Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Why does the US lead the world in marriage annulments?

March 24, 2011

With only 6% of the world's Catholic population, the US accounts for 60% of the annulments granted by Church tribunals. In a Catholic World Report feature, Jeff Ziegler asks why.

Some Church officials see the large number of annulment decrees as testimony to the efficiency of canonical courts. Others see evidence of prolonged adolescence among Americans, leading to findings that many people were not mature enough to form a true marital bond. But others find the American statistics downright scandalous, especially given the insistence of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI that Church tribunals should defend the indissolubility of marriage.


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  • Posted by: - Mar. 25, 2011 1:09 PM ET USA

    In 1983 I went through an annulment procedure that was exhausting, thorough and lengthy...19 months. Difficult at best and my Cannon Lawyer was fortunately one of my Parrish Priests. I will say that grounds for an annulment, at least then, were rigid and had to be proven beyond any doubt. It took the Tribunal 4 months to come to a decision on mine, and it was unanimous. Circumstances must be forthright and unequivocal as to the "intent" for the marriage. God help us all in today's world!

  • Posted by: pauljworthington637024 - Mar. 25, 2011 9:54 AM ET USA

    I had spoken with a Tribunal official off the record. A great scandal would appear if the "1095" specials were called into question. How many invalid declarations of nullity have been granted where now one or both parties has remarried. Those 2nd marriages are in effect invalid because of a prior valid marriage. The onus should sit squarely on the tribunalists, not the husband or wife. The guilt of infidelity is now owned by the judge, advocates and defenders of the bond who won't do their job.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Mar. 25, 2011 7:21 AM ET USA

    Is it possibly that the preparation for marriage has been less than clear and decisive? We had no questions about our intentions on children or attitude toward lifetime commitment, for example. Hopefully pre-Cana is addressing that now.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2011 6:27 PM ET USA

    There is an inverse relationship between the number of annulments and the number of marriages in the US. An easy annulment process dilutes the institution of marriage. Is it any wonder the the once-honorable place of marriage in society has fallen miserably? False charity, of which our Pope has spoken, is the source of this problem. This problem also calls into question the validity of any Catholic marriage. We may need someday to have a marriage validation process!