Online petition supports pre-nuptial agreement for Catholic couples to abide by canon law

A woman, who has made it her mission to reform Catholic marriage and civil divorce, has launched an online petition, urging the U.S. bishops to support the concept of pre-nuptial agreements for Catholic couples. The pre-nuptial agreement would obligate couples to follow the code of canon law regarding marriage, separation and divorce.

In an interview for, Bai Macfarlane outlined to journalist Zoë Romanowsky the Church teachings and canon law on marriage, separation and divorce and spoke about how no-fault divorce has negatively impacted marriage and the family in this country.

Culture biased against ‘saving marriages’

In the article, titled “Divorce American-Style, Marriage Catholic-Style: An interview with Bai Macfarlane,” the interviewee says the current culture does not truly understand the meaning of marriage and it promotes a bias against saving marriages.

“No-fault divorce makes people think that marriage just ‘breaks.’ It makes people think they have no responsibility for repairing or working on their marriage,” she said.

“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 with somebody else.”

Furthermore, she said, divorce negatively impacts a child’s moral development.

Bud and Bai Macfarlane are the parents of four boys and the founders of numerous Catholic media apostolates, such as the Mary Foundation, St. Jude Media, and CatholiCity. However, Bud left the family and filed for a divorce, accusing his wife of “extreme cruelty” and “gross neglect of duty.” Bai denies these claims.

By the end of the civil divorce proceedings, the court gave her husband custody of their children. But Bai is determined to live her Catholic faith and not to give up on her marriage.

Couples bound to ‘work it out’

“The Church teaches that Christ established that marriage is for life,” she told the interviewer. “Even if you don’t feel like being together, you have an obligation to God and to each other to work it out.”

Bai explained that Church law allows couples to separate if there is abuse or adultery. These are “grounds for temporary or permanent separation according to the Church,” she said. Canon law stipulates that one’s local bishop can give a couple permission to be permanently separated, depending on the circumstances.

However, “in the Church system, you are still bound to work towards reconciling,” she added.

Some Church policies encourage divorce

Currently in the United States, marriage tribunals require a civil divorce before considering annulments and annulments are given quite easily, Bai lamented. This policy is not canon law, she underlined. She suggested this policy implicitly encourages people to divorce.

“Civil divorce is setting oneself up for permanent separation,” she said.

According to Bai, people are being misinformed that the Church condones divorce. They are being led to believe that “all divorces should get annulments, which is something (the Vatican document) Dignitatis Connubii warns against.”

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From courts to Church

A law professor is submitting a memorandum to the Ohio courts in support of Bai’s legal argument that the court should transfer jurisdiction of her marriage to ecclesial authorities.

“That’s based o the concept that whenever you marry as a Catholic, you are agreeing to follow what the civil courts call ‘a separate or foreign law,’ which in my case in the Roman Catholic code of Canon law governing marriage,” she told GodSpy.

“What my civil attorney and that law professor are arguing is that the civil court shouldn’t’ be able to touch our marriage until we’ve gone through these procedures defined by canon law,” she said.

She said this is actually quite common in various states, where people agree to a third-party arbitrator.

The law professor has also proposed the concept of a pre-nuptial agreement for separation, based on Catholic principles.

For more information on the Bai Macfarlane’s marriage-reform movement, the petition and arguments for the pre-nuptial agreement, go to

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