Pell on the Kidman-Urban marriage

Pell on the Kidman-Urban marriage

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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  • Renee: If you re-read what I wrote and what Ed wrote again, you’ll see that we both agree that the reason for the annulment should remain private. It’s the fact of the annulment that should be public. Right now they won’t even tell you if someone is not married.

  • If you have been through this, like I have, you want them kept very, very confidential.

    What business is it of yours, if I am married or not? Or if the women you see me with is my wife? Huh? Mr and Mrs Busybody?

    If its OK with their Priest, or in this case the Cardinal, may I ask you what business of yours is this? So whose this “Them” thats gonna tell you if people are married or not?

    I am not rich and famous, BTW

  • As was discussed last time I blogged on this, tkozal, Ed gives compelling reasons in his article. Did you happen to read it?

    Marriage in the Church is a public act, not a private one, and it often has public effects. As ED says: “In other words, in regard to a fundamental fact about two people–their marital status in the eyes of the Church–the faithful have no means of knowing with certainty what that status is, and consequently, how they should relate to the persons in question.”

    Really before people comment on this thread, they should read the article to be clear on what is being proposed and what is not and what the reasoning is. Otherwise, people are going to off half-cocked, arguing against a position that no one here is holding.

  • So what I read here is that the well known, public figures must be held to a different standrd, byt the church, regarding their marriage status, Forget it, guys.

    Peadar, great post, you said it much better than me.

    Busybodies be gone!

    if you people in massachusetts have these issues, deal with them at the ballot box, not through publicity of such private matters.

  • and if you can’t deal with them at the ballot box, and you seem to be unable to, and you are miserable MOVE!!!!!

  • From

    Reports Sunday suggested the couple recently signed a prenuptial agreement, which allegedly includes an escape clause for Kidman should Urban revert to excessive drug or alcohol abuse. Details of the alleged agreement could not be confirmed.

    I think it’s kind of interesting that all the focus has been on wether the Kidman/Cruise marriage was declared null. Is a prenup an ipso-facto grounds for an anullment? If that’s the case, isn’t it more of a scandal that the Church in Australia let the marriage go forward with that huge obstacle to the sacrament not addressed?

  • It is the responsibility of pastors to determine whether a couple is free to marry, not the Catholic faithful.

    The faithful have a role in the process, evidenced by the Church’s practice of publishing marriage banns, wherein the faithful are enjoined to disclose any known impediment.  The parties’ freedom to marry is thus not an entirely private matter.


    I wouldn’t scoff too readily at Peadar’s argument about how we should understand these cases.  If there’s a Catholic wedding, it’s reasonable for us to assume that the normal, necessary procedures were followed.  Normally, that would be enough to satisfy any question on the part of the faithful.

    Alas, some clergy’s betrayals have produced a well-earned mistrust and even cynicism:  perhaps we will get to the point where people will not trust baptismal certificates but will demand to see video of the event to make sure the rite was celebrated validly.