Saturday, 18 April 2015
Marriage Divorce Annulment
A few months after Joanna Hill was introduced to George Lomas by Father Ignatius, the couple fell deeply in love.
One evening they visited Father Ignatius in the Parish House, and after they had settled down to tea and biscuits George said:
“Father, we have some good news. Joanna and I are in love and we would like to get married. We hope you’ll do the honours, so to speak.”
“That’s good news for you two,” said the priest gently, “but there’s some difficulty with me officiating at your wedding.”
“I don’t understand,” said Joanna somewhat concerned at the news.
“You are divorced Joanna,” said Father Ignatius in his gentle voice, “the Catholic Church does not recognize your divorce. You are still married and therefore you cannot marry again in Church.”
“What do you mean?” said George, “she is properly divorced in Court.”
“Yes, that may well be so,” continued the priest, “that’s a civil divorce, but unless the marriage was annulled by the Church she is still married. The Church bases its teaching on the words of Christ: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery,’ ”
“But that’s crazy,” interrupted George raising his voice a little, “are you saying that if I, as a single man never having been married … if I go around with various women, you’d forgive me in Confession. But if she marries me you’re accusing her of the graver sin of adultery?”
“Joanna was married in a Catholic Church, this one I believe, to a Catholic man, and her being Catholic,” explained the priest still maintaining his composure, “this being the case, and seeing that the marriage was not annulled by the Church, then she is still married in the eyes of God and the Church.”
“Hold on a minute,” George interrupted again, not noticing for a moment that poor Joanna was wiping her tears silently, “you said she married in a Catholic Church. So if she had married in an Anglican Church, or any other church, you would not have recognized the marriage?”
“That is strictly true,” said Father Ignatius, “if Joanna as a Catholic had married in an Anglican Church without the permission of the Catholic Church, and without the presence of a Catholic priest, then that marriage would not have been valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. It then follows that her civil divorce would not have been recognised either and in all probability she would have been able to marry again in the Catholic Church.”
“This is totally mad,” said George getting a little angry, and still ignoring Joanna, “she married at 19 Father, and divorced her husband when she was 22. She was a mere child when he walked out on her and left her holding the baby … literally.
“That was over ten years ago Father. At the time she hardly cared about the Catholic Church. She was really distraught at having been abandonned by her husband and the last thing on her mind was to seek annulment. She tried to get her life together again and raised a baby on her own. Anyway, from what I hear annulments can take a long time and are worse than the Spanish Inquisition ...”
“George … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly.
“I’m sorry love,” he replied holding her hand gently, “I hate to see the Church … our Church … mistreat you so!
“I’m sorry Father for getting angry,” he apologized to the priest, “but you can see our dilemma.
“For whatever reason, regardless of who was innocent and who was at fault, this young couple in their early twenties divorced in a Civil Court.
“Is the Church seriously suggesting that Joanna cannot be intimate with a man for the rest of her life? Or else you’ll accuse her of adultery? Is that reasonable Father?
“Or do you want her to come to confess every time the two of us go to bed when we’re married?”
“Stop it … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly, “this has gone too far … I want to go home …”
She stood up and made her way out of the room followed by George.
Father Ignatius followed them silently to the front door, not having the chance to explain himself or the Church’s position.
The couple married in the Civil Court three months later.