Step 1: Open Wound. Step 2: Add Salt. Step 3: Stir...
Over at the Caelum et Terra weblog, the discussion on the post entitled "An Open Wound" has continued.
It's a lonely job being the one guy who sees the world differently than everybody else. Mr Nichols' essay has given rise to two or three different "threads" of discussion, all of them quite interesting. But the one that interests me is where tribunals are invariably to blame for "too many annulments." It seems that people differ on what the "root" of a problem is. For me, the "root" is best found at the beginning, not the end, of a process. And that, I think, is where people differ.
And these people are not stupid or uninformed. They include some of the smartest and most intellectually rigorous people I know. And they are shocked to learn that a couple, which would have appeared to them to be the model of a "good Catholic family" should fall completely apart.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), nothing in this area shocks me. Perhaps if I had a totally faithful Catholic wife, one who believed that "forever" meant just that, and didn't run out when things didn't work out as planned, leaving me with our five or six kids, I'd look at it the way they do too. After all, it's easy to blame tribunals who appear to be letting couples off the hook when things take a wrong turn.
No, guys, I'm serious, it's real damn easy! You just say, "Look at what they're doing, they're making it worse," and that's the ball game!
Sometimes they can even write a whole book which says the same thing. And they're convincing enough to make you forget, that there might be something about these couples that you don't know. Which means there might be something THEY don't know.
It's harder to look back to the beginning, which is why it does not surprise me that one of my colleagues in that discussion (probably the smartest guy in the whole bunch) said: "Poor marriage preparation, etc., is also, of course, a big problem. It just doesn't happen to be the problem we're talking about right now." Well, there's no point debating the obvious. He goes on: "Poor marriage catechesis does not seem to be at the root of some of the breakups and subsequent annulments most of us have seen."
I'm curious as to how he knows this. Did he follow this couple, both husband and wife, from childhood? Does he know what example their respective parents gave them about married life? Was he there when they met, and/or when they courted? Was he in the rectory office when they first came to the priest? I could go on...
But the answer to all those questions is most likely to be "No." And if that applies there, it is likely to apply anywhere else, where what goes on behind closed doors, stays there. So neither he, nor everybody else with a finger to point somewhere, has any way of knowing what should nor should not be "...the problem we're talking about right now."
And maybe that's the problem. Maybe we don't know nearly as much as we think we do.
I've always been told that knowing that... is the beginning of wisdom.
Then again, what the hell do I know?