He was a cradle Lutheran, divorced from a Jewish woman whom he had civilly married; she was a Catholic who had converted from Lutheranism, along with her mother, because they’d wanted to receive communion more often. In order for them to marry in the Catholic church, he needed to get an annulment.
It took two years, cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and the bride’s mother died before she could walk her daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. They were ultimately married in a Lutheran church, which had a practice of weekly communion; she has converted back to Lutheranism.
Two weeks later, his annulment finally came through.
Whatever mildly warm feelings I might have previously had for the Catholic church were completely destroyed. This is why Luther wrote his 95 theses — I’ve read them, and they’re almost all about money. Christ freely died for my sins — there’s nothing that says I should have to pay money to the Catholic church in order to get married.
This is a heartbreaking story, on the personal level. On the institutional level, it is at minimum a pretty serious PR failure.
This is the second person I’ve met who needed to get an annulment from the Catholic church, even though neither spouse was Catholic, so that one of them could marry a Catholic in the church. I’d never heard of it before.
If I squint, I can almost see the logic: sacramental marriage is built on natural marriage, sacramental marriage is indissoluble, something something, therefore so is natural marriage, so an annulment is required.
But really, this just exhibits more of the sloppy thinking that equates civil marriage with natural marriage. It’s bad theology, bad pastoral practice, and bad PR.
If the upcoming synod on marriage is looking for a simple action that would make a non-controversial change with broadly positive effects, here’s a suggestion:
Stop requiring non-Catholics to get annulments of their non-Catholic marriages before they can marry Catholics in the Catholic church.