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Monday, 26 September 2016

Profanation of the Eucharist, the Sanctity of Marriage, and "Venue Shopping"

I am, if it is not too glib to say so, a great "fan" of the Church's "annulment" process. (The scare quotes are in recognition that there is no such thing as annulment in the Church, rather, there is a process for discovering the nullity of a putative marriage.)
The gracious and generous manner in which the process is handled in this country, at least, has benefited me greatly.
I note this to admit upfront that I am hardly a disinterested party.
It is for this reason that while it seems wrong to me, I cannot oppose the Holy Father's reform of said process - I know that the American experience is not the universal expedience, and another discipline may be necessary in other parts of the Catholic, and catholic, world.
And the fact is, I also was slightly injured by the process in a specific case, that the Tribunal's office is to find the truth, not to kiss boo-boos and make them better.
As it happens, in the case I mention, there were 3 plausible defects, and two of them would have been evident to a blind pig.
Alas for me, a hotshot lawyer, (only newly canon lawyer, after half a lifetime of practicing civil law in his civilian life,) was fascinated by the less obvious one, and insisted upon arguing it, delaying the final decree by months, and moving us past a window of easy attendance by my immediate, far-flung, and fecund family.

Patently, it is not.

One of the disgraces of the annulment process in the United States, (again, stipulating that I am eternally grateful to the process and to those who promulgated it, tho venue shopping didn't come in to it,) was the disparity in the application of Canon Law from diocese to diocese, and the practice of those who were aware of it, to venue shop.
Whatever one makes of the merits of the dispute, one conclusion seems ineluctable: Whether by design or not, what Pope Francis effectively has done is to opt for decentralization on one of the most contentious issues in Catholic life today.Barring some further clarification or decree from Rome, what we now have is individual bishops, or regional groupings of bishops, determining whether the answer is “yes” or “no” in the territory under their jurisdiction.
Yes, exactly - so what is to discourage venue shopping now on a global scale?
"Oh, no, I live here but I belong to the GERMAN/Roman Catholic Church so I'm allowed to...."
(I use the Germans as an example because I have little doubt that anyone willing to pay the tax will be admitted, parochial boundaries be damned.)

How would this possibility enhance the unity/fidelity/sanctity of the Body of Christ?

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