Book ReviewsAnnulment: 100 Questions and Answers for Catholics

Peter Vere and Jacqui Rapp. Cincinnati, Ohio: Servant Books. December 2009. 117 pages.  Paperback.  ISBN 978-0-86716-873-0  $11.99

Many people consider an annulment to be the Catholic version of divorce. However, this is not the case. An annulment declares that a marriage never existed in the first place.  The authors of this book, Peter Vere and Jacqui Rapp, are canon lawyers who are able to offer detailed insight into how an annulment is processed and obtained. They are able to explain this with quotes from Canon Law. They also offer unique anecdotes from their own experiences.

The authors begin by explaining what a canonical marriage is and what is necessary for its validity. They also discuss the canonical requirements for marriage preparation. Contrary to movies and other works of fiction, a man and a woman cannot just find a priest and ask him to marry them on the spot. One of the strengths of the book is that it explains the details of the lengthy process of marriage preparation.

Vere and Rapp then present the details of the annulment process, which takes time and is not cheap. They explain that most cases are processed on the local or diocesan level. Interestingly, though the process can involve both parties in the so-called marriage, it is not necessary. The annulment can be processed at the request of one party. That process is comprised of a judge and advocates for the various parties involved. This includes canon lawyers and sometimes experts from other professions.

The book also explains the process of submitting the appeal for an annulment to the Vatican. The authors also note the other ways a marriage can be declared invalid, such as the Pauline privilege.

Perhaps what is most encouraging is that the book also presents advice on how to keep a valid marriage together.

This short book would be of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is informative and helpful to anyone wishing to know more about what an annulment is, and what the process of obtaining one is like.

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