essential to marital consent was lacking from the beginning, and therefore, the union could not be sustained. The annulment process is a procedure that cleans up some of the spiritual damage left over from a divorce. One aspect of that damage is the inability of the divorced person to enter another sacramental marriage at any time in any place. The nullity declaration, if that is the outcome of the investigation, is a declaration that a person’s marriage really wasn’t a true sacramental marriage, and therefore, the divorced person is able to marry in the Church as though for the first time. Now for some myths surrounding this topic: MYTH: An annulment renders the children of a marriage illegitimate. TRUTH: An annulment does not change the status of children in any way. MYTH: Annulments cost thousands of dollars. TRUTH: The Diocese of La Crosse requests a $400 contribution for a process that costs more than twice that to complete. In situations of great financial hardship, the amount requested is either reduced or waived entirely. [Moreover, as a parish we help cover this cost on a regular basis.] MYTH: It takes years to receive an annulment. TRUTH: Most cases in the Diocese of La Crosse are completed in less than eight months [My experience is that it’s closer to 6 months or less.] MYTH: An annulment means a marriage never existed. TRUTH: An annulment does not deny the reality that a civil marriage occurred. When an annulment is granted, it is a declaration that a union was entered with improper consent on the part of one or both parties and, as a result of that defective consent, the parties involved should be no longer held to their vows.” I picked this brochure up while at our annual Fall Clergy Conference in La Crosse and thought it was very well done. I’ve helped dozens of people work through the healing process of seeking an annulment and am very happy to assist you or someone you know who would benefit from this. For Catholics who remarried without an annulment, receiving Communion is prohibited. That’s hard news to bear. But the silver lining is what you just read. Call me if you would like help – God is magnificent in His ability to draw straight with crooked lines.
May God grant healing to His children, especially those suffering the wounds of divorce and division!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin