As a divorced Catholic, I am happy to hear about the Church’s new vigilance. Annulling past marriages and saying, in effect, “We hope you do better next time,” is hardly adequate.
Many parishes offer post-divorce workshops designed for the first months after a divorce. The Church—the institution as well as the individuals—needs to minister to the millions of divorced Catholics by both changing ingrained attitudes and reaching out in love.
The divorce rate is anywhere from 50 percent for first marriages to 80 percent for subsequent marriages.
It urges caution before the rules on annulments are eased.
One of the 11, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, said that easing the rules for couples who are divorced and remarried ‘is the mistaken pity of an incompetent or weak physician who contents himself with bandaging wounds without treating them’.
The tribunal may find that no sacramental marriage ever existed. And it's difficult for the Church to be clear about something that isn't clearly defined. To engage in sexually intimate behavior with someone who is presumed to be married would be presumed to be adultery. Is going out to lunch with someone adulterous behavior? Obviously it's not the meal, or the act of sharing that meal, that's adulterous. If these two people are sneaking around behind a spouse's back, if they're being deceptive, if they're violating the intimacy that spouse has the right to expect, then they are behaving in an adulterous way. I think planning or moving toward marriage while one partner remains "unannulled" is unwise.
But then again, to engage in sexually intimate behavior with someone who isn't presumed to be married would be fornication. But does "dating" someone who is presumed to be married constitute adultery? It's a sin against the spouse who is being deceived. I don't know if it's technically sinful, but I do know that it's disrespectful of the process, and it could be setting two people up for enormous disappointment if the tribunal doesn't grant the annulment.