Catholic Controversies · Catholic culture · divorce

Bai Macfarlane and John Farrell

Some of my readers are familiar with the very inside-Catholic-baseball question about whether a Catholic is required to get the permission of his or her bishop before filing for a civil divorce. The extensive discussion of my most recent article on Crisis convinces me that people are indeed interested in this topic.

To the best of my knowledge, two people are promoting this view. One is Bai Macfarlane, who has a website called Mary’s Advocates. The Ruth Institute includes this site among our Links we Like for the Reluctantly Divorced.

The other person is John Farrell. To the best of my knowledge, he has never been published anywhere other than his own blog and a Facebook page.

Permit me to say that if you are interested in this topic, follow Bai. Ignore John. And I do mean, ignore him.

This man is not helping his cause, if that cause is to persuade the bishops to implement canon law in the way that he believes is correct. In fact, he is actively harming that cause.

Where Bai patiently answers questions, John just repeats his one or two talking points. He is rude. As a Southerner, (admittedly, an adoptive Southerner, but an appreciative Southerner) saying someone is rude is no small matter. Compare Bai’s comportment in the comments section of my Crisis article, with John’s behavior on this thread.

I am no expert on canon law. I have said so repeatedly. I have told John this privately, and publicly. I am not going to make a pronouncement on this topic, as I am not qualified to do so. I am trying to keep an open mind, and listen to what people have to say. Bai is worth listening to. John’s noise-making makes it almost impossible to listen, or to even think clearly.

Please do not encourage this man. Especially if you want to help end the divorce culture, both inside the Catholic Church and in the wider culture.

9 thoughts on “Bai Macfarlane and John Farrell

  1. Funny, asking nicely has just gotten rude responses from the bishops. You ask nicely first then you press your point harder. Canon law is clear on this point and the Baltimore catechism forbid approaching the civil forum first. He’s right, and he has not been left with a better option for justice. Truly the church has contributed to the divorce culture by abandoning marriage to the civil forum, which has led to marriage as an institution becoming more an more unpopular because the only part of the contract enforced in financial ruin in divorce for both instead of sparing the innocent party. I’ve been married over 25 years myself, and I’m tired of watching peoples lives ruined by a church that teaches sacramental marriage with words but practices civil marriage with actions.

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    1. I think setting out destroy someone’s name is a sin.. detraction? Gossip?

      Anyways your basis for calling someone out like this with no real reasoning like:him speaking about this topic contrary to cannon Law (if he does go against the law of God please note)

      Kindly,
      Southern Texan (for real)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There regularly arise issues that seem to have little purpose other than to divide people: in my experience Catholics although I’m sure that Protestants have the same type experiences.

    And the way that they are argued you would think they were the most immediate problems facing us today. And if somebody disagrees with you, you are not merely wrong, but not even Catholic! And lay excommunications ensue!

    An example is the atomic bombing of Japan which sometimes comes up: I can safely promise you that I will NEVER authorize a nuclear bombing–and neither political party takes the use of nuclear weapons off the table. But this is the most pressing problem for each of us to decide this very minute! Or so it is made to seem at times.

    Returning to the subject, is it possible to believe that we have a problem with divorce and to seek to reduce it? Well, no, apparently.

    Rather, ALL discussion of divorce must stop IMMEDIATELY, and ALL attention focused upon the critical issue of whether Catholics must get permission of their bishop to initiate divorce proceedings (as if we are going to get any clear, uniform procedures in the current environment). Protestants, and even atheists of good will, must not oppose our divorce explosion: nope, the ONLY issue that may be discussed is inside-Catholic-baseball question! Any dissent will be met with a mind-numbing flood of combox comments shouting down any other issue.

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  3. Donna says “asking nicely has just gotten rude responses from the bishops.” Actually, they are almost always very nice and polite, but the effect is vicious when the answer amounts to “what canon law?” Also Dr. Morse, to make no “pronouncement” – is to decide by default — to side with our “no-fault” bishops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John I should have clarified that I got a rude response when I asked the bishop where I live why the canon law on separation and divorce was ignored. I walked away from marriage ministry because if the church would no nothing but tell people to get civil divorces and it was ok, the innocent spouse trying to fix the marriage who didn’t was a divorce got screwed. Watch it over and over for 10 years and 2 bishops. Ask each one and get rebuffed. Have a best friend that’s s canon lawyer agree the law is clear, but have the bishop tell you it’s wrong for the church to interfere in a marital breakdown. I’m a man, never divorced, my handle is Latin for “give me a break”

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