Joe Kennedy's First Marriage: Still On says a Time magazine article and apparently the Roman Rota, thank God.
I have been following this case from the very beginning, because it involves all the things that make the Catholic Church Stand out in the eyes of the world. . .
A rich influential family;
A man in politics who wants what he wants;
A wife who for 12 years was his helpmate, and agrees that the marriage failed, but disagrees that there was grounds for annulment.
I don't believe that this was done out of spite, though who knows, Sheila Rauch Kennedy isn't Catholic after all, so if she wishes to remarry she may do so outside the church with no penalty. Her ex-husband is involved in a civil marriage and has been since 1993. His chance of having that marriage convalidated within the Church are now dashed. He will have to remain outside the sacraments because of his choice to abandon his first sacramental marriage.
Isn't that what the Tribunal is supposed to do, after all; uphold sacramental marriage? It isn't a clearinghouse which makes it possible for the rich and influential to marry again if they so choose regardless of the state of their first marriage.
I for one am glad she appealed. I wonder how many people realize that they have that right? I don't think the Church in this country is doing enough to uphold the sacrament of marriage. I think it is just resigned to the reality of divorce. I agree with the statement of the Vatican official at the end of the article, that Americans think that annulments are their right if they get a divorce.
I only know of one priest who has ever counseled anyone; a friend of mine, that she probably shouldn't even attempt to seek an annulment because she didn't have grounds. The woman in question was upset for a while, but later decided that she loved her faith and the Church much too much to live outside of it, and chose to embrace a life of the vocation of a single adult after divorce and is much happier that had she tried to manufacture false grounds to force an annulment she really didn't deserve.
In my work for the tribunal I have found that there are many cases where there are grounds for annulment, but in other cases there really aren't grounds. Since I am only trained to help people begin the paperwork I have no idea how far the cases I have helped begin get unless those people contact me later on, which almost never happens.
Happily, I have never heard of any of the cases where I didn't see grounds going on to have an annulment granted, but then that is only because I lost contact with the people involved.
I pray a lot about the work I do. Needless to say. Marriage is sacred, no less to me than it is to God.