Priests without borders

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Michael Clarke, 32, and his fiance, Lynn Dixon, 34, were raised Roman Catholic. They want to raise their children the same way.
But they can't be married in the Roman Catholic Church. Dixon had been in a previous marriage, and the church forbids divorced couples to remarry in an official church ceremony. So the Allison Park couple began looking for priests who would conduct a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony outside the church.

"It wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be," Clarke said. But then Dixon stumbled upon http://www.rentapriest.com, an online directory of more than 300 married priests across the country willing to perform services traditional priests can't or won't.

While the concept sounds kind of like a sacrilegious Rent-A-Center, it's actually a spiritual quest to aid couples or individuals in finding a priest to help them in their time of need, said Louise Haggett, who founded the nonprofit organization.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryChurch Discipline / Ordination StandardsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

17 Comments
Posted June 3, 2007 at 3:47 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/3366/



1. Words Matter wrote:

An excellent example of being raised Roman Catholic versus being Roman Catholic.

Words Matter

Reasonable people always fear nascent fascism.

June 3, 4:23 pm | [comment link]
2. deaconjohn25 wrote:

I have yet to see in the liberaly biased mainstream media, in any story along these lines, even a passing mention that the Catholic Church (whether you agree with its traditional understanding of the Gospel and St. Paul or not) about the role the Bible passages equating second so-called marriages with adultery play in the Church’s History and Tradition. Nor do they ever mention that all the Eastern Orthodox Churches also do not allow a member of its ordained clergy to remain active if they break a freely given vow of celibacy. (It is a matter of how much trust in the future ministerial integrity of a vow breaker—such as with the seal of confession, etc.—one can put.)
      Nooo—the whole point is to pit mean, unfair Vatican authority against poor, abused Americans and their right to follow any personal moral code they wish and still say it is Christian or Catholic -even though it may trash values and teachings of Christ.
The idea is that Americans are very anti-institutional (our Revolutionary Heritage) and almost always side against authority in any kind of dispute. The liberal MSM, I am sure, knows exactly how it is propagandizing the issue—or it is far more ignorant and incompetent than I think.

June 3, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
3. Veronique wrote:

Well all they had to do was to go to the local Episcopal church !  That is after all a large portion of people who become Episcopalians, Catholics in a second marriage… perhaps that’s the “niche” someone was talking about the other day…
Seriously, I don’t know why so many Roman Catholics want to be called RC but do not believe several (many ?) of the RC teachings, and think they can just pick and choose the ones they like…  Have some integrity, there are enough denominations out there, you should be able to find one where you agree with the doctrine and where you can raise your children in the teachings of your church.  Of course I understand that nobody knows what TEC believes anymore, but we’re working on a covenant, or something…

Agree with #2 that the media rarely gives the whole story, i.e. the doctrine behind the rules, so people could actually understand the issues.  Wouldn’t want “simple folks” to question the intellectual elite…

June 3, 7:15 pm | [comment link]
4. dpeirce wrote:

If they are mambers of a parish, they simply talk to their Pastor about an annulment. If they are members of a parish they should know that!!! There are rules about annulments, and it takes a pretty good while, but the rules and procedures are very reasonable. Been there, done that.

But maybe they AREN’T members of a parish? The Catholic Church does take a dim view of “drive-bys”. Some people treat the Church like a fast-food restaurant, dropping in to place their order, and that won’t work.

In faith, Dave

June 4, 2:22 am | [comment link]
5. ruidh wrote:

It seems that, to the RCC, divorce is the only unforgivable sin. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been divorced, who abandoned who or even if the other spouse has remaried. Their flock has pastoral needs and they refuse to meet them. Could it be that the people making the rules have no idea what marriage actually is?

Which is fine with me. My parish gets lots of RC converts who have been rejected by the RCC. These are faithful people who made a mistake while young. I’m someone who was rejected by the RCC for having married a divorced woman with children who needed a father.

I have no sympathy for RCC nonsense on this issue.

June 4, 9:58 am | [comment link]
6. dpeirce wrote:

Ruidh, you need to get the facts before you make your conclusion. Please read again my post #4.

In faith, Dave

June 4, 10:52 am | [comment link]
7. ruidh wrote:

Annullments are a joke. It’s nothing more than selling indulgances. Plus they are too expensive for many people. They cost $2400 in the early 80s. I can’t imagine that they cost any less today.

But it doesn’t matter to me any more. I left the RCC behind many, many years ago when the priest refused me the sacraments.

June 4, 11:04 am | [comment link]
8. deaconjohn25 wrote:

Wow, Ruidh, sorry to see you have it all wrong .  First, it isn’t RCC’s nonsense on the issue—it is RCC’s willingness and determination to be faithful to Christ’s words in the Bible that a genuine marriage can occur only once—that anything after is “adultery”—Christ’s word—not invented by a Vatican authoritarian or papal invention. People who leave the RCC on this issue are looking for a church body to lie to them about what the Bible says or use theological gobbledygook to end run Christ’s powerful defense of marriage. And it is the so-called second marriage that is the problem, not the separation—if needed—because of abuse etc.  And I have seen a number of surveys that indicate a child of divorced parents is frequently better adjusted if the child is “fathered” by a grandfather or uncle than a stepparent.. In the surveys I have seen over the years, the most devastating part for children of the parents’ divorce is their searching for new partners as the child sees his non-custodial parent pushed aside and the custodial parent focusing on the “mating game.”
    As for annulment costs—there is paperwork involved as well as research to make sure the first marriage was not a genuine sacramental marriage (such as force being used to bring about). This isn’t Europe where the governments help the churches financially. Someone has to help in this area. In fairness to other Church donors marriage tribunals are mostly financed by those who make use of them. BUT, if money is a problem, then there is a sliding scale in most dioceses wherein those who have wealth are expected to subsidize those who don’t.

June 4, 11:43 am | [comment link]
9. dpeirce wrote:

Ruidh, PLEASE check it out before you speak. First, annulments “cost” $350 (Diocese of Texas) and the fee is waived for those who cannot pay. It’s nothing like selling indulgences; it’s about the Church trying to help people live by the words Christ gave us and helping to repair the damage when they don’t.

It’s amazing to me how many things people “KNOW” about the Catholic Church which just aren’t so!! And some of the worst know-ers are former Catholics. Again, please ask a near-by priest what the truth is about Catholicism.

I’m not going to pry into why you were denied sacrements, but please consider why they were denied, the Church’s reason for the denial, and whether the Church might not have had a point. Then, seek reconciliation… even if you don’t re-join, because your anger is going to hurt you and you need relief before it does.

Please!

In faith, Dave

June 4, 12:05 pm | [comment link]
10. ruidh wrote:

I’ve been an Episcopalian for over 20 years now. My Faith hasn’t changed, only the place I go to worship. I need nothing more from the RCC.

However, I grieve when I see how the RCC has mistreated the people who came to rely on it. Most of my extended family is now estranged from the RCC and from any faith relationship because of the ways that they have been rejected and hurt by the RCC. Seeing someone online defend obvious nonsense just sets me off. I have nothing more to say on this subject.

June 4, 12:37 pm | [comment link]
11. dpeirce wrote:

Ruidh: I was Episcopalian 51 years. The Episcopal Church was a GOOD, Godly, Church as far as I could see. I grieve what she has become (or at least what part of her has become). However, if these reasserters can hang in there, with God’s help, she (or at least part of her) will once again be a GOOD, Godly, Church. I pray for that.

Go with God.

In faith, Dave

June 4, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
12. Veronique wrote:

In defense of Ruidh, costs of annulments apparently vary greatly depending on the diocese.  I had never heard of a fee around $350; the ones I heard from people who did go through it were well above a thousand dollars.  And it certainly sounded like if the grounds for annulment were weak, more money might get it for you.
Perhaps Dave being familiar with the rules could shed some light on what the grounds are for annulment in the RC ?  We all understand the legal grounds for annulment of a civil marriage (invalid consent as in contract laws, cosanguinity, etc.), and I assume these are valid grounds for the church as well, but there are many more annulments granted than those narrow exceptions… I had a boyfriend in college whose father obtained an annulment because he wanted to get married again, and his excuse was that he got married young, that was the only way for him to leave the family house where there was some abuse.  I sympathise with any abusive situation but marriage was hardly the only way out.  It seems to me like annulments are sometimes granted where you would expect a divorce, but people want to continue going to the RC church and the church stretches the rules to keep their parishioners.
Or sometimes they don’t grant the annulment, but then let remarried persons continue to be members and take communion, as a friend’s mother who remarried in a civil ceremony, her RC priest is aware of the situation and still welcomes them as parishioners.  She (and perhaps her priest) are cafeteria Catholics.

June 4, 12:56 pm | [comment link]
13. Ross wrote:

Continuing in the vein of #12 Veronique—this is purely anecdotal and second-hand, but an acquaintance of mine, previously divorced, wanted to marry a Catholic woman.  I don’t think he had converted himself—it wouldn’t be his style—but somehow they were going to be married in the RC church.  To do that, he needed to be granted an annulment of his previous marriage.

The priest essentially told him that all he had to do was sit in his office and say one of the right code phrases—for example, “it was a loveless marriage”—and they could process the annulment.

To his credit, my friend refused point-blank, because none of the offered reasons were true and he wasn’t going to lie just to salve the church’s conscience.  I don’t remember how things went after that, but I believe they ended up getting married outside the RCC.

———————————————————————-
Who am I?  Visit my web page or my blog  to find out.

June 4, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
14. dpeirce wrote:

Veronique, I’ll try ^_^. I’m not an expert on annulment but I can give you my observations on it. I only jumped over 3 years ago and was finally confirmed at the last Easter Vigil. In the meantime I’ve been wrestling more with things like Mary and purgatory, and just accepted annulment without trying real hard to deal with its theology. So I’m limited but will try to help.

First, there are a LOT of cafeteria Catholics, priests and religious as well as lay people. TEC has no patent on that, unfortunately. I do think that, because of our authority structure, we are able to deal with that more effectively than the Anglican Communion. But not MUCH more effectively :^>.

Then, why charge at all for an annulment? I think it must be more to make a person put his money where his mouth is (I’m POSITIVE +Aymond would disagree with that phrase!!!). I’m reading between the lines, but it seems a person values more highly and takes more seriously something he has paid for. Not good, maybe, but human. There are costs involved (at least 30 people worked on my annulment, counting my Pastor, the diocesan staff, and the archdiocesan staff. Pastor alone spent at least 20 hours working with me. I kinda doubt $350 covered the real costs, but my diocesan contact person assiduously questioned me whether I was able to make that payment, and Pastor volunteered out of the blue to cover my cost from the Parish budget. I’m not poor and so covered my own expense.

But those aren’t the actions of people who are selling annulments, and I seriously doubt I would have helped my case by offering more money. I didn’t find the kind of corrupted people which allowed the sale of indulgences.

Finally, what are the grounds for annulment. From Pastor’s explanations and the paperwork I had to fill out, The grounds appear to be determining whether the previous marriage was valid in God’s eyes. Not all people who “get married” really got married. If there was no valid marriage earlier, then the person is free to marry now.

BTW, it was explained to me that marriage outside the Catholic Church *IS* valid *IF* the conditions for validity are there (I tried to point out that my other marriage was before a JP, but that didn’t fly).

So what are the conditions for a valid marriage? They all seemed to involve the ability of both people to give a full, valid, and knowing consent to the marriage without any impairments. Impairments include any kind of coercion, immaturity, bad psychology, personal or personality defect, that kind of thing. But it’s not a free pass; they are trying to apply Christ’s word strictly but with mercy and help the person repair his life. Not an easy balance.

In my case, I was alcoholic; she was manipulable; and we both had no intention of fulfilling the primary reason for marriage: children. So there were many impairments to our giving valid “consent”. It was Pastor’s task to question me so that I revealed my impairments, but he did NOT coach me on “code phrases”.

Hope that helps.

In faith, Dave

June 4, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
15. Scotsreb wrote:

Here in the RC Archdioces of Los Angeles, I am currently going through an anullment process.  #9 above quoted a charge of $350 for the diocese of Texas.

Here in Los Angeles, the charge is $500.  This charge too, is waived if the cost would impose a burden.  This is not a money making op for the church, rather, it is a pastoral effort to regularize those who wish to go through the process.

The process can be lengthy, but if it is treated seriously by all hands, it takes an average, 12-14 months.  If it is granted here in L.A., it is automatically sent to the neighboring diocese of Orange, for their Tribunal court to review and either concur or deny.

If the grounds for nullity are accepted by the hearing tribunal and not immediately rejected for cause, the chances of it being approved are quite high.

In the course of my process, it has become apparant to me that too many people fail to take advantage of the opportunity, particularly those who do have valid causes for nullity.  It’s puzzling that folks would rather bail on their church, rather than take advantage of a pastoral option.  I guess that they are suffering from those American sins of ME, ME, ME and wanting things immediately.

As Dave averred above, there are many reasons that bring doubt to the validity of the marriage. Things like pregnancy and/or child birth or any other condition existing before the marriage vows, which hinder those vows being given frely, are pretty much almost automatically accepted, valid reasons.

The main reason for annulment petitions to be refused by the tribunals, is that the reasons given are all Post valid Marriage ie. Falling out of love, affairs, etc.

Such conditions are mere human opportunistic and sinful breaches in the marriage vows and are not considered valid for nullity.  Such reasons as these, are merely cafeteria grazing, acceptable to TEC but not to either the RC or Orthodox churches.

My process continues, but even in this uncertain stage, I see the validity of the process and accept that the findings of the tribunal, will be illuminated through prayer to the correct decision.

June 4, 3:21 pm | [comment link]
16. dpeirce wrote:

Scotsreb: My process took a little over two years. Maybe our guys siesta more than yours :^>? But I learned a LOT about patience and obedience from that process. Hang in there and don’t give up.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. You can do that even BEFORE you begin receiving sacrements.

In faith, Dave

June 4, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
17. deaconjohn25 wrote:

It is sad to see someone who claims to be Christian categorizing policies and procedures based on the very words of Jesus Christ in the Bible as “obvious nonsense.” In my opinion it is only “obvious nonsense” to those who have been brainwashed by “the spirit of the age.” And, unfortunately, there are a lot of basically decent, honorable Episcopalians and Roman Catholics who have been so brainwashed. The need our prayers and our willingness to promote Christ’s sound and beautiful teachings.

June 4, 5:27 pm | [comment link]


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