Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stopping Divorce Before Marriage Happens.

Pope seeks fewer annulments
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI told priests Saturday to do a better job counseling would-be spouses to ensure their marriages last. Benedict made the comments in his annual speech to the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that decides marriage annulments. An annulment is the process by which the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place. Better pre-marriage counseling, which the Catholic Church requires of the faithful, could help avoid a “vicious circle” of invalid marriages, he said.

Benedict XVI is taking a risk by saying marriage isn't for everyone.  And no, he is not just referring to homosexual marriage.  He's saying not every couple is ready for marriage, not every relationship should end in marriage, and for some couples, allowing marriage in the church is just asking for the annulment.  

I think  I can agree with what he is saying.  The problem is that if put into action,  priests would necessarily have to determine which couples should, and which couples should not, get married.  
I'm sure my husband and I would not have made that cut.  For as old as we were (mid-30s) at the time of our wedding, we were terribly immature in our spirituality.  We weren't practicing (me more than him, but that's not saying much).  We scoffed at those who were faithful.  We practiced and promoted all kinds of 'innocent' sinful behaviors.

The priest who led us through instruction stated in his homily during our wedding that he'd never experienced instruction with a couple like us.  He expressed some doubts about our union during the ceremony.  I flubbed the vows.  One of the guests in the receiving line said to me, "Well at least you can wear the dress again."

What none of this reflects is the deep commitment we had to each other.  All outward signs to the contrary, our marriage was the spark that rekindled our faith.  Neither one of us would have made it back without the other.

I don't know exactly what the priests would be looking for as indicators of whether to allow a marriage to proceed, but I hope they spend a lot of time in prayer about it.  Otherwise I fear couples will leave the church and never have the grace of the sacraments to strengthen them, as we did. 
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