Msgr. Robert Hundt’s Homily 2017-10-15 Annulment as Healing

By | September 7, 2019

– Good afternoon, everyone. – [Congregation] Good afternoon. – Bad day all around isn’t it? All the gloom and all the wet,
and all the darkness outside, you probably thought
it would be better if you came to church,
you know you got a handsome, young,
energetic pastor, look at the substitute, would
you look at the substitute. (congregation laughing) Bad day all around. I have been allowed
to speak to a topic that I’ve been involved
with, would you believe since 1984, working
at Marriage Tribunal here in the city for the
Diocese of the Cross. And some years ago, Bishop
(mumbles) says to me one day, “Father, you should get
out into the Parrish, and you should talk
about annulment, because there is so much
bad information out there or lack of information
altogether, and I have been doing this for some
years now, and annulment. You know what,
folks, first of all, annulment is not a
catholic word for divorce. Divorce is the word we
use when two people decide they cannot live
together any longer, unless they run the risk
of someone being hurt. So, one or the other goes
off to a civil judge, petitioning for a divorce,
and that decision is made, and the judge says “here
we have two married people “who are no longer going
to live this marriage, “who can go back out into
the world as single folks.” He doesn’t say there
was no marriage. He’s saying there’s a
marriage the two people are not going to
live any longer. That’s divorce. Annulment says there
never was a marriage. Now, I can kinda
feel it in the air that some of you are thinking, “are you telling me that people “who have been married 17
years, and have three kids, “and now they break up,
and one or the other “is going to ask for
declaration of nullity, “and that might be granted?” And I’m going to tell you,
“yes it might be granted.” How can you do that? Well let me ask you a
question: what makes marriage? What makes marriage? Don’t anybody say
“something that happens “in church on a
Saturday afternoon.” Don’t anybody even say “love.” What makes marriage? The only thing that
makes marriage, is proper marital,
proper marital consent. And marital consent is very very different from
consent to a wedding. Americans are great at
consenting to weddings. Not nearly so great at
consenting to marriages. What makes marriage? Two people, only thing that
makes marriage is proper marital consent, and
that consent must
have proper content. What would be the content
of proper marital consent? Four things: two
people must commit to live together for
life, they must commit to a relationship that
is open to children, they must commit
to a relationship that’s going to be lived
in sexual fidelity, and each must commit
to making marriage a good life experience
for their spouse. Doesn’t everyone do that? Well, friends, I can
guarantee that somewhere in our Diocese today,
where there was wedding, now, I don’t know
where it was. (mumbles) A couple got married,
but one or both said “There will be no children,
I’m not going to let kids “get into the way of my career, “I don’t wanna share my
money with little people, “I don’t wanna be
tied up in doing “things that kids
demand of you.” Well that couple is off probably at this very hour, at
a wonderful reception, and tomorrow they’ll have
a gift opening session. Everything happened properly
except, no marriage, because improper
marital consent. They decided there’d
be no children, and they need to live with that. And maybe only one
has decided this. Well, that’s the kind of
thing that sooner or later, is going to be a divorce, in a likelihood at least,
pretty likely. Let’s say just one of these
people come to us later, and let’s say married four
years, divorce, and now “this is what it
was like between us
before we got married, “I was trying to
convince him that we were “going to have children, I
was trying to convince her “that we would have
children, he, she said no, “and lived with that through
our four years of marriage.” It wasn’t a marriage was it? It was a living arrangement
for a few years. People say (mumbles)
that annulment is a disaster for the kids. Friends, that could
hardly be more wrong. Divorce is disaster
for the kids. Divorce is that which
breaks up the home. Divorce is that which
probably exposes the kids to things they should
never see mother and dad saying to each other,
or doing to each other. Divorce is the disaster. Annulment is simply
the church’s effort to heal the spiritual
weakness and illness of the one who has experienced
a divorce, and no longer able to celebrate the fullness
of the church’s liturgy. Two people are (mumbles)
are only 25 years old, and almost certainly with
most of life ahead of them, and a divorce already behind
one or the other, or both, a possibility of a wedding or a marriage is going
to come along again. But that one is not
able to celebrate the sacrament of matrimony
because presumably there is already a
marriage standing there, and marriage is for life, and
you can’t have two marriages, so the annulment is the
effort if it is granted is the healing of the
weakness and the incapacity of that particular
Catholic person to celebrate the totality
of the church’s liturgy. Some people say that an
annulment is nothing more, and by the way, annulment
does not have anything to do with the legitimacy
of the children. Legitimacy flows from any
marriage that is registered to the register of deeds in
the county in which it happens, and whatever happens to
that marriage down the road, by one, by the church,
it had nothing to do, touches in no way, the
legitimacy of the kids. People say “I’m
not going to have “an annulment, because
it’s nothing more than “a great big money making
thing for the church.” Well, friends,
let’s do a tiny bit of arithmetic, quickly
this afternoon. Our budget is about
160,000 dollars a year, and if we are very fortunate, we will take in 45
or 50,000 or less. So, we got 160,000 going
out, 45 or 50,000 coming in, only the federal
government would call that a money making operation. (congregation laughing) It’s a huge leaker of money. Why do you do it, if it’s
such a leaker of money? Because it’s part of the
healing mission of the church. Some people say
“I’m not gonna do it “because this goes on forever.” Well, I can tell you, friends,
it doesn’t go on forever, and if someone were
to start a case in this coming week,
I could pretty well tell you that it would probably be finished before
Valentine’s Day. Before the middle of February. It doesn’t go on forever,
and it’s not as though it would even have
to take that long. If we have some
manner of emergency, we take a case out of order, and get it done in
five or six weeks, if everybody is cooperating
with our project. So, it doesn’t
take all that long. Would it surprise you to know, or rather, people say
“I’m not going to do it “because it costs me too much.” Well, we ask, got that word? We ask for 400 dollars,
for a process that costs the better part of
1,500 dollars due. We ask 400. If someone says
“I can never pay, “I can’t possibly pay
400 bucks for this” how much can you pay? You know what friends,
we do get negotiating down to zero, and guess what? The case is accepted, it
moves at the same speed as it would if we had
the 400 bucks up front, and it is not, obviously
not going to have any manner of effect
on the decision. It is not a very
expensive project for the person who
is the petitioner. Would it surprise you to know, that a lot of our
marriages have to do with, a lot of our cases have to do
with non-Catholic marriages? I’ll bet there are people
here in church today who said “I didn’t know
the church even recognized “the marriages of
non-Catholics.” Back to the beginning,
what makes marriage? Proper marital consent. Whether we have
two Presbyterians, two Lutherans, two Baptists,
two muslims, or two whatever, if they are a free
married, and the proper context express
marital consent, that is reckoned as
a valid marriage, and presumably it was, but, breaks up in divorce,
and one or the other petitions for annulment, and well, no they didn’t
petition for annulment yet, because after Sue and
Frank, a couple of Lutherans that married three years,
the marriage breaks up. Now, Sue is going with
Joe, who’s a Catholic, and Joe says “you know what,
Sue, I could get interested “in you, and you could probably “get interested in me as
well, and but we might as well “cool it, there’s nothing
gonna happen here, “you’re not free to marry me,
I’m not free to marry you, “as a matter of fact, Sue,
you’re not free to marry anyone “in this world, because this
business of marrying once “is not the church
law, it’s God’s law.” Sue or Frank says, “but
you know what, Sue?” “Would you consider, that
we take you and your case “to my pastor and maybe we
could fill out some forms, “and see if there’s
not a possibility that there be a
declaration of annulment.” And Sue is not yet excited
about this whole thing, but she is more
excited about Frank, and so she decides
“okay, let’s do it,” and that’s how we get
the non-Catholic
marriage to deal with. Now, guess what? When that comes in,
we hardly even notice that we’re dealing
with the marriage that was between
two non-Catholics, because that’s not our issue. Our issue is to decide whether
it was a valid marriage. Whether and the religion of the
parties is quite irrelevant. So, these are the some of
the things that I think that are brought
up in conversation, at the barbershop,
or the beauty salon, or the backyard
barbecue, or bar, and all kinds of strange stuff is passed around
about annulment. I just heard, in the last
couple of months, again, someone say, “Is it true, that “a annulment costs
10,000 dollars?” No, it’s not, but that
kind of misinformation, and that kind of strange
stuff is passed around, yeah? So, having said that, friends, can I say this, on a
more positive score. Some people say there
are too many annulments. I suggest to you, friends,
there are too few, because the church is losing
people by droves of people by being on set marriages. There should be more
petitions for annulment. And that’s not exactly what I
was going to say immediately, what I wanted to say,
is this, friends: all you married folks,
do you have any idea how significant you are to the future of the church, and
the future of our nation? When married life and
family life falls apart, it doesn’t take long
when the whole operation, the whole experiment, the
whole society falls apart. At the present moment, the
fracturing of family life is an epidemic that the nation
cannot live with forever. So, friends, if you
are married folks, you are the heroes
that must stand against the flood of secular thinking
that’s coming at you, and they say that “Okay,
we gotta be happy, “and if you’re not constantly
and completely and totally “deliciously happy in marriage,
it’s time to get out.” Come on. We’re looking, marriage
calls to the best, in the human soul, and the best is that we can live with things that
aren’t always exactly what we require, but
we’re living with the idea that we have a project we
took on years ago, that we’re gonna carry on to completion
for the rest of life. Friends, married
friends, married folks, pray about being the best
possible spouse you can be, day in and day out, and ask
God to bless your effort, of living married life,
raising a family, and finally, really and truly
preserving the future of our church and the
future of our nation.

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