Catholics ask Vatican to rule on no-fault divorce

A group of Catholics whose marriages ended in divorce is asking the Vatican to clarify to bishops in the U.S. their appropriate pastoral response to no-fault divorce cases.

A group of lay Catholics who have had their families split by no-fault divorce asked the Vatican to urge the American bishops to come to their defense. Five testimonies were sent by Mary's Advocates, a marriage advocacy group in Ohio,  to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative texts.

The Catholic Apostolic Constitution gives individuals the right to ask the Vatican whether local Church laws violate the universal laws of the church.

Bai Macfarlane, the director of Mary's Advocates says, "When Catholics force no-fault divorce on their families, our American Catholic leadership remains silent bystanders. Pastors promote annulment and even divorce. We are asking the Holy See if we have the right to have canon law protections applied to our families by our local bishops and tribunals."

The petition to the Vatican, extensively citing canon law, is publicly available the Mary's Advocates website. According to a news release, from the organization "If the Church would exercise the canonical investigation process for Separation of Spouses, canonical remedies, and medicinal penalties, we believe it could safeguard justice, prevent scandal, and serve the common good."

No-fault divorce allows one spouse to force the break-up of their family, regardless of whether the other spouse is dangerous or an adulterer. Mike McManus, founder of Marriage Savers, states, "The current law in 49 states allows one spouse to file for a divorce on grounds of 'irreconcilable differences,' and obtain the divorce in every case. In 80% of the cases their spouses believe the marriage is reconcilable."

Mary's Advocates wanted to provide the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts with some information about no fault divorce. Stephen Baskerville's January 2009 article in Touchstone Magazine on no-fault divorce was included. Stephen Baskerville is Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College and author of "Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family."

In a telephone interview, Baskerville said, "The Catholic and Christian press is waking up to the horrors of what really goes on in divorce court. I fear that priests are totally ignorant. They unwittingly serve the interests of the divorce industry by failing to take a stand against the divorce juggernaut."

Sheryl Temaat, who has been repeatedly publish by Homiletic and Pastoral Review says, "Petitioning the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts for assistance in helping American Catholic families overcome the plague of divorce is long overdue. Practically every day we read how children are abused by divorce in one way or another. It's time to hear what the Catholic Church really teaches about divorce, dating, annulment, and remarriage."

Filed under catholic, christianity, marriage, family, vatican, religion, law, divorce, North America

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