Monday, February 1, 2010

On divorce, annulment, and absent fathers.

As reported by CNS,  Pope Benedict XVI has stated that the simple desire for sacraments is not sufficient reason for annulment.  Some quotes:

"One must shun pseudo-pastoral claims" that look only at this desire to receive sacraments in the quest to determine annulments. 

He also notes that Charity without justice is "only a forgery because charity requires the objectivity that is typical of justice and which must not be confused with inhumane coldness." 

"Both justice and charity require love for the truth and essentially lead to a search for the truth."

I think our Holy Father is quite clear on this matter, and I am so glad of this.  Too often, it seems that Catholics think that if they are divorced, an annulment is just a fancy way of saying the same thing.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE! 

The Roman Catholic Church considers a marriage valid when:
  • It is celebrated in a ceremony according to Church law;
  • Both parties are free to marry each other;
  • Each partner intends, from the beginning of the marriage, to accept God's plan for married life as taught by the Church;
  • Each partner has the physical and psychological ability to live out the consent and commitment initially given to the marriage.
 If any of these requirements are lacking from the beginning of the marriage, then the Tribunal, acting as the bishop's representative, can declare that marriage invalid.

BUT this tells us something.  This tells us that our priests are not properly catechizing regarding marriage, and our congregants are not properly catechized on marriage!  Annulments should be RARE (Ideally, they should never happen, and at worst they should be rare.) 

On a related note, here are some statistics about those who grow up with no father figure.

It is simply alarming.  

85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless homes
85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes 
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes 
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes 

These statistics translate to mean that children from a fatherless home are:
  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • 32 times more likely to run away.
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
WOW!  In case anybody was doubting the effect of absent fathers, broken homes, divorce, etc., this should provide some insight. 

Why talk about this now?  Prior to the March for Life, as I was praying in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the delegation from Rhode Island (H.E. Bp. Tobin's Diocese of Providence) came in and had a wonderful priest say Mass.  He discussed the issue of abortion, through the lens of the importance of family, marriage, and teaching our children the proper order of things.  He discussed how few couples who came to him seeking marriage had actually followed the church's regulations on marriage.  (which, incidentally, includes 'you shouldn't marry a non-catholic'!)

It's also true that daughters of single parents are:

53% more likely to marry as teenagers,
164% more likely to have a premarital birth,
92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages
2.1 times more likely to have children during their teenage years than are daughters from intact families

FINALLY, 71% of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents.

Guess what, folks:  it's all interconnected. 

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