Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kennedy Marriage- Un-Annulled by Rome: This is huge

Sheila Rausch Kennedy and Joe Kennedy in 1985

From Time Magazine:

And will certainly have implications for the McFarlane divorce.

The most controversial "marriage that never was" in recent U.S. political history is back. Sources tell TIME that the Vatican has reversed the annulment of Joseph P. Kennedy II's marriage to Sheila Rauch. The annulment had been granted in secrecy by the Catholic Church after the couple's 1991 no-fault civil divorce. Rauch found out about the de-sanctification of their marriage only in 1996, after Kennedy had been wedded to his former Congressional aide, Beth Kelly, for three years.

The annulment was the subject of Rauch's 1997 book Shattered Faith, which lambasted her ex-husband and was severely critical of the Catholic Church's proceedings, which made the marriage (which had produced twin boys) null and void in the eyes of the church. Rauch argued that Kennedy was able to unilaterally "cancel" nearly 12 years of marriage because of his clan's influence in the church. Kennedy argued at the time that the annulment was the right thing to do in religious terms. Few observers thought the appeal to Rome by Rauch, an Episcopalian, had a chance against the well-connected Kennedy. With women's groups loudly on Rauch's side, the controversy may have contributed to Kennedy's decision to give up his plans to seek re-election to Congress in 1998.

Reached by TIME in her Massachusetts home on Tuesday, Rauch said that she had just recently been informed by Boston Archdiocese officials of her successful appeal. "I am very pleased," she told TIME. "There was a real marriage. It was a marriage that failed, but as grown-ups we need to take responsibility for that. The [annulment] process was dishonest, and it was important to stand up and say that." But Rauch says she worries that the practice, particularly in the U.S., of giving what she called "easy annulments" will continue. "They don't give people a fair defense. The Boston Archdiocese doesn't even tell you that you can appeal to Rome." Reached by TIME, Kennedy's office provided no reaction from the former congressman.

Erroneously dubbed "Catholic divorce," an annulment in fact holds that a failed marriage was never valid in the eyes of the Church. With divorce strictly prohibited in Catholicism, annulments allow Catholics to remarry before a priest and continue receiving the sacraments. Several years after his 1991 civil divorce to Rauch, Kennedy obtained an annulment from a Church tribunal in Massachusetts so he could have a Church ceremony with Kelly. The couple had already been married in a 1993 civil ceremony, but needed the Roma Rota appeals tribunal at the Vatican to uphold the Massachusetts annulment verdict before they could be married by a priest. Now with Rauch's successful appeal, that cannot happen, unless Kennedy wins a counter-appeal.

The Roma Rota's ruling, written in Latin, was reached in 2005, and had been kept secret while the official written notice was being prepared, said a source in Rome familiar with the case. Rauch's successful appeal effectively reinstates the Kennedy-Rauch marriage in the eyes of the Vatican. The case once again highlights this unique Catholic Church proceeding. Some 75% of annulments each year are from the United States, where there are an estimated 8 million divorced and remarried Catholics. The subject came up in the 2004 presidential campaign after word spread that John Kerry had obtained an annulment of his first marriage. Another prominent Catholic who has had a marriage annulled is former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is now running for the Republican Presidential nomination.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI has indicated that he wants to streamline the Roma Rota to respond to the desire of divorced Catholics to stay inside the Church. But there is also concern that some Catholics, particularly in the U.S., abuse the practice. "People think it's their right," says one Rome-based canon lawyer. He adds sternly,"It's not a right."


Sheryl said...

This is a victory to be sure. But why in the world did it take the Vatican ten years to make it known that Joseph Kennedy had received an invalid annulment? This is a terrible injustice for the tens of thousands of spouse and child victims of the annulment scandal in American tribunals.

M. Alexander said...

Maybe it took a new Pope to have this decision released. Long Live Pope Benedict. The article also mentions streamlining the process- hopefully for speedier decisions from the Rota in the future.

Edward said...

This is good and very hopeful news indeed!
Poor, poor Jimmy Aiken. Looks like he's going to have to go back to apologetics school for a Summer refresher course after all.
But don't look to hear about this much from the 'neo-caths' in the meantime.

Genevieve said...

Praise God! Is sanity making a comeback?

David L Alexander said...

man with black hat: A Kennedy Scorned

"Those Catholics who have been going on for years about the 'automatic annulment' process in the USA, will see this as a victory of sorts. Never mind the inability to explain how a process that takes from six to twenty-four months can ever be considered 'automatic.' Never mind that they reach this conclusion based on a very incomplete scenario..."

Ed Peters: What we don't know about the Kennedy-Rausch case

"I reviewed Sheila Rausch's book Shattered Faith back in 1997, and noted then how little hard information about the case itself was contained therein. I've worked on enough marriage cases to know that what outsiders, even closely related outsiders, know about a marriage, and what tribunals know about a marriage, can be at times stunningly disparate."

hsarsfield said...

I'm being redundant to those here on the Maryskeys list, but since Sheila does not believe in the indissolubility of marriage (as she states in her book), then the marriage was not valid to begin with. An annulment is useless and the rescinding of said annulment even more useless, since there was nothing valid anyway. In the sacrament of marriage, the couple are the ministers of the sacrament, and if even one of them do not have the intent of the Church in regards to marriage, that renders the marriage invalid, and that is the case here with the Kennedy marriage. The problem is NOT the number of annulments but the number of marriages that are not even valid to begin with. THAT is what we should be focusing on, and what we should be fighting against. To focus on the annulments is ridiculous in the end, since in most cases, there was nothing to annul anyway.

M. Alexander said...

Dear Heather,
I think the world of you but disagree with your conclusions. Sheila's mindset is not at issue since she did not petition for an annulment and the opportunity to marry in the Catholic Church. Joe Kennedy requested the annulment after "falling in love with his secretary". The Kennedys are nothing if not predictable.

The presumption should be that marriage is sacramental and valid, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

I have been divorced for many, many years...I am a Catholic lady who does not believe in the annulment process...It is a religious divorce to allow the "second time around" married to be blest and to be in good standing in the Catholic church and to bring children in to the church - if the second marriage brings children in to the world...
I liked Sheila's statement that their marriage unraveled....I believe my marriage died, as it was not nurtured nor was I respected nor my children as a Family...I believe the Tribunal should respect my marriage, uphold it...respect our Family, as we married with the intent that it would last forever...
My husband is, now, married the third time...does not give any time to our children..(has his 3rd family).....BUT OUR marriage was REAL, it was Good - when it was ...it is now gone....BUT OUR FAMILY and our life then must be respected by the church, because it was a real, A God present Marriage and a SACRAMENT!!

hsarsfield said...

Again, in the sacrament of marriage, the COUPLE are the ministers of the sacrament, NOT the priest. Because of this EACH person getting married MUST have the correct intent and believe as the Church does. Sheila does NOT believe that marriage is forever. She entered into the marriage with that mindset, and that, by itself without looking at ANYthing else, was enough to make the marriage invalid. The annulment is moot.

You have your baby baptised, and while the priest is baptising, he believes that he's not really baptising. That invalidates the baptism, and the baby is NOT baptised. The priest in that case is the minister of the sacrament, and his intent is key. But in marriage, since the couple is the minister of the sacrament, THEIR intent is key. They MUST believe as the Church believes for the sacrament to be valid, and if even one of them does not believe in the indissolubility of marriage, that's enough to invalidate. Or if they believe in the use of ABC, or whatever.

So, my point is, her mindset DOES matter, for the invalidity was NOT at the time of the annulment, but at the time of the marriage. The annulment was useless because the marriage already was not valid. A marriage can only be sacramental and valid if the right conditions are met....in the vast majority of marriages performed today (including the Kennedy marriage), these conditions are NOT met, and there are millions of people running around with invalid marriages because no one wants to make sure that the couple does indeed want a Catholic MARRIAGE rather than just a Catholic WEDDING. As I said on Maryskeys, the priest came to mine and my future husband's apartment to do pre-cana. He never said that we shouldn't be co-habitating and never told us we should separate before marriage. And that was a smaller offense...most priests don't care enough to tell a couple ANYTHING. They just let it go, and allow the couple to marry invalidly. This is where the outrage is, and what we should be concentrating our efforts on. You cannot annul something that is already invalid.


hsarsfield said...

Sheila does not believe that marriage is forever. She DOES believe that one can get divorced and remarried (serial polygamy). She said this in her book. Because of this her marriage WAS invalid. As most marriages are because no one wants to do what it takes to force people marrying within the Catholic Church to have a true Catholic marriage. They are content to allow these people to have their Catholic wedding, and then go off on their merry way without it even being valid. It's sickening, and something should be done about it. But until we look at the REAL issue here (NOT the annulments), nothing will be done.


hsarsfield said...

Out of curiosity, did Sheila contest the civil divorce at all? Or is just the annulment that she's having a problem with?

Edward said...

There are some good points here, and three things come to mind:

1) Regarding the invalidity of the Sacrament, this does indeed happen frequently in our culture I am sure. Especially if the couple has been 'living together' before the marriage was contracted. Unless they have gone to confession for what is essentially a mortal sin, the marriage would not be a Sacrament. For one cannot receive additional actual or even Sacramental graces if the soul is void of habitual (sanctifying) grace. And as we all were taught - or should have been - mortal sin destroys the very wellspring of grace, i.e. sanctifying grace, in the soul.
2) A marriage is not "forever", although I know this is a minor point based on the common usage of words.
A true marriage ends with the death of one of the two spouses. This is why one may marry again, because at death the sacramental bond is broken, and we do not have husbands and wives in Heaven.
(Which, by the way, is one of the reasons why I hate the new calendar of the NO. It will have Saints who were married share the same feastday - like St. Joachim and St. Ann. Ridiculous! They WERE married in life, but they are not married NOW; and a feastday is NOT a memorial 'celebration' of what one WAS, but rather a memorial of what one is right NOW and forever.)
3) Regarding the intent of the Priest in the confection of a Sacrament, this intent must merely be in connection with the matter and form.
In other words, the Priest, having lost the Faith, may not even believe in God anymore, or that Baptism does anything at all, but as long as he uses basic water and says, while pouring it on the head of the one to be baptized, "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (or Ghost)", he is acting in accord with the "intention" of the Church.
For the intention, in Baptism at least, does NOT have to be explicit and FULLY acknowledged. This is why even a pagan unbeliever can baptize in case of an emergency.

Anonymous said...

Marriage is forever....as in the Marriage ceremony,
Yes, until death do us part.....
I did not think that had to be explained.....I believe every adult would know this!!


(The annulment process is archaic, as it is now AND it has to be dealt with now....AND I believe that the priests....being priests make the Marriage valid.....not what the thinking is in the minds of the bride and groom.... because a bride and groom can't have a religious or Catholic marriage without "a priest officiating... (However, I have heard of some couples thinking that they can talk to God and express their love and say some words and believe they are married....I don't believe this is right nor is it a marriage!!

hsarsfield said...

Again (!) in the sacrament of Matrimony, the priest is NOT the minister of the sacrament, the COUPLE is. So yes, it ABSOLUTELY DOES matter what the mindset of the couple is, for it is THEY that confer the sacrament! The priest is ONLY a witness, and yes, you can have a valid marriage without a priest officiating. If you are going to hold to your position, then you'd have to concur that all of those marriages performed during times of persecutions (Reformation period England comes to mind here), WITHOUT a priest, were invalid. The problem is that the Church does not agree with you on that issue.

This is from the CCC (yes the new one):

"1623 According to Latin tradition, .the spouses, as ministers of Christ's grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent of the spouses"

M. Alexander said...

Heather, Are you saying that Rome erred in this decision?

Edward said...

Dear Anonymous;

As regarding this:
"AND I believe that the priests....being priests make the Marriage valid.....not what the thinking is in the minds of the bride and groom.... because a bride and groom can't have a religious or Catholic marriage without "a priest officiating..."

The Priest does indeed WITNESS the Sacrament, representing the Church as a whole in his ministerial function, making it a truly religious and Catholic wedding; but no, it is actually the man and woman THEMSELVES who 'confect' the Sacrament and bestow validity to it.
This is the reason why (as was the case with my mother) a divorced person, although married outside the Church but still in a religious ceremony, who marries again (because they did not see the problem with re-marriage at the time), and then the two of them - or only one - wishes to enter the Church and have the marriage "blessed" (that is, officially witnessed and acknowledged as sacramental in character by the Church), may not do so as the situation now stands (or if they DO enter, they must live thenceforth as brother and sister) because the Church works ON THE ASSUMPTION that the former marriage MAY INDEED have been valid as the two adults in question were baptized Christians (regardless of the fact that they were material heretics), and it is two baptized Christians - NOT the Priest - who actually give and exchange this supposed sacramental character (however not a permanent character as in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders) to each other in the taking of the vows.

hsarsfield said...

Mary said:
"Heather, Are you saying that Rome erred in this decision?"

Mary, what exactly WAS Rome's decision, officially? Have they released it at this time, or are we still going on some article and what they feel was said? I'm sure they got the decision right, but you and I don't know what the decision said. What I would think would be more important, is whether or not you accept the Church's teaching that in order for a couple to enter into a valid marriage, they have to accept and believe in the essentials of marriage (for example, its PERMANENCE). What's shocking that people don't see is that this woman's book, "Shattered Faith", is an ATTACK on the sanctity of marriage. What she is trying to get from the Catholic Church is for them to acknowledge "serial polygamy". Ms. Kennedy is VERY clear that she does NOT feel that she is married to Joe Kennedy. Her position, and the one she wants the Vatican to affirm, is that she WAS married to Joe Kennedy, but now, she no longer is. For you to use this woman as the poster child for the "sanctity of marriage" is like using Martin Luther as the poster child against the abuses of indulgences. Just as Martin Luther had a completely different, and erroneous understanding of justification, which led him to go nuts against indulgences, Ms. Kennedy has a PERVERSE understanding of marriage and THAT is why she's going after her annulment process. Let me repeat this...Ms. Kennedy does NOT feel that she is at all married to Joe Kennedy. From EVERYTHING I have read, the divorce was filed JOINTY...there was no contesting it on her part for she wanted the marriage to END...because she NEVER believed that marriage was permanent. It's poetic to believe "till death do us part" but obviously there are circumstances where you have to get divorced and you shouldn't have to remain celibate fro the rest of your life. This is what she believes, and by supporting her, you're only aiding in her attack on the very thing you're supposed to be trying to defend.

This case is NOTHING like the McFarlane case, and it shouldn't be held up like it is. By putting this (the Kennedy case) up on the same level, all you end up doing is weakening the McFarlane case.

Pat said...

I applaud and commend Sheila Rausch Kennedy for her courage in defending her marriage,and for exposing the deceitful and destructive annulment process within the Catholic Church.It's disturbing that she was placed in the situation of defending a marriage which produced two children.She isn't Catholic.After all,teachings of the Church are that marriage is a sacrament,to be honored for life.Annulments are a lie before God.

Eileen said...

Jesus is the High Court... I hear the anger and spite in the heart of non Catholic Shelia. But there has got to be a place for souls who are not just bored in their marriage but "tortured" in their marriage to get free and remarry in the Church. My husband is one of those people. My Husband's ex wife took their case to the Rota. She like Sheila was angry. The Roman Rota denied his petition of nullity based on a very narrow case formulated by the local tribunal with little to no input from him. The details of his so called marriage would make your hair curl and yet the Rota called it a valid marriage. We were advised to marry six years ago by our pastor who said we had done all we could and his marriage was deemed invalid by the Diocesan tribunal. We married and recently the Rota has reached a negative verdict (which it does in over 90% of US petitions). The ex is now a non-Catholic. And I his true sacramental wife who has served the church for 40 years and was daily communicant who followed all directives given to me by my pastor and Spiritual advisers am denied the sacraments and cry daily for the hunger of the Eucharist. Where do "tortured" Catholics go for peace?

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Anonymous said...

I urge everyone who has previously posted to start reading your Bible, and if already doing so, read it more carefully. Eternity is quite a lengthy period, and I'm sure you can appreciate the importance of being utterly sure that what one believes--what one has been and is being told--is the Truth.