Those of you who are die-hard Gingrich fans probably want to skip this post. Don't say I didn't warn you.
After reading comments on another blog about how wonderful it would be to have a real Catholic president in the White House, I scratched my head in disbelief. There are times when my Church, which I love and defend, does things that simply baffle me, like granting Mr. Gingrich and others like him an annulment. Oh, I've heard the news that Newt has "converted". Trouble is, I'm not convinced. Let me explain.
To my way of thinking, true conversion is taking responsibility for your past actions, acknowledging your sin, and putting aside the thing (in this case, person) that lead you to commit adultery in the first place. Conversion is not getting your previous marriages annulled simply because this time, you've engaged in adultery with a practicing Catholic. (A Catholic who engages in adultery with a married man might think about "practicing" a little harder).
If next week I abdicate my marriage vows and decide to carry on with the postman, I will have committed a mortal sin. Should I decide to confess this sin and in all sincerity, wish to make atonement even though I'm still attracted to the mail guy, what do you think I will be advised to do? Will the priest advise me to seek an annulment so I can be with the man of my choice, or will he tell me to ask God's forgiveness and go make things right with my husband?
Where do we get the idea that it's OK to cheat on your wife and then marry your mistress if you weren't "really" married in the first place? I get it that the Church does not consider marriages outside the faith as valid, but wouldn't it be better and more righteous in the truest sense of the word to have told Mr. Gingrich to put aside his new love interest and go back and make things right with his previous wives, and THEN seek entrance into the Catholic church? The cart definitely went before the horse.
When it comes to situations like that of Newt and Callista Gingrich, it seems to me that the Church hierarchy is inadvertently contributing to the decline of the sanctity of marriage by effectively sanctioning adulterous relationships through a costly and controversial process known as annulment. Mr. and Mrs. Gingrich are by no means unique and I know from other cases that his political stature is not the reason the Church was willing to grant the annulments. I also know that one of the reasons the Church was willing to declare Newt's second marriage invalid is because his second wife had also been previously married. Fair enough, but where does it end, especially if children were involved?
While the Church does not consider adultery and divorce to be intrinsic evils akin with abortion, they are nonetheless sins which contribute to the decline of the moral fiber of our country. Furthermore, the rampant divorce rate is symptomatic of our overall throwaway, anything goes mentality. Don't like your first wife? Leave her for a newer and more attractive model. Don't like the opposite sex? No problem, marry someone of the same gender! See how that goes?
There are times when divorce is the only option. For instance, if there is abuse, or if one of the spouses is a serial adulterer who refuses counseling. Granting annulments to people who think they should try out as many wives as it takes to get it right, as casually as they would try on a suit, is not the way to bring a person to true conversion. And it's not the way to protect the sanctity of one of the most disregarded sacraments instituted by Christ.
You may commence throwing darts at any time.