The Washington Post
Rome Withdraws Annulment of a Kennedy’s Marriage
Joe Kennedy’s long-ago first marriage is back— at least in the eyes of the Vatican, which has quietly issued a reversal of the religious annulment the former Massachusetts congressman got after his 1991 civil divorce.
The decision, first reported by Time magazine yesterday, is a victory for Kennedy’s ex, Sheila Rauch, who became a crusading critic of the Catholic Church’s annulment practices after their 12-year, two-child union was declared null and void, as if it never happened. Rauch, who made the appeal to Rome and wrote a 1997 book on the topic, told the magazine: “There was a real marriage. It was a marriage that failed, but . . . we need to take responsibility for that.” Monsignor Brian Ferme, dean of the School of Canon Law at Catholic University, said annulment reversals aren’t as rare as you might think. What does this mean for Kennedy? That he and second wife Beth Kelly, whom he wed in a ’93 civil ceremony, can’t marry in the church — though he can still appeal this latest decision.