Feb 10, 2014
When Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19.6), presumably he meant it. Certainly the Catholic Church believes he did, and that conviction is the basis for its solemn teaching that sacramental marriages are indissoluble.
But isn’t there such a thing as “Catholic divorce” – annulment, that is? Evidently not, since annulment – a declaration of nullity by a church court – isn’t the dissolution of a marriage but a judgment that in a particular case no sacramental marriage existed. (One common reason is that one or both parties didn’t truly intend to enter into a sacramental marriage as the Church understands it.)
There are of course many variations on the theme of the divorced Catholic without an annulment who marries again. Some of these people were the responsible parties in the breakup of their first marriages and aren’t troubled about violating the Church’s teaching now.
But others were the injured parties. It’s natural to feel sympathy for those in this second category, who, having entered into a new union without an annulment, find themselves in a state of estrangement from the Church that includes being cut off from receiving communion (unless they separate from their second partners or forgo marital intimacy).