.- An Ohio woman filed an appeal this week with a local divorce court in the latest phase of what she sees as a crusade to reform civil and church divorce laws in the U.S. Marie ‘Bai’ Macfarlane, wife of a prominent Catholic author, who left her and her 4 children in 2003 and began no-fault divorce proceedings, thinks that civil divorce laws fail to take into account the agreement that Catholic parties make before God and the Church in marriage.
She also argues that many diocesan policies seem to favor marital abandonment and easy annulments. These, she says hurt spouses who may not want the divorce and help to tear apart families.
Macfarlane said in a recent interview for GodSpy.com that, “No-fault divorce makes people think that a marriage just ‘breaks.’ It makes people think they have no responsibility for repairing or working on their marriage. It's the idea that if you decide that your marriage isn't working, or if it's not giving you the satisfaction you expected, it's the normal thing—it's almost the brave or heroic thing—to move along. You can just try again with somebody else.”
Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek, who submitted Macfarlane’s appeal, argued that, “The courts need to take into account the religious faith and practices that the couple agreed upon when they married. In this case, the court has allowed the father to place one child in daycare and is preventing the mother from caring for her children even though she is willing to do so. This failure is due to the court taking complete control of the children's lives through the father.”
“Instead,” he continued, “the court should recognize that the nature of this marriage was such that the mother's role in the raising of her children was paramount. The court could avoid these problems by acknowledging the role the Catholic Church should play in Catholic marriages. The failure of the courts to recognize the agreement the parties made in a Catholic Church in front of God and a priest in this case not only violates the understanding Marie had when she entered upon this marriage, it necessarily entangles the court in issues relating to Catholic law, teaching, faith and belief.”
Mrs. Macfarlane has likewise taken her case before the highest ecclesial court in the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, where it is currently pending.
“My husband and I didn’t agree to the minimal government marriage,” she added. “We agreed to be under the authority of a third party, the ecclesiastic authority of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law.”
“We are obligated”, she said, “to follow the Church’s separation procedures, not the state’s minimum procedures.”