Somewhere in the Catholic blogosphere, they're still talking about why there are "too many annulments" granted in the USA.
To a little boy or girl from what we used to call "a broken home," the pain of knowing that Mommy and Daddy aren't getting back together again, will not be lessened by any letter from any chancery. When you look at it that way, one annulment is one too many.
According to the statistics, the overwhelming majority of petitions for a declaration of nullity in the USA are granted a favorable decision. In other words, their marriages are declared null and void. This development by itself seems like a big deal, to the point of scandal. And it very well might be, were this to be the whole picture.
It is not.
First, you have to consider that roughly five out of six divorced Catholics who remarry, do so outside the Church. So it doesn't sound like they'll be adding much to the paperwork anytime soon. Then you must take into account, should it appear evident that a petitioner will not be granted a favorable decision, that the common practice is to discourage him or her from going forward with their petition. So that's an undetermined number of marriages whose validity is upheld, before they even enter the system. What you are left with, then, are the ones that do get through the system.
It would be interesting to hear from any number of parish priests and canonists on this subject -- you know, people who actually know what the hell they're talking about, as opposed to those of us in the peanut gallery who read so much we just think we do.
So then, the question of "too many" is answered one way or the other, without all the variables -- one more good reason to look elsewhere, to the beginning of the process, and not the end. Some would call it the "root."
In a related story...
You wouldn't guess I'd be hanging around with the "Tridentine Mass or Die" crowd, now, would ya? But over at Traditio in Radice, two guys whose real names are Nicholas do a pretty good job. One of them has a series, now in three parts, on "Things I Wish I'd Known About Dating." No, it's not the one about chaperones that I wanted to bring up here (as I have a hard enough time as it is if I think I'm being followed by somebody), but the one about marrying non-Catholics.
To this day, the Church officially discourages marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, and there are very good reasons for it. It's actually harder than it looks, as unfortunately, there are divergent ideas of what it means to even be a Catholic.
You've got your garden-variety Catholic who attends Mass at his parish church which uses the reformed Missal (what some people call the "Novus Ordo"), in English, with the priest "facing the people," all done with varying degrees of reverence, or a lack thereof. Then there's the ones who prefer the classical Missal (or the "Trid Mass," if you will), and attend the "Old Latin Mass" in a parish that has the permission of the local bishop. On top of that, you've got followers of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, which is the Society of St Pius X. Apparently they don't think that "Novus Ordo Catholics" are Catholic enough, or something like that. Then you've got those from the Society of St Pius V, who broke away from the "Lefebvites," apparently because even they were compromised. From this point, we get into the "sedevacantist" crowd. That's from the Latin "sede vacante," which means "the seat is vacant." These are folks who don't believe there's been a legitimate Pope since Pius XII, or thereabouts. Some of them are convinced that another man is the rightful claimant to the Throne of Peter. One such pretender is in Montana, another in Kansas, still another in Quebec. Then there are two or three in Europe, last time I counted.
So, if I were a younger man today, and I wanted to find a "nice Catholic girl," I'd probably be doing things the old-fashioned way -- meeting them in bars and (swing) dance halls.
That's not a good sign, is it?