What God Has Joined Together: The Annulment Crisis in American Catholicism

Hardcover | February 1, 1998

byRobert H. Vasoli

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The recent controversy over Joe Kennedy's annulment gave only a glimpse of American Catholicism's open secret: that contrary to official Catholic doctrine, American churches grant annulments wholesale, freely declaring marriages nonexistent so that one or both partners can remarry in thechurch. The United States is home to only 6% of the world's Catholics, Robert Vasoli points out, but it now accounts for 75% of all Church annulments, two-thirds of which are granted on ostensibly psychological grounds. The real scandal, though, is not simply the numbers, but that Church marriagecourts annul thousands of marriages that are actually valid according to Catholic teaching. Drawing on considerable research, the author details precisely how these courts let divorced Catholics--and many non-Catholics as well--bypass Catholic teaching and law. He shows, for instance, how they oftenhelp petitioners manufacture grounds for annulment, which are justified with specious psychological reasoning that are counter to the letter and spirit of canon law. Indeed, it may even be alleged that "lack of emotional maturity" at the time of the wedding can invalidate marriages that have lasted30 years. The result has been a tidal wave: in 1968, the American church granted fewer than 600 annulments; today it hands out more than 60,000 a year. But Rome has not smiled on the performance of U.S. tribunals: of those psychological annulments appealed to the Roman Rota (the Vatican's highestmarriage tribunal), more than 90% are overturned. This revealing look at annulment weaves painstaking analysis with a wealth of evidence as it illuminates the degree to which the U.S. Church has gone its own way since Vatican II on what constitutes valid marriage.

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From Our Editors

The United States is home to only six percent of the world's Catholics, but it now accounts for 75 percent of all Church annulments.This revealing look at annulment weaves painstaking analysis with a wealth of evidence to illuminate the degree to which the U.S. Catholic Church has gone its own way since Vatican II on what constitutes a...

From the Publisher

The recent controversy over Joe Kennedy's annulment gave only a glimpse of American Catholicism's open secret: that contrary to official Catholic doctrine, American churches grant annulments wholesale, freely declaring marriages nonexistent so that one or both partners can remarry in thechurch. The United States is home to only...

Robert Vasoli is a retired Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. He is frequently consulted by the media and by laypersons on the issue of annulment. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 1.18 inPublished:February 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195107640

ISBN - 13:9780195107647

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From Our Editors

The United States is home to only six percent of the world's Catholics, but it now accounts for 75 percent of all Church annulments.This revealing look at annulment weaves painstaking analysis with a wealth of evidence to illuminate the degree to which the U.S. Catholic Church has gone its own way since Vatican II on what constitutes a valid marriage

Editorial Reviews

"Mr. Vasoli has explained much of what seems inexplicable about Catholic annulment in this very readable book. I wish I could have read What God Has Joined Together before I began defending my own marriage."--Shelia Rauch Kennedy