Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Catholicism & The Marriage That Never Was

Any day that I can poke the Roman Catholic Church in the eye for its rank hypocrisy is a good day. But to be able to do so over the church allowing Nicole Kidman to remarry in a Catholic ceremony is like hitting the lottery.

Catholic canonical law is clear:

Kidman is forbidden from remarrying, in this case to country singing star Keith Urban, since she was married to Tom Cruise. For 10 years. A little too long to plead temporary insanity, no?

That union not only was never annulled, but Nicole and Tom had two children, appeared in the buff on the cover of Time magazine, did steamy sex scenes together and . . . well, you get the idea.

But guess what? In the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, Kidman and Cruise were never married!

This is because the nuptial uniting the two stars was a scientology ceremony at the altar of, er . . . L. Ron Hubbard. In the eyes of the church, it was not a spiritual ceremony, but merely a legal one.

So a church that continues to coddle pedophile priests declares that Ms. Moulin Rouge didn’t need an annulment, which saved her and it the embarrassment of having to deal with the entire issue.

Besides which, having an A-List personality like Kidman or Frank Sinatra (with three remarriages, the fourth performed by Cardinal Cooke) in your flock is terrific publicity.

This is not personal. While I think Cruise is a ding-a-ling, I adore Kidman, who has proven that she is more than another pretty face by taking on demanding roles and succeeding admirably in some of them.

I had to get in line behind the entire Australian news media and my favorite Catholic blogger, Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish, on the nuptials sans annulment bit, but I feel no shame. I will leave that to the priest who married Kidman and Urban over the weekend in Sydney.

Some bemused Catholics shared their views with Andrew.

Said one:

Just as a baptism performed in the name of the John, Paul and Ringo would not be valid, a wedding not performed according to the proper form also would not be valid. At least this is how the Pastor at my church described it in a recent church bulletin (suggesting that Catholics who had not been married in the church would need to have their marriage convalidated).

I love my church. Its rules are inviolable and eternal, except when they're not. Kidman . . . didn't even have to seek an annulment. But the stricture against a Catholic's divorce and remarriage is absolute - and a Catholic who obeyed the rules all along, and got married in a Catholic first wedding, would be denied the sacraments and barred from re-marrying in church. I guess because I am deemed objectively disordered by my own church, I haven't been as aware of this transparent nonsense as I should have been.

And another:

How quaint all this preoccupation with the canon law seems today. But think how many lives the Catholic Church has stunted and twisted over the years by forcing people to jump through these hoops.
And still another:
Delighted you have recently discovered the wonderful miasma of RC marriage and annulment rules. As an Episcopal clergman recently observed: "There is nothing that has a greater hold on the minds of people than ignorance fraught with technicalities."
I’m no stranger to the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, and there are few better examples than its relationship with La Cosa Nostra – the Italian Mafia.

In Philadelphia, where I labored as an editor and reporter for many years, the church's priests baptized, blessed and buried mobsters, the latter after they were gunned down in the internecine warfare that gripped that city’s crime family during the 1980’s and much of the 90’s.

The mobsters, in turn, give lavishly to the church, and one in particular used to throw expensive Christmas parties for his Catholic parish with the profits from drug trafficking and extortion rackets. For years, bicycles and other goodies were distributed by a Mafia Santa Claus and Mafia elves, but the parties ended when he went off to prison.

As regularly as the seasons came and went, the church and Italian America groups would complain to my bosses at the Philadelphia Daily News about its portrayal of these goons.

But not once did I ever hear the head of the local archdiocese, let alone a priest or officer of the Sons of Italy or Christopher Columbus Society, utter a harsh word about the mob from the pulpit or in public.

Then there’s the Catholic Church’s twisted views on homosexuality, which are of course intertwined with pedophilia.
Homosexuality be bad. Gay marriages be bad. Catholic remarriages be okay without annulments when we say they be okay. Pedophilia be tolerated unless you’re caught.

This brings me to the tragic story of Mychal Judge, a 68-year-old priest and New York Fire Department chaplain who perished in the World Trade Center blasts.

One of my first Kiko’s House blogs was on Father Mike, as everyone called the beloved Benedictine. You can read it here. And weep.

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