That's the Catholic Church's position, and they're sticking to it. Two kids? Irrelevant. Cover of Time? Never happened. Graphic sex scenes? Hey, we've got a Hollywood actress plugging our brand! And she was never married anyway (except legally for a decade). A reader elaborates:
Presuming that Nicole Kidman was Catholic when she married Tom Cruise she was obligated under canon law to be married in the Catholic Church. Since she was not (she was married in a scientology ceremony) the wedding was per se invalid and therefore she had fairly straightforward grounds for an annulment. Basically the form of the wedding was incorrect. Just as a baptism performed in the name of the John, Paul and Ringo would not be valid, a wedding not performed according to the proper form also would not be valid. At least this is how the Pastor at my church described it in a recent church bulletin (suggesting that Catholics who had not been married in the church would need to have their marriage convalidated).
I love my church. Its rules are inviolable and eternal, except when they're not. Kidman was legally married for ten years, had two kids, but, as far as the Catholic church is concerned, her marriage to Cruise did not exist! She didn't even have to seek an annulment. But the stricture against a Catholic's divorce and remarriage is absolute - and a Catholic who obeyed the rules all along, and got married in a Catholic first wedding, would be denied the sacraments and barred from re-marrying in church. I guess because I am deemed objectively disordered by my own church, I haven't been as aware of this transparent nonsense as I should have been. A reader comments:
This point of canon law is the linchpin of Muriel Spark's novel, The Mandelbaum Gate. The protagonist, a devout Catholic spinster, has fallen in love with a divorced man. Her only hope of marrying him is if to find evidence that he was baptized Catholic as an infant. If so, even though he had never practiced Catholicism, his Protestant wedding would be invalid. If not, his marriage could not be annulled.
Spoiler alert: The typical Spark twist comes when a rival character, assuming church law works the opposite way, lies about actual evidence he has uncovered and tells them that indeed the man was baptized a Catholic. He's crushed to realize that he’s given the happy couple a straight path to the altar. In truth, of course, the first marriage is not invalid, and the annulment will be based on a lie. But by another happy twist of Catholic theology, that doesn’t matter because it is not the couple’s lie, and they are acting in complete good faith. You could call it a marriage of invincible ignorance.
How quaint all this preoccupation with the canon law seems today. But think how many lives the Catholic Church has stunted and twisted over the years by forcing people to jump through these hoops.
Yes, but think of the power they have.