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Devastated Diane wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can you please explain the authority the Church has over its people?

I am 45 years old and for the first time in my life I am hearing that the Church has authority over me. I was told that it is the same authority God has. I am so confused. I just went through the most devastating divorce. The pain runs so deep I find it impossible to heal.

To think the Church had authority over the situation, to be quite honest, is too much for me to bear. I understand that once you are Catholic your always Catholic — something I just learned.

My relationship with God is so personal I real don't need any ones approval or disapproval. It's between me and God. He has showed me so many beautiful and sad things at the same time. I don't want to be attached to a religion.

  • Is there any way to separate myself from the Church's authority so I won't be under Her jurisdiction?

Diane

  { Can you clarify the authority the Church has over members and how one free themselves from it? }

Paul replied:

Dear Diane,

I'm sorry about your devastating experience. Please continue to walk with God in the process of allowing Him to fill you with His peace.

We must remember that relationship with God, (and that's where the word religion comes from: to bind together), has a me-God dimension as well as an us-God dimension.

We can pray alone in silence and we also celebrate the seven ways He gives us supernatural life in public, i.e. the sacraments. I am one unique cell within the body of Christ, and yet the Church as a whole is Christ's bride, whom will be united to Him for all eternity. This us-God dimension cannot be denied. No Christian is an isolated Christian. The more we're hurt, the more we tend to want to isolate ourselves.

Ultimately, God has authority over us, as He does His entire creation. When it comes to marriage His Church requires only a witness of the Church (usually a priest or deacon), and two official witnesses, commonly referred to as the best man and the maid of honor. The vows must include:

  • fidelity
  • permanence, and
  • openness to children.

If both parties have no other impediments, internal or external, than it is considered a valid marriage.

The annulment process looks into whether there actually were impediments that would make the marriage invalid. Usually these are internal hidden impediments of a psychological or volitional nature that would make the consent of one of the parties defective. Defective consent renders the marriage invalid. It is the authority of the Church, which Christ Himself gave her, that declares such things. So, as in all things on which the Church has authority, she borrows it from God as His gift to us:

"Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)

Separating ourselves from the Church and Her Sacred Authority separates us from God.

Paul

Diane replied:

Paul,

I am in no way separating myself from God. I love God. He gave me three beautiful children. He gave me life and, most importantly, I believe is the gift To love which I so deeply do. I have seen and been apart of something that to me is totally opposite of who God truly is and who He wants us to be. I am not denying God or the sacraments. I am saddened because I no longer want to practice them.

I have been hurt by the Church and people who have authority in the Church. My spirit and my relationship with God tells me they were wrong and I don't want to associate myself with them. I love God and I love many beautiful things about the Catholic Church. It's the things they never tell us about that hurt me. God has shown me beautiful things. I have seen his image in the sky — beautiful, beautiful things in the sky.

What happened to me in the Church was wrong! I cant deny it. I want no part of it. Every day I live it. My kids and I suffer and we shouldn't!

Diane

Mike replied:

Hi Diane,

I received the following reply from Fr. Jonathan in addition to what Paul said.

Please keep in mind we are striving to provide the best answers we can to your unique situation.

Mike,

She really needs to work with a priest to get over this, rather than working it out through us, because there are so many loose ends to this story.

  • Nevertheless, which authority is she specifically speaking about?

From the bare bones facts of the case, she doesn't need an annulment. Clearly she is not getting married again – at least not right away.

  • Has her former spouse filed for an Annulment? <She doesn't say.>

Her status in the Church has not changed due to her divorce.

What, from her experience, is she referring to when she is upset with the Church’s authority over her.

There is too much that is unexplained for me to answer.

Fr. Jonathan

I hope this helps,

Mike

Diane replied:

Thank you Mike.

I am seeing the priest to work this out. I just wanted Authority explained!

Plain and simple!

  • What authority does the Church have?

Thank you! :)

Diane

Mike replied:

Hi Diane,

This is the best area in the Catechism that will answer your question.

Chapter Two: God Comes To Meet Man
Article 2 - The Transmission Of Divine Revelation

I sent Fr. Jonathan your question because of the content of your original e-mail.

He has an extensive background in dealing with marital issues and canon law so I wanted to get his two cents.

You said:

  • Can you please explain the authority the Church has over its people?

.
.
.

My relationship with God is so personal I real don't need any ones approval or disapproval. It's between me and God. He has showed me so many beautiful and sad things at the same time. I don't want to be attached to a religion.

Well, that was not Our Lord's desire. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He entrusted a specific authority to Peter:

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed[a] in heaven.”

Matthew 16:17-19

That Church that Jesus was referring to in every Catholic and Protestant Bible is the Catholic Church. Faithful Catholics are proud to call it the Roman Catholic Church because the very first martyrs died for the faith in Rome.

When you said: my relationship with God is so personal I real don't need any ones approval or disapproval, this is a rationalization on your part. What you really mean to say is:

I want to play the game of personal pope and choose what teachings I like and which other teachings I don't like.

Be honest and say you dissent from the teachings of a Church you claim to adhere to.
If you do dissent, you shouldn't be receiving Communion though you should still be renewing your Sunday Covenant by going to Mass.

You said:
I am not denying God or the sacraments. I am saddened because I no longer want to practice them.

I have been hurt by the Church and people who have authority in the Church. My spirit and my relationship with God tells me they were wrong and I don't want to associate myself with them.

One of the biggest problems we have in the Church are scandalous, immature laity and clergy who, because of their pastoral insensitivity, hurt others, like you.

The key is one has to separate bad behavior from true Teachings.

We should not join a Church because:

  • It challenges us, or
  • Spiritual makes us feel good

No, we should join a Church because we believe on issues of faith and eternal salvation it is a truth-telling Church.

You said:
I am not denying God or the sacraments. I am saddened because I no longer want to practice them.

In your specific situation, the only way to mend a justifiably hurt soul is by frequenting the sacraments, especially going to Confession and receiving the Blessed Sacrament every Sunday.

Hope this helps,

Mike

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