Have Annulments Become “Catholic Divorce”?
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On September 20, 2018
Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., Ph. D. interviews Bai Macfarlane, Mary’s Advocates
September 20, Bai Macfarlane, Director of Mary’s Advocates was interview live by Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., Ph. D. for his radio program, “The Catholic Current – a place where people can know the truth, love the truth, tell the truth and do the truth.”
His topic was “Have Annulments Become “Catholic Divorce”?
Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., is a professor at Canisius College in Buffalo NY. As a professor of philosophy and theology, he has taught and lectured in North and Central America, Europe and Asia and is known for his classes in both rhetoric and medical ethics. He is a member of the National Ethics Committee for the Catholic Medical Association and now works in seminary education.
Of significance is someone of Fr. McTeigue’s caliber giving a pedestal to the voice of separated faithful who challenge the annulment abuses and the injustice of no-fault divorce. Broadcast live on seven stations, weekdays Monday through Friday, Fr. McTeigue’s show reaches from Southern Maine to Southern New Hampshire to Northern Rhode Island to Eastern Massachusetts; from Central and Western New York to Toronto; and Eastern Ohio.
LINK TO Audio MP3
Key points in each segment:
Bai explains how annulment abuses are interconnected with the injustice inflicted on reliable spouses and children in government no-fault divorce.
Fr. McTeigue tells of his friend, Pete, who was encouraged by his pastor immediately after Pete signed divorce agreement, to apply for an annulment.
According to Bai’s research findings, the Church never relegated to the government competence to judge the obligation of husband and wife toward each other. Unfortunately, Bai says, there are priests who have been taught that the Church’s pastoral care for those in marriage crisis is annulment.
Fr. McTeigue and Bai propose that outsiders pressure abandoned spouses to “move on” and find a new partner because outsiders don’t trust God, are uncomfortable with their friend experiencing pain, want the pain to stop.
Mary’s Advocate’s offers resources to make marriage a more enforceable contract in contrast to no-fault divorce. The essential elements that one must understand, and accept, to validly marry are quite simple: permanence, openness to children, sexual fidelity, and orientation toward contributing to upkeep of the marital household (simplified paraphrase). Fr. McTeigue described grounds for annulment that should be rare and Bai Macfarlane describe the psychological ground that is abused.
The part of annulment that is misunderstood, Bai says, is that people think there are two marriages: the civil marriage and the Church marriage. People think the Church has no interest in what happens in divorce court, but is only interested in whether someone enters another marriage without an annulment first. However, Bai’s research findings show that the ecclesiastic authorities (not the government) are supposed to decide the parties’ obligations toward each other. Mary’s Advocates is interested in ensuring that marriage crisis are managed in accordance with the principles to which the parties agreed to adhere when they participated in marriage ceremony.
Fr. McTeigue says a problem is that people want an easy way out, and Bai says the culture is set up to aid and abet the abandoner, even though divorce is like committing suicide.
To a listener’s comment, Bai reacts to the idea that an annulment is to help people “better get on with life.“ Getting on with life, however, Bai says, does not include denying truth. A spouse who abandons marriage or forces no-fault divorce on the other might be like someone in a spiritual coma. Fr. McTeigue explains we never are relieved of our obligation to love those who are entrusted to our care.
Bai describes the legitimate grounds for separation of spouse and that most grounds should lead to temporary separation. A spouse is obligated to do everything in his or her power to cooperate with getting help for the others spouse accused of behaving grievously. Both are obligated to work towards solving problem.
Fr. McTeigue asked Bai to elaborate on her survey findings about abuses by tribunals of the annulment processes designed to protect the defendants’ rights. He says that in days gone by, there was a bias toward the marriage bond being valid and that seems to have reversed now. Bai believes that if bishops and tribunals had the courage to make judgments about the obligations of the party causing the break-up to repair damage, there would be less marriage break-ups and stronger marriages.
Father McTeigue’s friend Pete, wrote in to Father during the program. Father read Pete’s text, wherein Pete said his wife abandoned him and Pete is remaining faithful and prays for his wife’s conversion. Before closing, Father endorsed Mary’s Advocates’ book “The Gift of Self, a Spiritual Companion for Separated and Divorced Faithful to the Sacrament of Marriage.” Monthly, Bai says, separated faithful meet in a telephone conference call using “The Gift of Self” book to support each other.
The Catholic Current Program
On the website of “The Station of the Cross Radio Network,” Father McTeigue shows links to podcast and recommend reading materials from discussion with Bai on his program The Catholic Current: “Have annulments become Catholic divorce?”
I am a betrayed and abandoned spouse after 21 years of marriage. My case seems to be a little different in that our marriage was con validated after we both reverted back to the Catholic Church (we were both raised Catholic). It's a mystery (as most abandonment's are, I guess) why my wife left, as she was not having an affair. However, 3 years prior she became heavily involved in the New Age/Occult, much more than I realized (For example, 1 week before our divorce, she flew out to Seattle, WA for an infusion ceremony that made her a Reiki Master). Shortly after her involvement in the occult, she left the Catholic Church for good (although not officially).
Her only reason she gave me for leaving was that she wasn't happy being married anymore and it wasn't about me. She told me I was a wonderful father and husband (we have 2 daughters, 17 and 19 at the time). Of course when I told her I didn't want a divorce, she became violently abusive and resorted to lies, manipulations, provocations, harassment, and emotional and spiritual abuse. Finally she told me after 2 months of this that your wife didn't exist anymore, she (meaning the new her) killed her. And that our daughters will be happy and fine because for the first time in her life she is going to happy. For my own sanity and protection I consulted a few attorneys who told me it was best if I filed for divorce or she was going to try to destroy me and take everything from me(my wife even told me that.) It felt morally wrong and backwards, but I followed their console. I still wonder if I did the right thing. I don't know.
I sure wish I knew of Mary's Advocates at the time. I can tell you, most of the Priests that advised me didn't do anything to help my wife or offered any help to save our marriage. Obviously, they were concerned for me and my daughter's welfare, but they just seem to be part of the no-fault divorce mind set. And some of them were on the order of, you can get an annulment, right from the get go. Even the Priest who con validated our marriage said that.
The support for divorced Catholics is terribly lacking. I did find a divorce support group that was Catholic sponsored. Only one of two in Eastern Massachusetts. Just about every parish has a bereavement group, but even though divorce is worse than a death, there is almost no support for the victims. The spouses that abandon the marriage are like the living dead. The real Zombies. Peter Kreeft calls it spiritual suicide. The secular world just looks at it like you were dating for a few years and broke up. Move on! Get over it!
I went to this group for a while, but after a year and half, I had to stop, because they were encouraging annulments, and even supporting spouses who weren't happy to leave their spouses even though there was no physical harm. I even tried evangelizing Mary's advocates, and traditional Church teaching on marriage, and just got push back. I'm surprised I wasn't thrown out of the group.
After a 2 year ordeal in hell, with God's grace, good friends and family, and a very good lawyer, I came out better than most men it seems from some of your posts. But, it was at a huge $ and emotional cost. I had to agree to let my wife stay in the home after our divorce (which was Oct. 2016) until my daughter turned 18 and went to college. I was able to buy out my wife so I could keep the home we had for 20 years. My 2 daughters decided to stay with me, so they live with me now (they are 19 and 21 now). But I am also $100,000 in debt. After my wife moved out Aug. 31st 2017 I took her to court and we settled on a very minimal amount of child support that she owes me until my youngest daughter is out of college. In Massachusetts, a child is not considered emancipated until 23 if they are enrolled in a full-time college. She tried to get alimony from me but the judge refused based on her comparable salary. Oh and BTW, I didn't pay any legal fees for the child support proceedings. My wife paid her lawyer $5,000, instead of giving that money to her kids.
After 3 years, I am still devastated and heartbroken, but I am getting on with my life and trying to do God's will. Divorce was never in my vocabulary. Neither did I think it was in my wife's. We both come from dysfunctional homes (who doesn't), but not broken homes. Since the divorce, I have dated some, but it just made me realize how much I still love my wife, and trying to find another partner is not going to take the pain away.
My wife only moved 3 miles away, and my daughters have a better relationship with her now, which I am grateful, but I know they are still suffering. I know they still need to heal but for now they have just let her off the hook. But I respect where they are in their healing. It is still too painful to see or talk to my wife. But also, she is still untrustworthy and has been using my daughters to provoke me.
Because of Mary's Advocates and a few other faithful and traditional Catholics I have taken my brokenness to prayer and I do believe that Jesus meant what he said, that marriage is indissoluble. I believe God wants me to be faithful to my marriage vows and I pray for my wife every day. It is very hard to continue loving her after all this, knowing how much hate she has in her heart for me. But somehow I know that she is either mentally sick or diabolically possessed, I don't know. But I wouldn't have abandoned her if that happened to her and we weren't civilly divorced.
I pray someday that I can receive the grace of total forgiveness. Some days are better than others. But that is my hope. And like the Prodigal Son, my wife will have a conversion and return to her Catholic faith and we can be reconciled. I tell myself, she left Jesus before she left me.
God Bless you and all you do,