Monday, January 24, 2011

I noticed in the paper today that the Pope is concerned about the high number of marriage annulments, especially in the US, which in recent years has had more than the rest of the world combined.

I was reminded of Carlton's engagement a few years ago to Stephanie, a real sweetheart.  They did not marry for a variety of reasons, one being the fact that she was Catholic.  Her folks wanted a Church wedding but there was a problem.  Until fairly recently the Church did not accept Protestant marriages as valid.  It now does, and Protestants should be pleased by the recognition---except for the fact that a divorced Protestant is now required to go through Rome and have that marriage annulled in order that the Catholic might have a Church wedding.

Carlton balked, but he did want to please his Stephanie.  They talked it over and he agreed to have her priest, Father Tony, give me a call to see if I could convince him to back down.  I told the good Father that it was one thing to require a Catholic to get an annulment but an outrage to demand that of a Protestant.  He responded with resounding conviction that neither God nor the Catholic Church permit divorce: "What God has joined together let no man put asunder."  Therefore, he insisted, Carlton is married until he gets an annulment, and as such Stephanie could not marry him.  I told him that Carlton's church (Reformed Church in America) allowed for divorce and the law recognized that, and therefore he was no longer married.  I added that what Carlton's church did strongly object to was a married man (which he claimed Carlton was) dating a single woman---for more than three years!  Well, neither one of us was able to talk the other one down and in the end the wedding plans were canceled---probably for the best.

I'll stay tuned to Vatican to see if the Pope is able to decrease the number of annulments.  I wish him well.