Matt C. Abbot has reprinted an article by Catholic journalist Jay McNally on "no-fault" divorce and specifically the MacFarlane case.
In a related article, another reader sent me a link to "American annulment mills" that first appeared in the December 2005 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review. [PDF Format] The article is very interesting and I suspect its conclusions to be correct. It should be no surprise that the Catholic Church in America which has at times distorted so many of the Church’s teachings could do the same to the annulment process. The article says that 97 percent of annulment requests are granted a decree of nullity. Of the very small number of cases appealed to the Roman Rota for review, the majority of them are overturned. The article talks about canon law and how it is being either abused or totally ignored in these cases. Modern psychology also rears its ugly head in how the justification for these decree of nullities are coming about.
The strange thing is that the Church is often bashed about an anti-science attitude with the false assertions about Galileo bandied about, yet you don’t hear the secular press bash the Church when it embraces science. The priestly abuse scandal was aided by bishops and others who believed in psychologists who said that those who had been involved in sexually abuse could go through a treatment program and come out on the under end cured through the marvels of modern psychology. The tribunal process seems to me to have a similar taint. The permanence of marriage is one of those hard sayings so difficult to swallow by society. In this case hard cases didn’t make bad law, but instead a sympathetic attitude to a difficult situations lead to a climate where instead of a marriage being considered valid until proven otherwise – the opposite happens. Instead of getting involved in reconciliation, the bishops have decided to ignore canon law and make a civil divorce a requirement to precede the tribunal process.
I have biases on this subject since my own parents were granted a decree of nullity. Of course the fact is that there are cases when a valid marriage was never contacted, but the question is is it at the rate that tribunals in America make it seem? Are we to believe that is only American Catholics that are getting this right and that the rest of the Catholic world is behind the times in granting annulments at a record pace. That going from 338 annulments in the U.S. in 1968 to around 40,000 annulments per year now is the true reality of the number of marriages that were not valid from day one? I think the Church here in the states laid down when it came to no-fault divorce and have subsequently aided and abetted this tragedy of the destruction of the family.