Question about Divorce & Catholic Church

I am reading a book, the story takes place in turn of the century 1900 Brooklyn. The woman,22 gets married her husband 2 months after the wedding (yes they had sex) leaves her never to return. Now she says she can never wed again as there is no divorce.

If such circumstances were true did the Catholic Church really expect a person of 22 never to remarry, never to divorce. What would the church suggest in a case like this. Say OH well.

I don’t know the details but it sounds like an annulment might be possible. This essentially is when the church declares that there never was a valid marriage. There are a number of grounds that this can be done on.

… and whether the couple had sex is irrelevant to the annulment.

I know a friend who that happend too. I belive if you haven’t seen your spouse in a certain amount of time (it’s like 7 years or something) that you can get a divorce/annulment with out the other there to sign it. BTW I’m sure they do an investigation. Talk to family, friends, neigbors, the spouse if possible (I said he ran away not dissapeard into nowhere). And they proabably don’t count things like travelling for work, in the armed forces.

Formerly known as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

The memory is foggy but I think as recently as a few years ago, Ireland made divorce legal. Before that everyone just lived with everyone else after they realized the marriage wasn’t going to work out.

Wow. You’re talking the pre-1917 Code of Canon Law (which was revised in 1983). I’m not sure of the grounds that the RCC was allowing for anullments back then. Certainly non-consummation, force, and deception have been perennial reasons to grant an anullment.

That the husband left after only two months might have made a good argument for deception or lack of true commitment when he said his vows. This might have allowed for the granting of a Church anullment (which is different than a divorce, which breaks a valid contract – an anullment declares that in hindsight we now see that the contract was invalid from the start and never truly took place).

Of course, the poor woman, like many poorly catechized Catholics today, may not have been aware of the possibility of an anullment or may have felt personally obligated to not remarry due to her own personal beliefs.


Has anyone seen the movie * Divorce Italian Style? * Under the canon law (OK, I know it was revised in 1983) a man and woman could not get a divorce in Italy as they might elsewhere. But it was OK for the surviving spous to remarry if the other spouse died. Ergo, you could kill your spouse and be less subject to the church’s censure than if either of you tried to remarry after getting divorced. This implies, of course, that the Roman Catholic Church condones murder. Talk about straining out gnats…

But getting back to the original question; the answer is “yes, the Catholic church really did expect you to stay married for the rest of your life.” I realize it may be hard for the contemporary mind-set to understand but there was a time when if you made a lifetime commitment it was actually expected to last a lifetime.

The only problem is: “Look before you leap.” Perhaps the Church assumes that its laity will know anything and everything about their prospective mates. But no one can predict that his/her spouse will or will not engage in indiscriminate substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, a life of crime, or an abusive attitude. Near as I can tell, however, the Church ignores these things; the wise approach would be to admit divorces in such cases–where it turned out that Couple X getting married wasn;t such a good idea, after all. :frowning:

No, the catholic church does NOT expect you to stay married and alone for the rest of your life. I had an aunt who had an anullment. Its not that hard to do really, and has about the same requirements as a divorce, perhaps a little more stringint. The only difference between the two is purely semantic: One is the legal breaking of a contract, the other is declaring that the contract was null-and-void at its inception. The results are identical: You are no longer married to a person with whom you believed that you were married. The catholic church DOES allow divorce, but the circumstances must be extraordinary; “we don’t like each other” or “he cheats on me” is not extraordinary. “He kicks the sh@t out of me on a daily basis” can be a valid reason.

The Catholic Chuch is as grounded in reality as any other religion, they realize that not every marriage will work out. They just don’t want anullment/divorce to be taken lightly. Before an anullment, there is extensive counseling given by the pastor, and lots of things are tried before an application for annullment is allowed. Factors, such as if there are children, are also examined (The church is MUCH more liberal in giving annullments if there aren’t children involved, but all avenues of counseling are still attempted before an annullment is granted).

One final note: A divorce is a civil proceeding; an annullment is a canonical one. Getting one is in no means causing the other to occur. Annulled marriages still have to go through the courts to finallize the divorce; divorced catholics still need to obtain an annullment before they can be remarried in the church.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

It is hard to believe but in the same book, the girl who got deserted, her mother was having trouble with the birth of the child and the church wouldn’t allow a theraputic abortion so she had to carry the child to term and then it was save the child or mother so they chose the child. Seems odd they would say to save the mother. The book (novel) though isn’t anti-Catholic.

jayron 32:
Today you are right (although the pope and Curia periodically bust the chops of the American bishops claiming that they are making annulments too easy). In the 1920’s, annulments were much harder to come by. (Of course, annulments and even divorces were sought much more rarely. In those days, the Catholics weren’t the only ones who were very opposed to divorce.)

As to the abortion question: there is a line of thought in Catholic theology that leans toward the presumptive new life, on the grounds that the mother has had a chance, now the kid should get a chance. That theology is not, however, RCC doctrine. It generally depends on the situation (which rarely occurs in the ways laid out in novels) and the local priest who is called in for an opinion. Despite what appears in the pages of The Cardinal (is that the novel being read?), while an abortion, per se, would always be prohibited, a specific surgical/medical procedure to save the life of the mother that resulted in the death of the unborn baby was not strictly prohibited. The entire situation had to be reviewed before a decision could be made.


Excellent replies, all. I won’t attempt to add anything, except to comment on the following:

It does not imply anything of the sort. The scenario of committing murder in order to re-marry without impediment is ridiculous, and it would be roundly condemned by all Church authorities, from the parish priest right up to the Pope. Murder is a cardinal as well as a mortal sin, and the perpetrator is in a massive amount of trouble with the state of the salvation of his soul the instant he commits it.

That having been said, I will also say that I personally think the Church’s position on anullments and remarriage is a tad unrealistic. If this were a perfect world, sure, no marriage would ever break up. However, this world is anything but perfect, and ofttimes, an innocent party is hurt very badly by a disreputable spouse. Adding the stress of an anullment procedure to this situation, in my opinion, does more harm than good. I accept Rome’s position; but that doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with it. I agree more with the opinion of various established Protestant bodies, which allow divorce and remarriage if one party has been sexually unfaithful, cf. Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

A couple examples of annulments in recent times.

The major of NYC, Rudolph Giuliani, managed to get his first marriage annulled . . . discovered he was married to his first cousin. I don’t know how that fact escaped him before, but he did rectify that little situation . . . just in time to marry his second wife. (What he’s gonna do about his deal this time around, I dunno, but I await the upcoming story with great anticipation.)

My parents were divorced after 13 years of marriage . . . my father received an annulment, oh, about five years ago. (My stepmother had converted and they wanted to remarry in the church.) My mother was underage when they got married, so his grounds were that she had lied on the original marriage license . . . that’s good enough for the church.

They’ve actually made the whole process easier; it now takes about 18 months, start to finish. It’s not even all that expensive, although I’m cynical enough to suspect that a little more bux grease the skids a little, things move a bit faster.

your humble TubaDiva

Well, when ELSE am I supposed to be right. Jeez…

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

They’ve actually made the whole process easier; it now takes about 18 months, start to finish. It’s not even all that expensive, although I’m cynical enough to suspect that a little more bux grease the skids a little, things move a bit faster.


Absolutely not! Well, anyone can fall into temptation, and church personell have fallen in the past; but for an anullment to be processed faster on bribery, at least four different Church officials need to be on the take at once. Not likely.

Although, what does work is a dogged determination to fill out all the paperwork as quickly as possible, and staying on top of all the wittnesses, officials, and clerks to make sure they’re not holding up anything. If you do that, one year.

And if the anullment is being processed based on an easily verified technicality, such as as your ex-spouse lied about being married before, then you’re looking at three months.

And as a general response to those who say the Church process is too difficult – yes, perhaps. But do you have the same harsh words for those non-Catholic denominations who routinely witness third, fourth, fifth marriages without a word of challenge to those who fall in and out of marriage so easily?



jayron 32

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. . . .

(And on this MB, the accepted exclamation is SHEEEESH!)


Another classic was Joe Kennedy’s (not the old man) annulment, five years after the divorce and after 12 years of marriage and 2 kids. The annulment was granted on grounds that Joseph lacked ``due discretion,’’ a catchall for immaturity or impaired judgment.