Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Nullity decrees

1201. Is it not a fact that some of the earlier French kings were granted divorce from valid marriages by the Popes?

No. There are many cases in history where the Church has granted decrees of nullity; but a decree of nullity is not a divorce. Divorce means breaking the bond of a valid marriage. A decree of nullity declares that what seemed to be a valid marriage never was a valid marriage at all. There are many essential conditions necessary for a valid marriage. If any of these essentials be missing, then an attempted marriage will be null and void. The explanation of any given case in history could be ascertained only provided an actual instance were quoted. It is too vague to speak of "some of the earlier French kings." It would be necessary to name a particular king to whom it is believed that a divorce was granted.

1202. I have always thought that the Catholic Church has never, at any time, granted divorce to anybody, not even to a king.

That is true, wherever both parties have been baptized and the marriage has been consummated. In such cases the Catholic Church denies that there is any power on earth, whether of Church or State, which can really dissolve the bond of such a marriage. Death alone can break it. In certain cases, where the parties have not been baptized, or the marriage has not been consummated, the Church has the power to grant a dissolution. But, as I have said, such a dissolution is quite impossible in the case of a consummated valid marriage between baptized persons.

1203. You keep insisting that remarriage after divorce is wrong; but when it suits the Catholic Church she permits it.

When Henry VIII of England wanted it, it would surely have suited the Catholic Church to grant it rather than see England torn from Catholic unity. But the Pope had to say that he had not the power.

1204. Whilst condemning other Churches for permitting divorce and remarriage, your Church simply issues a Decree of Nullity which amounts to the same thing.

Decrees of Nullity are not issued simply at all. If they are granted, it is only after long and thorough investigation of the marriage cases involved, And a Decree of Nullity is not the same thing as a divorce. A divorce claims to destroy the existent marriage bond of a matrimonial contract. A Decree of Nullity declares that a supposed matrimonial contract never was valid, that it was null and void from the very beginning, and that no genuine marriage bond ever existed.

1205. This back-door method is mere expediency, enabling you to have it both ways, self-righteously condemning divorce yet permitting it when it suits you.

Were expediency the deciding factor, there are very many non-Catholics who would be Catholics today. I myself have had to refuse to receive into the Catholic Church dozens of people who have obtained a civil divorce from a valid marriage as non-Catholics, and then have married again. If only I could have used a back-door method of declaring their first marriages null and void all would have been plain sailing and I could have received still more converts into the Church. But their first marriages were not null and void, and I have had to tell them that the Catholic Church could not accept them yet allow their second partnerships to continue. And they have gone away sadly, unwilling to make the sacrifice required of them. Were the Catholic Church guided by expediency she would throw principles to the winds, and grant Decrees of Nullity whether they were justified or not, if only they enabled her to add to her membership. But that is just what she does not do.

1206. Divorce is divorce, no matter what you call it. And we are not deceived, however the Pope tries to window-dress it by talking of Nullity Decrees.

The Catholic Church grants Decrees of Nullity, just as does the State, when it is clearly proved that a marriage was never a valid marriage, but was null and void from the very beginning.

1207. Look at the number of people who have obtained such Decrees from the Pope!

I can only suggest that you look at the number of people, a far greater number, who have applied for such Decrees and have been unable to obtain them.

1208. How can you say that people who have been married for years have never really been married at all?

Cases where people find out only years after their marriage ceremony that they have never been in fact husband and wife can easily occur. This may be due to any one of several reasons, such as physical incapacity of one of the parties to fulfill marriage duties at all, or through an unrealized but too close a blood-relationship, or through a lack of necessary formalities in the original marriage contract. There are many other reasons besides these. In such cases, Catholics may appeal to their Bishops, or even to the highest ecclesiastical court of all, the Roman Rota, submitting all the facts and asking for an official decision. If the facts warrant it, the decision may be given that the marriage was never in fact a valid marriage and that the parties must separate. People often speak of such cases by saying that the parties "got a divorce." But it is not a divorce at all in the sense of breaking the bond of a valid marriage. It is essential to keep these things in mind, if one wants a proper understanding of such matters.

1209. Can you give a single example of civil law granting a Decree of Nullity instead of a divorce?

Many such cases occur in the civil courts of practically all countries. Two extraordinary cases occurred within a few years of each other in Europe shortly after World War II. In each case two young people had married, only to find out some time afterwards that they were brother and sister, and that their union was incestuous. They were war-orphans who had been separately adopted by different people and brought up under different names. As soon as proof of their real relationship came to light, they separated; and in both cases the civil courts issued a declaration that their marriages were null and void. In England, on July 20, 1951, a declaration of nullity was granted to Edward Brooks by the civil courts on the ground that his wife Elizabeth Brooks was only 15 years and 11 months old when they were married. English law declares that no woman under 16 years of age can contract a valid marriage. The couple had been married 18 years and had 6 children! Yet Judge Ernest Evans said that the law allowed him no choice but to declare the marriage null and void from the very beginning. It had not complied with conditions necessary for validity in the first place.

1210. Is a "Decree of Nullity" the same thing as a "Marriage Annulment"?

No, although unfortunately the two expressions are generally regarded as synonymous. A Decree of Nullity declares that there has never been a true marriage at all. A Marriage Annulment means that a true bond of marriage has existed, but that it has been annulled. Where it has been proved that no true marriage has existed at all, the Catholic Church issues a Decree of Nullity. In certain cases, granted sufficiently grave reasons, the Pope has the power to dissolve a truly existent marriage bond provided the marriage has not been consummated; that is, where it can be proved that the parties have never lived together as man and wife; or, again, where the parties have not been baptized Christians, so that the marriage has been merely a natural matrimonial contract and not the Christian Sacrament of Marriage proper to the Christian religion. The one case which the Catholic Church declares that she has no power whatever to dissolve is that of a valid and consummated marriage between two baptized persons. If the Pope himself declared such a marriage not to be binding until the death of one of the parties he would have gone beyond any authority he possesses, and his declaration would be itself null and void.

1211. Invariably they are the influential and socially prominent people who have these useful Decrees of Nullity granted to them

That is not true. You base your judgment on the few cases of socially prominent people which newspapers thought sensational enough to grace their columns. But the newspapers mention only those who happen to get a favorable decision, not those who have applied to Rome unsuccessfully; and they make no mention at all of insignificant applicants, whether they get a favorable decision or not. So we have the same few cases quoted over and over again through lack of others to quote. They are the ones which the press regarded as having news value. But the press did not tell you that the Princess Charlotte of Monaco was refused a Decree of Nullity in regard to her marriage with Prince Pierre de Polignac, and was told that she could not remarry so long as the Prince lived, despite her father having made a special trip to Rome to plead her cause personally. The press did not tell you that Count de Castellane sought a Decree of Nullity in regard to his marriage with the American millionairess Anna Gould, presenting his case three times to the Roman Rota with what he thought additional evidence each time, only to receive a final and irrevocable refusal. The press did not tell you that Mayor James Walker of New York applied for such a Decree in vain. Nor, as a matter of fact, does the press tell its readers that most applications for Decrees of Nullity do not even get to the Roman Rota at all, but are eliminated as lacking sufficient reason by diocesan tribunals in each country.

1212. Once again, we can only conclude that money talks all languages!

Money has no influence at all with the Catholic Church in such matters. With the divine law at stake, her attitude has to be entirely objective. If applicants for a decision by the Church are too poor to pay expenses, those expenses are either reduced or remitted altogether. Of 324 petitions which were sent on to the Roman Rota in a ten year period, 180 of the applicants could pay legal fees, whilst 144 could not afford to do so. Of the 180 who could pay, 85 got favorable decisions, whilst 95 were rejected. Of the 144 who could not pay, 80 got favorable decisions, whilst 64 were rejected. In other words, those who could pay received the greater proportion of rejections whilst those who could not pay received the greater proportion of favorable decisions. In 1952 the Roman Rota secured a verdict in the civil courts of Italy for libel. The Communist papers, "L'Unita", "II Paese", "Net Donne" and "LAvanti" had made the charge that you have madJ namely, that "money talks" and that decisions could be "bought" fror i the Roman Rota. The facts I have given were put before the court! and the trial revealed that in the very year when the libel was published thf Rota had operated at a loss of some $30,000. The Communist papers merj tioned were fined, ordered to pay costs, and to have retractions publisheS in two prominent secular dailies, "II Messagero," of Rome, and "Corriere della Sera," of Milan.

1213. If a Catholic man marries a non-Catholic woman outside the Catholic Church, do you hold that he is free to leave her whenever he likes and marry someone else? on the score that his marriage not valid in the sight of the Church?

No. If she has never renounced her claims upon him, and wished the marriage upon which she entered in quite good faith to continue he has a grave obligation in conscience to get that marriage rectified according to the requirements of the Catholic Church. Only if she herself put an obstacle in the way of his doing that would he be free, and even obliged to separate from her. We must remember that, by marrying her outside the Catholic Church, he not only sinned gravely by violating the laws of the Church and by living with her as her husband although in the sight of God he was not her husband. He did her a very serious injustice by inducing her to make marriage vows to him which she believed to be valid whilst he pronounced vows which he knew to be invalid. Also, by inducing her to leave home and parents on the understanding that he will support her, he incurs an obligation of natural justice to do so. Furthermore, if they have children, he has an additional obligation towards them. No Catholic man would be free in conscience to ignore all these obligations merely on the score that he had not complied with the marriage laws of the Catholic Church. His normal duty would be to get his marriage rectified, and fulfil his promises to the original woman he unjustly deceived, if she wishes the marriage to continue.

1214. Should not the Catholic Church in all such cases force the Catholic party to marry the original person, instead of granting Nullity Decrees and allowing marriage to someone else?

Such a hard and fast rule would be neither wise nor just. In fact it would often be impossible to apply in practice. Take the case where the non-Catholic woman has already separated from such a Catholic man, obtained a civil divorce, and married somebody else. Or even where she has not already married someone else, take the case where she has separated from him and positively refuses to live with him. It would be impossible for a man to persuade such a woman to marry, him according to Catholic rites. In such circumstances, if the Catholic man brings along another woman and asks to be married in the proper Catholic way, all that the Church can ask him is whether he is single or married. If he proves to the satisfaction of ecclesiastical authorities that as far as the laws of the Catholic Church are concerned he is a single man, the Church cannot refuse to allow him to contract an honorable and valid Christian marriage. She could no more refuse in his case than she could refuse any other man on the score that he had previously been living irregularly with some woman companion.

1215. Could a Catholic man marry a divorced Protestant woman who was previously married to a Protestant?

Not if her first marriage was valid; and normally such would be the case. Only in very rare and exceptional cases does it happen that a marriage between two non-Catholics is null and void in itself because of some unforeseen impediment or obstacle. Catholics should take it for granted that marriage to a divorced person is not possible, until absolute proof to the contrary has been obtained in any given case.

1216. If Protestant marriages are valid because performed in good conscience, the parties believing they are doing right, why are not their divorces and remarriages valid for the same reason?

Protestant marriages are not valid because the parties have a good conscience and believe that they are doing right. I know personally a Protestant woman who received a mistaken notification that her husband was killed during World War II. After two years she met and married a good Protestant man. Both had a good conscience and thought they were doing right. Yet their marriage was not valid. The woman's real husband eventually returned and claimed her, and she had to forsake the second man to whom she had not been really married at all. The validity of a marriage depends on quite other factors than the ones you have mentioned.

1217. The Most Rev. Dr. Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, told the British Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce in 1952 that the Roman Catholic Church can disregard for its own purposes previous marriages and divorces of persons joining that Church which had taken place before they became its members, and can remarry them.

He did not state the Catholic position correctly. If two Protestants marry in a Protestant Church or before a Justice, the Catholic Church regards that marriage as valid and binding until death. If they get a divorce and marry again, the Catholic Church does not regard their second marriage as valid in the sight of God. If they wanted to become Catholics, they could be received into the Catholic Church only provided they were willing to abandon the second marriages into which they had entered.

1218. I have heard that it is always allowed, provided the divorced person is willing to become a Catholic.

That is not true. If the divorced non-Catholic's first marriage was valid, then it is simply a fact that he is already validly married, despite the civil divorce. His becoming a Catholic later on cannot make what is a fact not a fact. In any case, a man cannot become a Catholic as a means to an end, just because he thinks it might make a marriage possible. Either he believes in the Catholic religion, or he does not. If he does believe in it, he should become a Catholic in any case. If he does not believe in it, it would be sheer hypocrisy for him to be received into the Church whilst not believing in it. The only thing for a Catholic girl to do, who is contemplating marriage to such a man is to abandon the prospect of it and to look elsewhere for an opportunity of marriage in keeping with the law of God. The unhappiness of breaking things off will be much less than that which would otherwise be hers in the years that lie ahead of her.

1219. I have heard that sometimes the Catholic Church declares the non-Catholic's first marriage null and void so that he can marry a Catholic.

The Catholic Church cannot declare a marriage null and void unless it is null and void. And in the vast majority of cases the marriage of non-Catholics among themselves are quite valid, with no grounds for any Decree of Nullity. A few years ago the Archdiocese of Chicago, U.S.A., issued a statement that out of every fifty appeals for a Decree of Nullity in regard to a previous marriage between non-Catholics only one succeeds. And the diocesan tribunal declared that the chances of a Catholic girl being able to marry a previously divorced man are so small that it is grave sin for her to keep company with a divorced man unless she has first made sure that the Catholic Church recognizes his first marriages to have been null and void.

1220. The thousands of divorces yearly make it more than ever likely that Catholic girls will find divorced men beginning to take an interest in them.

That is true. They should, therefore, make all the more sure before accepting the attention of any non-Catholic man that he has not been married before.

1221. How is she to know that such a man is divorced or not, if he does not tell her?

If she knows his relatives, friends, or acquaintances, she could scarcely avoid hearing something that would give her reason to inquire. If she begins keeping company with a man of whose family she knows nothing, then she will lack the necessary knowledge if she just takes it for granted that all is well and he does not tell her. But she will be very foolish to take it for granted that any non-Catholic who seeks her company is eligible for marriage. More and more, outside the Catholic Church, divorce and remarriage are becoming accepted as so normal that many non-Catholics really regard themselves as quite free to marry again after a divorce, their previous marriages being only a past episode to be forgotten, and which they are not obliged to mention. This means that Catholics must be doubly on their guard lest they find themselves involved in a most distressing situation.

1222. I would like to call your attention to a few things which make one sceptical about the rigidity of the rulings of the Catholic Church.

Nothing you mention affords grounds for such skepticism. For example, the Catholic Church declares the marriage of a Catholic outside the Church null and void. She is absolutely rigid in that ruling: so much so that she treats the parties to such a marriage as single people, free to marry again! The opposition of the Catholic Church is to divorce from a valid marriage with subsequent remarriage. And how rigid is the opposition of the Church to this should be evident from the fact I have often stated that I myself have had to refuse to receive into the Church many people who have wanted to become Catholics, but who have unfortunately secured a divorce from a valid marriage and contracted another. Would I, or any other priest, turn away prospective Converts from the Church, if there were any loophole which would make it possible to receive them whilst allowing them to continue in their second marriages?

1223. There are happenings very hard to explain away. Either they happen or they do not. That is the way I see it.

You do not see far enough. It is necessary to see, not only that things happen, but how and why they happen.

1224. At first sight, it seems that the Catholic Church has developed a special code for members rich enough to be a law to themselves.

It can seem like that only to people with memories convenient enough to retain whatever fits in with their prejudices, and to dismiss žif all else. You should recall the cases where the Catholic Church has positively refused to violate her marriage laws for wealthy and influential people. The Countess Apponyi wanted to marry King Zog, of Albania. The Church refused. Princess Giovanna, daughter of the King of Italy, wanted to marry King. Boris, of Bulgaria. The Church refused. In these, and many other cases, such as those under No. 1211 above, if money could be its own law, the money was there.

1225. Don't you think that, in our modern age, money could have fixed it for Henry VIII?

He would have had no more chance of getting an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon in our modern age than he had in his own day. Never was a case so fully thrashed out as his. Never was there such an inducement to grant a Decree of Nullity if it could possibly be done than then. Henry had made it clear that if it were not granted, he would drag England from the Catholic Church. But no Decree of Nullity was possible. Henry's marriage to Catherine was a valid and consummated marriage between two baptized persons. No power on earth could annul such a marriage. The Pope therefore refused Henry's petition, even though it meant the loss of England to the Church. And such a petition would have no more chance of success than it had then.

1226. Rome granted Marconi a divorce to enable him to marry again.

That is not true. After a thorough examination of Marconi's case, with evidence by sworn testimony from his already re-married ex-wife, Rome declared that the consent of both parties to the first "marriage" was for a temporary contract only, and not consent to a contract intended to be binding until death, as is required for a genuine Christian marriage. Rome therefore granted a Decree of Nullity, not a divorce from any existent bond, declaring that there had never been such a bond in the sight of God at all.

1227. In 1938, Dr. Kurt Schusnigg, Chancellor of Austria, married the Countess Vera Fugger von Babenhausen, who had secured a Decree of Nullity from the Roman Rota in regard to her previous marriage. On what grounds was that Decree granted?

The grounds for the Decree were never published.

1228. Have you access to any records of the case?

No. Nor is there any reason why Rome should publish confidential documents dealing with the personal affairs of individuals, just to satisfy public curiosity. Even civil law allows certain cases to be dealt with in a closed Court, respecting the right of privacy in regard to intimate personal matters which are not the concern of anyone except the parties themselves. The Roman Rota is not always free to make public confidential matters; and if I wrote to the Rota for the information you ask I would probably, and quite properly, be told to mind my own business.

1229. What loophole could the Church find?

The Church does not go looking for loopholes, for the sheer joy of declaring marriages null and void. She declares that every marriage must: be regarded as valid until the opposite is proved beyond all doubt. If, for any reason, people think that some impediment existed, or that for some other reason their marriage was not valid, it is for them to prove it. And in the Rota's decisions no favoritism at all can be expected.

1230. In 1937, Prince Starhemberg was granted a dissolution of his marriage to Countess Mary Salm-Reifferscheidt by the Roman Rota. Why?

Prince Starhemberg's case never went to the Roman Rota. The Ecclesiastical Matrimonial Court in Vienna granted a Decree of Nullity. The defender of the matrimonial bond appealed against this decision to the Court of Second Instance at Salzburg. This Court supported the decision of the Vienna Court; and no further appeal was necessary. The reason for the decision was the absolute physical incapacity on the part of the woman to fulfil marital duties, a diriment impediment to marriage technically known as "impotency." Evidence that this incapacity, existed and could not be rectified surgically, was given by medical experts and by the bride's own mother.

1231. I was told that a man named Mostyn, belonging to one of the old pre-reformation Catholic families in England secured from Rome an annulment of his first marriage on the grounds of sterility. Was it a desire to perpetuate this influential family that enabled the Church to find a loophole and let this man marry again?

Sterility does not make a marriage null and void, and the Church simply has not the power to grant a Decree of Nullity on such grounds. It is unfortunate, and a very great trial to some people that they are unable to have children. But the Catholic Church declares that their marriage, if that be the only defect in it, is nevertheless valid and binding until the death of one of the parties.

1232. What are the facts about the annulment of Mostyn's first marriage?

I do not know. In fact, this is the first time I have ever heard that one of the Mostyn family is said to have had a marriage annulled by Rome. Nor could I reasonably be expected to be familiar with all the details of all the matrimonial causes dealt with in Rome, sent there from all over the world. If indeed there was a "Mostyn Case," and an annulment was granted, it could have been for any one of a variety of reasons, such as an undispensed diriment impediment, antecedent impotency, non-consummation, lack of free consent, want of compliance with necessary formalities, etc. But no desire of perpetuating any family, even if the Church had any such desire, could enable the Church to grant a Decree of Nullity on the grounds merely of sterility, even if that reason did exist.

1233. Recently the Anglican Archbishop Garbett, of York, said that a grave scandal was caused by the Roman Catholic Church granting a Decree of Nullity to the Duke of Marlborough, to enable him to remarry. He said that Anglicans did not want scandals like that in their Church.

No scandal was caused by Rome's decision in that case, except in the minds of those bent on manufacturing scandal where there were no grounds for it. No Decree of Nullity was given to the Duke of Marlborough. He did not even apply for it. His first wife, Consuelo Vanderbilt, a Protestant, applied for it; and she is still a Protestant. Nor was the Decree granted to enable the Duke to marry again. He had already remarried before the application was made to Rome for the Decree. Archbishop Garbett should have made sure of his facts before he spoke. In 1895, the Duke of Marlborough married the American Miss Consuelo Vanderbilt. Both were Anglicans, and they married in an Anglican Church. She was forced by her socially ambitious mother, against her will, to marry the Duke. In 1905, they separated. In 1920, they secured a civil divorce, and both married again. So far the Catholic Church does not come into the case at all. In 1926, some six years after the civil divorce, and after both had remarried, the Duke of Marlborough wanted to become a Catholic. But in view of his second marriage he could not do so, unless it could be proved that the first marriage itself was null and void. In the eyes of the Catholic Church the civil divorce would count for nothing, if the first marriage was valid in the sight of God. As it was the American Consuelo Vanderbilt who had been forced into the marriage, not the Duke, she applied to Rome for the Decree pf Nullity, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, by many witnesses, that she had not been a free agent at all. In her recent book, "The Glitter and the Gold," she makes that quite clear, incidentally refuting charges that money had anything to do with it, declaring that the expenses in the appeal to the Roman Rota in 1926 were much less than those for the civil divorce in 1920. The Decree was not granted easily. There were two appeals. One to the Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Southwark, in England; a second to the Roman Rota. Miss Vanderbilt herself complained about the difficulties and the delay. It was only after two trials and the most thorough scrutiny, that Rome granted the final decision that the first marriage in 1895 was indeed null and void through lack of free consent on her part. As a result of the Decree, the Duke of Marlborough was able to become a Catholic whilst retaining the second wife he had already married. Also the second marriage Miss Vanderbilt had already contracted with Jacques Balsan, a Catholic who had married her outside the Church, was able to be rectified for his sake according to the requirements of his religion. She herself, as I have said, remained, and is still a Protestant.

1234. In 1946, the Catholic Church permitted Miss Conroy, a Catholic, to marry Lord Winchelsea, despite his divorce from the Countess Szechenyi, of Hungary, whom he had previously married.

The Countess Szechenyi was a Catholic, who had married Lord Winchelsea outside the Catholic Church. As no Catholic can contract a valid marriage outside Catholic rites, that marriage was by the very fact null and void from the very beginning in the eyes of the Church. The Catholic Church declared them to be two single people wrongly living together. After their civil divorce, they were still single people. Both were free to remarry. Lord Winchelsea chose to marry Miss Conroy; and the Catholic Church was as justified in allowing the marriage as in the case of any other single man. Naturally the State, having already granted a civil divorce, made no difficulties as to Lord Winchelsea's remarriage.

1235. In 1949. Mayor William O'Dwyer, of New York was granted a Decree of Nullity to enable him to take a second wife.

That is not true. Mayor William O'Dwyer had been two years a widower when he married Miss Sloan Simpson. Miss Simpson had married a Protestant named Carroll Dewey Hipp in 1938, but by a civil ceremony only. As she was a Catholic, that marriage, being outside the Church, was not valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. In 1943 she divorced him; and was, as she had ever been as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, a single woman free to marry. The ecclesiastical authorities of New York, having examined the case, granted what is known simply as a "Declaration of Freedom to Marry."

1236. As he did not apply to Rome for an annulment, the American clergy evidently acted on their own initiative in this case.

Mayor O'Dwyer did not apply for an annulment at all. Miss Sloan applied for a declaration of freedom to marry. There is no need in such cases for any appeal to Rome. Granted proof that a person was baptized a Catholic, that she went through a marriage ceremony outside the Church, and that that marriage was never rectified according to Catholic requirements, then the Bishop of the local diocese is empowered by Canon Law to declare the marriage null and void before God and the Church. If the parties have secured freedom from civil obligations by civil divorce, they would be permitted to marry according to Catholic rites, just as any other single people.

1237. When Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce was appointed America's ambassador to Italy, the papers said that in 1929 she had married a man named George Brokaw, later divorced him, and then married Henry Luce, of "Life" and "Time" magazines. Yet she was received into the Catholic Church by Bishop Fulton Sheen and allowed to continue as the wife of Henry Luce.

Before she married Henry Luce, George Brokaw died. She was therefore a widow when she married Henry Luce, There is no law of God or of the Church forbidding a widow to remarry. No one would have been misled by the cabled report you mention had it said quite simply that, after the death of her first husband George Brokaw, she married Henry Luce. But that is why it was not put that way,

1238. In August, 1953, Major William Clark married a Mrs. Audrey Claire Loflin, a divorced Catholic woman whose husband was still living.

Mrs. Loflin was a Catholic whose first marriage was by a civil ceremony only, and not a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church. All cases such as these serve to drive home the fact that the Catholic Church will not recognize the marriages of Catholics who do not marry according to Catholic rites. With all the publicity given to such cases no one at least can plead ignorance of the laws of the Catholic Church in this matter. Catholics who go through marriage ceremonies apart from their own Catholic religion have simply agreed to sinful cohabitation with a man or with a woman to whom they are not really married at all in the sight of God.

1239. In this mutter of divorce and remarriage, are not most film actors Catholics?

No. If it seems like that to you, it' is a kind of optical illusion. Newspapers thrive on scandals. Things that shock have news value. In the marital escapades of film stars, if a Catholic is involved, his or her religion will be stressed, whilst that of a non-Catholic will not be mentioned, as being of no particular interest. As a result, the only religion people vaguely remember as associated with the affair is the Catholic religion. In the Roberto Rossellini-Ingrid Bergman episode, our newspapers added spice to their reports by reminding readers that Roberto Rossellini was a "Roman Catholic." But what was Ingrid Bergman's religion? The papers did not say. That she was a Lutheran Protestant was not regarded as sufficiently startling to make news.

1240. I have often been disgusted by the successive marriages of some American film stars.

Film stars are not all American, even as they are not all. Catholics. Your disgust, of course, all who retain Christian ideals of marriage must share. It is a shocking thing that movie stars who have been glamorized in the sight of millions in the picture theatres of the world should set an example of playing fast and loose with marriage, making a sheer mockery of it. You can be quite sure that the Catholic Church utterly condemns such conduct.

1241. Are there any special circumstances which permit American Catholics to marry how and when and as often as they please?

No. But you must not judge all American Catholics by the few who happen to get so much publicity by the mere fact of being film-stars. Nor, for that matter, must you judge all Catholic movie artists by the conduct of some. There are Catholic film-stars who are true to their religion and models of good behavior. Those who are not would be the first to say that the responsibility is their own, and not that of the religion which they do not put into practice. And that what does not shock and horrify people in those of other religions should shock and horrify them where Catholics are concerned is itself a tribute to the higher standards expected of those who profess to be Catholics.

1242. For example, Mickey Rooney is a devout Catholic. Yet he has never been excommunicated although, according to the teachings of your Church he is living in adultery by marrying again after divorce.

You have been deceived by a mere stage-name. Mickey Rooney was never at any time a Catholic. He was born of Jewish parents who gave him as names neither "Mickey" nor "Rooney," but called him, after his father, Joseph Yule.

1243. Since most film-stars are Catholics, how do you account for their shocking indifference to the sanctity of marriage, and for the high divorce rate amongst them?

Since most film-stars are Catholics, how do you account for their shocking indifference to the sanctity of marriage, and for the high divorce rate amongst them?

1244. I'd just like to know the attitude of your Church towards these overpaid, talented, but completely obnoxious hypocrites who profess to be Catholics, yet divorce and remarry at will.

In regard to such Catholics who do behave in the way you describe, the Catholic Church does not deny that they are overpaid; nor that they are talented; but she does not say that they are "completely obnoxious," for no human being is completely obnoxious and without any good qualities at all. Nor does the Catholic Church say that they are "hypocrites," for they do not necessarily pretend to be good Catholics whilst they are not. The Catholic Church does say that to divorce and remarry at will is wrong; that to do so is to commit mortal sin; and that to die in a state of unrepented mortal sin is to lose one's soul.

1245. Take Carole Landis. She was twice married and divorced, first with Irving Wheeler, then with Willis Hunt. After that, she was allowed to marry Thomas Wallace in a Catholic Church. Promptly she divorced him and married Horace Schimlapp. Whilst planning a divorce from him and yet another marriage, she committed suicide.

Carole Landis was born, as Frances Ridste, of a mixed marriage, her father being a Norwegian Protestant and her mother a Polish Catholic. Though baptized a Catholic, she was never anything more than a nominal Catholic. Her first two marriages took place outside the Catholic Church, and were not valid according to the laws of that Church. Her marriage to Thomas Wallace was valid and binding before God until death. But Carole Landis, practically religionless, ignored this fact, and set out on a further series of marital adventures. When challenged during a press interview in Sydney with her various marriages, she merely replied: "They're legal, aren't they? So what?" Obviously her religion meant nothing to her. And the Catholic Church accepts no responsibility for her conduct. Nor does the fact that she was not true to the Catholic religion prove that the Catholic religion itself is not the true religion.

1246. Yet when she died a great fuss was made of her, and she was granted religious burial rites.

She was not granted religious burial rites by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church authorities declared that she had forfeited any right to Catholic burial, and a Protestant clergyman officiated at her funeral. Both by her complete neglect of her religion as well as by her public conduct and death by suicide she had forfeited the right to Christian burial according to the Canon Laws of the Catholic Church. Nothing in the whole sad story of Carole Landis involves any inconsistency, whether in principle or in practice, on the part of the Catholic Church. Nor will any convert to the Catholic Church find the teachings of that Church an inspiration to behave in a similar way.

1247. Loretta Young, previously married to Grant Withers, who is still living, is now married to Thomas Lewis.

At 16 she ran away from a boarding school and married Grant Withers without her parents' consent, giving her wrong age, and not according to Catholic rites. The so-called marriage was null and void. Six months later the madcap escapade broke up. She returned home to her parents, and a civil divorce was obtained. In 1940 she married Thomas Lewis in the Catholic Church, the local Bishop declaring, after verifying the facts, that no existent bond of marriage stood in the way of her doing so.

1248. Yet she is regarded as an exemplary Catholic!

No one says that she behaved in an exemplary way when, at 16 years of age, she ran off with Grant Withers. But there is nothing to prevent people who have done foolish and wicked things in their youth from making good in their later years. But this really has nothing to do with the attitude of the Catholic Church towards divorce from a valid marriage and subsequent remarriage, Loretta Young's first so called marriage was not a valid marriage.

1249. Tyrone Power divorced the French actress Annabella, although both were Catholics. Then he was allowed to marry Linda Christian in a Catholic Church.

Neither Annabella nor Tyrone Power were practical Catholics. Annabella was already a divorced woman, and their marriage was by a civil ceremony only. The Catholic Church could not and at no time did acknowledge their marriage as a valid Christian marriage. I do not undertake to defend Tyrone Power's past iniquities. Objectively, civil divorce from Annabella left him as he had ever been in reality, a single man, free to contract a valid marriage with Linda Christian, granted her willingness to have him despite his previous history.

1250. What if Tyrone Power and Linda Christian grow tired of each other and separate?

If that did happen, it would make no difference to the fact that their present marriage is valid and binding until death as far as the laws of God and of the Catholic Church are concerned.

1251. One never knows what film-stars will do next. They might get a divorce and want to marry again.

Whatever uncertainty you may feel about the future dispositions of Tyrone Power and Linda Christian, there is no room for the slightest uncertainty about the attitude of the Catholic Church towards their marriage. No further marriage will be possible for either of them according to Catholic rites whilst both still live.

1252. The actress June Haver married a man named James Zito outside the Catholic Church, but later remarried him according to the rites of the Church, so we can assume definitely that he was her husband in the eyes of the Church.

That is true. June Haver, although brought up as a Protestant, became a Catholic at the age of 18 before her marriage. She was therefore subject to the laws of the Catholic Church in that matter. When she applied for an annulment of her marriage with James Zito, she was told by the ecclesiastical authorities that, since she had had the marriage rectified according to the laws of the Church, there was no possibility of an annulment.

1253. How, then, could the Catholic Church give her a dispensation from her marriage in order to let her enter a Convent and become a Nun?

June Haver obtained no dispensation from her marriage. The Holy See granted her a dispensation to enter a Convent despite the fact that she had a husband still living. She did not persevere in her vocation as a Nun and left the Convent, but she will not be able to marry again so long as James Zito still lives. For he is still her husband in the sight of God, whatever civil law may say. Canon Law forbids any woman with a husband still living to enter a Convent as a Nun, unless a special dispensation for her to do so is first obtained from Rome. June Haver applied for and obtained that dispensation. Needless to say, that dispensation would never have been granted had her husband, James Zito, been able to press any claim for restitution of conjugal rights. But by civil divorce he had gone out of her life forever, rendering the separation permanent. No further marriage was possible for her as a Catholic so long as he still lived. And in view of her youth with the whole of her life before her, in view of the impossibility in practice of her husband ever reclaiming her, and in view of her own strong desire to consecrate herself to God in the Religious Life, the Holy See granted her a dispensation from the normal law forbidding the acceptance of such candidates by the Convent authorities. She did not survive her years of probation in the Convent, and was told that she had no vocation for the Religious Life, but must return to secular life and try to serve God as a good Catholic under conditions applicable to all other members of the Catholic laity.

1254. How could Roberto Rossellini, the Italian film director, who was a Catholic, divorce his Catholic wife and marry Ingrid Bergman who deserted her lawful husband for that purpose?

He could not do so, save by violating the laws both of God and of the Catholic Church. Rossellini never even put his case to the Church. He knew quite well that the Catholic Church could not sanction what he contemplated. And to silence all current rumors to the contrary, the Vatican paper "Osservatore Romano" publicly stated at the time that Rossellini's marriage to Ingrid Bergman did not take place according to Catholic rites, that no permission was either granted by or even sought from the Church for it, and that the union between the two parties concerned was "adulterous and scandalous" according to the most elementary Christian standards.



A Radio Analysis"
- Book Title