Well, at least Wheaton has found something as disturbing as becoming Catholic. Though on a more serious note (I hope), Wheaton’s struggles over maintaining its identity are instructive for Catholic institutions, I think. Where does one draw the line?
I thought the comment that if you didn’t follow the Wheaton standard, divorce was a “lifestyle choice” was a straw man and harmful in talking to many folks in terms of experience.
I remember the late Msgr. Steve kelliher, who once headed the New York Tribumal, bounced later for advocating an allowance of divorce, and later lauded in his obituary as a major figure in progressing matrimonial canon law. He said, “Some people just don’t make it.”
The biblical standard set by Jesus clearly upheld the specialness of marriage, but settig aside a spouse was already being modified by the exception clause in Matthew (which many try to explain in terms of what their curent belief or practice is, though I haedrdly think that is certain.)
At any rate, our Church law admits the Paukine privlege and the notion of necessary discretion in annulment procedures is far more open than the old “insanity” cause.
This too raises the issue of communion for divorced/remarried catholics – raised at a recent synod with no change in curent practice from Rome.
Upholding the sanctity of marriage yet being realistic in terms of experience will continue to be a tense subject in Christianity and simple answers will not advance the subject.
While I don’t know enough about other Wheaton rules or stipulations for employment or how they compare with Catholic institutions as diverse as Georgetown, Notre Dame, or Ave Maria, I believe that the long, ragged history of marriage legislation and public penalities is a source of needless confusion and suffering. Is ther any way to rescue Cathollic canon law from its own past and patchy present practice before we criticize Wheaton for its standards?
There has to be some kind of balance. I like the fact that you have to explain to your Christian community why you would want a divorce after 34 years. At this point the benefit goes to the school. Remember this is different than drug or alcohol abuse adultery or brutality. The Catholic church, hypocritically, makes no provision for divorce in these cases.
Wheaton certainly has more balance than we do.
Bill, I would think you saw the piece in Amerixa a while back by Joe Califano on his divorce, ultimate annulment and remarriage, after his first marriage of many years iwth kids, I hate to say it but it’s a story I’ve seen repeated in our churches.
I suspect it’s true that like a good lawyer can get you off, a good canon lawyer can get you an annulment – no matter the impact on your former spouse and kids.
I agree with david!
Bill: What if the reasons for the divorce are quite embarrassing to the wife? Perhaps she had an affair. Perhaps there are issues of sexuality, whether needs, or even orientation, that are best not discussed in public? I can’t remember for the article whether the prof has children, but if he does, I can think of lots of reasons why one might not go public with the reasons for a divorce that have to do with protecting one’s children. I can even imagine a scenario or two where one wants to protect the dignity and privacy of one’s soon to be ex-spouse.
In Wheaton’s policy, there does seem to be an echo – albeit faint and somewhat distorted – of the Catholic church’s belief that marriage is for life, no?
In some ways, the Catholic church’s process for annulment seems much kinder and humane.
Bob, maybe I have seen too many men get stupid after 50 and even in their sixties and seventies. I detest the annulment process and thought that Kennedy did not look good against Sheila Rauch. I don’t think the hierarchy should control marriage and that is the only reason it is a “sacrament.” I believe Wheaton shows a good model of what a Christian community should be. That is the true meaning of church. Not the flowing robes of Rome.
There are obviously many nuances to this. I certainly do not fault someone who remarries when they have been left. But I think it is so much bs that one would change feelings after many years. I believe love is a decision not a feeling.
As I continue to write this I am remembering many ‘dumb” women also who all of a sudden leave their husbands in their late fifties. Stupidity in my opinion.
You might say I like fidelity and loyalty. Understand we are not talking about serious reasons for breach. But words like “I grew and she didn’t” etc. are sickening to me. In the long haul there is nothing like people who truly love each other for so many years.
And this guy after 34 years. So he was suffering for 34 years?
Bill, You and I are in clear agreement on the annulment process – in fact, I think in publicized cases like Kennedy, Califano, and in localities where long standing marriages break up with children involved, many look with wonder on annulment.
Personally, I think the process does more harm than good in upholding the sanctity of marriage.Among young folks who’ve been through a divorce and then hav elong standing and stable second marriages, the Canonical aproach also turns folks I know off.
Where we differ is how effective the Wheaton policy is in conveying the message. With both divorce and infidelity rates at 50%, I’m not sure that will make a lot of difference except to a small amount of folk. What worries me in my aging community (over 1/6 senior) is that slowly the long standing union folk are dying off and the terific example they set may well not be replaced.
I don’t think rules and regs can solve this dilemma today and, as noted, not only is the divorce genie out of the botle. but the rationales are often complex.
Declarations of nullity should go the way of the dodo bird.
I have an annulment from 20 years ago following a 12-year marriage. I have little doubt that were the tribunal decision appealed to Rome, my “annulment” would be tossed out the window — and not because of any poor reasoning or improper application of the church’s guidelines on annulments.
There is, however, one part of the annulment process I would suggest be retained, to wit, the requirement to complete the questionnaire. I would simply add a requirement to discuss with a trained counselor one’s role, if any, in the marital breakup if a subsequet marriage is planned. Given the roughly 60 percent failure rate of second marriages, the church should take a more realistic, down-to-earth approach to marriage as well as marital breakup.
I understand Orthodox communities have an informal rule: three strikes and you’re out as far as having a marriage blessed by the church is concerned. Perhaps the Catholic Church should consider adopting a similar approach.