Modernist Genius at its finest…
Just Brilliant: Novus Ordo Priest argues Divorce is Proof Marriage wasn’t Valid
Try as hard as you may, you simply cannot make this stuff up.
The Feb. 16, 2015 edition of the Jesuit publication America features an article entitled “The Annulment Dilemma”, written by “Monsignor” Paul V. Garrity of the Novus Ordo “Archdiocese” of Boston. The essay is a pseudo-scholarly piece of Modernism that shrewdly undermines the Catholic teaching on Holy Matrimony by arguing for a simplification and reform of marriage annulments to the extent that in the end, divorce and adultery are approved in all but name.
America is the notoriously Modernist flagship publication of Jesuits in the United States, so it makes for a rather fitting medium for an article that seeks to overturn the teachings of Jesus Christ under the guise of compassion and pastoral sensitivity. And indeed, one is not surprised to find that the smart-alecky “Monignor’s” article is high on sentimentalism and short on Catholicism and reason. We very much encourage you to read the article for yourself before proceeding to the following rebuttal.
The first problem is with the title: “The Annulment Dilemma”. There is, in fact, no dilemma, and Mgr. Smarty-Pants knows it. A dilemma, properly speaking, is basically a situation in which one is forced to decide between two alternatives, both of which are sinful (cf. Simon Blackburn, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy [Oxford University Press, 1996], s.v. “moral dilemmas”). As is clear from this description, a moral dilemma is in fact impossible, for it would mean that in some cases God, the giver of the moral law, leaves us no choice but to commit sin, or that He did not foresee all possible circumstances when creating the moral law. But both of these ideas are heretical, for they imply either that God is not all-good or that He is not all-knowing.
Next comes the disingenuous terminology. Smarty-Pants is a typical Modernist, and so he knows exactly what words to use to convey something without explicitly saying it — one of the most popular tactics of Modernists. By using phraseology like “is considered invalid” instead of “is invalid”, and by referring to an adulterous union as a “marriage” (without the quotes), Garrity shows his true colors. Needless to say, an adulterous union doesn’t become a marriage just because the parties involved “mean well” and have been together for a long time, or because they have “pledged fidelity” to each other — it is irrelevant, since they had obviously already pledged fidelity to someone else (the true spouse), and this is the pledge they must honor until death.
Garrity explains: “When a marriage ends in divorce, the annulment process tries to look inside the marriage to see what may have been missing from the very beginning.” But of course a marriage doesn’t “end” in divorce. It cannot. A divorce is a civil-legal arrangement that does not touch an actual marriage in any way at all. The secular state may claim that a true marriage has ceased to exist by means of a divorce, but it is not so. Just as the state cannot create a marriage, neither can it dissolve one. A marriage is essentially created by the two spouses, both free of impediments to marry, who swear an oath — and this oath states, “until death do us part”, not “until we get divorced”. Death is what ends a marriage, nothing else (with the exception of the Petrine and Pauline privileges, as explained further below), which is why only widow(er)s are permitted to marry again. The oath of lifelong fidelity is essential to a marriage, and it cannot be litigated away. Garrity knows all this, of course, but he hopes you won’t notice and will accept his heretical idea of divorce as “ending” a marriage anyway.
The author then goes on to describe the current reality of the Novus Ordo annulments process as he sees it. Towards the end of the essay, he insinuates that the Catholic Church has been wrong in her teaching about Holy Matrimony for 2,000 years, something that would follow indeed if he were correct in his own argumentation — which is yet another reason to reject him and stick with the Church instead. He writes:
There are also some very serious ecumenical questions about our understanding of marriage. Jesus’ statements in the Gospels of Matthew (9:3-8), Mark (10:2-9) and Luke (16:18) are the foundation of the Roman Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. And while the sacramentality of marriage is seen to be rooted here, it was not until the 12th century, at the Council of Verona, that our current understanding of the sacrament of matrimony began to develop. At the same time, over the centuries, most other Christian denominations have read the same Scripture passages and come to a very different place. Many Protestant groups do not regard marriage as a sacrament.
(Paul V. Garrity, “The Annulment Dilemma”, America, Feb. 16, 2015)
This is vintage Modernism: Be nice and vague, refer to Scripture passages so as to appear to endorse Christ’s teaching, but then insinuate (without actually saying so) that the “current understanding” was invented in the Middle Ages, and that there is really no need to “read” our Lord’s words in the way the Church has done for 2,000 years — after all, a bunch of heretics in recent times have been reading it differently! Garrity also insinuates (again, without saying so explicitly) that the indissolubility of marriage is tied to its sacramentality. It is not. Even a non-sacramental marriage can be valid and indissoluble, the only exception being a dissolution (not annulment) through the Pauline Privilege (cf. 1 Cor 7:10-17) or the Petrine Privilege, but these two privileges are part of traditional Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage (more details here).
The most outrageous and most laughable quote from Garrity’s essay comes at the very end — make sure you’re seated:
The fact of a divorce should be proof enough that something essential was missing in a marriage or that the marriage has died. To insist that a person who is happily married for 25 years to a second spouse is still, in fact, married to the first spouse flies in the face of both reason and experience.
(Paul V. Garrity, “The Annulment Dilemma”, America, Feb. 16, 2015)
Voilà! Modernist premises have led you safely to your Modernist conclusion. Looks like Mgr. Smarty-Pants found a workable solution after all: Just say a divorce alone is sufficient to prove that a marriage wasn’t valid! This is just brilliant because it’s guaranteed to work everytime it’s tried — it allows Garrity to retain the Catholic teaching that a divorce does not end a marriage (even though he believes it does), and yet it also gives “Catholics” the option of trading in an unwanted spouse for a new one — as often as they please in fact (we could say this is the Modernist version of the toties quoties indulgence). The only difference between this and the secular divorce-and-remarry-at-will mentality is that the Novus Ordo divorce wouldn’t technically end a valid marriage but only declare a valid marriage never to have existed. Big deal — the practical result would be the same, and there’s really no limit on how often people can use this joker. This is the best of both worlds!
But of course it is utter rubbish, and Garrity knows it. The fact that someone has filed for a secular divorce says absolutely nothing about the validity of his marriage — it simply has nothing to do with it. It is not “proof” of anything, certainly not of something “essential” missing in the marriage contract. And how could it, anyway? A civil divorce is usually just a sign that the two parties, for whatever (sometimes legitimate) reasons, no longer can or want to live together. That’s it. It says absolutely nothing with regard to the validity of the marriage bond. Moreover, Garrity’s claim that a divorce may show that a marriage has “died” demonstrates that he is in bad faith, for he obviously knows that a marriage cannot “die” — not unless one of the spouses passes away, in which case no divorce is needed. It seems as though Garrity wants to have all his bases covered: claim that a marriage can die and that divorce is proof of it, but also — just in case that this won’t fly with church authorities or with his readers — that divorce at least proves a marriage never existed to begin with.
To add insult to injury, Smarty-Pants claims that to hold a “marriage” of 25 years invalid on the grounds that one of the spouses is actually married to someone else (from a prior, valid marriage) “flies in the face of both reason and experience.” But does it really? Let’s see: Reason requires demonstration. If it were to fly in the face of reason, then Garrity would have given us a real argument that demonstrates how holding the first marriage to be valid and not the second one, is an error. This, of course, he has not done; in fact, he has not even attempted to do it. Secondly, “experience” has nothing to do with it, as the validity of a marriage is not an empirically verifiable concept. You cannot “experience” validity. Therefore, the author’s claim that reason and experience contradict the true Catholic position is complete hogwash, and he knows it.
But let’s go ahead and translate Smarty-Pants’ words into real English for a minute in order to discover what he really means to say once you pierce through the high-sounding language which is used to make his Modernist position respectable. What the Rev. Garrity is really saying is this:
When a couple gets divorced, it’s usually for pretty good reasons, and God should just accept that and allow the couple’s marriage to cease to exist so that each party is once again free to marry someone else. See how nicely some people get along in a new, adulterous union, so why should God get to tell them that this is wrong? God is cruel! God is unreasonable! God is not compassionate!
We don’t want the teaching of Christ. We don’t want this indissolubility of marriage thing. We want divorce and remarriage. We want serial polygamy. We want to have a chance to say that things didn’t work out and we want to start over. We want to be able to have one marriage end whenever we deem it necessary, and a new, valid one to begin. We reject the teaching of Jesus Christ and instead embrace our own! God is just going to have to deal with it!
That is what Garrity really means, except he couldn’t say it that way of course. He had to couch it in language that sounds scholarly and positive, but these are the pernicious ideas that are lurking beneath his smooth and enticing words about “dilemmas” and “experience” and “pastoral challenges,” which are in reality just smoke and mirrors. Garrity can conceivably fool a lot of people in his target audience with this claptrap, but he cannot fool Novus Ordo Watch. We’ve been around long enough, and we know these people inside and out.
So, in our opinion, Mgr. Smarty-Pants should just come out and tell everyone plainly that he rejects the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. This, at least, would be honest, because this is precisely what he really means. And though it would be outrageous, of course, such a candid position would be less disrespectable than the poppycock Garrity dished up in his article. Our Lord said, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Apoc 3:15-16).
It was precisely people like “Mgr.” Garrity that St. Paul hand in mind when he warned his brother bishop St. Timothy of seductive false teachers: “For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables” (2 Tim 4:3-4).
What Garrity is clearly lobbying for is more annulments. So, predictably, he calls for easier and speedier declarations of nullity, as does his boss, “Pope” Francis. It is saddening and maddening to see that these people rejoice in the number of annulments given and want even more. But what this would really mean, if Novus Ordo annulments were valid, is that tens of thousands of marriages each year are declared never to have existed. Apparently the New Church produces hordes of people who are incapable of contracting a valid marriage, if the annulments statistics are to be believed, and the children are apparently morally illegitimate. This, at least, is what follows from what’s being claimed, though we know, of course, that it is a lie.
In his informative but now somewhat dated book Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, editor Kenneth C. Jones showed (p. 70) that three years after the close of Vatican II, in 1968, there were only a total of 338 marriage annulments in the United States. In 1983, there were over 63,000. In 1998, there were approximately 50,000. Obviously, what’s going on here is divorce, not annulment. Hundreds of thousands — millions, perhaps — of people over the years didn’t suddenly find out that “something essential was missing” in their marriage. Rather, their marriage ran into problems, they got themselves a new partner, and now they want to have a “second chance” at marriage.
But this is not how it works. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Mercy Incarnate, said to the woman at the well quite bluntly: “[H]e whom thou now hast, is not thy husband” (Jn 4:18); and He taught his disciplies: “And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery” (Mt 19:9). (Notice that the clause “except it be for fornication” only applies to the prohibition to separate from one’s spouse — it does not apply to the prohibition to enter another union.)
None of this is to say that there are not, of course, genuine cases of nullity. Of course some marriages really are null and ought to be declared such. But the Novus Ordo Sect has neither the competence nor the power to declare a marriage never to have existed, as this power belongs only to the Catholic Church (sorry, SSPX, it does not belong to your bogus tribunals either).
If “Mgr.” Smarty-Pants were right, then St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More were just colossal idiots (not to mention St. John the Baptist). They went to their deaths over a marriage validity dispute with the king! Does anyone seriously believe that Henry VIII would not have gotten an annulment from the Novus Ordo Sect today? Maybe the Vatican should offer one retroactively so that the Queen of England can dissolve her false religion?
As the foregoing shows, Garrity’s position is false, heretical, and unjustifiable. It is outrageous and impious. His case is not based on reason or sound Catholic theology but on sentimentalism. He can call it “experience” but at the end of the day it is just emotion. The Catholic dogma of the indissolubility of marriage may perhaps defy emotion at times, but it certainly does not defy reason. If anything, it is the Modernist position that defies reason: Why, in fact, stop at saying that divorce proves a marriage wasn’t valid? Why not lower the bar even further and say that it is simply the “sincere conviction” of even just one of the two spouses that suffices to “prove” that “something essential was missing” in a marriage from the beginning? Or even an insincere conviction? There is simply no reason why an actual divorce should be required.
Once Smarty-Pants’ deceptive argumentation is taken to its logical conclusion, we discover that according to his thinking, the ultimate criterion for making a marriage valid or invalid at any point is really the mere will or whim of the spouses. The result of this is that people can start new unions with a different partner at any point, with a justification of, “It’s not adultery if I don’t think it is.” This is the absurd conclusion to which the Modernist thought of “Mgr.” Garrity leads.
We may say that Garrity’s solution is basically to simply define away the problem: He is essentially suggesting that we define a marriage differently now so that it’s a marriage only if it “works out.” Otherwise, it’s just not a marriage. Brilliant, huh? That’s like saying that all cars are flawless, and if it turns out that yours isn’t, well then it must not be a real car. Imagine a car dealer who tells you, “We guarantee that our cars are incapable of failing. The fact of a failure will be taken as proof that something essential was missing in the car so that it was not actually a real car.” Would you purchase a vehicle from such a man? No? Then don’t let Garrity do to your soul what you would never allow a car salesman to do to your wallet.
Mgr. Smarty-Pants’ article has many of the hallmarks of Modernism: Language that sounds impressive, a trashing or belittling of traditional Catholic teaching and practice, implying that the “real” teaching of Christ has not been correctly understood for 2,000 years, appeals to emotion and “pastoral experience”, and the introduction of erroneous ideas by insinuation rather than stating them outright. This is precisely what has brought the Novus Ordo Sect to where it is today, so buyer beware.
The true Catholic position, on the other hand, is straightforward: People who have abandoned their true marriage and now have joined a new union, with or without a civil divorce, are committing adultery. Like any other sin, this too can be forgiven, but only with the necessary repentance and firm resolution to amend one’s life. While Novus Ordo Watch does not pretend to be competent in the casuistic details of such situations and what precisely moral theology requires such individuals to do, it is nevertheless our understanding that, if a new union has resulted in children who are still under the care of their (illegitimate) parents, it is necessary for the parents to remain together for the sake of the children — however, only under the condition that they live celibately as brother and sister, aware of the fact that they are not married to one another. This is surely a very difficult cross to bear, but it is a necessary one, if one wishes to love God and be admitted to an eternity of bliss in Heaven, rather than face the eternal fires of hell (see Lk 14:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9).
We would like to emphasize that we certainly have great sympathy for people who, for whatever reason, very much desire to live as good and holy Catholics but find themselves in such an unhappy situation where they now realize that their union is not a valid marriage and they’re unable to fix the problem. All of us are sinners and many of us have a very sinful past, out of which we have been lifted only by the undeserved grace of Almighty God. The past is not the issue; it is the present and the future that matter.
We therefore encourage all who are in an illegitimate union that has produced children and cannot reasonably be abandoned without causing grave harm to the children, to take heart and seek spiritual help so that they can repent and amend their lives in the way Holy Mother Church wishes for them to do. If anyone is in need of such help, please contact Novus Ordo Watch for referral to competent confessors.
The moral of the story is: The Modernists want adultery to be legitimate. They want divorce and remarriage, essentially, though they may go to great lengths and stupid arguments to avoid saying so explicitly. Pope St. Pius X, the great scourge of the Modernists, warned us against their deadly teachings and deceptive tactics:
…[T]hese latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ.…
Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action. Nor indeed would he be wrong in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing, not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate. Moreover, they lay the ax not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers. And once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance…
(Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, nn. 1,3)
Know, then, how to spot the Modernists so you are not misled by them: Identify them by “their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action”.
As you can see, the false Vatican II Church is full of them.
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