Ecumenical / Non-Catholics Respondents Branch of S.O.S
S.O.S. has formed an Ecumenical / Protestant / Non-Catholics Respondents 'branch' of S.O.S. as a result of hearing from so many Respondents in the United States who are being told by the Catholic hierarchy that their Protestant marriage is not valid! To those of us working with SOS, this is one of the most shameful, scandalous aspects of Roman Catholic annulment.
The numbers of people who are contacting the S.O.S. office are most surprising, and the issues for non-Catholic Respondents are somewhat additional to the usual abusive aspects of the annulment process by U.S. tribunals.
Two Respondents, Carole and Bonnie, who are members of the SOS Board are contact persons in order to give special support to any Respondent who is not Catholic. They both are open to addressing any questions on this topic. .
In Carole's words "Since non-Catholics do not live by Canon Law, the Catholic Church should not have the authority or jurisdiction to apply Canon Law to a non-Catholic marriage between two non-Catholics". Less emphasis will be on the sacrament of marriage for Respondents for whom the sacrament is not an issue.
NON-CATHOLICS ARE VICTIMS TOO
- Carole R. Bishop
Annulments are devastating to many Catholics who truly believe in the validity of their original marriage sacraments, and for a number of reasons. But Protestants, persons of other faiths, agnostics and atheists may also discover that a Tribunal declared their non-Catholic marriage invalid, with or without their consent. Unless non-Catholic Respondents take a proactive role in defending their marriage vows and in speaking out as one voice, the Catholic Church will continue to assume jurisdiction and apply Canon Law to non-Catholic marriages.
While divorce brings about a legal or civil end to a marriage, a Decree of Nullity declares that the original marriage consent was invalid from the beginning. Divorced persons may be ecstatic or crushed by the end of their marriage, but most would probably admit that they did start that marriage truly cognizant of the meaning of the vows they spoke. Whether non-Catholics consider their former marriages as "sacraments" or as covenants between consenting adults witnessed by a pastor, rabbi or Justice of the Peace, the bond they once contracted should never be declared "null from the start." Most non-Catholics should resent being told that the vows they once spoke were spoken falsely, rendering the bond invalid. Children of non-Catholic marriages have just as much right to be offspring of a valid union recognized by their God in the sight of whom the couple chose to marry.
SOS/ Reform of Annulment & Respondent Support seeks to assist non-Catholic Respondents, as well as Catholics, who find themselves victims of an annulment petition. Most non-Catholics are totally unaware of Canon Law, and unfortunately, the Catholic Church apparently assumes that "ignorance of the law is no excuse."
Did you know that:
- You have the right to choose a Tribunal to hear your case, as long as the Tribunal is the one where you are living now, the one where you got married, the one where most of the witnesses live, or the one where your ex-spouse currently lives.
- You have the right to an Advocate to ensure that your rights are protected.
- You have the right to read the evidence.
- You have the right to appeal an annulment decision, and it is advised to appeal directly to the Roman Rota, not to your regional appellate court.
SOS/RoA&RS is interested in hearing from any and all Respondents who have experiences to share or who simply need more information about the annulment process. We need input from as many non-Catholics as possible.
Or mail: SOS/ RoA& RS, P.O. Box 5119, Cochituate, MA 01778.