Catholic Annulment, Spiritual Healing

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Vasoli, like Sheila Kennedy, was shocked into writing a book when notified that his divorced spouse was seeking an annulment. But Vasoli is a retired sociologist at the University of Notre Dame who taught extensively about legal systems and deviant behavior as well as about marriage and family.

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He was well placed to write a more systematic, accurate and detached assessment of the annulment process. Indeed, he set out to write as someone ''trained in behavioral science,'' but he also anticipated that his work ''will be received in some quarters as a meanspirited polemic.

To be sure, Vasoli further documents the gap in working principles between American tribunals and the Vatican and in statistical outcomes between the church here and the church elsewhere. He persuasively argues that many appeals to psychological theory and practice made by American tribunal officials are no more than junk science. But his case is entirely enclosed in the logic of church rules and procedures.

His Catholicism is a deductive system working from the top down, the ''top'' not being the Gospels or Jesus or the Holy Spirit but the Pope and canon law. There is scarcely a glance at real human beings who succeed or fail in marriage, and for whose spiritual nourishment, presumably, the church orders its sacramental life. Vasoli has counted how many tribunal officials do not have canon law degrees, but has not found out much more about the people whose motives he constantly denigrates.

Divorce and the Catholic Church

If behavioral science involves learning about the terrible complexity of people, Kennedy, despite her restricted sample, is more of a behavioral scientist than he. American Catholic marriage tribunals do bend the rules, often to the breaking point. But the question is why, and that cannot be answered without a sympathetic grasp of the pastoral problems the church faces and of the theological unacceptability of returning to a status quo ante widely maintained by stigma and ostracism. What would be the consequences of reverting to older practices?

What are the consequences of continuing in the present fashion, rendering peace and reconciliation to some Catholics, breeding bitterness and cynicism in others? A behavioral scientist less interested than Vasoli in indictments could shed light on these questions. Books Null and Void. View on timesmachine.


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TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. By Robert H. New York: Oxford University Press. We are continually improving the quality of our text archives. A version of this article appears in print on , Section 7, Page 28 of the National edition with the headline: Null and Void. Sadly, it may well be granted to him without digging into causes.

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Annulments: A Door to Healing | Diocese of Portland

I would like to balance this call for justice with mercy. There are legitimate cases for annulment by petitioners who have suffered gravely because of a spouse who did not understand marriage or act properly.

Given that God has united them by means of an indissoluble bond, the husband and wife by utilizing all their human resources, together with good will, and by, above all, confiding in the assistance of divine grace, can and should emerge from their moments of crisis renewed and strengthened. Copyright The Catholic Thing. All Rights Reserved.

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Toggle navigation. True Beauty Palestrina See More. Books Received View List. Annulments, Justice, and Marital Healing. Wednesday, March 12, Something is seriously wrong when the very ones who grant such annulments, at the same time, believe it is a sacrament and gift from Christ. Those in the Tribunal reminded me of the first Catholic marital therapist we saw who was more like a divorce therapist and who never challenged my husband on his selfishness and failure to respect and honor me as his vowed to God on our wedding day.

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They did not seem to be pro-marriage and also seemed to be divorce enablers as was the Catholic psychologist we saw. Share this: Facebook.

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