In 1993, Sheila Rauch Kennedy received a letter from the Boston Catholic Archdiocese announcing that her former husband, Congressman Joseph Kennedy, was seeking an annulment of their marriage. If the Church granted the annulment, the marriage, which had lasted twelve years, would be rendered nonexistent -- not simply ended, as was stated in the divorce decree, but invalid from the start. And their two sons would be regarded as children of an unsanctified union. Joseph Kennedy needed the annulment to remarry within the Church, and he encouraged his ex-wife to ignore the details. Stunned by the hypocrisy of the process and the betrayal of trust it involved, Sheila Rauch Kennedy was determined to defend the legitimacy of her former marriage.
Shattered Faith is the fascinating chronicle of that struggle, and of what Kennedy uncovered about the uses and frequency of annulments in the United States. Interweaving her own experiences with those of other women whose trust in the Church was shattered by annulment, she tells a story that will surprise, anger, and move readers of every faith.
In 1993, my former husband asked the Catholic Church to annul our marriage. For him an annulment was a simple matter and his reasons for wanting one were straightforward. We had been divorced for over two years and he wanted to remarry. Since the only way he could do so and remain in good standing within the Church was to have our marriage declared invalid, he was prepared to testify before a church court that in the eyes of God our marriage had never existed ...
My husband and I had known each other for nine years before we married in a Catholic ceremony. We had been married for twelve years before we divorced, and we had two wonderful children. I could not understand how anyone could claim that our marriage had never been valid. It seemed that if I were to agree to an annulment, I would be lying before God.
I knew I would defend my marriage.
Excerpted from Shattered Faith by Sheila Rauch Kennedy. . Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Sheila Rauch Kennedy
Sheila Rauch Kennedy is a city planner who specializes in housing and community development. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her two sons.
A courageous book about a courageous act. Sheila Kennedy’s effort to preserve the validity of her marriage against the hypocritical annulment process of the American Catholic Church is a compelling affirmation of the power of truth. Her account of the anguish of other women whose trust in the moral authority of the church has been betrayed reminds us how critical integrity is to anyone seeking to live a meaningful life.
—Julia Thorne, author of A Change of Heart: Words of Hope and Experience for the Journey Through Divorce