Annulling a marriage is one of the thorniest practices of the Roman Catholic Church. People who are granted annulments are given a whole new lease on life, but for those who are denied an annulment, the news can be devastating. For Catholics, an annulment means that a sacramental marriage never took place. The most common reaction to this is "I went to the wedding, what do you mean a marriage never took place?" People begin to wonder if an annulment means that children from such unions are illegitimate (no). Others wonder what right the Church has to declare a marriage null, and see the process as judgmental and vindictive. Others believe that annulments are only granted to those willing to pay a hefty price tag. With so much negative press, it is no wonder why so many people find the annulment process intimidating and decide not to pursue having a marriage annulled.
Michael Smith Foster, a Catholic priest and canon lawyer who works at the Marriage Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Boston has written a clear, easy to understand book answering the many questions of what an annulment is, and what an annulment is not. The book is published by Paulist Press, and is set up in a question and answer format, like many book released by this publisher. In discussing the annulment process, the author also explains what a Catholic marriage is supposed to be. His style is pastoral and non-threatening. The book is compassionate and hopeful for people who have been hurt by a marriage coming apart.
While this book will be most helpful to people going through the annulment process and those who are ministering to them, it will be of interest to any Catholics who want to understand more about this procedure and what the Church truly teaches about marriage.
This book is a user-friendly one. The question and answer format is used to its highest possiblity. It deals with all of those questions we never bothered to ask our high school religion nun or college theologian, and now wish we had. As both a civil and a canon lawyer dealing in divorce and annulments, I cannot think of one question not asked asked and answered here. The index makes it even easier to navigate the concepts explored. The result is a book that explains the concepts but also tells you how to deal practically with them in the context of the Church's laws and canons. This book takes the whole package of married life and puts it into Catholic perspective. This start to finish result, especially starting at the time of the marriage, is the crux of what so many do not understand about the Catholic Church and marriage. Foster's approach is totally successful just because of its simplicity. The book should be read by those thinking of marriage and not just those far down the road. It's assistance to both is what makes this book so important.