Kolbe Report 10-26-19

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

In her paper on the current Catholic marriage crisis in the light of the original creation and the code of canon law, presented at our joint symposium with Human Life International in Rome in 2015, Mrs. Bai Macfarlane wrote:

In his encyclical Arcanum on Holy Marriage in 1880, Pope Leo XIII reminded us how marriage started and who invented it:

The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all . . .We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep . . . And this union of man and woman . . . even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties . . . namely, unity and perpetuity.[1]

creation_adam_eveCanon 1056 restates that the properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility. By unity, the code means spouses will never make themselves available to a third person for acts befitting to the procreation of children.[2] By indissolubility, it means marriage is life-long.

In Mathew 19, Jesus explained that Moses allowed for divorce because of the people’s hardness of heart. Jesus said, “from the beginning it was not so.”  Moreover, we know that with God’s grace, we can be free from the hardness of heart resulting from Original Sin.

As a community working together to overcome the manifestations of Original Sin, among other things we have the assistance of our Code of Canon Law. It provides a system for governing ourselves, protecting what is sacred, and promoting justice in our interactions.  The current code of canon law was published in 1983.[3] In 1917, an earlier code was published. Before that, there were the decisions of popes, pontifical councils, the Council of Trent, laws for particular territories, and other authoritative sources that those more knowledgeable than I could easily list.

Canon 1055 through 1057 define what makes a marriage a marriage. Other canons manage cases about separation of spouses and the validity of marriage. These matters were not supposed to be judged by the civil courts, as explained in 1880 by Pope Leo XIII in Arcanum:

… Let no one, then, be deceived by the distinction which some civil jurists have so strongly insisted upon - the distinction, namely, by virtue of which they sever the matrimonial contract from the sacrament, with intent to hand over the contract to the power and will of the rulers of the State, while reserving questions concerning the sacrament of the Church. A distinction, or rather severance, of this kind cannot be approved; for certain it is that in Christian marriage the contract is inseparable from the sacrament.[4]

Pope-leo-xiiiUnfortunately, it seems common today to do just what Pope Leo forbade: to separate the sacrament of marriage from the contract of marriage, and then give the state power over marriage. Furthermore, nowadays, when chancery officials encourage Catholics to file for divorce in the civil forum prior to seeking an annulment, the Church appears to be saying that this is acceptable on the ground that the civil jurists are not trying to judge the validity of the marriage.

“In the Beginning It Was Not So”

Have you ever reflected on the fact that humans are the only creatures that God created as one pair?  Neither the angels nor any of the corporeal creatures were originally created as one pair.  The creation of Eve from Adam’s side is also unique in the whole Mosaic account of the work of creation, as it is the only instance of one of a couple being literally created from the body of the other member of the pair.  God created Adam and Eve in such a way as to make divorce almost impossible as well as unthinkable, even when the catastrophic consequences of the Fall subjected their relationship to an unimaginable burden of shame and sorrow.

In my 47 years as a Catholic I have seen how a strong faith in the special creation of Adam and Eve as described in the sacred history of Genesis goes hand in hand with a firm commitment to life-long marriage, while a loss of faith in the true origin of Holy Marriage leads to a loss of reverence for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  I have been amazed by how often even practicing Catholics encourage Catholic spouses in difficult marriages to seek annulments.  Instead of doing everything in their power to encourage the spouses to work out their differences and honor their wedding vows, many daily-Mass-attending Catholics side with one or the other spouse in a troubled marriage and encourage him (or her) to give up on the marriage.  As a result, in many cases, the troubled spouses go to chancery offices where they are told to go to a civil court to get a civil divorce prior to seeking an annulment!  In her Rome symposium paper, Bai explains the consequences of this common practice:

Under the rulers of the state in territories with civil no-fault divorce, any spouse has the power to force divorce on his family. Divorce practitioners have no interest in the reason for separation. What is more, court events can cost $900 an hour because three lawyers bill the family: Mom’s, Dad’s, and the court-appointed children’s attorney.  To save money, the spouse who does not want a divorce, who did not do anything bad enough to merit separation, feels coerced into signing a divorce agreement to shorten the lawyers’ time. If the innocent spouse does not sign the divorce agreement, the civil judge will still grant the divorce and decide about child custody, property division and support, after the divorce practitioners have spent more time accumulating thousands of dollars of billable hours.

A party who has done nothing bad enough to merit separation of spouses will learn that a civil judge does not expect the party-at-fault to fulfill the obligation to give his or her share of money and time to maintain the marital household. For example, a normal decent husband will be forced to live separate from his wife and children and then be ordered to pay her spousal and child support.  Children and innocent spouses can lose their homes because the court will reward abandoners with half or more of the marital property. Furthermore, if the abandoning parent is committing adultery, the court still orders the children to spend overnight visits, or live in a home with the adulterous partner of their mom or dad.  For more information about no-fault divorce, I recommend Stephen Baskerville’s book, “Taken into Custody, the War against Fathers, Marriage and the Family”[5] and his presentation at the 2009 World Congress of Families.[6]

Cardinal Müller, [then] Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, refers to the children of divorced parents as the ‘orphans of divorce’ in his interview published in 2014, entitled “The Hope of the Family:”

These ‘orphans of divorce’ sometimes surrounded by many belongings and with a lot of money at their disposal, are the poorest of the poor, since they have many material goods but are lacking the most basic thing: the solicitous love of parents who renounce themselves for their sake.[7]

When one parent is willing to renounce himself for the sake of the children and keep the family together, but the other spouse is not, the civil divorce practitioners help the one breaking apart the family. The civil courts do not attempt to make the spouses uphold the obligation to maintain the common conjugal life that is intrinsic to Catholic marriage.

Take Action to Defend Holy Marriage

Especially because of no-fault divorce, Bai is looking for Catholics in the United States to volunteer to write to their Bishops to implement the canon law that should be applied prior to allowing any Catholic spouse to pursue a civil divorce.  She explains:

Members of the Catholic faithful connected with Mary’s Advocates are asking each of their bishops to “correct problematic statements published by the diocese.”  Mary’s Advocates is a non-profit organization with the mission to reduce unilateral no-fault divorce and support those who are unjustly abandoned. The Tribunals of each diocese require anyone who wants to petition for a Church annulment to have a civil divorce first, but none of the dioceses require the implementation of the canon law that should be applied prior to civil divorce. Dioceses teach that divorced persons can receive the Sacraments and Holy Communion.

For Catholics, only those who are not in grave sin are supposed to be receiving Holy Communion and the Catechism teaches that divorce, by default, is immoral and a grave offense against nature.  The Catholic Code of Canon Law establishes the limits on when divorce “can be legitimate in certain cases” (CCC. 2383, CIC can. 1151-1155 & 1692).

With no-fault divorce, many Plaintiffs filing for civil divorce are marital abandoners who cause lifelong harm to the other spouse and children. Furthermore, many adulterers, abandoners, and abusers, are wrongfully relieved of most of their moral and material obligations by the secular courts.  Additionally, when one spouse hires a lawyer, the other must defend himself. The U.S. family law industry collects $50 billion a year according to the producers of the movie, “Divorce Corp.”

Each bishop was sent a letter like THIS showing statements published by his diocese:

The Tribunal shows that prior to a petitioner challenging the validity of a marriage, a “civil divorce for the marriage in question must be obtained and finalized.” Pastoral Guidelines teach “those who find themselves separated or divorced for a long time” […] “face no obstacle to receiving Communion and other sacraments.” The diocese teaches “Divorce in and of itself does not affect your status in the church including participation in the sacraments, like Holy Communion.”

The Tribunal shows “There are no longer ecclesiastical penalties for failure to obtain ecclesiastical permission to separate or seek a divorce or civil dissolution.”

The Tribunal says, “Divorce itself does not prohibit a Catholic from receiving the sacraments or limit his/her involvement in the Church and sacramental life. It is the remarriage without the Declaration of Invalidity which may cause a person not to be able to receive the Eucharist.”

The writings of the Office of Faith Formation describe divorce as an occurrence that one experiences, making no distinction between perpetrator and victim as made in canon 1152 and 1153. Divorced & Beyond 10 Week Support Group: “helping each other deal with the challenges and difficulties faced during experienced divorce or separation.” Information Night for Divorced & Separated Outreach Program: “support for all those who have or are experiencing divorce or separation.”

They teach “Those who are divorced but who have not entered into another marriage outside the Church are free to – and are encouraged to – receive the sacraments. Being divorced does not alter one’s status in the Church.”

Those pleading with their bishops said, “These statements harm faith and good morals relative to civil divorce.” When Tribunals require a civil divorce prior to accepting a petition in a Church annulment case, the letters say the faithful are wrongly taught, “that a spouse has the right, on his own volition, to judge his own separation case and decide to approach the civil forum, with no canonical ecclesiastic intervention.” Each bishop was told that “diocesan statements give the incorrect impression that the only obligation of marriage that is of interest to the Church is the obligation to avoid attempting a so-called second marriage without an annulment first.”

We would like to support the efforts of Mary’s Advocates, and we encourage all readers of this newsletter to write to their Bishops as Bai and her colleagues are asking us to do.  You can obtain more information about this important initiative by contacting Bai through her website at this link.

Bai says, “I'm looking for volunteers to send a three-page letter to their bishop, using a tracking method. E-mail me a scan of the volunteer's letter. Thereafter, if the volunteer's bishop does not give a satisfactory reply, I'm asking each volunteer to make complaint to Offices in the Holy See. If that fails, I'll show the volunteer how to write to the Apostolic Signatura [the highest Court in Rome].”

To potential volunteers she asks, “If I provide you with a customized letter for your Bishop, would you mail it (from your name and address) knowing that in coming weeks, you are volunteering to send a letter to an Office at the Holy See and even to the Apostolic Signatura. If you'll volunteer, I'll help with all the letters and ask you to tell me your mailing address and Diocese.”

Through the prayers of the Mother of God and of Good St. Joseph, may the Holy Ghost restore our faith in the sacred history of Genesis and in the indissolubility of the marriage bond!

In Domino,

Hugh Owen

P.S. You can read Bai’s important contribution to “The Two Shall Become One”: The Special Creation of Adam and Eve as the Foundation of the Church’s Teaching on Holy Marriage, a joint symposium of Human Life International in Rome and of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, as well as contributions by Fr. Chad Ripperger, Dr. Dennis McInerny, Dr. John Sanford, and many other outstanding contributors in the published proceedings.

P.P.S.  Many of you have heard of the travesty of justice that recently took place in Texas when a jury ruled against a father who was trying to prevent his seven-year-old son - a biological boy - from being chemically castrated by his mother because of her belief that the boy is a "girl."  When these kinds of abominations are discussed, we must always be ready to point out that transgenderism would never have achieved any legitimacy if the right understanding of the creation of mankind had been maintained in the Church and in society.  So many Catholic and protestant leaders are fighting against evils like transgenderism without any recognition of the evolutionary roots of the anti-culture of death.  We must all do our part to help them to understand that we will not eradicate the anti-culture of death until we expose and destroy its evolutionary foundations. In the meantime, we urge you to pray, sacrifice, and sign the petition at this link asking the Governor of Texas to investigate the case mentioned above and to do all that he can to protect a seven-year-old boy from being mutilated by his poor, deluded, evolution-believing biological mother.

Note:  After this newsletter was written, the judge in the case mentioned above ruled that the parents in the case will have joint conservatorship over their son, which includes "making joint medical decisions for their child." However, we would still encourage you to sign the petition and to pray and sacrifice for the protection of children from this kind of profound mutilation and from all of the abominations that the evolution-based anti-culture of death attempts to inflict upon them at every turn.


[1] Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum 5

[2] Bianchi, Paolo. “When is the Marriage Null, Guide to the Grounds of Matrimonial Nullity for Pastors, Counselors, and Lay Faithful.” San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2015, p.125

[3] Codex Iuris Canonici auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatus (VaticanCity: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983), trans. Canon Law Society of America (Washington DC: CLSA, 1983)

[4] Arcanum, 23

[5] Baskerville, Stephen. “Taken into Custody, the War against Fathers, Marriage and the Family.” Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing, 2007

[6] Baskerville, Stephen. “Presentation at World Congress of Families Amsterdam.” 11 August 2009. <>

[7] Müller, Cardinal Gerhard. “The Hope of the Family, A Dialogue with Gerhard Cardinal Müller.” San Francisco CA: Ignatius Press, 2014, p. 24

Icon of the Holy Family, Piergiuliano Chesi [CC BY 3.0]

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