Marriage, Divorce, and Church Annulments: If marriages are made in heaven, why do marriages fail?

With so much debate on marriage and annulment at the Synod on the Family, I wish to share my Thesis completed for my degree in Theology.

MATRIMONIAL CONSENT:  Analysis and Practical Applications of Canon 1095 

Canon 1095 is the Church law that ‘permits‘ annulment.  The interpretation and application of this Canon is at the core of the debate on divorce and annulment.

I did not realise what a hot topic this would become when I decided on it in 2011 because I could not understand or agree fully with the Church’s stance.

By the time I completed my research,  I appreciated the wisdom of Canon 1095 and the real ‘nature of consent.’  I understood there is a big difference between:

Matrimonium in fieri  (marriage in becoming)  – the act of creating a marriage  and

Matrimonium in facto esse (marriage in its actual existence)  i.e. what the exchange of vows creates: the abiding state of marriage.

Marriage is indeed sacramental – and the church needs to be sacramental in its approach to marriage, as well as to failed marriages – in short, TO LIFE.

“The manner in which, not just jurisprudence, but the entire church responds to Canon 1095 will be the touchstone of the Christian commitment to marriage …  and by extension the mirror of the state of the sacramental Church. ” 

 Concluding comments:  Fernando, R.,  Matrimonial Consent: Analysis and Practical Applications of Canon 1095.      

I post here the research that took me from the contentious Preamble and questions I had to my conclusion above – with a prayer that the deliberations of the present Synod  will lead to a more sacramental Church.

Thesis proposal

Preamble for Approval to proceed with my Thesis

My Rationale :

The entire argument against annulment and divorce is based on the Biblical tracts :

  • What God has joined together let no man put asunder.  (Mathew 19.6)
  • Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. (Mathew 18.18)

They say “Marriages are made in heaven”.  If this is correct, why do marriages fail?

Reality of failed marriages

We cannot avoid the reality that despite every effort and good will to the contrary, some marriages are just not meant to be and end up in (civil) divorce.

What is the status of these marriages?

The ecclesiastical position on these is ambivalent, even discordant because EITHER

  1. You are unbinding that which is bound in heaven,  if you grant divorce
  2. Or , by not granting a divorce, you are (continuing) to keep bound on earth what is not to be bound in heaven – by refusing to unbind what has already come apart – in truth, in fact, and in reality;   Where the ‘sacrament’ you are upholding is no longer a sacrament or a ‘source of grace” but even perhaps of un-grace or disgrace.
  3. The present ecclesial position is a
    • Refusal or failure to accept our humanity
    • Refusal to accept that not everything that man proposes, including a particular marriage, is within God’s plan because
    • If it is God’s work nothing can stop it, and
    • Unless the builder builds, the labourer toils in vain.

Thus, I question:

  1. Are we binding on earth what heaven does not want bound? (Or what has already been loosed in heaven according to the Divine Plan?)
  2. Are we failing to practice the precept to ‘forgive seventy times seven’ the mistakes that people make?
  3. Are we at odds with our mission to “set the captives free” – to set free those who have been bound due to their humanity, weakness and sin?
  4. Does not ‘if your eye offends you pluck it out’ have an application to marriages that are a source of un-grace.
  5. By not forgiving and releasing people from failed marriages and by trying to maintain at any cost the marriage ‘sacrament’, we are withholding from them the primordial sacrament, Jesus and the Eucharist. This appears to contrary to the precept that the ‘salvation of souls is the Supreme law’.
  6. The witnessing nature of the ‘sacrament’ is totally devalued when people divorce and remarry under civil law,  ignoring the dysfunctional ‘sacramental bond’ which the church refuses to unbind.  (How many civil divorces have been sacramentally unbound?)

There seems to be a lacuna in Canon Law from point of view of faithful/laity.

I would like to study the church’s position on above in an attitude of ‘faith seeking understanding’.

APPROACH

Does Canon 1095 solve the problem of divorce in the Church? 

Can it allay the doubts in minds of the laity?   (C 1095 comes to conclusion that average person is incapable of valid marriage?) .

 AREAS FOR STUDY –

  1. Role of ‘true’ consensus.
  2. Role of Psychological factors.
  3. Spiritual Factor – There is no mention of spiritual factors /spiritual maturity in the Canon .. ?? Wording appears juridical and earth-bound. Though spiritual goal must be implicit, wording appears bent towards temporal ?
    • Role of spirituality
    • Augustine –“ let me know myself that I might know you”  (and your will and plan)
    • “For in this lay my sin – that I sought pleasures and honours and truths in his creatures rather than in him – in myself and the rest – and so fell headlong into sorrows , troubles and errors.” (Confessions )
RESEARCH  :

I would like to test my assumptions with some case studies on the feelings of the laity who have

  • Obtained civil divorce and church nullity
  • Obtained civil divorce and been refused church nullity, if any.
  • Obtained civil divorce but not requested church nullity

to analyse the true role of the three factors pertinent to Canon 1095 in the break-down of marriages and presenting a lay, experiential perspective.

Spin off benefit – Suggestions for Pastoral Preparation for Marriage Under Canon.

 


The above proposal having been approved I completed my Thesis under our Professor of Canon Law.

The Thesis will be shared as soon as I have removed extraneous footnotes to make for easy reading.

Who do I say I am?

chickeneastercard

Yikes … it’s self disclosure time. Again?

I thought I had left my calling card lying around ? … that you could get to know me through a ‘search and rescue’ operation in my posts.

But Blogging 101 suggests I put it right there on the table.

I agree it will be more considerate of your time. So as the earwig said when he fell of the wall … ‘ear wiggo’: A list of 10 more things about me.

Before I start  … I should warn you that my posts are a personal journal of moments on the road – shared with others on the journey.

I write about my Encounters  – with myself, with others and with my Lord.

Signposts on the road thus far :

  1. I am the younger of twin girls. We have a younger sister and brother. I had written  my childhood memories in appreciation to my parents, and to share with my brother – who joined our family 13 years later 🙂
  2. I enjoyed my youth, obtained a professional qualification, had an interesting career, married and moved to Jamaica.
  3. We had glorious times there. Jamaica was like an unending summer. I loved my job and the times we had. My husband and I parted company after 12 years and I returned to Sri Lanka.
  4. The divorce and my father’s death shortly afterwards left me pondering on philosophical and theological questions – the meaning of love, life, love, happiness etc. The questions remained in my subconscious awaiting answers.
  5. I felt there was more to life than work 5 x 52 so I opted for early retirement and started consultancy with reduced hours.

Next 5

Theology

  1. Finally I gave that up to go into full-time study for a degree in Theology – graduating in 2012.
  2. I found answers to many questions I’d had; I learned the Word of God and studied interesting subjects like anthropology and evolution, philosophy, and other theology related topics. I did my thesis on what constitutes consent to marriage in Canon Law and would like to convert that to a readable lay format one day soon.
  3. This past year, I returned to the ‘commercial world’ to help out with a travel agency … but an encounter with mortality intervened and I gave up work.
  4. My other interests – my five gorgeous nieces and one nephew, siblings and mum, a loving church community, my road dog “Monster”,  nature and the environment, POTTERY, psychology and helping young persons grow to their full potential.  Also, of late, diet and good health habits.
  5. Now, I would like to merge my head knowledge with my heart yearnings ….which is writing and sharing, synthesising what I have learned into easy reading for those who have not had the time to research and study as I have had.

And there you have it.

I hope this gives a clearer picture of who is writing and responding on the blogosphere … or as Chardin called it the noosphere.

I’d like to end with one of my favourite quotes from an unknown source.

I strut and prance on the stage of life

Hoarding each moment of thunderous applause.

But when the stage is set, and the lights are dimmed,

and the curtain falls for the last time.

Who will clap for me then Lord?

   YOU?

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http://blog.42floors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/chickeneastercard.jpg
www.letstalklutheran.com