The goals of Catholic marriage are procreation and education of children, a mutual love of a couple, in a union that is permanent and indissoluble. However, unfortunately, these goals are not always met. We may know friends and relatives and neighbors whose marriages have not endured for one reason or another. We pray that they may seek the healing they need, especially when appropriate through the process of annulment available in the Catholic Church.
Many Catholics may not have a basic understanding of the annulment process. This lack of understanding may inhibit their participation in Church liturgies and programs. The Catholic Church wants those involved to better understand and embrace its teachings as it relates to marriage and annulments.
As explained in the publication, Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), “The Catholic Church believes that the joining of a man and a woman in matrimony is a sacred act. When this act takes place between two baptized Christians, it is a sacrament. If neither or only one of the persons is baptized, then the marriage is not a sacramental marriage but is recognized as a sacred bond. The Church considers marriage, sacramental or not, a valid covenant when a man and a woman freely express informed consent, without constraint and unimpeded by natural or ecclesiastical law.”
The publication notes that through the annulment inquiry, the Church also recognizes legitimate reasons why a wedding may not have led to a valid marriage. It states, “An annulment is a declaration by the Catholic Church that after careful investigation, flaws were discovered in the relationship that prevented it from becoming a marriage. An annulment is concerned mainly with the personal and spiritual aspects of marriage. It does not ‘erase’ the civil contract.”
In its publication, “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan”, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “We encourage divorced persons who wish to marry in the Catholic Church to seek counsel about the options that exist to remedy their situation, including the suitability of a declaration of nullity when there is no longer any hope of reconciliation of the spouses.”
At Saint Brigid, we have trained Annulment Advocates, coordinated by Deacon Tom Huff, who can help those interested grow in their knowledge and understanding of the annulment process. An Information Night has been scheduled for August 19th at 7:00 PM in Corbett Hall to discuss the process. All are invited to attend. Details are listed at www.saintbrigid.org/annulment.