Hope for a New Beginning: A Church Annulment

Father Rob Sinatra from the Marriage Tribunal will offer a workshop for those who want to know more about annulments at Holy Child Parish, Runnemede, on Feb. 11. Father Sinatra’s presentation will be followed by a time for questions and answers and private consultations.
Why offer a workshop on annulments? The answer is simple. No one is beyond the reach of God’s love. In Familiaris Consortio (par. 84), Blessed John Paul II says to divorced persons: “The church will … make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.”
Contrary to popular belief, one need not be rich or famous to be granted an annulment. Yet many who are divorced, divorced and remarried, or in any number of situations outside of the church’s norm, feel condemned by God, the church or a bastion of armchair experts on morality. The result is that there are a lot seats at Mass each week left empty by those who just don’t feel welcomed by the Catholic Church. They feel like they somehow couldn’t measure up. They go away sad, but they were never officially unwelcome.
Rediscovering hope in apparently hopeless situations is an essential step in helping someone who is alienated from God or the church to be renewed in God’s love. How to bring that love into the human mess is one of the most important lessons priests must learn early on after ordination and every day thereafter. “Nevertheless, pastoral help presupposes that the church’s doctrine be recognized” (Blessed John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family: 24 Jan. 1997). Pastoral care is where God’s love and God’s truth illuminate the path to freedom in real-world situations. When love and truth coincide in a priest’s heart, he will always be able faithfully to speak good news to the broken-hearted.
In many situations the annulment process is a journey that leads to deep healing. Even in those circumstances where an annulment is not possible, the church is solicitous to offer her pastoral care. Even if for a time one cannot fully partake of the sacramental life of the church, one must still be reminded that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. It is always possible to receive and to respond to God’s love.
To be clear, every broken marriage is imbued with its own unique circumstances. Sometimes the solutions are easier than one might imagine. Other situations are more complicated. There is no cure-all. But that does not mean that persons who are divorced, divorced and remarried, or who for one reason or another are in less than ideal situations are forever doomed.
On the contrary, in 1981 Blessed John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio (par. 84): “I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life.”
He further addressed the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1997 that “pastors having the care of souls . . . continually lavish their pastoral attention on those who are suffering because of difficult family situations.”

If you go
Holy Child Parish will be hosting the free workshop on church annulment at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 at St. Maria Goretti Hall, 321 Orchard Ave., Runnemede. For more information, call Father Chris Mann, 856-628-2119. All are welcome.

Categories: Latest News

About Author