To the Vatican (Rota)
Tribunal judges in the United States involved with annulment are almost exclusively concerned with the petitioner's request to nullify the sacrament. Most of these judges have NEVER met or talked with a Respondent.
The process mandated by these judges forces Respondents to defend their sacrament when they neither wanted an annulment nor wanted to be any part of the annulment process. As such, the annulment process is abusive to Respondents.
Father Clarence Hettinger, an expert on the Church’s annulment process, wrote extensively on this topic. His truth and insights have been ignored in the U.S.
The following are changes for the U.S. Annulment Process that we request of the Vatican Rota:
1. Respondents are loyal members of the Church Every U.S. Tribunal Judge must recognize that most Respondents are genuinely sincere members of the Church who respect their sacrament. They should be encouraged, rather than the present reality of being discouraged, to remain part of the Church.
Petitioners are those who clearly do not value their sacrament.
2. Annulment fosters a view that marriage and the sacrament is not important Grown children of an annulled couple tend to ‘write off’ the marriage sacrament as not worthwhile, when considering their own marriage. They either do not marry in the Church, or they do not marry at all. (See current stats on marriage in the U.S.)
Every U.S. Tribunal Judge must be encouraged by the Rota to see that they are fostering dismissive attitudes toward marriage in these young adult children, after watching how easy it sis to nullifying a marriage.
3. Children are being Harmed Every U.S. Tribunal Judge must acknowledge the harmful effects that the annulment process has on children and young adults whose parents are going through an annulment.
When U.S. tribunal judges mistreat the Respondent-parent with disrespect, which is most often the case in the U.S., children often are emotionally devastated.
SOS believes that the Vatican Rota does not want children harmed. We ask the Rota that when a U.S. tribunal emotionally abuses a Respondent, and their child in turn, that tribunal is to be aggressively reprimanded by the Rota.
4. Meet with Respondents Every U.S. Tribunal Judge should ensure that seminarians and canon law students meet with and listen to Respondents and their experiences, in order to understand the impact of annulment on the Respondent.
5. Stop Annulling Protestant Marriages The annulment process is destructive to ecumenical progress between the Christian faiths.
Instead, Protestants, and other non-Catholics, are being abused by the Catholic annulment system. Protestants married by Protestant clergy should be respected, not demeaned, by U.S. Catholic tribunal judges. This is one of the most shameful, scandalous aspects of annulment.
Every U.S. Tribunal Judge must stop annulling non-Catholic marriages.
6. The Appeal Every U.S. Tribunal Judge must inform the Respondent about their right to Appeal to the Rota directly, not to the Regional tribunal, as soon as they meet with their advocate.
7. Informed-Conscience, or the Internal Forum, Process is at the very core of the Catholic faith. SOS recommends that informed-conscience be the Church’s guideline after a marriage dissolves, and should be recommended by U.S. Tribunal judges to anyone wishing to remarry in the Church.
U.S. Tribunal judges should share with these individuals who wish to remarry, that Internal Forum or the 'in good conscience solution', is a valid alternative to the External Forum (or annulment) Process, and is part of Church policy.
Many priests throughout the world, including the U.S., have been quietly remarrying divorced individuals via Internal Forum both prior to and since Vatican II.
Remarried individuals throughout the United States who have not entered into the annulment process are validly receiving communion and are Catholics in good standing with their pastor's knowledge.
8. Finally, SOS also asks that every Respondent seen in U.S. tribunals, be given the email link- reference to this SOS website.
Thank you for your consideration, and eventual affirmation, of these requests,