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Joined: Sep 2013
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When a marriage fails, the Roman Catholic Church seems to think that its due to a technical flaw because in their mind it cannot fail. But what they fail to grasp is that humans can fail even when God does not. Even if the marriage was performed perfectly, and even if the parties fully intended to keep their vows, the marriage can still fail. The marriage IS valid and did happen and you cannot say that it did not. The Roman Catholic Church can say that it will not divorce or annul them in this case, but on a pastoral level it knows that those are not practical options.

So more often than not, at least in Malta, it will make excuses for annulment because it created an impossible situation where they cannot be seperated but cannot be together either.

In such cases, in my opinion, divorce like the Orthodox Church gives, based on oikonomia, is the honest response. Both annulment and divorce would be sinful, but one is dishonest while the other leads to repentance and healing.

Which brings me to my query (something that is cropping up in Malta since civil divorce was legalised in 2011 and with annulments by the Catholic Church soaring since then):

a) If a Roman Catholic individual obtains an annulment from the Catholic Church Tribunal (whether he had requested it or not), and subsequently he converts to Orthodox Catholicism, how would this be handled by the Orthodox Church?

b) Would it consider his marriage as if it never happened? Will it consider him to be 'still' validly married? Or will the person be subject to another process, especially if the intention would be to marry an Orthodox person?

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Pity that no one has reacted to this post - I could advise some friends I know who are passing through a difficult time.

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Since you brought it up again.
Originally Posted by G Xuereb
When a marriage fails, the Roman Catholic Church seems to think that its due to a technical flaw because in their mind it cannot fail. But what they fail to grasp ,,,
When I read a pompous, simplistic misrepresentation as this I'm reluctant to respond (as I was when I read it initially) unless I can be in for the long haul. The theology that is the basis for the Catholic marriage canons is, I believe, correct. Do YOU know what it is?

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
...is that humans can fail even when God does not. Even if the marriage was performed perfectly, and even if the parties fully intended to keep their vows, the marriage can still fail.
True. Obvious. Well-known.

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
The marriage IS valid and did happen and you cannot say that it did not. The Roman Catholic Church can say that it will not divorce or annul them in this case, but on a pastoral level it knows that those are not practical options.
I do not know this hidden mind of the Church as you do.

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
So more often than not, at least in Malta,
From what I've read lately, all of Malta is especially in need of conversion --- something of the (Catholic) Nineveh of our present time.[See, e.g. Catholic Malta legalises gay marriage – how did it happen?]

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
... it will make excuses for annulment because it created an impossible situation where they cannot be seperated but cannot be together either. In such cases, in my opinion, divorce like the Orthodox Church gives, based on oikonomia, is the honest response.
But does it preserve the true theology of marriage? A second (Orthodox) marriage, oikonomia invoked or not, is understood theologically as penitential.

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
Both annulment and divorce would be sinful, but one is dishonest while the other leads to repentance and healing.
So the Orthodox position as you state it is that they at least permit sinning as long as it's not "dishonest."

Originally Posted by G Xuereb
Which brings me to my query
I'm not Orthodox, don't know the Orthodox responses, so can't comment.

With all that said, you do have a point: Catholic annulment is (like) Orthodox divorce? I think it's good and honest to review Catholic marriage theology as does the recent Amoris laetitia. I don't think it's option of, as it seems, let's poke around and see what may work, is sound. I would want that the lofty -- and correct -- theology based on Ephesians 5:32 be foremost as always. But what happens when the sacramental sign is gone? For instance, in the Eucharist, if the sign, the appearance of the bread or wine is absent, becomes lost, there is no sacramental presence. What is the case when the Christian marriage is no longer, or even the opposite, of the sign it is to be, the union and love of Christ and His Spouse, the Church (Ephesians 5:25)?


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I find the Orthodox dancing around the words of our Lord regarding the adultery of second marriages, which are very clear and forthright, to be similar to how Protestants can seem to understand the word "IS," as in "this IS my Body."

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Just to clarify, the Catholic Church does not grant or issue annulments, though this is how the tribunal process is commonly described. With respect to marriage, the ecclesiastical tribunal process investigates a marriage to determine with moral certitude whether that marriage is valid or not. If the marriage is not valid, then the competent authority issues a declaration of nullity. The declaration of nullity does not dissolve a valid marriage.

With respect to valid marriages, it’s important to fully understand the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage. Faithful to the teaching of the Lord, the Catholic Church teaches ALL marriages are intrinsically indissoluble, but some are extrinsically dissoluble (for example, marriages subject to the Pauline Privilege and its expansions, marriages that are ratum sed non consummatum, and those marriages that are subject to the Petrine Privilege). Except for marriages that are ratum sed non consummatum, the marriages that may be subject to dissolution by the competent ecclesiastical authority are not sacraments, i.e., marriages between two unbaptized parties or marriages between a baptized Christian and a unbaptized spouse. These marriages are valid but not sacraments. In the case of a marriage that is ratum sed non consummatum, the marriage is valid and a sacrament, but because the marriage has not been consummated, the marriage is not absolutely indissoluble and it may be dissolved by the Roman Pontiff according to current canon law.

Marriages that are valid, consummated and sacraments are absolutely indissoluble and can not be dissolved by any human power nor any cause except death.


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