Book Review: Annulment: 100 Questions and Answers for Catholics

Peter Vere and Jacqui Rapp are canon lawyers who in this book, Annulment: 100 Questions and Answers for Catholics (Servant. 117 pages. Paperback. $11.99.) provide information about how an annulment is processed and obtained. Many consider annulment to be the Catholic version of divorce — but this is emphatically not the case. An “annulment” declares a marriage never existed because of particular reasons or situations. The authors explain this with quotes from Canon Law, and also with anecdotes from their experiences.

The authors begin by explaining what a canonical marriage is and what is necessary for this to happen. They discuss the canonical requirements for marriage preparation. Contrary to movies and fiction, a man and a woman cannot just find a priest and ask him to marry them on the spot. Maybe in an extreme case this might happen, but this is beyond the norm. Normally there has to be a gathering of documents like baptismal certificates and such in preparing for the marriage. The two have to attend counseling to make sure they are ready for marriage.

Then Vere and Rapp present what is required for an annulment case. It takes time and is costly. Most cases are done on the local or diocesan level and the process can involve only one of the two parties or it could involve both. There is a judge and there are advocates for the various parties involved, including canon lawyers, and sometimes other persons from other professions. Vere and Rapp explain the process. They also explain the appeal process to the Vatican.

The authors elaborate on other ways a marriage can be declared invalid like the Pauline privilege and others. They also present advice on how to keep a valid marriage together.

This short book has a lot of information that will be of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and the annulment process.

Pete Vere is a canon lawyer and a professor of canon law. He is the co-author of Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (volumes 1 and 2). Jacqui Rapp is a canon lawyer who works with various dioceses in the United States.

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