- "Katharine's defense of the sacrament of marriage is perhaps her tie and relevance to the modern world. In an age where the sanctity of marriage is all but disregarded, she stands - 475 years later - as the model defender of the sacrament of marriage....in the last moments of her life she held fast to her faith - forgiving the one person who had betrayed her above all others - yet whom she loved still" (Katherine of Aragon: the Official Website for Her Cause).
- "There is abundant research to affirm the dire consequences of divorce for children.... most divorces are situations in which one person wants to end the marriage while the other is fighting to save it.... We need a renewed effort on the part of bishops and priests to recognize that spousal abandonment is a crisis in our Church" (Hillary Towers, PhD, It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment, 3/4/01).
When people express the opinion that a dramatic increase in marital anullments has legitimized Catholic divorce and remarriage, such opinions are oft treated as ignorance or anger. Even authors Sheila Rausch Kennedy(2) and Professor Robert Vasoli were dismissed as just angry about annulments obtained by their spouses. Criticisms by the last two popes are not well known.
Reviewing his quarter century of annual addresses to the Roman Rota (the "Supreme Court", if you will, of the Church's marital tribunals), it seems that John Paul II had growing dis-ease over possible misuse of marriage tribunals - triggering the Vatican's 2005 Dignitas Connubii. Starting with his own first address to the Roman Rota, Benedict XVI continued in the same vane:
- "pastoral sensitivity must be directed to avoiding matrimonial nullity when the couple seeks to marry & to striving to help the spouses solve their possible problems & find the path to reconciliation" (1/28/06).
- “the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage...has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus" [emphasis added] (1/27/07).
- "The value of interventions of the Ecclesiastical Magisterium on matrimonial & juridical issues, including the Roman Pontiff's Discourses to the Roman Rota....authoritatively teach the essential aspects of the reality of marriage" (1/26/08).
- "a problem that continues to be very real is visible to everyone....that of preserving the ecclesial community 'from the scandal of seeing in practice the value of Christian marriage being destroyed by the exaggerated & almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity...on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness.... real incapacity...is always an exception tothe natural principle of the capacity necessary" (1/29/09)
- "some maintain that pastoral charity could justify every step towards declaring the nullity of the marriage bond in order to assist people who find themselves in irregular matrimonial situations. Truth itself, even if lip service be paid to it, tends thus to be viewed through a manipulative lens that would seek to adapt it, case by case, to the different requirements that emerge....Charity without justice is not charity, but a counterfeit" (1/28/10).
- "The good that the Church & society as a whole expect from marriage & from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area" (1/22/11).
- "Christian maturity leads one to love the law ever more & want to understand it & to apply it faithfully.... These reflections acquire a special relevance in the area of laws regarding the constitutive act of Matrimony & its consummation, & the reception of Holy Orders, & of those [laws] pertaining to the respective Processes" (1/21/12).
As per Spero News, "Catholics who want to curb divorce are providing a way for faithful spouses to invoke the authority of their Church to intervene....Mary's Advocates (a non-profit organization) is offering a 'Vindicate Rights Petition'....The petitioner can entreat the local diocesan tribunal and appeal to Rome if rejected" (Marriage advocate offers petitions to Vatican addressing marriage abandonment, 2/23/12).