Annulment always reminded me of Protestants that trumpet "Once saved, always saved", but then if someone apostasizes, they say, "well, he was never saved to begin with".
Excellent analogy. The annulment process is a joke. So, two people are happily married for 5 years have 3 kids but at 8 years into the marriage decide it won't work out. Oh ok, give me $2,000 and we'll pretend your marriage never happened. It's a joke even amongst most Catholics.
The theology is sound. How it is applied in practice may be called into question. Allowing remarriarge and divorce (apart from adultery) on the other hand, is a sin.
How is the theology sound?
An annulment, is a finding by a Church tribunal that ON THE DAY VOWS WERE EXCHANGED at least some essential element for a valid marriage was lacking, such as, one of the parties did not intend lifelong fidelity to the other person or excluded children entirely. Another example would be that one of the parties was incapable of marriage (due to some constitutional weakness, such as mental illness or some psychological condition that prevented making the marital commitment - gross immaturity, homosexuality, etc.).
None of these conditions are assumed they must be proven. A Decree of Nullity does NOT dissolve the marriage, it cannot. It is a reasoned judgment that one never existed, and as such is capable of human error. If the tribunal is fastidious to Church law and theology and the couple and their witnesses are honest, the decision can be followed in good-faith, including a new marriage. If someone is ABUSING the process through deceit, however, it would be a very grave sin for that person
Obviously some marriages may be validly annulled
but to say so many marriages were never real marriages would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.
Hence why I said how its is applied in practice may be called into question.
It's just divorce the Catholic way.
Nope, its an annulment. Divorce (apart from adultery) is a sin.
Do you pretend that those children don't exist either? Are they illegitimate? A future event does not retroactively invalidate a past event. It's absurd.
Canon law states that at the time of the child’s birth, they were born of a legal marriage in civil law and a putative marriage in canon law (which means that everyone thought in good faith that the marriage was valid). So at the moment of the child's birth, he or she was civilly and canonically legitimate. An annulment DOES NOT retroactively affect a child's legitimacy.