How Do They Pull it Off? 100% Marriage Annulments
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On June 23, 2017
Prominent Catholics know that the Church’s marriage annulment process in the United States has been abused for years. We can now see, by reading a Tribunal’s own website how they get away with it, while almost creating a paper trail that looks like they are following all the procedures required for a just, and truthful, outcome.
Excerpt from EWTN’s The World Over Sept. 10, 2015 Here
Bishop Robert Morlino, of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, says, “The annulment processes in the United State, honestly, have been abused for many years. … This wouldn’t be anything new.”
On June 8th, a recorded conversation that occurred in a public forum with Cleveland Diocese Tribunal canon lawyer, Lynette Tait, was made available on YouTube. She taught, “I find cases of accountants, engineers [and] lawyers — they tend to overanalyze things from an intellectual perspective but the emotional perspective isn’t there, so that definitely has a bearing on your ability to consent to marriage.”
In the Catholic Code of Canon Law, looking at things from an intellectual perspective, and lacking sufficient emotional perspective (whatever that means) are not grounds for nullity of marriage. However, having serious mental problems at the time of marriage could be a ground for nullity (canon 1095). Saint Pope John Paul II taught that this ground is only applicable for those who have a “grave psychic anomaly” (Pope to Roman Rota, Feb. 5, 1987).
How do canon lawyers like Lynette Tait so easily rule that marriages in which one party is an accountant, engineer, or lawyer are invalid? During the entire proceedings, except for the final ruling by the judge, the Tribunal keeps secret the fact that the petitioner is accusing himself of having had a serious mental problem.
[(Added June 26, 2017 3:41 pm) In public session, Lynette Tait teaches about putting the ground on the petitioner, and how the personality problem of being a people-pleaser is a ground for nullity.
Tribunal keeps secret the fact that the petitioner
is accusing himself of having had a serious mental problem.
Laws for making an accusation of nullity against one’s marriage are similar to the laws of governmental courts. Someone wanting a decree from a judge must show the basis in law for the complaint and sign an affidavit describing the facts alleged. For example, if you were a person whom I believe stole my car, I would bring a complaint to a judge with the help of the police and a city prosecutor. My complaint must include a statement from me describing my car, and the time and place from which it was stolen. You would be informed of the accusation being made against you.
A formal petition for nullity of a marriage is no different. The person asking for a decree of invalidity of a marriage must show the basis in law for the marriage to be invalid and give, at least in a general way, the facts and proofs demonstrating that the marriage is invalid according to said basis in law (D.C. Art. 116 /2, /3). In the Catholic Code of canon law, the basis for nullity is called the grounds. For example, if I married my fiancée’s identical twin brother in a Catholic ceremony, that marriage would be invalid on the ground of “error concerning the person” (canon 1097). If I wanted an annulment, I would have to describe in my petition the grounds (even if not in canonical terms) and give an account of what happened.
In certain circumstances, those with grave mental problems, or inability to think straight, are unable to validly enter marriage. Canon 1095 applies to these cases. Thorough explanations about these grounds can be found in 57 pages of the book published by Ignatius press in 2015, with a preface by Cardinal Raymond Burke, When Is Marriage Null? Guide to the Grounds of Matrimonial Nullity for Pastors, Counselors, and Lay Faithful. The most popular ground for nullity for psychological reasons is Canon 1095.2. However, the canonical terminology has its own vocabulary: “those who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted.”
In the Diocese of Cleveland (where the canon lawyer thinks that looking at life from an intellectual perspective is a clue of invalidity of marriage), annulments were granted in 99% of the cases in 2014. In 2011, Cleveland was one of the 33 dioceses that decided 100% of cases had invalid marriages. Cleveland granted more annulments than any other diocese reporting, except Los Angeles (see statistics).
Saint Pope John Paul II cautioned against misusing the balance between justice and mercy. “A valid marriage, even one marked by serious difficulties, could not be considered invalid without doing violence to the truth and undermining thereby the only solid foundation which can support personal, marital, and social life. … The roads leading away from justice and truth end up in serving to distance people from God, thus yielding the opposite result from that which was sought in good faith” (1990 Address to Roman Rota).
The Cleveland Diocese “Tribunal Procedures” show how they pull it off. They teach all petitioners to mandate a diocesan employee to speak on the petitioner’s behalf (the canonical name for this person is procurator).
The 2016 “Tribunal Procedures” states, “The procurator must never discourage someone from presenting a petition to the court, even if the procurator may feel that the person does not have a strong case” (p. 4).
The diocesan formal nullity petition form has a page to show a narrative about the marital situation. The 2016 instructions show, “It is better for procurators to address the general factors in the relationship which could be evidence of invalidity rather than concentrating on any specific grounds” (pg. 17). Furthermore, “[t]he procurator will need to exercise considerable guidance in helping the petitioner to produce a statement which is relevant to canonical reasons for matrimonial invalidity. This statement should not cite specific grounds” (page 7).
In addition to the formal petition, the Tribunal has the petitioner complete a lengthy preliminary questionnaire. After seeing the petition and the answers to questionnaire, the tribunal judge informs the petitioner and the other party which ground for invalidly has been chosen for investigation. No petitioner is going to know that he’s being accused of having a serious mental problem when he reads, “We shall be investigating whether the petitioner suffered from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted (c. 1095.2).”
Canon law requires that a petition must include two parts: the grounds and the narrative demonstrating those grounds. However, the Cleveland petition form only shows a narrative. The 2016 instructions from the diocese tell the petitioner (and his procurator) NOT to specify grounds (page 7).
A previous 2008 version of the Cleveland “Tribunal Procedures” has the opposite problem. An earlier edition of the formal petition form required the petitioner to put a checkmark in front of one of three listed grounds. “Incapacity to give consent to marriage (canon 1095)” was the most popular ground. No narrative of facts and proofs demonstrating the invalidity of the marriage were supposed to be shown on the formal petition form.
The formal petition is required, by law, to be given to the other spouse, the respondent. For respondents who want to defend the validity of their marriage, both the old annulment petition form and the current form are troublesome.
Before a trial begins, if you were defending yourself against auto theft, you would have to be given details about the auto theft for which you are a suspect. Similarly, a respondent, defending the validity of his marriage in an annulment case, must be given, in a general way, the description of the facts and proofs proposed to demonstrate invalidity of the marriage. On the contrary, the 2008 version of the Cleveland “Annulment Procedures” showed the obligation of the petitioner’s procurator to write a general summary, and this general summary was shown to the judge, but not to the parties. A procurator has the authority to write a formal petition on behalf of a petitioner, without the petitioner ever reading it; so, this is where the procurator could secretly accuse the petitioner of having had a serious mental problem.
In other dioceses, the respondent is not shown, from the start of the case, the general facts alleged by the petitioner to demonstrate nullity. Instead, after the witness testimony has all been collected, the respondent is allowed to read the petitioner’s answers to a lengthy questionnaire. The diocese of Toledo publishes their preliminary questionnaire on their website. See eight pages of single spaced questions: page 11 -18.
Defending a marriage against answers to lengthy questionnaire is unfair, because they do not do what the law requires. It does not specify in a limited, general way, the facts and proofs, upon which the petitioner is relying, that to demonstrate the invalidity of the marriage based on the ground asserted by the petitioner. A respondent cannot defend against accusations of invalidity of his marriage, when he is not advised of alleged facts supporting the accusation.
2008 Cleveland “Tribunal Procedures”
2014 Cleveland Petition form with no facts and proofs demonstrating nullity, and vague grounds.
2015 Cleveland Petition form with no grounds, and narrative general factors in the relationship
2016 Cleveland “Tribunal Procedures”
2016 Toledo Diocese Petition form with no specified grounds, 8 pages preliminary questionnaire
If the public defender then told you, "we are going to prepare your defense,” but never told you the day of the alleged robbery, you would be shocked. That is how tribunals start the case when they break the law about respondent's rights in the beginning of the case, and never give them a copy of Petition that shows, in a general way, the facts upon which the petitioner is relying to demonstrate her accusation.
At your trial, if the county prosecutor brought up 100 witnesses that said they all sae you rob different banks on different days, you'd scream foul. That is what tribunals do that only show you answers to a long questionnaire.
If, after the trial, you are found guilty of robbing a bank about which no one testified, but the judge or a secret witness just made it up, you would know that the whole thing was a sham from the beginning. That is what tribunals do when the judge or the tribunal psychologist makes up exaggerated false narratives upon with to base their 1095.2 annulment.
We have to strive to have peace of soul.
When we are in a fight, if we lose our temper or give up, we are less able to defend ourselves.
Above my bed, I have a pray card with St. Padre Pio sayings on it.
One of them is, "Pray, hope and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
The Church is being attacked from within as well as without.
Just as the hierarchy in the Church in the USA has for the most part been slow to fight artificial contraception and abortion, so they have not fought divorce and no fault divorce. They have also not fought pornography.
Humanae Vitae was ignored and opposed. These are the fruits predicted by Humanae Vitae itself.
We are in a cultural war, and we are losing because we are so quiet and passive.
It is not just the clergy. Friends and family fail to act. No one has ever corrected my wife. It has been 8 years. I however have been doubted, opposed and corrected thousands of times.
Read the psalms of David. Look at how he can rely on nobody, and he has to rely on the Lord alone. He didn't have the Mass, he didn't have confession. We do.
It's beyond human strength, so we need to ask for divine help and do it always.
Look at 40 Days for Life. How many people go out and pray and fast? 1 in 1,000? That's probably generous. The Treasure Valley here in Idaho has maybe 700,000 people. Idaho is overwhelming pro-life. Planned parenthood has two abortion mills. Yet we can only run one 40 Days for Life and only during the day hours and many of those hours go unattended. Probably there are 100 to 200 people who do it. Our priests go, but they don't preach about it. Our bishop goes on the annual pro-life march and gives a talk. We also have sidewalk councilors. There are maybe 10 or 20 of them. It is horrific the lack of response.
Now no fault divorce is much worse as it has much less attention. There is nobody fighting it here in Idaho. Nobody. It's not an issue. Priests feel sorry for you, but they won't correct anybody. That's the culture.
I'm no better. My Uncle divorced my Aunt. I tried only once to get her to be faithful. I never tried to get him to be faithful. I tried to get my mother to talk to her. She never did. Now my Aunt has civilly married someone.
I have friends who are divorced or separated. They just disappear. There is no contact. I don't pursue them except weakly. I have friends who have left religious orders and the priesthood.
I remember talking to the brother of someone whose marriage was in trouble. I asked, "What's up?" What are you guys doing to help them? He didn't know. This was a good guy. Highly educated. Big family. Good wife. Faithful Catholic. We just don't know what to do. I tried to talk to my friend myself. I had been a groomsman in his wedding. He just said society is toxic and secular counselors have some wisdom. He wasn't interested in talking to me about it.
These people were the best of the best.
There are many other examples I know.
So pray always and don't faint and don't rely on your own strength.
Worry is useless what is needed is faith.
Not withstanding the enormity of the problems contained in the article - and especially that absurd and obscene questionnaire - and also taking into account all of our (and others') particular and differing circumstances (not to mention the large probability that an abandoned spouse could have a very, very hard time answering the vast majority of the questions and the horrible nature in which they are presented), on which basis is the entire premise faulty?
Aside from the overwhelmingly insulting nature of the questionnaire trying to force a square peg into a round hole, first and foremost, I don't want to 'petition' for nullity. I have no 'facts or proofs' as to any aspect of my dating, engagement, or marriage. As far as I knew, I was in a valid marriage. Until I found out my husband had cheated on me while we were dating, during the course of our entire marriage, had a 'constant porn reel' playing in his head, was a rabid 'sex addict', had been 'sexually abused' by his 'homosexual father' (the patriarch of their family, WWII hero, Knight of Columbus, 45+ grandchildren, married 62 years.), has a girlfriend presently who predates our 20 yr old marriage, self-admitted to the psych ward (where he told me 'I'll give you an annulment.'), all resulting in an epic and ongoing self-destruct spiral of every imaginable horror and type of abuse possible - through which I supported him at the behest of counselors and clergy - I thought he adored me and the children and my marriage was happy and solid as a rock. (Do I really need to 'examine' in what way my marriage did or did not become an equal partnership of mutual respect and care? Really?? No thanks.)
4. (Like, "How soon did the ordinary problems any couple faces in a marriage become insurmountable problems which drive the two of you apart? What specific problems were you not able to resolve and when did they first show up in your relationship?"
Gee, good questions.
Or 7. h) for example:
What were the high points, the best moments of the marriage and when did they occur? What were the low points and when did they occur?
The pregnancy of our first child, my beautiful daughter, for example. The high of my life. When he went to a bar and picked up a stranger, had unprotected sex with her, came home and had unprotected sex with me (while I was pregnant), then took me to said bar for my birthday (while I was pregnant!), I found out 11 years later. Thanks for that memory! Shall I rehash every happy highlight of my life for the last 20 years through the new lens of reality and torch every photograph where I'm smiling but realize what was REALLY going on at that moment? Is that supposed to be healing, clarifying, cathartic?
The Church has been such a comfort to me and my children during this incredibly difficult time. NOT.
"Briefly outline the occasion(s) of infidelity as to when they began, who started them, how long the occurred and how they ended."
"What convinced either you or your former spouse that the marital problems were irreconcilable? When was the actual decision made to leave the marriage?"
More great questions. I'd love the answers. Unfortunately, I can't even 'petition' until I'm divorced. A process which is being utilized to further brutalize me and the children and wreak financial Armageddon on me as well. Fun! While my husband is in a scorched-earth legal campaign against me, my diocese is still sending me Mr. And Mrs. collection envelopes and endless financial appeals.
"Since the divorce or dissolution, have you met the obligations of any parent toward his or her children in terms of presence, emotional and financial support?" How about during divorce proceedings? I guess they don't hafta worry about that since you need the divorce to 'petition'. How about suing your unoffending, abandoned spouse for legal fees while abandoning any and all financial obligations, children, paying no child support, and then accusing said spouse of 'parental alienation'? Thanks for the visit from a social worker, btw. And the harsh berating by the judge (for what? I have no idea.)"
11. An annulment means that consent to marriage was faulty, and it applies to both parties.
My consent/intent was not faulty other than that I was not aware of, or was mislead about a great many things. In other words, I presumed the validity of my marriage and am not 'petitioning' to have it 'declared' null.
Th answers I would have to the vast majority of the questions have no basis in fact (I was - and still am! -unaware of the truth of many of the aspects questioned.)
Any of the questions about my spouse would rely on me relating the narrative of a pathological liar who never told me the truth about anything. How is that helpful?
I want the Church to do its job and vet my marriage for validity. Why is any of the onus on me to provide anything? If I'm condemned to a lifetime of celibacy, so be it. It can't help me in my divorce settlement, which would have to be complete before the issue is settled - again, thanks. It quite obviously doesn't matter a lick to him anyway. It will just give him another opportunity to stick it to me because he perhaps knows I DO care and it DOES matter to me. All he'd have to do is, ya know - LIE.
This is offensive on so many levels, it boggles the mind.
The Church has had the largest hand in the destruction of marriage. And that right there is the REASON (for the reason!) that most of our marriages AREN'T valid (hey - the Pope said it - not me!) Whether the 'Church' lets them off on a technicality or not doesn't change the fact that they've rendered it meaningless either way.
Very Truly Yours,