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Bishop René Henry Gracida says No to "Catholic" No-Fault Divorce

Bishop René Henry Gracida publicized a open letter to a canon law professor at Catholic U where the professor was asked to change his opinion tacitly condoning marital abandonment.

Bishop Gracida was a friend of St John Paul II and Mother Angelica. He is Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, having served as the Fifth Ordinary, or Diocesan Bishop, of that Diocese from May 19, 1983 until retirement on April 1, 1997.

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No-Fault Divorce

Fr. John Beal virtually says the civil courts should decide the obligations of parties in marriage break-up, and I found that the obligations must be determined by natural law, divine law, and canon law --- not no-fault divorce lawyers and government employees.  Today, I sent open letter to Fr. John Beal, canon law professor at Catholic University of America, because he virtually condones marital abandonment.  I’m asking everybody to send, on their behalf, my message too.

View 50-second promotional video, and share on Facebook HERE.

Same 50-second video on YouTube also HERE

See blog posting showing my open letter and text for copying to anyone’s message HERE

US Bishops should care about this.

January 1, 2018

The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Mirror of Justice

Dear Rev. Beal,

With the non-profit organization Mary's Advocates, I work to reduce unilateral no-fault divorce and support those who are abandoned. We publicize the Catechism and Canon law about separation of spouses and divorce.

This message is an open letter wherein I am asking you to emend your statement in two publications from Catholic University Press.

Although the Church reserves to itself the sole right to judge the validity of the marriages of the baptized, it recognizes the authority of secular courts to deal with the merely civil effects of marital break down. These civil effects include such matters as the distribution of property, child support, spousal support or alimony, custody of minor children, and child support and visitation. (p. 90 Martens. p. 470 Jurist)

Beal, John. Mitis Iudex Canons 1671-1682, 1688-1691: A Commentary. The Jurist 75 (2015): 467-538.

Beal, John. [Link HEREMitis Iudex Canons 1671-1682, 1688-1691: A CommentaryJustice and Mercy Have Met, Pope Francis and the Reform of the Marriage Nullity Process. Ed. Kurt Martens. Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2017. 87-158

You appear to be explicitly condoning marital abandonment and all divorce, while giving the impression that the Church has relinquished its competence over cases of separation of spouses to the civil courts.

The phrase "merely civil effects" of marriage appears in canon 1692 §3, which discusses criteria that must be met before a tribunal judge can exercise the possible option of trying to persuade a spouse to go to the civil courts to manage a case of separation of spouses, rather than the bishop's administrative venue or the tribunal's judicial venue. In many states in the US, the only kind of separation available in the civil forum is divorce. So, in practice, the canons regarding approaching the civil forum are applicable to Catholics seeking a civil divorce or civil separation.


In my research, I find the effects of marriage may be considered as being of a spiritual, temporal, or mixed character. When you say that custody of minor children and child visitation are merely civil effects of marriage, you teach readers that the upbringing of children is a purely temporal/material aspect of marriage. Anyone who has his or her own children would find that impossible.

The Catechism teaches that divorce is immoral, a grave offense against nature and only tolerable under certain criteria about which only the bishop, or his mandated delegate, has competence to judge (CCC 2382-2386). Canon law specifies a spouse has the right to educate his or her children (c. 226). Even for parties that have an invalid marriage, canon law requires that the ecclesiastic judge's sentence must instruct the parties of their civil and moral obligations toward the upbringing of the children (Mitis Iudex c. 1691 §1, CIC c. 1689). It is a wrongful abdication of responsibility for Church authorities to leave determinations about upbringing of children to amoral no-fault divorce professionals.

No-fault divorce Courts routinely grossly interfere with the ability of an innocent spouse to educate his or her own children in the natural every-day interactions between child and parent. Courts forcibly/coercively separate children much or most of the time from the spouse who did nothing grave to justify separation who was counting on the other spouse to uphold the marriage promises. Furthermore, no-fault divorce Courts give children scandal by ordering children to undergo training sessions where government employees attempt to propagandize children into believing that there is nothing wrong with one or both spouses choosing to break-up the children's intact home. Courts also give children scandal by forcing them to live with, or spend overnight visits with, the parent that is living with an adulterous partner and keeping no secrets about sleeping with the new partner.


When you say that distribution of property, child support, and alimony are merely civil effects of marriage, you teach readers that one's obligation to uphold one's marriage promises is a purely material/temporal aspect of marriage, about which there are no moral and spiritual obligations. Obligation of marriage include being oriented toward the good of the other, and providing one's share of mutuum adiutorium toward the other spouse and children in the marital home (cf. 1983 CIC c. 1055, 1917 CIC c. 1013). It is a wrongful abdication of responsibility for Church authorities to leave determinations about material support and property to amoral no-fault divorce professionals.

The civil no-fault divorce courts have no expectation that a party should uphold his or her marriage promises. Consequently, the civil Courts routinely are necessary, material, cooperators with objective evil when the civil courts order the innocent spouse, who wants to keep the family together, to financially equip the abandoner to maintain a second home. In cases in which the Church would judge a marriage to be invalid because one spouse simulated the promise of sexual fidelity or permanence, the civil courts have not respect for natural law which requires one to repair, as much as possible, harm caused to another. In no-fault divorce, the party that simulated is routinely rewarded at the expense of the innocent party.

While money, houses, furniture, household chores, and cars are all material temporal items, there are spiritual or moral obligations associated with these items. For example, if I stole a TV from a store, I would have the moral obligation to pay for it or return it; whether, or not, I fulfill that obligation has an obvious effect on my spiritual life. The obligations of marriage should not be treated with less respect. In no-fault divorce, a woman who selfishly chooses to breakup her marriage will be rewarded with property and support from her husband, though I hope you would agree that she is the one obligated to support the husband and children and repair the damage she causes. If her marriage broke-up because she suffered a grave psychic anomaly at the time of marriage making her incapable of consent, natural law seems to dictate that her putative husband should not have to financially support her, but the no-fault divorce courts routinely make the innocent party, who properly consented to marriage pay, and lose everyday access to his children. Even for parties that have an invalid marriage, canon law requires that the ecclesiastic judge's sentence must instruct the parties of their civil and moral obligations toward one another (Mitis Iudex c. 1691 §1, CIC c. 1689).


In my work upholding marriage against unilateral no-fault divorce, I have found that some diocesan personnel think that separation and divorce are a private matter wherein one party can petition for divorce and that nothing is wrong with giving government civil courts full control over one's family. Diocesan personnel are unaware that cases concerning the separation of spouses pertain to the public good (of the Church) and require the intervention of the diocesan Promoter of Justice. To correct this misunderstanding, I have a compiled canonical writing going back to the Council of Trent. Please see 7-page explanation and 107-page exhibits 

I pray you will have time to consider my request to emend your statement about the merely civil effects of marriage, and work to restore to the ecclesiastic forum its proper competence over cases of separation of spouses. Because the United States Constitution forbids state legislatures to interfere with obligations of parties to a contract, and because state courts respect arbitration agreements, the canon lawyers in the US are in a position to join Mary's Advocates' movement to protect families from unilateral no-fault divorce.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Bai Macfarlane
Bai Macfarlane
Mary’s Advocates
2721 Wagar Road, Rocky River OH 44116
DONATE 501(c)(3) nonprofit

Please Help Spread the Word

To upholding True Marriage, we need your help.

$3080 remaining in the monthly goal. Otherwise, proactive outreach will slow way down after January
when I look for another job.

$3800 is total monthly goal regularly.

Thank You,

 Bai Macfarlane, Mary’s Advocates. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit.


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