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March 27, 2008
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No Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce - Frequently Asked Questions 
"15 states offer no fault divorce only. This means that a no fault divorce is the only option even when there has been substantial wrongdoing. The other states allow a spouse to select either a no fault divorce or a fault divorce."  [Nolo]

CatholiCity
Catholic media apostolate founded by Bud and Bai Macfarlane.

Defending Families Against Forced No-Fault Divorce
Bai Macfarlane's website

End No-Fault Divorce?
Maggie Gallagher: "The spouse who leaves learns that love dies. The spouse who is left learns that love betrays and that the courts and society side with the betrayers. In court, your marriage commitment means nothing. The only rule is: Whoever wants out, wins. By gutting the marital contract, no-fault divorce has transformed what it means to get married." [First Things]

Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
Maggie Gallagher, author of "The Case fo Marriage" website and blog.

Vatican Alters Guidance on Annulments: Update Follows Warnings About Threats to Marriage
"Vatican officials said that annulment procedures must not, even in appearance, contribute to matrimony's decline. ‘In the context of a divorce mentality, even canon annulment cases can be easily misunderstood, as if they were nothing more than ways to obtain a divorce with the blessing of the church..’"  [Washington Post]

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Divorce, American Style: An Interview with Bai Macfarlane

Her high-profile Catholic marriage—and divorce case—has sparked a debate about the injustice of no-fault divorce and the tragedy of marital abandonment. We spoke to Bai Macfarlane about her struggle to reform civil and ecclesial marriage laws in the U.S.

Bai Macfarlane with Cletus, one of her four sons.


"All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

If ever there was a couple to make a liar out of Leo Tolstoy, it seemed that Bud and Bai Macfarlane were it. As parents of four home-schooled young boys, and founders of Catholic media apostolates like the Mary Foundation, St. Jude Media and CatholiCity, they appeared—at least from a distance—uniquely happy in their role as young leaders of the "New Faithful" Catholic revival inspired by the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

But Tolstoy's maxim reasserted itself early last year when Bud left the family and filed for divorce, accusing his wife of "extreme cruelty" and "gross neglect of duty"charges Bai vehemently denies. Even worse, according to Bai, her refusal to give up home-schooling her sons—per Bud's demand—and to go along with the divorce, was twisted by the courts into an excuse to punish her by giving primary custody of her children to her husband.

The irony—in a story filled with ironiesis that while formerly irrepressible Bud has withdrawn from public view, Bai is now in the spotlight because of her new mission: to reform Catholic marriage and civil divorce in this country. Bai's fight is personal, but extends way beyond her marital problems. No-fault laws, she says, together with church diocesan policies that encourage marital abandonment and easy annulments, puts innocent spouses (and children) at a disadvantage in civil divorce cases and helps tear families apart. We talked to her about how the past year has shaped her view of these issues.

GodSpy: Bai, I want to be clear about what no-fault divorce is: One spouse can unilaterally divorce the other for no reason. How does no-fault affect society's view of marriage?

Bai Macfarlane: No-fault divorce makes people think that a marriage just "breaks." It makes people think they have no responsibility for repairing or working on their marriage. It's the idea that if you decide that your marriage isn't working, or if it's not giving you the satisfaction you expected, it's the normal thing—it's almost the brave or heroic thing—to move along. You can just try again with somebody else.

Even the term "no-fault" says no one is responsible...

Yes. A good example was the literature from our diocese's divorce ministry. It talked about divorce as if it were like a car accident—two drivers in a car accident, both kind of dazed, they get out of the cars, the police are there, and they don't really know what's going on. This infuriated me because it totally eliminates any culpability.

Before no-fault, divorce was a way to protect someone who was in a truly abusive situation. In those situations someone was at fault. But thanks to no-fault, there is no longer any sense of responsibility for a marriage, or any sense of the indissolubility of marriage at all.

With no-fault, there’s something wrong with you if you don’t accept a divorce. Catholic families are being crucified…
No-fault divorce laws spread in the early seventies when a national group that was trying to get uniform divorce laws in all the states wanted to provide a way for a judge to grant an amicable divorce when both parties wanted to end the marriage. With fault divorce, one person is guilty of something, and that person loses out in the settlement. What happened was that when the American Bar Association's Council of the Family Law Section reviewed the suggested changes in the law, they also added the requirement that if a couple lived apart for 180 days the judge would automatically grant the divorce. Up until then judges had the discretion to keep a couple together when there was really no fault. What ended up happening was the absolute opposite. Now when one person wants out there is a bias against saving the marriage, a bias against the other person who wants to keep it together.

Can you be more specific about how no-fault makes divorce more likely?

In the old days when you went to an attorney for a divorce, that attorney knew he was going to have to prove some fault before he would accept you as a client. I think one of the damaging aspects is that there is a whole industry making lots of money on no-fault divorce. When one unhappy spouse goes to an attorney thinking "I might want a divorce," the attorney sees the unhappy spouse as next month's cash flow.

Also, no-fault puts a couple into war mode. Two people who are having serious marital problems go talk to attorneys, and the attorneysunless they're exceptionalare bracing themselves for a battle. And the battle is going to be about money and kids.

For example, in my case I sought out lots of advice about how to repair a marriage that's in terrible shape. One of the repeated themes is—you make yourself very vulnerable. You accept responsibility for your personality quirks that have annoyed your spouse, and you apologize. Now, if I send one of these apology letters, and I list the things about me that I know irk my husband, and I sayI'm really sorry that I'm this way and I really believe we can work on this—that letter can show up in court and be used against me to demonstrate how horrible I am. You step into a war zone instead of a healing zone; you step into a trap.

I know most divorces are wanted by only one spouseI think the statistic is 80%—but what about Catholic marriages where both parties want a divorce?

It depends what you mean by Catholic. The Church teaches that Christ established that marriage is for life. God created man and woman to be together, and no one can tear apart what God has joined. You can't get remarried. The apostles said, oh my goodness, if that's what marriage means then it's better not to marry at all. But Jesus meant what he said. If a Catholic is committed to following Christ and believes that Christ instituted the Roman Catholic Church to speak on God's behalf, then for those Catholicseven if you don't feel like being togetheryou have an obligation to God and to each other to work it out.

Studies show that marriages can be saved if the spouses commit to staying together. Of course, it's always easier to blame the other person and run away. But when you're unhappy with something in your marriage, it's usually partly your own fault—you can't blame the other person entirely. Everybody has emotional baggage, but when you're forced to have a relationship with one person for life, if you force yourself to be committed to the indissolubility of marriage, you will mature. So for a serious Catholic, just because you both want a divorce, that's still not a reason to get a divorce. You're morally obligated to go work it out.

What about the argument that putting fault-finding back into divorce will harm those who might benefit from easy divorce, like abused spouses, or children who'd be caught in the litigation and conflict of divorce proceedings?

If your spouse is a psychopath, or literally abusing your children—nobody in the Church is going to object if you get out of there.
I've devoted most of my energy to thinking about this from a Catholic perspective, so I'm hesitant to propose what to do with the average marriage. Divorce is permanent separation, and with a Catholic marriageaccording to Christ's teachings and the code of canon law—we aren't supposed to have permanent separation from our spouses. If we have marital problems, you are obligated to work on reconciling the marriage. So for a Catholic, stepping into divorce court, where you decide about splitting the property, and permanent custody and visitation about the kids, that's not even necessary. What Catholics should be doing is reconciling, period.

What about extreme cases, where a spouse needs to get away from an abuser or criminal, which would make the abuser the abandoned spouse?

If there is abuse, according to Church law, you're allowed to separate on your own authority. You don't need the bishop's authorization if there's an emergency. If your spouse is a psychopath, or literally abusing your children, or doing something terribly dangerousnobody in the Church is going to object if you get out of there.

Adultery and physical abuse are both grounds for temporary or permanent separation according to the Church, and they're grounds for divorce by the state. In these cases the victim isn't choosing to abandon—it's the abuser who's at fault. The Church system and the civil system agree in those cases. In the Church system you are still bound to work towards reconciling. But you can have permission to permanently be separated, depending on the circumstances. Canon law #1153 describes an authorization from your local ordinary to be separated.

But from what I'm reading, even if my husband is a criminal, he's still my husband. Marriage can be a cross. You can have a husband or a wife who is a disaster. And you promised to be with them and that's how God set it up. I keep thinking of the analogy of God with Israel in the Old Testament. Sometimes Israel was faithful to God and sometimes it wasn't, but God always hung in there. So if marriage is a model to the world of God's faithfulness to his people, then the spouse who has the trouble can, with God's grace, hang in there.

What do you say to someone who asks you: Why do you want to stay married to someone who's decided he doesn't want to be married to you? How do you make a marriage work under those conditions?

When my situation first started to explode, I was even telling myself, well who wants to stay married to somebody who is this horrible? Then I started to see that it's not an option. I am married. It's almost like: If your mother is nasty to you, sure, you wish your mother was different, but she's still your mother. You can't change thatit's impossible. And what I've been reading by a Roman Rota judge, Monsignor Cormac Burke, talks about the good of the spouses as one of the ends of marriage. You can still have a good even if it's painful. It's about the meaning of suffering. It's about learning to join your suffering with Christ's suffering. I certainly haven't got that all figured out. But there's not an optionto not be married. You are married.

And the other concept is: What about his soul? A person can always turn around. Let's just say that a spouse is doing a terrible thing when they abandon a marriage. They're committing a grave, manifest sin. Why they're committing it—what's going on in their heart and soulI can't know for certain. But it looks pretty bad. If my concern is for my spouse's soul, the idea of jumping ship is not an option. We're talking about somebody's soul here. Who knows what can happen in his heart and soul? So we're talking about eternity, not just what's happening in the here and now. I mean, I'm hanging in here until death do us part.

During the past year you've spoken to a lot of abandoned spouses, men and women. Is there a difference in the way divorce affects the sexes?

There are three men I personally know who have been abandoned by their wives. The psychological and emotional impact was so serious that they couldn't concentrate normally in their professional jobs. Their whole being was crushed. Here you are, you have a wife and children, and you're a breadwinner—whether your wife works outside the home or notand that's all ripped out from under you. And what they usually do is give the kids to the mom automatically. So these guys lost their kids. One man talked about it as a crucifixion. Another called it an imprisonment—being in an invisible prison. Another said 'we're in exile from our children, and we're watching our children's upbringing being all screwed up.' For the past thirty years women who've lost that loving feeling have been able to kick dedicated, loyal husbands out of their own homes, sue them for child support, and then go and get new boyfriends, and then have the new boyfriend sleeping in their husband's bed. It's pretty disgusting.

Studies show that marriages can be saved if the spouses commit to staying together.
As for the womenit's unimaginable sadness. I know the physiological reaction that I had, and I'm familiar with another woman who described her sorrow—I think of the scenes from Schindler's List, when the children are being separated from the parents, and the women just fall to their knees and they can't hold themselves up, because the emotional pain is just... those kinds of scenes I'm certain are what happens in abandoned homes, with the remaining spouse. If you believe in the permanence of marriage, you have nowhere to go. You're trapped in this hell... you're not single, you don't have your spouse, you don't have an intact family for your children. And there's nothing you can do about it. The court system tells you there's something wrong with you because you're not accepting a divorce.

As a child of divorce myself, I remember reading, years ago, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Dr. Judith Wallerstein. She reported on the first longitudinal study of the effects of divorce on children, which show up mostly when they reach adulthood. Can you talk about the children?

The most sad and indignant feelings I have are about the children... I think my husband and I are probably pretty average; we're nothing spectacular. I would guess that we've had an average marriage. My kids' way of learning about relating, about love, about forgiveness, about conversation, about manners, about doing chores, about everything, God's plan for how you learn these things, is in the family. That's been stolen from them. There's such a big difference between having two adults in a home with kids buzzing around, and having one. What are they going to think about marriage? What are they going to think about Catholicism? They know what was going on in our marriage. They've witnessed it.

Right now my kids have been taken from me, because I didn't go along with the government psychologist about what was in the best interests of my children's education (I was home schooling). Early on my attorneys didn't even advise me that I had the option of asking for full custody, so I signed papers that I never had to sign, and then got myself backed up into a corner. So it's a complicated mess. But I don't even have my kids anymore. What is my three year-old, what is my six year-old going to think of the judicial system? They know the judicial system stole mommy from them. What is that going to do to them? And I hear too that even adult children are devastated. Some of the emails that I've seen...

Yes, that's what surprises people, when they read literature on the effects of divorce. They assume that if the child's young, that's the only time it really affects them. But that's not true.

You mentioned the Judith Wallerstein book. There's another book, by Elizabeth Marquardt—she's from the Chicago Divinity Schoolthat's coming out. She talks about the hidden life of a divorced child, how the kids are in exile. And it affects their moral development because having two homesit's just not natural. She talks about how the kids are in exile from their missing parents no matter where they are. And they don't want that.

Let's get back to Church law. What about cases in a Catholic marriage where one of the spouses believes the marriage is invalid?

According to the Church's code of canon law, all marriages are assumed valid until proven otherwise. That's canon #1060. You can't assume that it is invalid and get a civil divorce. And the recent Vatican document, Dignitas Connubii, cautions against people presuming their marriages are invalid.

Unfortunately, right now in the United States, it's the exact opposite. The unwritten policy is that most tribunals will not accept a petition for annulment—they won't investigate the validity of a marriageuntil a civil divorce is finished. That's an unwritten policy that is nowhere in canon law. Basically, they've made it up. There is no approved law for this policy which has been approved by Rome.

Civil divorce is setting oneself up for permanent separation, which is never acceptable according to canon law, except in cases of adultery, or if you have special permission from the bishop, and then only when there is serious, grave fault. For anything but an emergency (in which case you can temporarily separate on your own), if you think you have valid grounds for a separation, or if you believe that your marriage is invalid, according to canon law, you go to the Church, not the civil courts.

So you're saying that diocesan marriage tribunals in this country are implicitly encouraging people to divorce?

Oh yes. I know because I've actually tried it. I asked my diocese to do an investigation of nullity so that they would conclude that we have a valid marriage, so that my husband would know he doesn't have to divorce, if his reason for doing it is because we have an invalid marriage. That's how I know.

Another example—a friend of mine attended a six or eight week local seminar in our Cleveland diocese. He was the only defendant; everyone else attending were plaintiffs who wanted to divorce, and none of them had reasons of abuse or addiction against their spouse. These were people in the process of divorcing, and they were supporting each other, talking about how their marriages were dead, and how they were dumping their husbands. And in this guy's parish he also attended a one evening seminar; the guest speaker was a woman who was a professed Catholic, who is a divorce judge, who was teaching the attendees how to get a divorce. So...

Do you think these people were selfishly looking to abandon their spouses...?

The beautiful stuff is the goal, but maybe we need a little more realism about what average people are experiencing in marriage.
I'm actually feeling more sympathetic to these people because they talk to their priest about how unhappy they are, and then the priest says "let me hear more about your story," and then he hears how they only dated for six months before getting married, and the priest thinks, hmmm, you're really unhappy, you only dated for six months, maybe you don't have a valid marriage. This reminds me a lot of mercy killing and abortion, where people who are very unhappy, scared, and despairing are given the easy way out. Here, they are told by their church ministers: "Oh, I know the solution to your situation, your marriage is dead." And that's different than "I'm a selfish jerk and I want to abandon you." It's more like "I'm really hurting and I go to my church for help and this is what they tell me."

In my Yahoo discussion group there are people who are infuriated because of the information they and their spouse have gotten about how they should get a divorce. These are people who have been abandoned, and their spouses were given misinformation, with divorce being condoned by the Church. That then leads to the idea that all divorces should get annulments, which is something Dignitatis Connubii warns against.

You've talked a lot about how when practicing Catholics marry in the Church, they're agreeing to abide by Church law regarding marriage, and civil courts are no place for a Catholic couple. Can you explain that?

A law professor who's submitting a memorandum in support of my legal argument is asking the civil court in Ohio to transfer jurisdiction of the whole matter to the ecclesiastical authorities. That's based on the concept that whenever you marry as a Catholic you are agreeing to follow what the civil courts call "a separate or foreign law"which in my case is the Roman Catholic code of Canon law governing marriage. There's a whole section of canon law that deals with this.

In making this argument this law professor is citing case law from various states where parties have agreed to a third party arbitrator. People do that all the time with the American Arbitration Association. What my civil attorney and that law professor are arguing is that the civil court shouldn't be able to touch our marriage until we've gone through these procedures defined by canon law.

This shouldn't pose any short-term problems for couples that are already separated. For example in Ohio there are laws that say spouses are obligated to support each other financially for the care and maintenance of the children and the household. Let's say I was a stay-at-home mom, and my husband was abusive, or he abandoned me. I could borrow money to pay for our necessities, and go to a civil court to ask my husband to pay to reimburse those expenses. You don't need a civil divorce to solve that problem at all.

The other concept that this law professor proposed is a pre-nuptial agreement for separation. If someone is going to jump ship, if someone wants to abandon their spousethere's no way you can coerce them to stay—the parties can spell out a separation agreement before they get married, but it would be based on Catholic principles. So if you're the wife and you want to get out, well, if you leave, you can never go the civil court to have your children forcibly removed from an innocent husband. You'd be the one who'd have to pay him child support so that he could hire some help for the kids.

There's also a concept in canon law that if somebody wants to jump shipand there is no abuse or adultery—that's called malicious abandonment, and the reason I bring it up is because from a Church perspective, children are supposed to be raised in a Catholic household. If an investigation determines that my husband doesn't have a lawful reason to leave me, and what he is doing is malicious abandonment, the Church could decide that the children need to be with the person who is sticking with their Catholic vows, and then we've just eliminated the very expensive custody battle that goes on in civil court.

Your organization mentions setting up these ecclesiastical courts. Are there other things you want the bishops to do?

Well, my understanding is that lay people can't exactly tell Bishops what to do. I see us more as a voice that needs to be heard, that Catholic families are being crucified by a civil divorce system that is a gross abomination... The on-line petition to the bishops—www.defendusfromdivorce.comdoes reference the concept of a pre-nuptial agreement. The petition links to a four-page opinion from a canon lawyer who is a chancellor in a Midwestern diocese, saying that we do have a pre-nuptial agreement to be obligated to follow the code of canon law. But how exactly the Church would do that...

You're leaving that up to them....

Almost—I certainly see that tribunals are capable of doing investigations, they're capable of having witnesses, they're capable of making determinations. They do that all the time, so this wouldn't be something new.

So in a Church system a spouse or a couple who want to separate would have to petition their bishop to gain that permission?

Yes, and in my diocese, the parish where my kids go to mass when they're with daddy, that pastor told me that he had a form for separation in his files. He said he never uses it. But he has the form. So somebody set up the process, but no one ever follows through with it.

So it's a system that is somewhat in place but not used.

I think so.

You and your husband are well known in faithful Catholic circles for your books, talks, and ministry to lay Catholics, devotion to the Blessed Mother, and fidelity to the Church's teaching. I'm sure there are more than a few Catholic couples who wonder that if the two of you can't make it, who can?

Just because Bud and I knew how to get out books and tapes in a really efficient way, and he had a lot of marketing experience, and knew how to do mailings, had nothing to do with what our personal life was like.

I’m like one of those women whose husband is missing in action. I’m hanging in until death do us part. I have nowhere else to go.
I've had a lot more time to read now with my kids away most of the time, and I've been reading Fire Within, about Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross... and it emphasizes what real prayer is, and what spirituality is. Basically, if you pray your rosary and you brag about it, you're really at the bottom of the totem pole. And if you pray privately and you get a revelation that tells you what to do and you think it's from God and you go act on it, well that's pretty dangerous...

In the same way I think people could have misunderstandings about marriage on all sorts of issues—women who think they're supposed to have romance and fireworks all the time; men who think they're supposed to have obedience. People could read the Pope's encyclical on family, Familiaris Consortio, which is one of the things I read when things were getting bad, and it was very discouraging, because what he describes is so beautiful. What are you supposed to do if you don't have thatdoes it mean you're not married? Does it mean you go get a divorce, and try to look for the "real thing" somewhere else? So there's got to be more realism.

I see a lot of prominent literature quoting the Pope and Vatican II statements about marriage that conclude that if one doesn't have a "strong satisfying interpersonal relationship that is a communion of life and love," then you don't have the stuff of marriage and that you should get an annulment because you were incapable of having a valid marriage with your current partner for reasons that could even be subconscious. That's the irony of the current scandal. It's almost satanic, that the Father of Lies would take what's good and twist it to lead people to break up their families.

What sort of advice would you give Catholic couples?

If I had known five years ago what I know now, I would have been much more aggressive in insisting that we get help, because the couple themselves doesn't know anything other than what they pick up from their own parents, their own upbringing, or what they read, or people they're acquainted with.

I think from early on in a relationship, if there are issues that cause tension, the couple should get help. But it has to be the right kind of help. There are schools of thought that are very selfish, that say you should do what makes you feel good, take care of yourself. That's not Christian, that's not Catholic. But there are alternatives to that. There are a lot of really great ministries out there...

So you would say that people of faith are like anybody else. They need to address the human wounds and issues that they bring into a relationship and that may cause problems throughout the marriage?

Yes. It would be a beautiful thing if you could get a marital check-up every so often from someone who is experienced and knowledgeable. You could be asked questions, and the answers would indicate whether your marriage had problems, so you could deal with them rather than sweeping them under the rug or trying to work through them alone. The scary thing is I read the stuff that comes from the Pope about marriage, and it's so wonderful and beautiful and I think: How many people really have that? Maybe it's one in a thousand. It's kind of like reading about a saint. It can be very discouraging, because I'm not like that! Lucky for themthey have all these wonderful things—but I'm not like that. The beautiful stuff is the goal, but maybe we need a little more realism about what average people are experiencing. It's going to have ugliness in it. Let's not be so secretive about it; let's go fix it.

Do you think sometimes faithful Catholics aren't realistic enough about what marriage really is all about?

I think that applies to everybody, faithful Catholics or not. I mean just look at the movies. I think the whole culture doesn't know what marriage is really about. It's the rarest people who know what it's about. Look at me, I'm no expert, my marriage fell apart, so why are you asking me? [laughter]

I think you learn a lot by going through the difficult stuff...

When the difficult stuff is tiny, you're not so hesitant to go look at it. But when it gets too huge, by the time someone's decided they want a divorce, that person isn't going to go for help. They've decided it's over. If five years ago I was more adamant about needing help it probably could have been handled better. But you see, I don't think my story is finished yet.

If we both still hold on to our faith and trust in the authority of the Churchfor all I know my husband has been given scandal by some of the slippery reasons in the literature that's published in the United States regarding grounds for annulment, and if he finds out there is no way we're getting an annulment, and he gets designated as a malicious abandoner, and he has to chose between his Church or abandoning his marriage, if he has to choose between being in good standing with his Church, and reconciling his marriage, or continuing with his divorce, and being in bad standing with his Church, that may be enough to motivate him to have a change of heart. Nobody knows.

My sister was saying yesterday that I'm like one of those women whose husband is missing in action. The woman just keeps going, looking and waiting for her husband until she knows he is dead. And I know our marriage isn't dead until one of us is actually dead, so I'm just going to keep looking and waiting. I have nowhere else to go.

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February 14, 2005

ZOE ROMANOWSKY writes from Baltimore, MD where she works as a consultant and freelance writer. She is president of zoe co., a life coaching company for women and a Godspy Contributing Editor.

Copyright ©2005, Godspy Magazine. All rights reserved.

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READER COMMENTS
08.20.06   tonymschmitz says:
This article is very pertinent to me. My wife left me in Jan '05 without a substantive reason for separation. She is unhappy, and doesn't know how to regain joy. As a devout Catholic, I find much in common with Bai, except that my wife isn't going to Church regularly anymore; as she has fallen away from the Church. It is also pertinent to me b/c the Mary Foundation helped raise my Catholic prayer life 2000 and beyond. I listened to all the tapes and read all the books that year.I am thankful to you Bai, for helping to bring the 'no-fault' issue to a head in Ohio. It seems to be an issue that no one is willing to discuss in public. It seems to be a taboo subject for some reason. The same group of Catholics that will publicly denounce abortion, and Homosexual "marriage," don't acknowledge the elephant in the corner of the room (Catholic marriages falling apart). Catholics are not immune from divorce -- the American culture has confused most of the Catholics (inlcuding the hierarchy).I feel so helpless for my 7 yr old daughter. She is without the joy she had 2 or 3 years ago. She is carted back and forth between houses (we split time ~ 50-50) and doesn't have a proper family. She is doing OK, but it isn't the same. She is the primary loser in our long-term separation, soon to be divorce. I agree with Gallagher and Waite (book: The Case for Marriage) that kids don't care as much if Mom and Dad are happy inside (and feeling romantic), but mainly if they are together as a family and acting civilly toward each other. Whereas, kids are hurt emotionally, spiritually, and financially when parents separate.I also am in agreement in that the helps I was able to find were not in the Church. The WWME (world wide marriage encounter) and Retroivaille are good. These are lay apostolates. The Church groups I found were support groups for separated/divorced and not helpful for reconciliation.I firmly believe that my wife and I could work this out if we tried -- she is not willing at the moment. If society and our Church did not approve of broken marriages, the social pressure would have prevented the separation which is hurting our family.Bai, my prayers are with you, Bud, and your children.-Tony

01.13.06   convivialdingo says:
While I can certainly appreciate your message - and your own experience certainly does matter - I don't understand the logic of your argument.It is good that the tribunals require a minimum of a year's separation, but requiring a civil divorce does not lend well towards reconciliation. Additionally, it goes against the original intentions laid forth in the Catechism.Of course - in my own oppinion it's not fair to blame the American Church as cultural norms and expectations of commitment in America are out of control. Many of the people in the Church don't understand their own faith - much less read the Catechism.~CD

09.13.05   lisaduffy says:
I strongly disagree with some of the points asserted in Zoe's article. One point, especially, is grossly misleading. Before I state that point, let me explain what my relation is to this . . .I am a Catholic that was divorced by my husband in 1994 via no-fault divorce laws, despite the fact that I fought to save my marriage. A few years later, I went through the annulment process which I found to be very healing. I am now remarried in the Catholic Church. I have written a 16-week program for divorced Catholics and it has been in practice in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for 3 years. I have experience in helping these suffering people through their difficult situations, and working with deacons and priests who are knowledgeable in these matters. It is true that diocesan tribunals request that a civil divorce be obtained by a spouse seeking an annulment. However, it is not a practice that promotes divorce, as was stated in Zoe's article. It is, without a doubt, to promote RECONCILIATION. The number of couples that separate, get a civil divorce and then reconcile is much larger than people might think. That is why a petitioner to the tribunal is asked to wait until at least one year after the divorce has been final to begin the annulment process because they want to give the couple every opportunity for reconciliation. Here are two quotes from the tribunal website from the Archdiocese of Atlanta:"A Tribunal case should not even be considered until it is definitely established that reconciliation is completely out of the question. In some situations, the speed with which a Tribunal is approached borders on the scandalous. In an address to a number of U.S. Bishops (on October 17, 1998), Pope John Paul II expressed his grave concern that the Tribunal process might be conceived as divorce under a different name. The referral of matrimonial cases to a Tribunal should be a last resort.""The Tribunal will not even consider accepting a case if any outstanding civil matters are still in dispute in the civil courts (e.g., alimony, child support, child custody issues, etc.)"The article claimed that an investigation of vailidity into the McFarlane marriage without having obtained a civil divorce was denied. There may be good reasons for that denial that were not stated in the article. One deacon I work with confirmed that 3 times in the last 10 years, he saw circumstances that warranted an investigation into the validity of a marriage without obtaining a divorce and he petitioned the tribunal and the request was granted. So it is something that happens.After reading Zoe's article, I get the impression that some things might have been said out of hurt and those statements can be very misleading. Mistruths are very damaging, especially when people like those who are divorced are so vulnerable and looking to their faith for support and guidance. I have personally experienced the pain that Bai is suffering now, and I agonize for her. I was stunned when I heard the news of what was happening to them and my family prayed for theirs. Divorce is the worst pain I ever experienced and it took me years to recover from that devastation. But I love my Catholic faith and I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I believe that she is guided by the Holy Spirit. That is why I disagree with the statements in this article and why I hope the truth about it is promoted.Sincerely - Lisa Duffy

02.21.05   Siena says:
Wow. It takes work and it takes love from EVERYONE to heal the ramifications of evil in our lives. Psychologists got tired of trying to heal homosexual tendencies, so what did they do? They made the disease "normal". Psychologists got tired trying to heal adulterous tendencies, so what did they do? They gave up and made divorce a possible solution. Psychologists do not have the answers we are looking for; they don't have the power to heal. Evil is best healed by holiness. The real problem here is a LACK OF HOLY PRIESTS. If we had more holy priests, they would be able to help couples save their marriage without them having to go to psychologist or courts. If we had more holy priests, homosexuals would carry their cross with love and so would adulterers. PRAY FOR HOLY PRIESTS!!! (Don't waste your time praying for an "increase in vocations", vocations will come if we have holy priests.)

02.18.05   kennedym says:
Zoe's article is well done. It seems that some good, eventually, can come out of this... reform in the Church and even perhaps the secular system.What though is the story with catholicity.com The website and assorted apostolates were Bud and Bai's work. Is Bud MacFarlane still doing that, benefitting from benafactors? They, those running the catholicty website will not answer that. I contend that this is very relevant. Do we have someone who is contributing to grave scandal running apostolates that promote catholic teaching, catholic family life, and the sacrament of marriage? Martin Kennedy PhD

02.15.05   Alex I. says:
The Church or the judges will not bring him back. They have led us into temptation.Pray God for the Peace of Christ for yourself and for the soul of your husband. His soul is still with you.Accept your cross - everyone has one - and abandon yourself to His providence.Have Faith and Hope. This is your trial. You do not want another. It is yours.You are not alone. Give Him your suffering.Peace be with you.

02.15.05   Teakafrog says:
Interesting that since this happened, Bud has completely dropped out of sight. He used to be first in line to promote holy marriages. Now Bai is the only one speaking out, and she is asking for help. He has never said a word publicly about why he left her. Makes you think it's something he may be embarrassed about, like adultery? Bai is fighting not just for herself and her kids, but for millions of families who are being ripped apart needlessly. I respect her bravery in not just laying there and taking it. She is fighting back. She will remain in all of our prayers, may God bless her and her children for having to live through this injustice.

02.15.05   Antigone says:
I was also stunned and saddened by this news, and also humbled. Just yesterday afternoon I was mocking the latest J.Lo marriage, and this sad story comes as a reminder that no one is immune to the potential heartbreak and emotional violence in all relationships. I would just like to remind that there are two sides to every story, and, although I agree that divorce has become all-too-common and easy an option, this article does not present Bud MacFarlane's side of the story. I visited Bai MacFarlane's website, and I was struck by the amount of bitterness and anger her words reveal (justifiable, maybe, but overwhelming all the same). I wonder how it would be possible for she and her husband to reconcile with such penetrating anger. I also do not understand why she insisted upon home-schooling to the point where it cost her custody of her children.On the other hand, I can look at this from a detached view because I'm not suffering like Bai and her children. I am praying for this entire family -- Bud, Bai, and their sons -- praying for their mutual forgiveness, a softening of hearts, and reconciliation.

02.15.05   thuyten says:
I am stunned by Bai and Bud Macfarlane's divorce. I, too, have seen the no-fault divorce destroy my whole devout Catholic family and through the divorce of all my sisters when it began in the early 70's. What was worse was standing by idly and see everyone of my nieces and nephews view the Church with total disinterest. When my husband and I got married we both agreed that we would stay married even if our marriage was a living hell. As much as we loved each other in the beginning, I saw marriages that were ideal fall apart in the twinkling of an eye and was afraid that I would fall in that same trap. I, too, am convinced that the no-fault divorce made it just too easy for my sisters to bail out with the hopes that there was something better elsewhere. I feel the same as Bai Macfarlane and was surprised to see that all of what she has written has also been my impression of Diocesan dealings with marriage and also with the counseling provided through priests and social workers. It is just too easy to escape the Cross and tell people that it's ok to go elsewhere or seek happiness in this life. Catholic spiritual life is no longer the foundation of marriage but just one view tossed out in the endless discussion on what makes for a good marriage. I also have spoken regularly to priests that I know about Pope John Paul II's writings on marriage, and while I agree that spiritually speaking this is the ideal, I also realize that fallen human nature is all part of marriage. What PP II writes seemed to me that this would have been the marriage before the fall of Adam and Eve. I, believe, that I am in as good a Catholic marriage as one can be, yet, marriage is no bed of roses. I guess it took my mother, the devout Catholic realist, to remind me of that fact repeatedly while my older sisters were getting divorced one after another. Her words were said enough and along with witnessing the divorces' devastating effects on my family, I embraced that committment the day I got married. Thank God, my husband did the same!I want to help Bai in any way I can. Let me know what I can do. This is a truly sad story, but could be the beginning of a change of outlook that is so needed in the Church as well. I want to help.Teresa HuytenNational DirectorLegion of Little Soulsteresa@littlesouls.org

02.14.05   Godspy says:
Her high-profile Catholic marriage—and divorce case—has sparked a debate about the injustice of no-fault divorce and the tragedy of marital abandonment. We spoke to Bai Macfarlane about her struggle to reform civil and ecclesial marriage laws in the U.S.

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