- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On February 12, 2018
[update added below on Feb. 17, 2018]
The very popular Ohio divorce lawyer’s resource, Baldwin’s Ohio Practice, Domestic Relations Law, has a chapter written by the Cleveland Diocese’ new Vicar General, Father Gary Yanus. He has been in charge of the Cleveland diocese annulment tribunal since 1990, as the Judicial Vicar, according to the diocese directory, and has been a professor of canon law at the diocese seminary since 2006 (source).
Over fifty divorce mediators and lawyers in the Cleveland area belong to an organization co-founded by divorce lawyer attorney John. J. Ready, who was a charter member: The Center for Principled Family Advocacy. Ready is currently on the board of trustees and is webmaster and describes himself as active in the Catholic community. His bio shows he “served on Cleveland Catholic Diocese, Diocesan Pastoral Counsel.” Ready also is one of the local guardian ad litems who the Court will appoint to inform the Court what is in the best interest of children and be children’s Court-ordered attorney. Parents are ordered by the Court to pay guardian ad litems for the hours the Court allows them to accumulate. Mary’s Advocates has found orders demanding parents pay John Ready, for example, over $30,000 (case D294327), $5,000 (DR11335181), and $10,000 (JL-11-461627).
With no-fault divorce, the state purports to have the power to relieve a party of all his marital promises. However Saint Pope John Paul II, taught in his 2002 Address to the Roman Rota, “Lawyers, as independent professionals, should always decline the use of their profession for an end that is contrary to justice, as is divorce.”
A Catholic May NOT File for Divorce
Fr. Gary Yanus teaches Ohio divorce lawyers that “A Catholic in the United States may seek a civil separation, divorce, or dissolution, but only for the civil effects, such as custody, alimony, and support.” He wrote this in the chapter titled, Catholic Declaration of Nullity, in Baldwin’s Ohio Practice, Domestic Relations Law.
Fr. Yanus’ statement is unfounded and contrary to common sense. The Catechism teaches that divorce is immoral and a grave offense against nature, and tolerable in only certain circumstances delimited in canon law. Even if there is a reason for separation of spouses, the jurisprudence of Catholic canon law cases makes the distinction between cases where separation is appropriate for a limited period of time, or for an indeterminate period of time. The separation must cease when the party at fault remedies his or her dangerous our hateful behavior.
Any sincere Catholic would be eager to cooperate with experts to resolve marital problems. However, in many civil divorce cases, the petitioning party (Plaintiff) has no legitimate grounds for separation. He or she is simply abandoning one’s marriage and refuses to cooperate with reconciliation experts. Civil lawyers and judges are not competent to decide whether a morally legitimate reason exists for separation of spouses. Even if a reason for separation does exist, the no-fault divorce system does not protect the spouse who has the right to separate, and the spouse who is breaking marriage promises is not held accountable to fulfill his or her full obligations of material support, nor the obligation to prevent giving children scandal.
All, Not SOME, Require Bishop’s Permission
When Fr. Yanus says, “In some diocese, church permission must be obtained before initiating civil action,” he’s not teaching the Ohio lawyers canon law. The Canon law actually shows that a party can only petition for a civil divorce after having the bishop’s permission given the parties’ particular family’s circumstances. A bishop doesn’t have authority to disregard this procedural requirement. In making his determination, the bishop (or his mandated delegate) must weigh whether the civil court will make orders contrary to divine law. Only in proven adultery, is permanent separation of spouses tolerable. Otherwise, the separation is supposed to be temporary.
In describing the intervention of the bishop before a party files for divorce, Fr. Yanus says the process can be a means “possibly to examine grounds for annulment, more accurately called a ‘declaration of nullity.'” This is strange because the canon law applicable to cases of separation of spouses requires the determination of the ground for separation, not the grounds for nullity. Grounds for separation could include grave dangerous abuse, adultery, or abandonment, for example.
With no-fault divorce, all separation plans are permanent, and virtually all Court orders are contrary to divine law. When a petitioning party wants divorce and the other has done nothing grave to justify separation of spouses, the Courts force the children to lose everyday access to the party that wants to keep the family together. With visitation orders, children are forced to go back and forth between two different households when the only cause of separation is that one parent is abandoning the marriage. Who thinks this is in accord with divine law?
The Court will often order the party who wants to keep the family together to pay tens of thousands of dollars to the abandoning party and split all the marital assets in half which financially devastates everyone. In other words, a faithful spouse, who is eager to cooperate with experts improving marriage, is forced to finance the break-up of his own family and pay the abandoning spouse so she/he can live more comfortably as an abandoner.
Catholics are not supposed to file for divorce except in very limited circumstances. Fr. Yanus is causing scandal when he teaches Ohio Divorce lawyers that all Catholics can file for divorce and there are no moral questions applicable to divorce. The lawyers, like John Ready spread the scandal to their paying clients.
Some, not ALL, are in the Good Graces of the Church
Fr. Yanus also tells divorce lawyers to tell clients that they can stay in good graces of their church.
If a priest taught, with no further clarification, that “killers can stay in the good graces of the church,” readers should be shocked. Nowhere in Fr. Yanus’ chapter does he describe the grave offenses committed by the other spouse that justify one spouse insisting on separating from the other. Lawyers reading Yanus’ work will conclude that the Catholic Church teaches that any party who wants a divorce for any reason whatsoever has a moral right to a divorce, and any party who does not want divorce better cooperate and agree to break-apart one’s own family, children, and property. Otherwise, coercive tactics inevitable by the threat of expensive litigation will go into effect. When parties have children, litigation and court appearances easily cost $800/hour with two lawyers and the third lawyer appointed by the Court as the guardian at litem.
Both do not CAUSE Marital Failure
When Fr. Yanus discusses the perspective that should be gained and the insight reached into one’s own contribution to the failure, he is blaming all divorce defendants for their divorce. This is absurd because a huge number of divorced defendants did not commit adultery, were not gravely dangerous, did not viciously hate their spouse, and did not forbid the practice of Catholicism in the home. No divorce defendant is going to say he is sinless, but simple sin does not justify permanent separation or divorce. When Fr. Yanus discusses the failure, he sounds like a secularist. In contrast, Catholics know that marriages don’t fail any more that baptisms fail. When a baptized Catholic behaves immorally, we say he is sinning; when a married person betrays his or her spouse immorally, we say his is sinning. We don’t say the marriage failed.
Canon Law Requires Process for Separation of Spouses
The Catholic Code of Canon Law has two totally separate processes related to the break-up of families: First, separation of spouses (cc. 1151-1153, 1692-1696); and Second, nullity of marriage (cc. 1083-1106, 1689, Mitis Iudex c. 1691). Cases of separation of spouses should occur prior to civil divorce proceedings. The decision from the Church is supposed to determine whether the parties should be separated temporarily or permanently. In nullity of marriage cases, the Church decision must instruct the parties of their obligations (both moral and civil) toward each other and their children.
Obviously, divorce lawyers like John Ready, and all his co-workers in the divorce courts, have much to gain by maintaining the status quo. Every party who asks for a divorce will get one and billable hours start accumulating as soon as one party files in the Court. No abandoners are held accountable to work on reconciling their marriage or continue their full financial support to the marital home. There is no deterrent to filing for divorce. In property split determinations, custody, and support arrangements, no distinction is made between a party who wants to keep the family together and the party who is breaking his or her marriage promises. When the parties have assets, the Court can order that they get liquidated to pay the guardian ad litems or other costs of divorce.
The Church, in her authoritative teaching, never relegated to civil government’s lawyers and judges the competence to decide the obligations of separating parties in a marriage–even in an invalid marriage.
Divorce Leads to the Obliteration of Society
Does Fr. Yanus think that every defendant in civil divorce did something grave enough to justify permanent separation of spouses? Does he believe that the separation plans arranged by divorce courts (including the tens of thousands paid to divorce lawyers) are in accord with divine law?
Ohioans witnessing the obliteration of society–caused by the break-up of marriage–should look to Fr. Gary Yanus to repair the scandal he’s caused.
[updated Feb. 17, 2018]
A different Cleveland Priest Writes
By Bai Macfarlane: About this article, I received a message from a Cleveland diocese priest who was ordained in the early 1990’s, that served at four different parishes before being assigned as a pastor of his own parish.
Bai’s Answer to Priest
Hi Fr. xxxx,
About what are you saying I am incorrect? If you are looking at my stand-alone section header, please consider the full text in my section.
I’m familiar with the article by Ed Peters (http://www.canonlaw.info/PDF-Divorce.pdf) and a civil lawyer author Clay Rossi HERE and I HERE have dialogued with him. Most readers, I imagine, don’t have the free time to study the complexity of these issues.
I’ve not implied that civil divorce has any effect on the validity of the sacrament of marriage. I’ve not stated that a Catholic cannot file for civil divorce ever. My point is that many times a Catholic filing for divorce does not have a legitimate basis for separation of spouses; and in all cases, the Catholic is not following the Code of Canon Law regarding separation and divorce. In virtually no cases, are the rights of the aggrieved party upheld in the civil no-fault divorce courts.
My concern is that civil court judges purport to settle other canonical issues besides nullity, and this is an illicit exercise of power. Canonical issues in marriage include more than the question of validity. Whether or not a legitimate basis for separation of spouses exists is a canonical issue. The obligations of separated parties toward each other in accord with divine law is a canonical issue. The obligations of parties toward each other after a contentious judicial case of separation of spouses is a canonical issue.
If you have handy a copy of the Canon Law Society of America’s New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, or borrow it from xxxx, check out these pages:
Despite the apparent openness to the use of the oral contentious process in paragraph one, its use is expressly prohibited for marriage cases (c. 1690), penal cases (c. 1728, §1), and cases involving the validity of ordination (c. 1710). Its use is allowed for cases involving the separation of spouses (c. 1693, §1),complaints of nullity against a sentence even in marriage and penal cases (c. 1627),
Title I MARRIAGE PROCESSES [cc. 1671-1707) This title contains the norms governing marriage nullity cases (cc. 1671-1691), cases of the separation of spouses (cc. 1692-1696), the process for the dispensation of a ratum et non consummatum marriage (cc. 1697-1706), and the process to be employed in investigating the presumed death of a spouse (c. 1707).
Throughout Book VII, the use of conciliators, mediators, or arbitrators is encouraged to avert the ordinary contentious trial (c. 1446), the oral contentious process (c. 1659), marriage nullity cases (c. 1676), cases involving the separation of spouses (c. 1695), and administrative recourse (c. 1733).
I have undertaken diligent research, and complied findings as nowhere collected on any English website. Your time is valuable and I don’t want to risk overwhelming you with too much information. If you are curious, see my research findings see HERE, the paper I presented in Rome HERE, or the nine-page analysis with 107 pages of exhibits from outside sources HERE.
I’d love to continue corresponding with you more to learn your thoughts about my full article about Fr. Yanus if you have the time.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply,