Tribunal process must be fixed

Re: “A time For mercy” (Editorial, Nov. 10)

I strongly believe in the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage without an annulment, since Jesus himself said it was adultery (Lk 16:18). However, your editorial made it sound like it was just “Church teaching.” It never alluded to Jesus’ teaching, which would have been helpful given the possible misunderstanding of “mercy” in this context (i.e., maybe the Church can change it).

However, my primary comment has to do with your concluding paragraphs addressing how the Church might be more pastoral. It is certainly true that those who go through the annulment process put “their lives on hold” waiting for an answer from tribunals. I am currently waiting for an answer on my case, and I have been waiting more than nine years. While not the “normal” time frame, similar situations might be more common than we would like. I waited about two and a half years for my local tribunal (valid marriage), another two plus years for my metropolitan tribunal (invalid marriage) and have now waited about four and a half years while my case is in Rome.

My case confirms your suggestion that something needs to be done with the tribunal process. It is seriously broken and manifestly unjust. While I am sure there are tribunals that process cases in a timely manner, there should never be a case like mine. I understand why only 15 percent of divorced Catholics bother to go through it.

Name and location withheld

Inspiring reviews

Re: “Cozy up to great fall reads” (In Focus, Nov. 10).

Starting with “Love Letters to God” to “conversion to life,” through only love, integrating social media into parish life, weaving everyday events with the human spirit and divine and to the lasting Church Tradition with papal saints and sinners, we see glimpses of our human feminine experiences and lives of dads.

I’m at a crucial point of coming to grips with my own life of many, varied experiences. These articles give me much information to draw upon.

Ann S. Mach, Annapolis, Md.

Misguided interpretation

Re: “Francis pro and con” (Spectator, Nov. 10).

I feel Greg Erlandson has a very misguided interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son when he likens pro-lifers who may be upset with Pope Francis’ recent remarks with the elder son.

He mentions the elder brother, so I’ll focus on the younger one. The Church is made up of a bunch of sinners striving to be saints. Admitting that you’re wrong is the first step to being forgiven. The younger son came to his senses, was sorry and asked his father for forgiveness. He realized what he had done was wrong, owned up to it and hoped his father would take him back.

I haven’t got the impression that Pope Francis is killing the fatted calf for those who hardly try at all. But I do get a sense that the pope wants to reform and rebuild the Church in such a way that evokes the line from “Field of Dreams”: “Build it and they will come.” Not necessarily.

To the best of my knowledge, the Church has always had its doors open to sinners who might wish and hope to become saints.

Paul Kuzio, South Plainfield, N.J.

Judge not

I must admit that Greg Erlandson’s column caught me by surprise. He identified three categories of upset. “The first is what I call the ‘Eldest Son’ reaction. These are people who have been playing by all the rules.” Maybe they have not always, but these are people who have found peace and forgiveness.

These are people who recognize that the aborted have been abandoned by our nation for over 40 years and have no voice to speak for themselves. Our country is missing lives that God wanted us to have. These are mothers who have been duped into terrible circumstances. This is the main motivation for pro-life people.

To quote Erlandson: “These are good Catholics, but sometimes their complaints sound like the Pharisee recounting that he tithes and prays and fasts and is not like that loser in the back row.” I think we should not judge, as Pope Francis reminds us is Jesus’ way.

Mary T. Murphy, Rochester Hills, Mich.

Share God’s love

Re: “Freedom behind bars” (In Focus, Nov. 3).

As a Salvadoran Catholic prisoner who has worked along with Catholic and Protestant volunteers and prisoners, I have seen how Christ’s love has changed the lives of prisoners.

But I wouldn’t recommend for any volunteer and prisoner to “protect yourself, keep an arm’s length” while interacting with prisoners. I say this because, while I worked among them, I suspected that these prisoners had ulterior motives, especially toward the volunteers who came in to our prison.

As a result, I realized that I was acting like a policeman with a badge inside a church. And also like the Pharisee who is too cautious among sinners.

Our duty is to share Christ’s love with sinners and criminals. The rest of the nonsense should be offered to God. He is the only one who can transform the lives of these men. And finally, he is also the only one who can help us remove the dirt from our own eyes.

Julio Nelson Ventura, Amarillo, Texas