Photo Hunt: Symbolic

This evening, I was watching “The Tudors’ and it occurred to me what I would use for one of my contributions to Photo Hunt, this week’s theme being “Symbolic”.

As you may know, the main contributions to History by Henry VIII was the dissolution of the Catholic Church in England, the establishment of the Church of England, and the siring of one of the greatest monarchs in history, Queen Elizabeth I. All this came about when he sought an annulment from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Henry had plenty of “reasons” for seeking the dissolution of his marriage to Catherine (no male legitimate children via Catherine) and an “excuse” (his marriage to Catherine constituted an sin because he, in violation of biblical, law, married the wife of his brother — from the oft-quoted book of Leviticus)… but basically it was all caused because he was thinking with “the little head instead of the big head). Whatever his reasoning, between 1525 and 1533, pursued an annulment  of his marriage from Pope Clement VII, playing various personages both domestic and international against each other. He finally got a dissolution of his marriage from Thomas Cranmer and married Anne Boleyn… and later had her tried for “High treason” (based on accusations of adultery and incest) and executed. Henry continues “thinking with the little head” pretty much until his death in 1547.

The most famous marriage dissolution in history.

So… what does this all have to do with me and this week’s Photo Hunt challenge?

Here’s the story.

Back in 2000, after almost 10 years together I decided that I no longer wished to be married to my husband. We were legally divorced two years later and we both started getting on with things.

Meanwhile, my ex decided to marry again. Not a problem with me… more or less (for reasons I won’t go into). A few months after I found out he was engaged, I was…. somewhat taken aback by receiving a phonecall from the Catholic Church Marriage Tribunal in town informing me that my ex had applied for an annulment for our marriage from the Catholic Church. I was taken aback for a couple of reasons… firstly because I had no idea he was doing so (certainly hadn’t bothered mentioning it to me) and, secondly, because neither of us had ever had anything to do with the Catholic Church! I am Unitarian and he was a different denomination. We were married in the Unitarian Church.

You can imagine my surprise. In fact, I think I could accurately be described as “royally pissed”. Probably more “royally pissed” than Catherine Aragon was. She at least was Catholic.

I was torn between simply laughing in his and the Catholic Church’s collective faces and defending my honour. As it happened, I went to my lawyer to see if I could sue either him or the Church (No) and finally decided to put up at least an indignant frontal assault. It was, of course, all for naught because the Catholic Church still thinks it owns everyone else on the planet and ruled in my husband’s favour.

A few months later, I got this lovely flammable (seriously… that’s what the cover letter said…) certificate attesting to the fact that, as far as the Catholic Church was concerned my marriage was null and never happened and “permitting” me to marry, “provided that the prerequisites of the Canonical and Civil Laws have been duly fulfilled”. Gee. Thanks!

I shredded it….

It was symbolic of the inanities of a church that, while being a fine institution for those who chose to be members of it, thinks that it can just walk all over people who aren’t.

My one consolation is that the person who demanded the annulment is Catholic and believes in sins, knows that, one day she’s going to have to face her maker who isn’t fooled by a piece of paper.


  1. George said,

    March 28, 2015 at 6:45 am

    Thanks for posting the picture.I was searching for a sample annulment certificate by catholic church in Canada.Just to know the content.

  2. sledpress said,

    August 30, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I’m trying to figure out why someone who doesn’t stick at sex outside marriage needs a document like that from her intended. It hurts my head. The options seem to be laugh, cry, vomit, sh*t or go blind. Actually I think you took the wisest course.

  3. Alice Audrey said,

    August 28, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Well isn’t that a lovely slap in the face.

    My photo ishere

  4. Carver said,

    August 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Wow, this is outrageous. I actually knew someone whose first husband agreed to an annulment so she could re-marry in the Roman Catholic Church. They did it on the basis of a 5 year marriage not being consummated which was a big fat lie and like anyone would believe that. She said that it mattered to her parents that her second marriage be condoned by the church and that was the only way. It bugged the heck out of me since it was starting a new marriage on a lie but I kept my mouth shut since all parties were fine with it (her ex and new husband). To me it’s totally absurd even in a case like that but to do it to you without your agreeing is horrible. I’m sorry you had to cope with it.

  5. August 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Good grief. I am stunned by your ex’s behaviour. The sheer arrogance of this act by your ex, his new wife to be and the church.

    This sort of behaviour makes me not regret my decision in my mid tens to have nothing more to do with Roman Catholicism

  6. Gattina said,

    August 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    The catholic church is not allowed to nullify a marriage ! only the pope can and it takes years even for royals ! Last one who tried was the Princess Caroline of Monaco obtaining nullity of her first marriage against a “certain” amount of money of course. You also have to prove that you are still virgin (normally, hehehe) Anyway nobody cares.

  7. magiceye said,

    August 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    symbolism rules!

  8. Jerry said,

    August 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Cool – that is a great piece of symbolism there! I would have framed it.

    Have a good weekend.

  9. YTSL said,

    August 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    What a story… but you left me wondering why you preferred to shred that piece of paper rather than burn it. 😀

    • mudhooks said,

      August 28, 2011 at 1:51 am

      Well, I was at work and I had filed it in my filing cabinet. I was looking for something, came across it, called a colleague over and said “I want you to witness this” (partly because I didn’t want anyone to think I was shredding an important document. We went into the shredding room and I shredded it. Then I had to explain because she was mystified.

  10. Mar said,

    August 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    It seems so unreal nowadays…! what a post!

  11. azahar said,

    August 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I thought anulments were only granted if a marriage hasn’t been consummated. And how would you prove that anyhow?

    • mudhooks said,

      August 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      No, there are a number of things that can allow for a nullification.

      Adultery, lapsing into infidelity, or heresy…

      In our case, the nullification was granted because, believe it or not, the Church, which didn’t know either of us and basing everything on the say-so of my ex and two “witnesses” (his brother and his best friend who were only ever in our home when they were so drunk that they couldn’t stand — the later only a single time — let alone assess our home life) “mental cruelty” on my part and “unresolved issues prior to marriage” that made us unable to have competently made a decision to marry in the first place.

      The fact that both of us were in our 30s, both well-educated, having lived together for 3 years, both well-regarded by friends and family, both having fully comprehended our decision to marry, and been deemed by the minister who married us to be “the most grounded and dedicated couple” he had ever married when we committed ourselves to our marriage mattered not. Nor did the fact that my ex had been having an affair with the woman who was demanding the annulment.

      There are two instances where an actual divorce can be granted by the Pope “In Favour of the Faith”.

      1) The Petrine Privilege — where one spouse was baptized and the other not can be dissolved by the Pope.

      2) The Pauline Privilege, in the case of one spouse who is a believer and the other not and when the non-believing spouse cannot live in peace with the other spouse, allows for the dissolution of the marriage. In essence, the only two methods which the Catholic Church will grant a divorce.

  12. Bel said,

    August 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    The Catholic church can nullify your divorced marriage even though neither you nor your ex are catholic? Bummer!

    • mudhooks said,

      August 27, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Surprised the heck out of me. too…

    • Sheralyn Weaver said,

      November 25, 2015 at 7:11 am

      What I’m thinking is, Mr Muddhook decided he wanted to marry a Catholic girl. If that was so, he was required to be free of any marital bonds, no matter what the denomination; thus the annulment.
      No annulments are not only decided by the Pope, and there are numerous grounds for one, and adultery us NOT one of them. Nothing that happens after the vows are exchanged retrospectively invalidate a marriage; they only point to a possible ground for annulment, present at the wedding.

      • mudhooks said,

        November 25, 2015 at 7:49 am

        I didn’t say annulments are only granted by the Pope. Divorces are only granted on appeal directly to the Pope. And I did not say that adultery was grounds for annulment. I said that the woman lied to the tribunal about her adultery. She also committed a sin by committing adultery with my husband.

        I think you missed the whole point of my post.

        Whether the Catholic Church thinks it has a right to poke its nose into the marriages of people who are not Catholic, I find it insulting and denigrating for someone to be forced to defend oneself against the Church when they are not Catholic. I found it insulting to find the Church “investigating” me to find out if I was baptised. I found it insulting to have my past and my relationship discussed by not just my ex and his mistress, I found it insulting and degrading to have the tribunal doing so and to have his friends and relations testifying before them. And disgusting and degrading to have them “pronounce” on my fitness as a wife and as a person.

        If a Catholic is willing to undergo that crap, that is their business. As a non-Catholic and someone living in the 21st Century I found it disgusting.

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