Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On the prospects for Catholics who want to divorce America

I'm obviously no Catholic, but I read the non-theological parts of First Things, and - as is now no longer PC to say - "I have some Catholic friends." So, as a naive occasional observer of these things, permit me to ask a suitably naive question about Deneen's declaration of war against five(?) out of the 10(?) American Catholics who know what he's talking about in this essay:
The relationship of Catholicism to America, and America to Catholicism, began with rancor and hostility, but became a comfortable partnership forged in the cauldron of World War II and the Cold War. Was that period one of “ordinary time,” or an aberration which is now passing, returning us to the inescapably hostile relationship? A growing body of evidence suggests that the latter possibility can’t simply be dismissed out of hand...Whether the marriage between the (Catholic) Church and the (American) State can be rescued, or whether a divorce is in the offing, depends in large part on the outcome of this burgeoning debate about which most Americans are wholly unaware, but to which those with interests in the fate of the imperial Republic should to be paying attention.
My question is, according to the Catholic Church, isn't divorce impermissible? Or, at least, a bar to subsequent remarriage? Is Deneen proposing to become permanently stateless?


Emily Hale said...

Ha. I think metaphorical divorce might be permissible.

Flavia said...

Reading even just that one paragraph made my head hurt. Boyfriend needs an editor.

But anyway: the answer is clearly an annulment. They're apparently scandalously easy to get, if you're the kind of Catholic who wants a divorce but doesn't want to be divorced.

Miss Self-Important said...

EH: But wouldn't this be among the least apt metaphors someone advocating for traditionalist, pre-liberal Catholicism could make? Also, what exactly does he propose in practical terms for his anti-American followers - a separatist movement?

Flavia: Do you have to prove that the marriage was never consummated for that? How would he prove that Catholicism's marriage to America is...incomplete?

Andrew Stevens said...

There are many reasons why the Church might declare a nullity. One spouse never intended to have children from the outset of the marriage, one spouse was deceptive in a very significant way (not telling his spouse he's an axe murderer, for example), the marriage was unwilling on the part of a spouse, etc. The key is that the defect must have existed at the time of the marriage. It can't be something like "I'm bored with her now."

Only 15% of divorced U.S. Catholics seek an annulment and less than half of those are granted. Compared to Catholics in the rest of the world, U.S. Catholics get annulments with scandalous frequency, but I don't think it's at all fair to say that they're easy to get unless you've got a particularly cooperative priest.