Thoughts about the Synod and simplifying the “annulment” process

At the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) Jesuit Thomas Reese is going out to the edge of the cliff:

Simplified annulment process coming from synod

This is part of the “lemmings to the cliff” dynamic being stirred by the Synod of the Media.

If you follow news about the Synod (“opinion” pieces), doesn’t it seem that many assume automatically that dumbing down the process for review of marriage cases simply has to be done or OMG!! the sky is going quite simply to fall?  We can’t be a Church of “mercy” unless we jettison all – or at least a lot – of this legalistic mumbojumbo and finally become the compassionate Church we have never ever been!

It’s a foregone conclusion.

Right?

If, however, the Synod of the Synod recommends a streamlined annulment process to the Pope, it remains to be seen what that would look like. How to do that without undermining also the Church’s teaching on marriage?

Paul VI, in his 1966 Apostolic Constitution on Fast and Abstinence Paenitemini didn’t fundamentally change the Church’s teaching on fasting, abstinence, doing penance, etc. He changed the laws concerning the practice of those things which the Church teaches we must do.

The result today is – and I don’t think I am exaggerating – that hardly any Catholics practice any meaningful fasting, abstinence, penance or mortifications of any kind.

Thus there has been lost to all of us, the Church as a whole, tremendous, incalculably valuable spiritual benefits.

Let’s now talk about changing juridical practice concerning marriage cases and declarations of nullity.

That won’t change what people believe?

When changes were made to Holy Mass in the 60’s (and with illicit experimentation and abuses far into the 70’s and 80’s) many people had the impression that, “If Mass can change, anything can change… including doctrine!”

Decades of bad translations and Communion in the hand, while standing… they haven’t affected people’s belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, have they?

All manner of expectations are being raised by the eager, oh so eager, Synod of the Media.

I’ve been quizzing canonists I trust for their opinions on what could be done that wouldn’t make the serious discernment process, aimed at arriving at truth and justice, into a something that unintentionally signals that the Church’s practice is a sham and that doctrine can change.  More on that another time.

Meanwhile, if American diocesan tribunals are a model that some (of the most eager for CHANGE) think should be followed (precisely because they were though to be annulment mills), then why did His Holiness not appoint a single American to the commission charged with overhauling the process?

Please share!

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39 Responses to Thoughts about the Synod and simplifying the “annulment” process

  1. McCall1981 says:

    Maybe changes to the anullment process is what Card Ouellet is referring to here:
    Cardinal Ouellet: expect pastoral, not doctrinal changes
    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=10908

  2. wmeyer says:

    In my limited experience, the Tribunal is hardly a mill. My case took 33 months, start to finish, and my wife’s took 36. Although the claim here is a 12 month average, of the 10-12 I knew of in RCIA classes (2 years of RCIA), only one took less than a year, and that was 11 months.

    What I do think would be a benefit is for the implementation to be standardized. I have been told that it is up to the diocese how to implement, and that appears to be so, from the limited knowledge I have of people getting annulments in other dioceses.

    I do not know, nor pretend to know, what the process should be. I have no argument with it at that level, other than that there should be no difference to the process based on the diocese. In my view, that seems a pretty fundamental notion. The canons, after all, are universal.

  3. msc says:

    Heavens, I agree with wmeyer here: it needs to be standardized, and streamlined. There is abundant anecdotal evidence for a wide divergence among dioceses in the rigorousness of the process. I too have gone through the process, which took almost two years. I won’t get into details, but they interviewed my then wife’s mother, my mother and brother, etc. My interview took more than two hours. I understand how serious this issue is, but I don’t believe it cannot be smoothed out and speeded up. Dioceses should also, perhaps, consider approaching suitable laypeople and encourage them to receive the training necessary to be able to serve on annulment tribunals. Perhaps a diocese could offset some of the costs. Again, to judge from anecdotal evidence existing tribunals are overworked.

  4. Deacon Augustine says:

    What possible benefit can it be to anybody to make it “simple” to annul a Holy Sacrament? The reason that it isn’t simple to declare a marriage null, is that it was never meant to be – we are dealing with something sacred, not profane.

  5. acardnal says:

    Let’s not forget the Martians. The Synod should consider them in their deliberations.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    Einstein said it best, although this is, really, a paraphrase by the composer, Roger Sessions:

    Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

    The Chicken

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Why the pope didn’t appoint any Americans? Does he know any American canonists (besides Burke?)

  8. kpoterack says:

    McCall1981,

    Could be. Thanks for the link, although Card. Ouellet seems to be talking about better marriage prep (2-3 years of a marriage novitiate? fascinating idea.) Also, nice to know that he spoke about marriage as a covenant – wouldn’t have known that from the Vatican summaries. Ouellet is a very good man and wrote a profound article in Communio this summer which, among other things, rejected the Kasper proposal.

    http://www.communio-icr.com

  9. Discipula says:

    If annulments are supposed to be a declaration that there was no valid sacrament, then the Church should reconsider requiring Catholics returning to the fold who’s prior marriage was before a Justice of the Peace first get an annulment before regularizing their current marriage. I understand that marriage is one of those Sacraments that do not require a priest, but they still require the intention to have a sacrament – and for a Catholic who has rejected the faith and entering into a purely contractual natural marriage, where is the intention to enter into a sacrament? Its a very small step from treating purely natural marriages just like sacramental marriages to believing purely natural marriages are just like sacramental marriages. That would be a grievous mistake because natural marriages do not necessarily involve God, yet sacramental marriages have God at their very hearts.

  10. Fr Sean Coyle says:

    In 1982 in Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario, the late Fr John English SJ told us that he was dealing with individuals whose marriages had been declared null and void but who knew in their heart and soul that their marriages were genuine. These were persons whose spouses had taken the ‘annulment’ route and where, clearly, shortcuts had been taken or laws interpreted very loosely.

  11. Norah says:

    I feel utterly sick reading the news of the Synod coming from Life Site News. It seems that the whole fabric of Catholic teaching on e.g. Marriage and the Eucharist and the terminology with which the Church expresses its teachings is unravelling. Would a doctor be told that he has to be more loving and not use words when pronouncing diagnoses which may upset or anger the patient? “You are dangerously overweight and must loose weight or put your life at risk.” How cold and heartless to say that to a patient. Much better to tell the patient that he could try to loose weight but overall he is a wonderful person as he is and should do what feels right for him.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Norah,

    You wrote:

    “You are dangerously overweight and must loose weight or put your life at risk.” How cold and heartless to say that to a patient.”

    No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. One must say, “My, we appreciate the long-term experiment you are conducting on the effects of gravity on life expectancy.” See? Perspective makes all of the difference :)

    Cheer up. Christ is still Christ and nothing any synod can do will nullify the victory of the Cross.

    The Chicken

  13. McCall1981 says:

    Card Pell:
    “On divorce, I’m sticking with Jesus”
    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2014/10/08/cardinal-pell-on-divorce-im-sticking-with-jesus/

    Msgr. Ganswein:
    Asked about the question of possibly allowing divorced people to take communion, Gaenswein said “this is a very delicate question, at stake is the sacramental matrimony that according to Catholic doctrine cannot be dissolved, just like the love of God for man”.
    “As far as I can see Pope Francis is following the line of his predecessors whose teaching on matrimony is very clear”.
    http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2014/10/07/marriage-indissoluble-prefect-of-pontifical-household-says_670bbdf5-8be9-462d-a355-3437780574ea.html

  14. Richard_amdg says:

    As a blessed and happily married man with young children, I’m feel very confused by what seem to be flippant, degrading, even materially heretical comments coming from some Cardinals and bishops on these issues. I think they could benefit from a good long stare in a mirror. If the bishops are so perplexed about questions about intention, why should they stop at marriage when considering issues around sacramental validity? For instance, Holy Orders also requires proper intention to be validly conferred. And if so many bishops are unsure about Christ’s teachings and what it means to do what the Church does, isn’t it also worth their time to examine to what extent Holy Orders may be conferred invalidly? Consider the implications…if invalid marriages on such a massive scale are (as some are saying) the underlying cause of destruction in families (being the Church’s/society’s most basic unit), perhaps sacramental invalidity at the parish level is the cause of their demise as well? And could that be partly to blame for a loss of belief in the Real Presence, that is if the Celebrant isn’t validly ordained then the Eucharist isn’t really confected. Wouldn’t that just throw the Church off kilter for a while! Oh wait…been there, doing that.

  15. Norah says:

    Thanks Chicken, I have missed your posts around the Internet. Glad you’re back.

  16. Daniel W says:

    Dr Peters writes: “Why the pope didn’t appoint any Americans? Does he know any American canonists (besides Burke?)”

    I ask: which American canon lawyers have got behind the pope’s proposals with competent suggestions? I am sure they would have been listened to if they had got behind the pope.

    The pope asks us to have an open mind and listen to the views of others. Peters sees the whole question in terms black or white: (http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/the-annulment-argument-a-quick-quide-to-the-two-sides/)

    I would like to clarify some issues Peters has tried to clarify on his website recently:
    1)
    Peters writes that marriage with a non-Baptised person is a NOT a sacrament, even though this is still an open question. Peters is entitled to his opinion that it is not a sacrament, but should be clear that the Church has not decided on the matter. (http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/clarifying-what-we-can-when-we-can/)
    2)
    When discussing someone who converts to Islam, Peters states: Catholic marriage with any non-baptized person is, unless dispensed, null (Canon 1086), so, whatever the civil relationship is, the Church does not even recognize it as a marriage.”
    Whether or not a Catholic who converts to Islam needs dispensation depends on whether or not the Church considers that this conversion included a formal act of defection from the Church. Peters leaves this aspect out, and yet it is basic to any clear understanding of the canon and situation he is discussing.
    3)
    Peters does not seem open to the learned and faithful suggestions of two Cardinals, Erdo and Scola, regarding giving more discretion to the diocesan bishop regarding nullity of marriages. (http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/some-problems-with-cdl-scolas-fourth-suggestion/)

    At present, the diocesan bishop cannot allow parties to a putative marriage to enter a new marriage even if he is moral certain that the putative marriage is nul. The bishop is restricted by the rules of evidence of the tribunal processes.

    However Church law, based on natural justice, already gives the bishop discretion to override the favor of the law that marriage enjoys in doubtful cases for one situation: when the bishop reaches moral certainty that a spouse is deceased he can issue a declaration that frees the parties to enter a new marriage even when the evidence is not such that this can be proven juridically (c. 1707).

    Scola and Erdo, are basically suggesting that the Church extend this discretion of the bishop, to bypass juridical process, in cases where he reaches moral certainty of nullity on grounds that are not acceptable in a juridical process. It is a pity that more canon lawyers, American or not, have not understood their suggestion.

  17. RafqasRoad says:

    Please pray for my diocese. They are softening up the congregations to accept practicing same sex couples – principly the acts as opposed to loving the people but concerned for physical actions re intimate relations that are harmful for the health of one’s psychology, body and eternal soul, contrary to Natural law. as a sign of God’s welcome and compassion; this from the pulpit this morning re the thoughts of a prominent Australian lay couple who see not salvation of the spouses, children, companionship, mutual sanctification and faith encouragement etc ans the centrepieces of marriage but intimate relations as the heart of marriage. The amazing work of the Courage Apostolate that presents a truly loving, embracing, welcoming and genuinely liberating ‘third way’ option for people who live with SSA was not even vaguely entertained. A dichotomy of truth vs. compassion is being promulgated. Our diocese is ill; good men, including priests and seminarians are set aside for deep green ‘koombayah’ varieties. The bishop is supportive of this sort of thing (e.g. ‘green’ stations of the cross in our cathedral. Several times, I have wanted to correspond with said orators, be they sems, deacons, priests or even the bishop but have found myself constrained to fight this battle before our Lord in adoration and before the Tabernacle, in prayer, rosary, Eucharistic intention etc.

    three disturbing dimensions were introduced in addition to the abovementioned this morning in mass; 1) any recourse to scripture being openly labelled ‘thumping people over the head with the Bible’ and, ‘thumping them over the head with the rosary’. The word fundamentalism also entered the lexicon from the pulpit this morning. Now, Christ met everyone where they were , but He never left them in the state He found them…’your sins are forgiven’…’now go and sin no more’ comes to mind. we also have a prominent Australian Jesuit from Western Australia referring to Cardinals Pell and Bourke as ‘bossy’ and various terms for intransigent on ABC local radio Sunday Nights. this past Sunday evening, so Chicken, your words give me comfort. Christ is indeed Christ, even if our shepherds go all out, calling black white and white black despite ample evidence to the contrary. All of you who have the benefit of an FSSP, ICK, Dominican, Eastern rite, Anglican Ordinariate or excellently healthy diocesan faith community to be part of, give thanks every single day!! and pray for us suffering in the desert lands of 1971!!

  18. iamlucky13 says:

    “I feel utterly sick reading the news of the Synod coming from Life Site News. “

    In my experience, Life Site News lean towards sensational and not always convey an accurate picture of events. I take what I read there with a grain of salt. I appreciate the idea of dedicated coverage of pro-life news, but the implementation leans more towards rabid than rational.

    So don’t stress out about what you’re reading in Life Site News. As Father Z has said several times, if we should be worried about anything, it’s probably not what the synod concludes, but how others interpret it.

    “Peters does not seem open to the learned and faithful suggestions of two Cardinals, Erdo and Scola, regarding giving more discretion to the diocesan bishop regarding nullity of marriages. “

    Based on that article, it seems to me it is not about openness suggestions, but that he is dubious the suggestions can amount to any meaningful change without raising other issues.

    Unfortunately, regarding the last two paragraphs of your post, I find myself also dubious if that is indeed a more accurate summary of Scola and Erdo’s suggestions, if only for an amateurishly simple reason: how would a bishop reach moral certainty that a marriage is null comparable to what’s possible with a presumably deceased spouse? If a spouse is a soldier MIA for a long time following a war, for example, that’s a compelling reason to conclude a spouse is deceased, even though strictly speaking the evidence is only circumstantial. What grounds other than a juridical process could provide comparable certainty of nullity?

    Again, this is me talking as an amateur here, but I thought the Church established a juridical annulment process specifically because of the challenge reaching reasonable certainty of nullity.

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Whether or not a Catholic who converts to Islam needs dispensation depends on whether or not the Church considers that this conversion included a formal act of defection from the Church.”

    Where was Dr. Peters talking about conversions to Islam? He was talking about the non-baptized. Obviously, to be a Catholic, one must be baptized, so his comment and your are mutually exclusive.

    The Chicken

  20. dans0622 says:

    Daniel W: I don’t know if I should take your comments seriously or not. I’ll only respond to the presumed death issue: while it does not have to be a judicial process, it is at least an administrative one. And, I doubt there are many bishops who have ever judged such a case–they tend to delegate it…which is one of Dr. Peters’ basic points about the Scola suggestion. If you put a bunch of marriage cases in the Bishop’s lap, he’s going to hand them off to somebody else. Maybe he’ll call that person the judicial vicar. While we’re at it, let’s reinvent the Rota.

  21. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Hi folks. Some time ago I stopped debating against posters who do not sign real names (there are simply too many of them, and it is not a good use of my time) so, in any case, “Daniel W” notwithstanding, I am confident of my positions. But, while I am here, if you’d like an example of how canon law requires much more of folks than looking at a few canons, take the odd comments about c. 1707 (presumed death cases), somehow thought to be relevant to the annulment debate, and, guess what happens if, after a decree of presumed death is issued, the “survivor” remarries, and the first spouse shows up again? Though the canon does not mention it, canonical COMMENTARY is unanimous, the original couple must be reunited! I’m just saying, you gotta know more than what’s in the Code to make sense of the canons.

  22. Heather F says:

    “1)Peters writes that marriage with a non-Baptised person is a NOT a sacrament, even though this is still an open question. Peters is entitled to his opinion that it is not a sacrament, but should be clear that the Church has not decided on the matter. ”
    I beg your pardon? In order for any sacrament to take place, you need valid matter. Valid matter for a sacramental marriage is one unmarried baptized man and one unmarried baptized woman, both properly disposed and free from impediments. A marriage between baptized and unbaptized may be valid, and indeed is presumed to be valid if there are no obvious impediments, but it’s not sacramental unless the unbaptized party then gets baptized. There is no open question in the eyes of the Church here — baptism is a prerequisite for receiving any other sacrament.

    I don’t know what to make of the comments regarding conversion to Islam. Presumably someone who converted to Islam to marry would not be overly concerned with obtaining dispensation from the Church to marry a Muslim, and whether or not their marriage was considered valid in the eyes of the Church. Are we talking about if they want to return to the Church later on?

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear Daniel W,

    you may disagree with Dr Peters’s opinions, but how can you possibly imply they are not competent?

  24. McCall1981 says:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/CatholicNewsSvc/status/520171453556461568

    #Synod14 strongly reaffirms that those who remarry without annulment cannot receive Communion; strongly sees need to assist those people
    4:18am – 9 Oct 14

  25. The Masked Chicken says:

    McCall1981,

    I’m a chicken, so I don’t tweet, but looking at the follow-up tweets for the twitter post you linked yo shows just how much ignorance there is in the Church over basic doctrine. Non wonder the Church is so screwed up.

    The Chicken

  26. Daniel W says:

    Dear Imrahil (not your full name, but I’ll deign to respond.)

    I wrote “I ask: which American canon lawyers have got behind the pope’s proposals with competent suggestions? I am sure they would have been listened to if they had got behind the pope.”

    Dr Peters makes competent suggestions and is listened to in Rome. So do Cdnls Erdo, Scola and Burke. The pope has “implied” that the suggestions of Cdl Kasper are competent, yet Peters “implies” that the suggestions of Erdo and Scola are not (let alone his opinion of Kasper). I find myself agreeing with Peters more than Kasper, (his real name not that of a ghost writer), and Scola more than Peters.

    Join me in praying for the outcome of open, competent debate.

  27. Daniel W says:

    Sorry Heather, could you please give me a reference explicitly stating that a marriage with a non-appraised person is not sacramental in the Catechism or from a pope. Be careful, non ratum is sometimes misguidedly translated as non-sacramental.
    The last treatment by a pope was Paul VI in “Mixed Marriages” in which he did not deny sacramentality to these marriages.

  28. Daniel W says:

    Dr Peters,
    Thanks for the response. Your statement that “canonical COMMENTARY is unanimous, the original couple must be reunited” might however be a little simplistic. Your website says is clearer: http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/notes-on-canon-law-of-presumed-death.html. There you make a wise distinction about the discretion allowed to bishops regarding marriage: “a bishop must find evidence (albeit not proof).”

    Real cases however are often not as clear cut as a superficial reading of the law might at first imply, which is why Cdls Erdo and Scola have suggested reforms to the law. Canon law has many presumptions and rules about burden of proof and accepting evidence, etc – that is its strength in defending marriage in the external forum. Erdo, Scola are trying to help the pope find a way to improve these.

    I use c.1707 merely as an example of how the law deals with presumptions, validity and burden of proof. A wedding is normally presumed to be a valid juridical act (c.124) and enjoys the additional “favor” of an explicit presumption in law (1584-1586), namely canon 1060. Canon 1060 explicitly requires invalidity of marriage to be juridically proven, so that a bishop cannot “free” parties to a putative “marriage” even if he reaches moral certitude of nullity, (based on evidence that is not sufficient to prove invalidity juridically). Canon 1707 provides an exception to the favor of the law enjoyed by marriage in the case of presumed death of a spouse, so that the bishop can free the presumed widow/er to remarry, based on what you accurately describe as “evidence (albeit not proof).”

    Cdls Erdo, Scola and other bishops have suggested that bishops be given the same discretion for cases of nullity that they already enjoy in cases of presumed death. The debate therefore is about the favor of the law in canon 1060. Canon 1707 is relevant as an exception that has been accepted for centuries.

    Now, back to the person presumed dead who returns. Let’s make the case even more directly relevant to the debate. A woman challenges the validity of her marriage and the marriage is found invalid in the first instance, but this is later overturned. She attempts a civil marriage and refrains from receiving Communion. The man in the earlier, putative marriage (Hubby A) is later on a flight that is lost at sea and the bishop frees the woman to regularize the new union (and receive communion). “Hubby A” however turns up later and challenges the new union.

    I find it simplistic to state that “canonical COMMENTARY is unanimous, the original couple must be reunited.” Rather what canonical COMMENTARY is unanimous about is that c. 1674 gives him the right to challenge his putative wife’s new marriage (even if his bishop found the first marriage nul). Although this case is fictional, it illustrates the difficulties in law and the principles regarding presumptions, evidence and proof that will, God willing, one day be even more thoroughly integrated into canon law.

  29. Daniel W says:

    Correction:
    Commentary is unanimous that the defender of justice should challenge the new marriage, as accurately stated on Dr Peter’s website. My point is that there is no guarantee that the prior marriage will be upheld over the later, given that a sentence against the validity of the prior marriage had already been found null in the first instance.

  30. Heather F says:

    “Sorry Heather, could you please give me a reference explicitly stating that a marriage with a non-appraised person is not sacramental in the Catechism or from a pope. Be careful, non ratum is sometimes misguidedly translated as non-sacramental.
    The last treatment by a pope was Paul VI in “Mixed Marriages” in which he did not deny sacramentality to these marriages.”

    You still seem to be confusing “mixed marriages” with “disparity of cult” marriages. A mixed marriage is one between two baptized Christians, one of whom is Catholic and the other of whom is not. A valid marriage of this type, since it is between two baptized persons, is indeed sacramental and no one is denying this. A marriage between a baptized Catholic and an unbaptized person is called disparity of cult and it is a different kettle of fish altogether.

    I can’t find you anything in the Catechism that explicitly says that a disparity of cult marriage is NOT a sacrament, but I can find plenty of references to the sacramentality of marriage being referred to as existing specifically between the baptized.

    2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.
    1617 The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath. which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant.
    1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 § 1; cf. GS 48 § 1).

    For further reading, try googling “natural vs sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church.”

  31. Daniel W says:

    Dear Heather,
    Thanks for admitting you can’t find any basis in magisterial teaching for the assertion that marriage with a non-baptised person is not a sacrament. That is because it is still an open question. The reason you can find quotes that marriage between the baptised is a sacrament is because that is not an open question – it is solid, infallible doctrine.

    I understand why you think I am confusing mixed marriages with marriage with the unbaptised, as I was not precise about which marriages Paul VI was referring to in the document “Matrimonia mixta.” (I am even more tired now!) While affirming a “mixed marriage” to be a sacrament, he leaves open the question for marriage with the unbaptized: “Undoubtedly there exists in a marriage between baptized persons, since such a marriage is a true sacrament, a certain communion of spiritual benefits which is lacking in a marriage entered into by a baptized person and one who is not baptized.”
    Therefore, if marriage with an unbaptized person is a sacrament, the unbaptized person would not share in the same “communion of spiritual benefits”, as only the baptized person would receive these sacramental graces.

    As my previous posts show, I am tired and will soon retire. Pray for the synod participants.

  32. Daniel W says:

    dans0622…

    That’s right, the process may be administrative, so why not extend this to certain cases of alleged invalidity. My point is not about how the bishop reaches moral certainty, I assume, as you and Peters do, that the detail will often be delegated. Try and understand the deeper theological and natural law principles.

  33. Heather F says:

    I’m sorry Daniel, but I still have no idea where you are getting this idea. I don’t think Paul VI is saying what you seem to think he is saying.

    “Undoubtedly there exists in a marriage between baptized persons, since such a marriage is a true sacrament, a certain communion of spiritual benefits which is lacking in a marriage entered into by a baptized person and one who is not baptized.”
    What open about this? This says very clearly: there are sacramental benefits to a marriage between two baptized persons. In a marriage between a baptized person and one who is not baptized, those sacramental benefits are lacking. Lacking, as in the marriage does not have them because it is not a sacrament, it is a valid natural marriage but not a sacrament.

    Catholic marries a Catholic: valid sacramental marriage
    Catholic marries an Eastern Orthodox: valid sacramental marriage
    Catholic marries a validly baptized Protestant: valid sacramental marriage
    Two validly baptized Protestants marry each other: valid sacramental marriage
    Catholic marries a Mormon: valid non-sacramental natural marriage
    Catholic marries a Muslim: valid non-sacramental natural marriage
    Atheist marries an atheist: valid non-sacramental natural marriage
    Any other valid marriage where one or b4oth parties are not validly baptized: valid non-sacramental natural marriage

    The non-sacramental nature of these natural marriage is what makes the so called Pauline and Petrine Privileges possible. Nothing can dissolve a valid sacramental marriage except death, but a valid natural marriage can, under certain circumstances, be dissolved.

    The only sacrament a non-baptized person can either receive or perform is baptism itself. The non-sacramentality of the marriage has nothing to do with the marriage itself and everything to do with baptism.
    CCC 1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.

    Marriage is either a sacrament or it isn’t. It isn’t sacramental for one half and not the other. If the unbaptized person then gets baptized, the marriage is then one between two baptized persons and those sacramental graces automatically kick in for both of them.

  34. Daniel W says:

    Not bad, Heather, you are getting close…
    “Undoubtedly there exists in a marriage between baptized persons, since such a marriage is a true sacrament, a certain communion of spiritual benefits which is lacking in a marriage entered into by a baptized person and one who is not baptized.”
    You highlighted lacking, but it is referring to a “communion” of spiritual benefits that is lacking, they don’t both get the graces. He says nothing about the spiritual benefits lacking for the baptized person alone.
    I agree with much of the rest. Especially that it is all to do with Baptism, that’s why a baptized person may be receiving some of the sacramental graces of marriage.
    You are wrong that a sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved. Even a marriage between two baptised persons can be dissolved if it has not been consummated. You see, there are at least two grades of sacramentality in marriage, ratum and ratum et consummatum. So, it is not black or white, there is already “grey”. There is no reason why there might not be a third grade, just as there are three grades of Holy Orders.
    I am happy to leave it at that and agree to disagree, so, I probably wont reply to any more of your posts.

  35. Heather F says:

    All right, you got me on the consummation loophole. I was aware of it, but since in the vast majority of cases it is not a relevant point, it didn’t occur to me in this exchange. But just because a sacramental marriage that hasn’t been actually “one-fleshed” yet can technically be dissolved doesn’t imply another category of half-sacramental marriages.

    “He says nothing about the spiritual benefits lacking for the baptized person alone.”
    He says that the reason the baptized couple gets the benefits is because their marriage is a true sacrament, even if they are not both Catholic, so there is a spiritual communion flowing from the sacrament even if they do not share the same Christian confession.

    There is no half benefit for a half sacramental marriage because there is no such thing as a half sacramental marriage. There are two kinds of valid marriages: sacramental and natural. The Church everywhere specifies that sacramental marriages happen between the baptized.

    The couple confers the sacrament of matrimony upon each other. The Catholic spouse cannot confer the sacrament upon his or her unbaptized spouse because the unbaptized spouse, not being baptized, cannot receive it. The unbaptized spouse cannot confer the sacrament upon his or her Catholic spouse because, not being baptized, he or she cannot confer it. If either of them is unable to confer and receive the sacrament, no sacrament takes place.

    The baptized party certainly brings graces to the marriage by virtue of his or her baptism, confirmation, and reception of the various repeatable sacraments. But those graces are from those other sacraments, not from some kind of half-sacramental marriage.

    I think I am about ready to let this exchange go as well. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to brush up on the difference between natural and sacramental marriage.

  36. Daniel W says:

    “”The Church everywhere specifies that sacramental marriages happen between the baptized.”
    Yes but nowhere does it say only between the baptised.
    The Church also used to only specify that the sacrament of Holy Orders was conferred with priestly ordination. This did not mean that the diaconate was not, it just meant it was an open question. You’d be surprised how till how recently it was an open question whether the diaconate is sacramental. Calling the marriage with the unbaptised half a sacrament is like calling the diaconate half a sacrament.
    The unbaptised spouse can administer baptism and can marry, the two things we both agree are essential to the sacrament. Again, show me a magisterial teaching that says the unbaptised cannot minister the sacrament of marriage.

  37. jmgarciajr says:

    What I want people to take away from the Fr. Reese piece is this: “…we checked the original Italian and discovered the English translation from the Vatican press office was in error.”

    (The deplorable translations from Spanish/Italian into English are a particular peeve of mine.)

  38. robtbrown says:

    Daniel W,

    1. Holy Orders is a Sacrament (nb: the use of the plural). I know of no one who has said that the Diaconate is not part of Holy Orders. Certainly not the Council of Trent.

    You might be thinking of whether a Character is imprinted at Ordination to the Diaconate. The catechism says that it is.

    2. Can there be a Sacramental marriage without both being Baptised?

    Can there be a civil marriage between a living person and a corpse?

    The Sacrament of Baptism confirms the Grace of Justification, by which someone has supernatural life. Consequently, someone who is Baptised has supernatural life, and one not Baptised does not have it.

    Thus, a marriage between a Baptised person and one not Baptised would be, supernaturally speaking, a marriage between a living and non living person–not a Sacrament.

  39. Imrahil says:

    Dear Daniel W,

    thanks for your answer. It seems I quite misunderstood you.