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March 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Every year, the Pope gives an address to judges of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota to which any marriage annulment case could be appealed. This year, Pope Francis sounds like a no-fault divorce lawyer when he raises concerns about the defendant “who does not accept the declaration,” and says that children “should not be treated as a means of blackmail between divided parents.”

In no-fault divorce, the defendant who wants to keep an intact home is criticized for being controlling and not accepting the divorce. The civil authorities don’t care about defendants’ plea for the other spouse to cooperate with experts to help strengthen the marriage. Divorce courts generally demand that children go back and forth between separated households. The defendant who wants to protect children from this massive instability is shamed for not having an amicable divorce and accused of being the bitter partner using custody of children as emotional blackmail over the other person.

Most divorces are filed in the United States against defendants who have done nothing grave to justify temporary separation of spouses, let alone permanent separation. Pope Francis describes the pastoral care that he apparently thinks should occur after the “sole intervention of the civil authorities.” However, he never mentions the canonically required pastoral care that is necessary at the time of separation, prior to any intervention of the civil authorities (can. 1962). (See my article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review No Fault Divorce, Standing for Justice.) The Catholic Church never relegated to the civil authorities the competence to decide parties’ obligations toward each other and their children when they cease living together.

When a divorce petitioner abandons marriage, a serious Catholic defendant is very concerned about the moral and character formation of their children. What appear to government courts as ugly custody battles can actually be a defendant wanting to protect the children from the grave scandal the petitioning parent gives children by word and deed, teaching that divorce is the solution to dissatisfaction with marriage.

In his address, Pope Francis poses a question:

[H]ow can it be explained to children that, for example, their mother, abandoned by their father and often without the intention of establishing another matrimonial bond, may receive the Eucharist with them on Sunday, whereas their father, living with them or awaiting the declaration of nullity of marriage, cannot participate at the Eucharistic table?

The Pope appears to think it is problematic for the children to observe a parent refraining from receiving Communion who is manifestly in an adulterous relationship. However, the solution to this problem could be to tell the children the truth which respects their emotional response to divorce.

Children have a primal need to have an intact home with their married biological mother and father. Sometime this is disrupted through outside tragedy, but “when it happens because an adult places their own self-identification or their own sexual desire or their own romantic inclination over the rights of a child, that’s an injustice,” says children’s rights advocate Katy Foust. She is the Founder & Director of “Them Before Us.” If the Church were to instruct the children that the father who abandoned his marriage is choosing to disobey God’s plan for family, children could comfortably conclude that “God makes sense to me. What Dad did to our family feels unjust.”

We would expect a Pope to use precise terminology in this annual address because he is reading a statement prepared for canon lawyers who sit at the high Catholic appellate court. However, Pope Francis did something in his address that Pope Benedict never did. Pope Francis uses the secular meaning of the world family. He describes this painful human reality: “a family that splits up and another that, as a result, is formed, undermining the unity that was the joy of the children in the previous union.” Notice he says the children are in one family that splits and, thereafter, are in another family that is formed by their father, for example, and his new partner. It would be less confusing if the Pope had distinguished between a putative/surmised family and a true family.

What exactly is the Catholic understanding of the word family? The Catechism teaches, “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family” (CCC 2020). “[T]he family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom” (CCC 2207). Sadly, children who are born outside of a family are at a disadvantage, with less statistical chance of having moral values, honor for God, and proper use of freedom.

Are merely civilly married Catholics a true family? Are cohabiting parties who conceive and raise children, or a man and woman who were never validly married a true family? No. Though all marriages are supposed to be presumed to be valid until proven otherwise, we have a term for a marriage that is invalid because of the defective consent of one party: a putative marriage (can. 1061 §3).

It is uncommon, if not unprecedented, for the Pope’s address to the Rota to discuss the party who does not accept the decree of invalidity. Defending respondents may not be accepting the annulment because they found the process to be a disheartening sham. They might have undergone a process that was unjustly biased against the validity of marriage in tribunals which coach petitioners on getting an annulment based on psychological grounds.

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U.S. Bishops: SHUT DOWN the Campaign for Human Development
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For the last fifty years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been taking up an annual collection to fund community organizing efforts across the country under the auspices of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

And for almost as long, faithful Catholics have proved that much of these funds are going to organizations that promote abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and Marxist revolution.

Unfortunately, the CCHD has not improved and, to this day, continues to promote actions and ideas contrary to Catholic faith and morals.

That's why LifeSite and the Lepanto Institute have joined forces in this petition calling on U.S. bishops to permanently SHUT DOWN the Campaign for Human Development.

The response from the CCHD regarding reports that its grant money is going to agencies that attack Catholic moral and social teaching is nearly always the same: deny any wrongdoing and point to its thorough vetting process.

But, it’s vetting process is broken beyond repair!

Since 2013, an organization called the Workers’ Dignity Project (WDP) has been receiving large grants from the CCHD totaling a quarter of a million dollars. In 2017, WDP received $60,000 from the CCHD, and in 2019, it was $50,000.

If the CCHD’s vetting process actually worked, it wouldn’t have taken long for the CCHD to discover that WDP was a “community partner” of Planned Parenthood’s as far back as 2017, or that it sponsored an LGBT pride rally that same year.

In 2020, during the period of its most recent grant from the CCHD, WDP promoted and conducted a series of internet-based interviews promoting Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Please SIGN this petition, then WATCH the Lepanto Institute’s most recent investigation proving this by clicking on the link in the 'For More Information' section, below.

But it’s not just the vetting process that’s broken...the CCHD consistently ignores its own grant guidelines.

Just recently, the Lepanto Institute proved that three other organizations, receiving large grants from the CCHD, are in direct violation of the CCHD’s grant rules.

Receiving its first-ever grant of $45,000 from the CCHD in 2019, Stand Up Nashville is in direct violation of the CCHD requirement that the “organization, and its affiliates, partners and coalition members must not endorse or advocate policies and issues that are contrary to Catholic Social Teaching.”

Two member organizations of Stand Up Nashville have been promoting abortion and homosexuality as far back as 2015, and its executive director and many board members have actively done the same.

Another CCHD regulation specifically and expressly prohibits grantees from being members of coalitions which directly attack Catholic moral or social teachings.  The regulation says this:

“CCHD CANNOT FUND groups that knowingly participate in coalitions that have, as part of their organizational purpose or their coalition agenda or actions, anything that contradicts fundamental Catholic moral or social teaching” (emphasis original)

And yet, despite this, the CCHD is funding NOAH and MICAH, which are members of the pro-abortion Power Together Tennessee. The stated values and principles, which NOAH and MICAH would have known prior to joining, include this:

"We believe in reproductive freedom ... This means open access to safe, legal and affordable, abortion and birth control for all people ... we can only have reproductive justice when reproductive health care is accessible to all."

These are only the most recent examples of the CCHD’s fifty years of either gross incompetence or willful complicity in the funding of grave moral evils. Whichever the case, what’s clear is that this problem is not going to end as long as the CCHD continues to exist.

DID YOU KNOW 75% of the money collected goes to fund grantees outside your diocese, including the terrible organizations we've profiled? So even if your own bishop does a good job vetting local grants, your money is still flowing to pro-abortion marxist organizations.

For this reason, we are asking individual bishops to completely withdraw from the CCHD, refusing to send in any money for the national collection, and work towards the CCHD being shut down altogether.

Please SIGN and SHARE this important petition today. Thank you!


WATCH Lepanto Institute's new video, 'Catholic Bishops Give $50k to Abortion Advocates' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24212WlPu08&feature=youtu.be

'US bishops’ charity arm caught funding pro-abortion Planned Parenthood partner' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-charity-arm-caught-funding-pro-abortion-planned-parenthood-partner

'US bishops’ charity arm caught funding promoters of abortion, LGBT activism' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-charity-arm-caught-funding-promoters-of-abortion-lgbt-activism

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Several canonists who did their doctoral dissertation on psychological grounds for annulment report problems. In Catherine Godfrey Howell’s 2020 work “Consensual Incapacity to Marry,” she says, “The validity of American Jurisprudence is, then, potentially misleading” (p. 3). About Fr. Jaimes Ponce’s 2012 work “Lack of Internal Freedom on Matrimonial Consent: An Analysis of Rotal Jurisprudence and American Sentences,” his bishop of Colorado Springs, Most Rev. Michael Sheridan says, “The most overused and misused canon in the judgment of the validity of marriages by the tribunals of the United States is canon 1095, n 2.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura, which is even higher than the Roman Rota, expressed concerns, too. In 2014, he said, “Sometimes when there are tribunals who are abusive and giving easy declarations of nullity, we hear from the other parties and their children.” The late Bishop Robert Morlino said, “The annulment processes in the United States, honestly, have been abused for many years” (September 1, 2015, EWTN, The World Over)

In his 1990 Address to the Roman Rota, Saint Pope John Paul II cautioned tribunals against misapplying psychological grounds for annulment: “A valid marriage, even one marked by serious difficulties, could not be considered invalid without doing violence to the truth and undermining thereby the only solid foundation which can support personal, marital, and social life.” In Pope Benedict’s 2009 Address, he reminded his audience about Saint Pope John Paul II’s interventions and said “no one can fail to see that there continues to be a concrete and pressing problem in this regard.”

As director of the non-profit organization Mary’s Advocates, Bai Macfarlane works to reduce unilateral no-fault divorce and support those who are unjustly abandoned who continue to remain faithful to their marriage. She is a graduate student at Franciscan University with the goal of earning her licentiate in canon law.


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