I don’t usually do celebrity gossip, but then Cardinal George Pell of Sydney doesn’t usually do it either. In his diocesan newspapers, he references the wedding between actress Nicole Kidman and singer Keith Urban, addressing tangentially any controversy over her having been married and divorced. He doesn’t make any direct statement of whether she’s received an annulment or not, but reviews the teaching on marriage and the process of annulments and leaves the impression that he is satisfied with the situation. At least that’s the impression I get.
It is curious that dioceses refuse to acknowledge the fact of an annulment, especially in cases involving famous Catholics, because of the chance of scandal, but also because of the public nature of the sacrament. A couple of years ago, canonist Ed Peters wrote an article for Catholic World Report on the subject, back when the John Kerry was running for president and the possibility of a divorced Catholic president loomed on the horizon. Neither the archdiocese of Boston nor that of Washington would verify the fact of of annulment or lack of one.
I also blogged on this at the time, and a very interesting discussion in the comments ensued. To make the point very clear, we’re not talking about labeling people with a scarlet ‘D’ nor of requiring the publication of lists of annulments. All I’m saying is that because we cannot determine the fact of whether a divorced person has an annulment or not—from a simple query—we cannot reliably know who is married. This only adds to the damage done to the sacrament of marriage and creates further scandal, leading people to believe that exceptions to Church teaching are made for the rich and famous.
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