I recently received the following comment. It is a story I am hearing again and again.
In 2007 I went with my wife to see our priest in Florida concerning our marriage. I told the priest that I did not want to get divorced and that my wife had filed for divorce. The parish priest told me, while pointing his finger at me, that he believed our marriage, quote— “…should never have happened.” I told him that I had come to see him for help to save my marriage. I told him that I expected him to defend the Catholic sacrament of matrimony. He repeated, “The marriage should never have happened.”
We have four young children who attend school at this same church, his church. The priest advised my wife to be lenient with child custody. When I left his house on the school grounds, I repeated to the priest that he should “Defend the sacrament of marriage.” He then said to me, “Get out of my sight, you arrogant bast-rd!” After the meeting with the priest, on our way home, my wife said to me; “You see, even the priest believes we should divorce!”
This is absolutely true and you can contact me or my wife to verify this is true. I know you will not believe what I am saying. But it is absolutely true.
I want to know; what I can do now? My wife is in the last stages of this divorce and she is living with another man. Time has passed since my encounter with this priest and I believe there is no way to repair the marriage situation, for obvious reasons.
But as far as I am concerned the priest, to whom I went for help, was instrumental in shattering any hope to resolve the situation with my wife. He threw his weight and that of the Church behind her decision. I have stopped attending church since this incident. I still pray. I am angry and I find it difficult to remain silent.
Sometime in the future, when all my pain is gone, I will peruse this priest in the Church under Catholic Church law. I cannot forgive this priest for what he did to me, particularly when I was foolish enough to go to him for “help”. He committed the greatest sin.
FATHER JOE: I am so sorry Patrick for what you have gone through. There are cases where marriages are difficult to save, particularly when there is abuse and fear. However, I am sickened when people simply say they fell out of love or found someone they liked better. I do not now the grounds for her divorce and we have not heard her side; however, you are right, whenever possible a priest must both safeguard the well-being of the spouses and the sacrament of marriage. It is not the role of a priest to urge divorce but rather dialogue and reconciliation. You mention that your wife is in the end-stages of a divorce but living with another man. Does she think that most priests would also rubberstamp adultery? If she attempts an annulment you have every right to share your side and how you view the sacramental nature of the bond. Be honest about it, even if it means that she would not be able to get the annulment. Anything else short-changes the process and is an offense against truth. Know that not all priests would have acted like the one in your story. I will keep you in my prayers. Her departure from your life and home is a terrible cross. I bring my struggles and pain to my Lenten observances. Do not blame the Church for the callous actions of one priest and the abandonment of a wife who failed to return the love you had for her. We have a regular commenter at this Blog named Karl who has endured a similar situation. The diocese in which you live may have resources for coping with the loss and for dealing with the repudiation of the priest. Bai Macfarlane has developed a national campaign against no-fault divorce and has appealed her husband’s divorce to both the civil courts and the Roman Rota. She may have some useful information to share with you, too.
Her webpage is: http://www.marysadvocates.org.
Her email is: email@example.com.