A divorced man becomes a priest-what!


I recently found out that a priest who was once married, got an annulment and has two adult sons ages 21 & 24, got ordained in our archdiocese. While I understand that the annulment means that he has never been married, I’m still struggling with this and really can’t accept this :confused::confused::confused:


Why? What are your concerns?


Yeah there’s a priest in my diocese who is a widower and he has several adult children. He’s one of the best, holiest priests in the diocese that I know.

There’s nothing wrong with the situation you’ve laid out. He had an annulment.


He never was married though. So what’s the problem?


Are you having trouble because you knew that he lived for a while as if he was married? Or the fact that he had sex? Or that he has two kids?

Ever been to an Eastern Catholic Church?

Also, even though the Eastern Catholic Church has preserved the age-old tradition of married priests, there are still more currently married Roman Catholic priests in North America than married Eastern Catholic priests.


Are you assuming that it was his fault that he was divorced?

And a person doesn’t just “get” an annulment. One must go through a process that makes running a gauntlet down the street naked seem easy.

Just remember, St. Peter had a mother-in-law…


How is that possible ?

are you talking about men who were of the Eastern Rite and converted to RCC or what ?


I assume he is referring to Episcopal and Lutheran ministers who have converted, undertaken further studies, and been ordained as Catholic priests, and who also happen to be married.


Why are you holding the man’s past against him?
As already mentioned, you don’t know the circumstances of his past relationship.
Many of the great saints had very checked pasts. You might want to read the life of St. Augustine.
An annulment means that the marriage was not considered a Sacramental marriage for whatever reason. Unlike St. Augustine’s child, the priest’s grown children are not considered illegitimate.
The annulment had to be granted even before he was allowed to enter seminary.
As a priest, he does has the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Scripture says God is close to the broken-hearted. John Michael Talbot includes a great song on one of album about his marriage. Yes, he was married and had a child. Although he is not a priest, he lives the life of a religious brother. .


I want to thank everyone for their reply to my question and appreciate your thoughts. But I guess I hold the position of being a priest too high for someone who has been divorced, has children and then has this “awakening!”

A widower has been loyal and faithful to his family, at least on the surface, is palpable to me, who then becomes a priest. I’m not passing judgment on anyone. But this person is taking on the most sacred vocation one could ever possibly think of and to dilute it down, to me, cheapens Christ.

What this says to me is, that anyone can get divorced have children and then get an annulment, and in my parish it is quite common to get an annulment. I live in a vey liberal archdiocese and it is not that uncommon. The person I talk may be a very good and honorable man, it’s not a sex thing or having children. It’s all about vows and when a man and women make them in, I’m assuming here, a sacramental marriage before God, I believe it’s for life! :shrug::thumbsup:


Do you know if he was the person who filed for the divorce? Was he unfaithful?
He may have been the recipient, and may well have fought hard for the relationship.
Both partners, with the help of God’s grace, much be willing to work on the relationship in order to make a marriage to work. I read somewhere that less than 50% of annulment requests are actually granted. Only about 10% of divorced Catholics even go through the annulment process. Details, of course, are confidential. The decision is made by the marriage tribunal.
Even with the annulment process, it may have been a mutual decision between the 2 partners. It may have a matter of form, if they were not married within the Church. The other person may have initiated the process. There is too much that we do not know and that is frankly none of our business.
We are not privy to the details of this man’s private life. What we do know is that he has chosen to devote his life to God. He is not committing adultery through remarriage.


One thing that we do know is that although the relationship between the man and the mother of his children dis not last for a lifetime, he did not remarry. leaving him free to enter the priesthood.
We do not know, nor is it our concern, what decision, the woman has made concerning her life. Perhaps before entering seminary she had already remarried. Again, these are confidential issues that are part of the man’s private life. We do not know what heartbreak he has been through. His private history may well prove to give him the empathetic ear needed in the confessional or when a couple facing their own marital difficulties comes to him for help.


I don’t see the problem. The dear priest who took me through my instructions to become Catholic had an annullment. When he asked me how old I was he told me that his youngest daughter was a few months older than me and that he had six children. I then asked him if his wife was passed away and he said no she chose other worldly pleasures but you could not ask for a holier priest he is 94 years old now and I will always be greatful for the instruction in the faith that he gave me he made sure that i understood every thing about Church doctrine and dogma and the Magisterium of the Church.


Having an anulment dilutes nothing.

As other’s have said, one does not “get” an anulument. An anulment is not something that the Church “gives” as a favor. An anulment is a statement of truth that exists apart from whether the Church makes the statement or not, namely, that a sacrmanetal marriage never took place. It never happened. An anulment dilutes nothing becuase the marriage never happened.

What about a man who has three children out of wedlock and is never married? He has no more right to the prieshood than a man who remained faithful to his wife and was divorced through no fault of his own. The sacred vocation is just that - a vocation. A vocation is a calling from God. God calls whomever he wills and not according to our desires but his. There are priests and deacons who have facilitated and participated in abortions, murdered, dealt drugs, used prostitutes, stolen, lied, robbed… Read the Bible. Jesus came from a long line of misfits, philanderers, harlots and prostitutes. God calls whomever HE wills.

And nothing can cheapen Christ. Christ cannot be cheapened or glorified any more than he already is. We do nothing to add to or diminish his glory.

A sacramental marriage is for life but an anulment says that there was no sacramental marriage in spite of the vows. It’s not just about the vows. You really need to read up and learn a little about anulments.



I wanted to continue with this thought.
Many of the Saints had checked pasts. St. Augustine has already been mentioned.

The validity of the Sacraments do not depend on the holiness of the priest who administers them. Rather, it is Christ who works through the man He has chosen.

In marriage, the priest witnesses the Sacrament that takes place between the man and the woman. An annulment says despite appearances there was no Sacrament. The impediment may have been with either partner or both.

Our Faith is a Faith of Transformation, whatever our vocation in life. We learn from our failures. A priest who has experienced heartache has a unique perspective, and most probably will exhibit more empathy to individual situations, that will reveal itself over time… Give him a chance.


I want to thank everyone for their reply to my question and appreciate your thoughts. But I guess I hold the position of being a priest too high for someone who has been divorced, has children and then has this “awakening!”

If we are going to need and desire The Church, The Mystical Body of Christ on earth with Christ as head, to conform to our human understanding all the way, then to my mind its a loosing battle we are struggling with. God is infinite - and we creatures are only finite - and indeed “My Ways are not your ways, says The Lord”.
It is through The Church and the Teaching Office of The Church that we come to understand The Lord’s Will … His Will, not ours.
Very often, The Lord does choose a ‘broken vessel’ to manifest His Glory(not saying that the man with annulment under discussion in this thread is indeed a broken vessel). St Paul and probably our greatest theologian and missionary was murdering Christians when He was awakened by Christ. Rather than a point of discouragement, it is a point of much encouragement to all. Many of our saints do have a dark past.


OP, if he was a permanent deacon who is no longer married, he can become a priest like the transitional deacons. It shouldn’t be shocking.


But the tribunal has ruled that it WASN’T a marriage. Case closed.


JMT still is married. His is a rather unusual form of monasticism.

As for the thread topic, nobody here knows the story. It’s one thing if man gets an annullment after having proven that he was having an affair with another even before the wedding, thus demonstrating defective intent. It’s quite another thing to say he ha no business in the priesthood if it was his putative wife who had the defective consent. How about we just admit that we don’t have all the facts and trust the bishop to know what he’s doing?


The Church says he was never objectively married in the first place, that’s what an annulment is. He could have had a brace of children and it still would not have been a marriage. Which means he was a single man at the time of his ordination. If he’s otherwise qualified to be a priest, who am I to protest to my bishop?

Even if the defect was on his part, people change. Among the Calendar of Saints we have former terrorists, someone who sired a child out of wedlock, and so on. But they were no less saints because of their pasts.

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