Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Joe Kennedy's annulment reversed by Vatican

Every time a Kennedy gets knocked down, I admit I get a bit of Schadenfraude and this is one of those times.

Contrary to popular belief, getting a divorce is not considered a sin in the Catholic Church; provided that all attempts have been made to reconcile a marriage and legal action is the only way to resolve issues of property and child custody. That doesn't mean a church annulment which allows a Catholic to remarry within the Church is given lightly either -- nor should it be. The burden of proof is high; that a marriage was never consecrated in the first place because one or both parties did not intend to fulfill the vows of marriage or did not possess the capability of entering into the sacrament.

The Vatican -- or to be more specific, the Roma Rota, an appeals tribunal -- has decided that in its eyes the marriage of Joe Kennedy and Sheila Rauch is still on. This despite the fact that the Boston Archdiocese granted an annulment three years after Kennedy married Beth Kelly, one of his aides. Rauch is quite understandably celebrating. She says she takes full responsibility for her part in the breakdown of her relationship with Kennedy but the church side of things was crooked to begin with, not even giving her a chance to tell her side of the story. Kennedy "just wanted out," to put it bluntly and his family's enormous influence in New England made sure he got it his way.

Rauch's win is even more remarkable when one considers she is an Episcopalian (U.S. Anglican).

In short, this news means that Kennedy and Kelly who got married in a civil ceremony can't get their marriage convalidated by the Church unless they win a cross-appeal which is still being considered. It also underscores a problem Benedict XVI is trying to deal with -- keeping divorced Catholics within the Church. Joe Ratzinger wants to streamline the process but also wants to prevent abuses. It's worth noting 75% of annulments are granted to American couples and most of the rest to pairs in other developed countries with substantial Catholic populations.

For now, though, it's a good news story for all except the Martha's Vineyard Gang. Being a Catholic carries certain obligations; and having a certain family name or wealth from ill-gotten gains (i.e. alcohol running) will not give one a free pass.

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Emarie said...

Contrary to popular belief divorce is not a sin, eh? By "popular belief" do you mean perhaps the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Because here's what it says:

"Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery"

Looks like popular belief is right, for once.

J@ckp1ne said...

I think the church should change it's position on divorce anyway but at the same time someone shouldn't get special treatment just because of their name and how much money they have.The rules what ever they are need to be the same for everyone.

BlastFurnace said...

I did add the proviso provided. Joe Kennedy got a divorce just for the heck of it and that's why the Roma Rota took the position it did.