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Italian Court Approves Annulments For Thought Crimes

Saturday, November 13, 2010

According to The Guardian and other news sources, Italy's Court of Cassation ruled that an annulment of a marriage granted by the Catholic Church was valid because the female partner to the non-marriage had talked about how the marriage would work if not based on sexual fidelity; in other words, open marriage. A lower court had already upheld the annulment granted by the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Court.

With profits falling after a decade or so of secular scandal and Pope Benedict XVI's attempt to turn the Church back to Dark Ages policies, the Vatican has attempted to fill its coffers by selling annulments of marriages. The Church sold 8,000 annulments in Italy in 2008.

The hypocrisy of being against divorce, yet selling annulments is evident to all but the most devote Catholics. On the consumer benefit side, the annulments typically cost less than divorces, which of course enrages Italian lawyers.

Another seldom-discussed aspect of annulling marriages is that since the marriage is considered to have never existed, there are no alimony payments to be made to spouses. This means that men have an incentive to seek annulments instead of divorces. It also matches up with the Catholic Church's fundamentalist belief that women are evil, servants of Satan as shown in the story of Adam and Eve told in the Bible.

Thought-crime may strike modern civilized people as something out of the novel 1984, but it has always been the Church's position that thinking about sinning is sinning. That forces even the best of Catholics into the act of Penance (Confession), which humiliates people and enhances the power of the Church bureaucrats (priests).

Really, how many Catholic men have never thought of sex outside of marriage?

The double standard here is even deeper. In theory in Roman Catholicism you are absolved of sin whenever you complete the rite of Penance or Communion. So even if the woman in the case did commit the sin, if she was Catholic (which she would have to be to have her marriage annulled), the sin would have been removed from her record if she had practiced Catholicism at all during the term of the marriage.

So the Ecclesiastical Court seems to be saying that they can get whatever results make them money by ignoring their own doctrines when convenient.

We modern people expect silliness from the Catholic Church. People can and should leave the Catholic Church rather than put up with it. That the Italian government's courts would uphold a nonsensical Catholic court ruling, however, shows that Pope Benedict XVI is having some success ushering the Dark Ages in. Soon, if the trend continues, men won't have to annul inconvenient marriages. They can just accuse their non-wives of witchcraft, and the Italian government will drag them away and burn them at the stake.