Father Houser: Catholic ‘ridicule’ unnecessary

As promised, today I want to share an email message on the annulment issue from the Rev. Samuel Houser at St. Patrick Church in York.

Father Houser reacted to last week’s blog post about Mindy Boston’s unfortunate experience with the Catholic annulment process.

Father Samuel Houser stands alongside Karen and Frank A. Arcuri at the altar of St. Patrick's Church on Friday, June 1, 2012. Frank A. Arcuri of West Manchester Township went through the process to annul his first marriage, and will soon confirm his marriage to his second wife, Karen, of 14 years. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - CHRIS DUNN

He posed several interesting questions, beginning with this: “Why is it that people are so critical of the Catholic Church’s annulment process but so docile of the civil government’s divorce process?”

Folks like Boston, the “respondents,” are contacted out of courtesy, he noted. While Houser agreed the forms are “detailed and personal,” he said it is entirely appropriate to give them a chance to participate in the process.

“I know for a fact that some respondents ‘choose’ not respond, but at least are given the ‘choice’ — we all want ‘choices’ these days — to do so,” Houser wrote.

As for the sensitive part of the annulment process — the intensely personal questioning — Houser doesn’t see how the proceedings has any impact without it.

“How else can the truth of a relationship — or ANY matter — be uncovered without delving into personal matters?” he asked.

He points out that none of the annulment information is ever made public, unlike many divorce proceedings, which are on file at the local courthouse for all to see.

Finally, Houser said he just wishes people would get the facts about the Catholic annulment process before commenting out of anger. I list the church’s 12 “misconceptions” about annulment in this story.

“Tell me you disagree, but don’t condemn me or the Church for what we believe and teach,” Houser said. “If you can’t believe or follow something, fine, but don’t ridicule me because I choose to believe something you disagree with.”

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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4 Responses to Father Houser: Catholic ‘ridicule’ unnecessary

  1. Karl says:

    I know the process from surviving it.

    Corrupted, like those in the Church who push it!

  2. Karl says:

    I wonder how the good priest Fr. Houser feels when the
    Catholic Church REQUIRES a civil divorce as the gateway
    to his “beloved” annulment system?

  3. Bonnie says:

    You are so right, Karl. Perhaps we are not as “docile” about divorce, or anything else, as Houser thinks. What an insult to us!

  4. Mindy says:

    Karl and Bonnie,
    Father Houser was not privy to the circumstances surrounding my marriage, my divorce nor the annulment ‘awarded’ to my ex-husband. I have a right to be angry. Even if I was Catholic, I would have had a difficult time answering their questions. Why is it right for them to enter my private life? How many annulments are denied? I’d like to know the percentages. We all have choices. Mine was to respond and respectively deny requests for answers to personal questions. Would you trust a stranger to keep secrets? Father Houser should respect my (our) choices and understand that God loves us all. God doesn’t discriminate between married, divorced, single, separated or co-habitating adults. I respect your Church, Father Houser. Recently, I was asked not to receive Communion in a Catholic Church. I could’ve received it like everyone else in the sanctuary; no one would have known the difference. But, you see, I would. I honored the request and did not partake. It’s aIl about respect. And that’s why my decision to respectively deny requests from a Diocese 30 years ago should have been respected by them. Instead, they called and sent more letters; making me feel like I was guilty of a crime. I don’t believe any non-Catholic should be involved in the annulment process, afterall.

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