A little while back I had the opportunity to attend a small conference about Marriage and Evolution, as in Darwinian evolution, specifically addressing the damage that the Evolutionary theory has done to society in general, and to the cultural foundation of marriage and family, namely by the Evolutionary base premise that everything is constantly changing and that everything “new” is “better” and everything “old” is “inferior” or, sin-of-sins, “unevolved”. The morning session was a series of presentations on marriage and family, and then the afternoon sessions were incredibly interesting hard science – fossil records, genetics, molecular biology, etc.
The final presentation of the morning session was an overview by a laywoman of the horrific situation in North America that has existed for decades now with regards to annulments. The Catholic church in America has been handing out declarations of nullity – de facto “Catholic divorce” – to pretty much everyone who asked for them for, well, completely coincidentally, just about 50 years now. That is no secret. Just ask any Kennedy.
In fact, permit me to quickly recount as an aside an illustrative horror story from my time in RCIA in the very (relatively) conservative neocon parish in Denver, which is itself one of the more conservative dioceses in the former U.S.
The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program was run by a “team”, which consisted almost entirely of laypeople, mostly middle-aged and elderly women. In fact, I entered the Catholic Church without ever, one time, speaking to a priest. The first time I spoke to a priest was my first confession several weeks after entering the Church. But I digress.
Anyway, one of the team members told one of the RCIA catechumens who was in a romantic relationship with a civilly divorced Catholic to – and I quote verbatim – “Just go to Vegas and get married and let the chips fall where they may. All annulments are approved. You just have to do the paperwork.”
This team member was advising a person getting ready to enter the Church to commit mortal sin, thus excommunicating themselves, not to mention the presumption upon God’s Mercy. This woman also thought that it was unfair that her sodomitical hairdresser and his boyfriend couldn’t adopt a pet child, and that when people die they become angels. Ah, the New Pentecost…. It is enough to make a person ask whether or not these people actually believe any of it in the first place….
So back to the conference I recently attended. At the end of the laywoman’s presentation about the extreme injustice of both the no-fault civil divorce culture in North America, as well as the push within the Church to make the annulment process into de facto Catholic no-fault divorce, she touched very briefly on the September 8th Motu Proprio and how it was simply moving the entire Church toward the North American model of “annulment on demand”. There was a Q&A period, and there were two visiting bishops present in the audience, one from the Middle East somewhere and one from subsaharan Africa somewhere.
So I raised my hand and asked the final question of the session. My question was this:
“The disastrous September 8th Motu Proprio contains a list of criteria that could be cited as grounds for declaring a marriage null, including “lack of faith”, which is a universal condition. I myself am already receiving questions from orthodox faithful Catholics who are happily married who are now questioning whether or not they are even married because one or both of the spouses was “nervous” on the morning of the wedding, perhaps indicating a “lack of faith” per the Motu Proprio. This is the diabolical fruit of the September 8th disaster. My question is, what can we do or say to people to assure them that they are, in fact, sacramentally married and should not doubt this?”