Marriage Annulment

...A Time for Healing and Reconciliation

 

The term "annulment" is a popular, but not a totally accurate word for the nullification of a marriage. The declaration of nullity is an official declaration made by the Diocesan Tribunal. This declaration is made when the Tribunal determines that what appeared to be a true marriage is not a true marriage as the Church understands it. A declaration of nullity does not deny that a relationship existed nor does it imply that the relationship was entered into with ill will or moral fault.

Rather, after a careful and thorough study has been conducted, the Tribunal issues a declaration of nullity when it is proven that an important ingredient that is necessary for a true marriage was lacking when consent was exchanged. Examples of these important ingredients include proper intentions, sufficient psychological maturity, capacity, freedom and knowledge.

When a declaration of nullity is made its focus is on whether the marriage is a valid sacramental marriage or not. It is not a civil divorce since with the declaration of nullity there are no civil consequences on such issues as property settlements, child support, inheritance rights or other similar issues.

 

St. Monica is the patron saint of mothers but she is also associated with difficult marriages. She was married by arrangement to a pagan official in North Africa, who was much older than she, and although generous, was also violent tempered. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to St. Monica. She had three children; Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic faith in 370. He died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious life. St. Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years, begging the prayers of priests who, for a while, tried to avoid her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. One priest did console her by saying, "it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish." This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received strengthened her. Her son, St. Augustine of Hippo, was baptized by St. Ambrose in 387. St. Monica died later that same year, on the way back to Africa from Rome in the Italian town of Ostia.

St. Monica's feast day is August 27.