February 4, 2003, Bud Macfarlane, Jr. writes that “Being an e5 man has helped my marriage, and it can help yours too.” Nevertheless, by March 19, 2004, the story had broken that he had filed for divorce against his wife Marie (Bai), a devout Catholic mother of four, on the grounds of “extreme cruelty” and “gross neglect of duty”.
Bai Macfarlane Begins Her Battle Against No-Fault Divorce
LINK: Mary’s Advocates
Bai Macfarlane has appealed to the Church and is claiming that their Catholic preparation and marriage in the Church constituted a kind of (pre) nuptual agreement that should be respected by the courts. She is arguing, of course, that no fault divorce contravenes Church law. Her lawyer is using canons 1153 and 1692 from the Code of Canon Law to make their case. However, it is very dubious that a civil court would ever relinquish jurisdiction to an ecclesiastical one in the U.S.
The code clearly states that a spouse has to contact the local bishop before moving out or filing for divorce unless there is immediate physical danger. Canon 1153 states that the cause would have to be “grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult.” After consultation, and an appropriate reason, Canon 1692 might allow separation or an application for civil divorce. In practice, I have never known a Catholic in a bad marriage to do this, nor have I ever heard of bishops finding room in their schedules for such interventions.
Divorced Catholics should not presume that they will be allowed to get married again in the Church. If the first marriage was real– no civil or church court can make it otherwise. It is a perpetual promise for the lifetime of the couple.
Bud Macfarlane, himself, argues on his website against divorce:
THREE UNIONS – What distinguishes Catholicism from Protestant churches? A minister said: “The Pope, No Divorce, and No Contraception. He had an additional insight regarding what all three truths have in common, and it has electrified us ever since. All three teachings are fundamentally about union… The indissolubility of marriage ensures the union of man and woman in ‘one flesh’ and is the foundation for all family life and civilization itself.”
What would he teach others now?
Bai Macfarlane has begun a very real crusade against divorce and for the preservation of marriage as understood by the Church.
LETTER FROM BAI TO FRIENDS OF MARY FOUNDATION
Dear friends of the Mary Foundation
I do not know the true reason for Bud’s recent behavior. Of course I want an intact family for my children and myself and I pray and that Bud will eventually be inspired to discover the reasons he was unhappily married and work to solve our problems.
I also pray that his mysterious behavior will cause the minimum damage to those I love. As co-founder of the Mary Foundation, I always have loved the Mary Foundation because I love what it does. It disseminates high quality evangelical information to countless souls through the work of evangelizers who want to spread the good news, through audio recordings, cd’s, books, and the internet. Besides asking for prayers for our marital situation, I ask that evangelizers continue using good Mary Foundation information as they had in the past.
Some people have suggested that the Mary Foundation shouldn’t survive because of Bud’s behavior.
But I wonder, who REALLY runs the Mary Foundation. Bud and I used to say it is MARY’S foundation; we are just instruments. If it is the devil’s plan to destroy the good work of the Mary Foundation by somehow inspiring Bud to act so “contradictorily”, then let the devil be tested. If God allows the Mary Foundation to ‘go down’ under these circumstances, He can raise up other works, but I hope all of your prayers will melt Bud’s heart, and the Mary Foundation can continue to do good work.
Holding on to Hope, while fighting fear,
My remarks about the Macfarlane matter, the issue of divorce, and an article about e5 have caused a flood of comments that I cannot continue to monitor. Some of them have called me irresponsible and in league with Satan. I am going to save previous comments in the body of the post, but disable the comment feature. You can still send me emails, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with this discussion. It amazes me that people would fault Bai Macfarlane for fighting for her sacramental marriage and against the evil of divorce, particularly the no-fault variety. As for the e5 business, it may have its merits, but I took “honest” exception to some things I read about it. I would certainly be willing to revisit the matter or even post honest and sympathetic material that would show how it is usually effective and in agreement with Catholic teaching.
John A. TePas – July 8, 2006
Dear Fr. Joe
As Bai Macfarlane’s dad, I agree with your summary of her situation and Bud’s mindset (?) in this bizarre mess. Now how do we get Bud to open his heart to the Holy Spirit’s urgings and put this marriage back together?
This entire article ought to be in the hands of the local diocesan authorities where I hope against hope that someone will step forward and once and forever confront Bud with the error of his ways. Am I being judgemental? You bet I am! But in my heart of hearts I get no pleasure from hating his actions which I have every right to judge, while at the same time, and more importantly, being gravely concerned for him as if he were my own son. I do not wish him any evil.
Father Joe – July 8, 2006
I was very hesitant to post about this matter at first. My upbringing pressed upon me that we should not intrude with the family life of others. However, as more and more Catholics came to me with questions and disbelief about it, and given that so much was already in the public forum, I posted material about it, along with my thoughts. As a Catholic priest I am very concerned about the epidemic of divorce and the issue of poor witness from believers. This case in particular and the situation in general is something that I bring to prayer every day.
Are you being judgmental? Actually, the judgment is Christ’s and it has already been made– he hates divorce– it was not the way things were supposed to be. All we are doing is asking believers to keep their promises in living out the vocation of marriage.
I feel so very sorry for Bai, because even if God uses this situation to force the Church and society to take the bond of marriage more seriously, her personal loss and betrayal will still bring her pain. A good wife and mother lives for her husband and children. They are her treasure. I have known people who utterly despaired in such situations. Thank God, Bai has known his strength during this ordeal.
God bless you and the whole family.
John A. TePas – July 14, 2006
Thanks for taking the time and effort to respond.
WI Catholic – August 11, 2006
I have read this several times. Not because it concerns Bud and Bai Macfarlane, but because it thrills me to hear a Catholic priest step out and speak Truth on this topic. It is your response to John TePas that draws me back.
Do you have any idea how many times one of Jesus’ teachings on this topic appears in the Gospels read on Sundays in the cycle of readings? Twice, maybe, see…
Cycle A Matt 5:17-37 or shorter
Cycle B Mark 10:2-16 or shorter
Matt 19 and Luke 16:18 are completely skipped.
Do you have any idea how many times in the 24 years since my “dh” left us that I have heard a sermon preached on His Words on this topic on those Sundays? Not once. Every sermon scoots right around them, including taking the optional verse about Suffer the little Children to come unto me…and making an entire sermon on just that section.
I have never heard in the Sunday readings the Malachi verses which clearly have the Lord saying loudly and vehemently that He HATES Divorce … Mal 2:16
And I have also never heard 1 Cor 7:10-14 read and preached, but I certainly HAVE been told many times by ‘good Catholics’ and by priests those of vs 15, taken out of context, and implying that there IS a right to divorce and marry again.
(***I do not say REmarry, because to REdo something is to repeat what was done the first time… ie, marry first spouse again. To marry anyone else is to MARRY again, not to REMARRY… ***)
It really hurt the first few ‘cycles’. I mean REALLY hurt. Especially when I called family and friends of other parishes and took a small poll on the topics of the sermons in their parishes for that day…and again, never found ONE that said Divorce and Second Marriages had been the topic.
There was even one year that I left the Church for the sermon using one of my children’s ‘need’ to go to the Bathroom as my excuse, because it hurt too much.
They have ‘Compassion’ for those who are in adulterous relationships, calling them ‘back to the Church’, but ‘back’ while excusing the adulterous relationship, even encouraging it… but they forget those of us who are PRAYING for reconciliation, PRAYING for Truth about Divorce and the permanency of marriage to be spoken, with no Apparent response to those prayers.
We don’t want Fire and Brimstone taught, just the Truth. And we don’t want ‘easy’ outs for our very Valid Marriages, WE WANT TRUTH, because the Truth sets Everyone Free… even if there is no reconciliation on this planet. It may mean someone’s (like my dh) SALVATION! And it would certainly help us to teach our children that what we live, what we teach them, etc. is NOT NUTS, but is the true teaching of the CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Our son was married this past May. Their Deacon spoke Truth on the Rehearsal night and on the Day of the Wedding, and I can HONESTLY say that it was the first time I heard TRUTH coming from the pulpit in 24 years.
And YES , my “dh” was VERY uncomfortable…VERY uncomfortable, because I am sure he felt like the Deacon was speaking directly to him, and he probably thinks that I put the Deacon up to it. But I didn’t. I had nothing to do with it.
My son, telling the Deacon about his life… told the Deacon that he was most influenced by my living out my vows, and my strong Belief that What God has Joined, Man Cannot Separate. And the parish priest? He came up to me at the rehearsal and told ME about a friend’s marriage, his former parishoner, which had been healed after many years of being apart. This priest said their Wedding Mass.
“What God has joined, Man must not separate”. He said that they were his favorite words…and Deacon used those words repeatedly, powerfully, skillfully, and with no malice. He read very slowly Jesus’ Words from the Gospel reading about a second marriage being adultery.
Why did it take 24 years to hear the Truth about Marriage, and Divorce in a Catholic Church, whose teachings are the fulness of the Gospel message?
Why would you ‘hesitate’ to put this article in your blog? (I thank you for your bravery, Fr Joe… I am not asking out of anger or animosity, but only so that you can know my thoughts).
I believe that many today are listening to a ‘False Compassion’, and acting on it, instead of speaking Truth, because there are so many out there who ‘may be hurt’ if it is spoken. The same thing happens with Abortion, Fr Joe.
And that brings me to one final point that most never give any thought to… Abortion became the law of the land in Jan, 1973. The Uniform Divorce and Marriage Act came to be in Aug, …. 1973.
What better way for the enemy to get our children? If he can’t cause their death as pre-born, he will get them when he gets their Dad (or their Mom) out of the house through Divorce.
We need our priests and Deacons, Bishops and Cardinals, and the Holy Father, as well as our Tribunals to begin once again, to speak the Truth on both topics, with REAL Compassion–the kind that gets people into Heaven, rather than lets them slip unnoticed into Hell.
We need more Padre Pios, more St. Thomas Mores, St. John Fishers.
I commend your courage to put this here, and then to speak Truth in your answer to Mr TePas, Fr Joe.
Eric – August 27, 2006
Your post[s] on Bud Macfarlane and the e5men organization is one of the most irresposible things I have ever read. You presume to judge the spiritual state of Bud Macfarlane without any personal contact with him whatsoever, and without having heard a thing from him about the breakdown of his marriage.
Bud has never spoken publically about these unfortunate events. Bai, in contrast, has been most outspoken. It is manifest that we have heard only one side of this argument, and it is irresponsible or worse to assume that we know enough of the story to pass judgment. We simply do not know why the Macfarlane’s marriage broke down.
We all lament the breakdown of the Macfarlane marriage, but again, none of us really knows the whole story. Nothing is served by pretending that we do, or by throwing more gasoline on the fires of gossip, rumor and calumny.
I wonder if in the end more harm isn’t done to the faith by the credulous taking of sides in this affair than by the sad disintegration of a public Catholic family.
EDITED BY ADMINISTRATOR, SEE FURTHER COMMENTS UNDER e5 POST
Father Joe – August 27, 2006
My initial post (written in December of 2004) about the Macfarlane business was in response to several matters:
1. The scandal caused by Bud Macfarlane continuing to promote e5 after he had left his wife (and subsequently absconding with the children).
2. Serious concerns about the orthodoxy of an essay purportedly in defence of e5.
3. The need to make clear that divorce is still labeled a sin by the Catholic Church and that the no-fault variety which Bud Macfarlane pursued is ethically indefensible and particularly offensive.
Your comment today inspired me to re-examine my post, and while I am committed to my stance against divorce and remain supportive of Bai in her efforts, I thought it best to reorganize the material for purposes of clarity. There is now a separate page dealing with the e5 program and my initial evaluation.
I have been in contact with Bai Macfarlane and others since the initial posts and my concerns have only intensified. However, in deference to all concerned, having made my points, and not willing to violate confidentiality, I have stopped posting new material on the matter.
I can make no credible presumption about the state of Bud Macfarlane’s soul. However, as a pastor and confessor, I am perfectly within my rights to comment upon the actions of others and to make a moral judgment. There may be mitigating elements in what anyone does, however, that does not detract from the inherent wrongness of certain actions.
You are right there are many questions unanswered about what happened. Bai has spoken to me about her confusion and thoughts about the situation, but it is not my place to share that information. However, it does seem to take off from a rigorist interpretation of Ephesians 5, a text which coincidentally, was read in our Catholic churches this Sunday (Aug. 27). It is my hope that Church authorities will continue to research the new movement, and if necessary issue corrections or a monitum of some sort.
I am rather conservative in my own interpretation of St. Paul’s words and do not question that the husband and father is the head of the home. But, the e5 program seeks to interpret this headship in a somewhat novel way. It applies a particular mortification and prayer ritual in respects to the husband’s sacrificial love for his wife. If it works for people and they stay married, fine, but if it does not, then we need to find out. I am critical of many new movements and feel that asking hard questions is a way to insure orthodoxy. This would not be the first time that my role as devil’s advocate would require apologies.
If the e5 program is so fragile that it cannot tolerate the critique of a single priest, then it really is in trouble. I would not mind a discussion about it, and the accompanying clarifications; however, it is unfair to tell a priest to mind his own business when members of his flock are considering e5 and/or distraught about a favorite Catholic author and speaker.
Actually, since 2003 and Bud Macfarlane’s article, which is still online, I have heard relatively little about e5. My remarks about the program were in direct response to what I read from Macfarlane and Habisohn about it, particularly the assertion that a husband need not communicate to his wife about it. That was not my take on their view, but what was written in its defense…and I found it peculiar.
Bai Macfarlane has a right to fight for her marriage, regardless of any personal contributory faults or actions that led to the abandonment and divorce. If the Roman Rota rules in her favor then a civil divorce will not be worth the paper it is written on and an annulment will be impossible. Maybe she thinks his Catholicity will draw him back to her? I do not know, and I doubt the marriage will find healing. But, hey, I give God his due and he can sometimes make what seems impossible come true.
Given that so much has been taken away from her, she seeks to find some good in the evil she experiences. It is her hope that the Church will enforce its teachings about the indissolubility of marriage and that Catholics will clearly resolve at the beginning of their unions that divorce will never be an option.
I have no vendetta against Bud Macfarlane and I have been careful to avoid personal attacks. I pray for him and his family daily. However, it is a public spectacle and as such, needed some cursory comment.
I wrote at the beginning of my post:
“It is not my intention here to feed gossip or to seek sensationalism at the cost of a couple’s reputation. Everything upon which I will remark is already in the public domain….Bai Macfarlane may not be entirely innocent in this tale, (are any of us in our own lives?), but I could certainly sympathize with her willingness to fight for her family and against the evil of divorce, particularly the “no fault” variety.”
Later I cited the e5 website. I could not believe what I read:
“When I went to the E5 Website, I read this: “Do I tell my wife? There are two answers No and Yes. It really depends on your situation. By telling one’s wife one might risk spiritual pride or she may even discourage you.” Is this response a mistake? I hope so. I have been guilty of typos and silly “off the cuff” statements of my own in the past. If there is a misunderstanding here, I would gladly make a corrective addendum in the e5 column. But, questions sent by email received no response.
As for what is scandalous, it is the deafening silence to pleas for help…and the lack of any ethical defense for no-fault divorce. I can well understand tolerating divorce in cases where marriages are clearly invalid and where there is physical abuse and danger. But I would make the process long and difficult. As a general rule, I would like to see divorce outlawed, as it was until a few years ago in Ireland. We give people an easy out when they should struggle to preserve their marriages and to seek counseling and clergy support.
What is really scandalous? It is the fact that those who speak out about this matter are few and that they must endure assault, even from fellow believers.
Free Willy – August 27, 2006
[This comment is reproduced to show just how foul things have become!]
Eric is right, this stuff is scandalous! Who is he to judge anyone? Is he married? Does he know how bad it can get? Does he know the wonderful sense of freedom to be rid of some shrew of a wife? He admits that he would make matters worse by outlawing divorce! He is insane! When a marriage dies, it dies. That is all there is to it. If a man wants a ripe new honey to replace the old one, then more power to him!
I am not much for bible reading, but I like the idea that women should be submissive to me and the more submissive the better (if you know what I mean). If I am going out with the guys she has no right to complain. If I want to take it easy around the house she should not nag me with chores. If I want to stay put or travel to the moon, she should pack her junk up and go with me, no questions asked. A man is lord and master of his home. The man can do no wrong. She must make his ideas her ideas.
Some women kill the love a man has for them. He wants sex and she has a headache. He wants to sleep in and she wants to go to church. He only wants fun and yet she is pregnant all the time. He works hard and she spends all his money. This priest would make men into the slaves of women, yes even to wicked hags.
Mind your own business! Let this Buddy guy have some peace and quiet and maybe he will find a piece of something else – comfort I mean and happiness. He has a right to be happy. His old wife should find herself another man, a good sugar daddy to keep her in style. What is all the fuss about? I do not understand.
Shame on you priest! You should shut up! I have had my fill of ministers telling me what to do.
Karl – August 28, 2006
Dear Father Joe,
Although I planned not to post here again there are some things that I just cannot pass on.
Since I no longer attend Mass even on an irregular basis I can not accurately comment on what is taught during sermonsin the past few years but from the time I returned to the Church as an adult in about 1979 until my break with her in the relatively recent past I rarely heard much of consequence regarding accountability for transgressions in anything than in a personal context.
From the time of my birth in 1954 until 1977 if a Catholic divorced and then remarried they were automatically Excommunicated from the Church. Back then there was still respect for the Sacrament. But our Bishops decided such accountability was too harsh and now we have swung to the opposite side of the spectrum where folks like Bai, whom I know by the way through our shared experiences with our spouses and whom I have serious respect for, and myself are criticized when we repeatedly speak out against this injustice because people say they are tired of hearing it. I find that funny because people do not seem to tire of supporting unjust divorces and remarriages, unless ALL the polls are wrong regarding the beliefs among most Catholics in the US who by a majority, if they were our Bishops, would restore openly unrepentant adulterers to Communion immediately.
In 1990, many years before Bai, I tried to do the same thing in our divorce proceedings in Davenport, Iowa but my attorney refused and I had no money for another so my pleas were denied and I was steam rolled into a divorce, which I never signed by the way, so that my wife could petition for her annulment. Bai’s idea is not a new one but her notariety helps her. I speak and write about her when I can because, as people seem to forget, marriage is not just a private affair between two people but it is a public Sacrament.
When a spouse leaves their lawful spouse it is a violation of the public trust and the public good. Unless a Catholic spouse has received permission from the local ordinary, who is also obliged to hear from the other spouse before he can make a decision(except in very extreme circumstances), they are in violation of Canon Law, which should carry serious consequences for them but does not.
The post by Eric shows a serious lack of understanding of marriage and the importance of its defense on an individual basis as well as on a corporate basis. His appeal that taking sides in the MacFarlane divorce is more harmful than the breakup is and was in the first place is a painfully immature appeal. It is a red herring.
It was Bud who abandoned his wife, regardless of their differences. Without Canonically valid reasons Bud made himself a man who put himself above the expressed lawful authority of the Catholic Church to which he still claims allegiance as best I can tell. And as I recall, since Bud left Bai, who is it that set up the sides anyway? Both sides should have been heard before the Catholic Bishop and perhaps some other appropriate experts and people with experience to help. But I have heard nothing of that being done. As best I can tell this was a one-sided act, which controverted both Canon Law and Sacred Scripture. Does anyone even remember that Jesus Christs requires forgiveness. It is not an option. Seven times seventy.
If a spouse unjustly abandons another spouse or refuses to attempt a just reconciliation, that spouse is living outside the teaching of the Catholic Church and needs correction either from the public, friends or the Catholic Church. Please get real and be objective. The Church and the public have a vested interest in this specific situation and the general situation of unwarranted divorces. Both are morally obliged to take much more vocal positions in such matters. This is THE tragedy of the contemporary Catholic Church. For my entire adult life the Church has sat by without taking action on these situations. To deny strong action to aid a wrongly abandoned spouse is a grave and mortal wrong. This remains the case to this day. The innocent are left, at best, with the comfort offered by two annulment decisions, while their lawful souses enjoy nearly full rights in the Catholic Church with their lovers. This is unspeakable injustice and calls for repentance on the part of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The precedent has already been set by John Paul II. It is time his successor spoke from St Peters and asked for forgiveness for abandoning the innocent spouses who have already been abandoned by the State and their lawful spouses and time for the Pope to act to bring to accountability to all those who act to destroy Sacramental Marriages, unjustly.
I hope for a reconciliation for Bud and Bai but the apparent hardness of Bud’s heart does not bode well for the state of things. But I would bet that if there were Canonical action to hold Bud accountable he would give it a second thought, particularly if the same sanctions were to fall also upon all Catholics who materially support his actions and who maintain contact with him in any other personal manner than to bring about a reconciliation. In my opinion, that is the obligation upon the local Ordinary. To act to end this.
I pray for a John Fisher among our Bishops. And a Thomas More among our Canonists.
Father Joe – August 28, 2006
I relocated some of Eric’s remarks to the post on e5 men. When I read over my post it seemed overly long and somewhat jumbled. So I revised it and broke it into two pages and a regular post:
BAI MACFARLANE: NO DIVORCE FOR CATHOLICS – About her initial effort to challenge divorce laws in light of Catholic teaching about marriage.
CONCERNS ABOUT THE e5 MOVEMENT – An appraisal of an article written by Bud Macfaralane on the e5 Men.
MACFARLANE versus MACFARLANE – Specific remarks about the plight that Bai Macfarlane has reported and an urging for continued prayer for people we care about.
Karl, my only qualm with what you said is that you should not allow the sins of a spouse or of the Church to separate you from the sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus is the high Priest and Victim of every Eucharist, no matter how unworthy the human priest. As for your story and views about the divorce-annulment crisis, it is hard to rebuttal your appraisal.
Much has to be done and people of faith need courage.