Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Yesterday, the Catholic blogosphere became the setting for a good old-fashioned cat fight. I just don't have another word for it. Neither will you.

Carolina, author of The Crescat, announced her availability to the so-called dating scene, two years after her divorce. She neglected to mention in her original post whether she had a declaration of nullity, and was therefore free to marry in the Church. This omission was all that was needed for Mary Alexander (no relation), author of Against All Heresies, to go on a jihad against the notion of annulments as a "loophole," and to extend her outrage to Carolina's comments box. ("Why not try reconciling with your husband. That is what a good Catholic would do." Hey, kids, can you say "restraining order?")

That's the short version. Obviously there's more. The reader can look for his/herself at the comments, and see the long version, if they have nothing better to do. Oh, sure, I got my own two cents worth in, as part of my ongoing campaign of shameless self-promotion, in this case what I've written on the subject in question. That would be here, here, and, the one you definitely don't wanna miss, here.

Mary is obviously right about the indissolubility of marriage, and in taking Caroline to task, you could say she means well. Unfortunately, Mary also falls into the same trap as many who write on the subject of annulments. It goes like this: there are a lot of them, therefore there are too many, therefore they're obviously handing them out like candy, and that's all we need to know. This line of reasoning (and I use the term "reasoning" guardedly), calls into question the sincerity of conviction of those who are "free to marry in the Church" following a divorce. It also lends serious doubt to the authority -- not only in practice, but in principle -- of the local Church, through her bishop, "to bind and to loose" that Our Lord left His Apostles.

The result is that, even if I have an annulment, I am still damaged goods, and a truly righteous Catholic lady should (ahem!) beware.

Carolina's mistake is a more innocent one. She has since clarified her blog to leave no mistake that she is free to marry. But while she may enjoy a favorable response (oh, okay... many favorable responses), I'm wondering if this medium was the best way to go about it. There are websites for Catholic singles, including Ave Maria Singles and Catholic Match. She could have made a beeline for one of those services, and kept it out of her weblog, thus avoiding the Inquisition entirely.

We can say all we want about our concern for the soul of another. There are usually two ways to go about it. And yet, all too often, we pick the one that makes the most noise (which is especially hard to resist in the blogosphere). Whether it achieves the desired effect or not, it is inconsistent with the concept of "fraternal correction" as found in Matthew 18.

That would make it the wrong way, don't you think?

Or don't you?


Deacon Bill Burns said...

Ouch. Having been down the annulment path, I know it's hard enough to not feel like a failure without people beating one up over it.

sacerdos15 said...

You are right. All things in charity and some things in private.Annulments have been abused and misused but there are invalid marriages out there and should not those in one be allowed a process through which they can enter a valid union? I wonder what the(as far as I know) only divorced saint would say on the subject.That saint was the secretary to St.Jerome-St.Fabiola.

M. Alexander said...

Dear David,
So happy to have your posts on my blog debating this issue. Naturally I feel like a celebrity. There is a certain adrenaline high when you are engaged in a blogwar. I'm embarassed to admit I have enjoyed it.

I don't find much to disagree with you on doctrinally though I think you are far too hard on me;). Knowing you as I do, though only in cyberspace, I understand your comments, their context and please know that there are never any hard feelings on this end.

I think the foundation of my position and those who have agreed with me is that we are advocating the permanence of marriage. To those on the fence, considering abandoning their commitments we counsel, "Courage", "Perserverance" and "Sacrifice".

Having trumpeted that battle cry we have all the sympathy in the world for those abandoned by their faithless spouses and wish to do nothing more than console them.
All the best, as always,
Mary Alexander