A question about MARRIAGE and the Church

So here’s a scenario:

A young woman who was never brought up in any type of religion gets married at an early age… maybe 18 or 19.

She is married to the man for 3 years but then they get divorced due to irreconcilable differences… something that is common when people get married very young and then change a lot once they mature more.

So the two get divorced, and since they have no children they go their separate ways and never see/hear from each other again.

Several years later, the woman, being close to 30 now and more mature, meets the man she believes she is meant to be with. They get married and quickly begin having children. Fast forward 15 years and the couple has 3 children and a healthy, happy marriage.

The woman discovers Catholicism and wants to get baptized and go through RCIA. She tries getting an annulment from her very short first marriage, but is not granted one.

Is she then required to leave the man who is the father of her children and whom she has been “married” to for almost 20 years?? Would it be morally permissible for her to stay with her current spouse as to not break up the family? What should she do in this case?

Thank you for the responses.

You note the woman is not baptized. A divorced and unbaptized person can potentially have the natural marriage dissolved via the Pauline or Petrine Privilege. An annulment would not be needed in this case.

Assuming the worst case scenario of your post, the couple could live as brother and sister for the sake of the children.

But then the man would have every right to go off and look for a legitimate wife… would he not??

She should meet with a priest and discuss her options. There’s no way of knowing at this point. Is this hypothetical or a real situation?

I suppose that theoretically, he would have the right, but what husband and father would do such a thing?

For better or worse…

Call the chancery office in your diocese and get an appointment to see someone. They can explain it to you, and that way you won’t make a mistake and get it wrong. Priests often don’t know the answers to these questions, and people on CAF aren’t going to be able to give you a correct answer either. Lots of bigmouths on CAF; few experts.

That’s why I asked if it was hypothetical or a real situation. If it’s hypothetical, there’s no way of knowing. If it’s real, then a priest could direct you to the right people if he has no clue.

Ok. So it’s a grey issue then.

And yes this is a hypothetical situation, though I’m sure it happens a lot.

Yeah, but if it’s established that he’s not actually married and the “wife” starts saying that they have to sleep separately and live as brother and sister…

The vows then would mean nothing.

From what I’ve read, something like 85% of annullments are granted, though a percentage get screened and never go forward. It certainly would be a challenge. I suppose the couple would need to determine just how dedicated they are to the Catholic faith. They certainly wouldn’t HAVE to go through this at all. Not everyone is completely dedicated to the Church, or even if they are quite dedicated, they wouldn’t want to sacrifice to the degree that this would be.

And the above is true, as well.

I may not have been clear. The first marriage can theoretically be dissolved (which is not an annulment). If granted, a convalidation can then take place for the current marriage.

The woman will likely not be receiving sacraments, including baptism, until these matters are resolved. She is not subject to Catholic laws until she becomes Catholic.

Legitimate question - Would the church really be willing to turn away a person serious about converting through RICA solely based on something rash they’d done nearly three decades earlier?

I mean, even as an atheist, I’d like to think that if there was a God that he’d rather have someone in his flock that’s made a mistake and repented rather than risk pushing them away forever over a technicality. :confused:

Well according to the letter of the law, the women would be an adulterous living in constant sin, and the man would be in sin too because since they aren’t actually married he’d be guilty of premarital sex.

So yes, according to the letter of the law the couple would be required to separate, and the man would be free to go on and date/marry another woman.

However, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of priests out there would tell her to go on living with this man as her husband… and even most of you here have seemed to respond to the question as being kind of a grey issue.

I guess the real question then that I’m trying to get at here is, how many other moral teachings should be taken this way? How many of them should be this strict, and how many should be taken with a grain of salt and seen as a grey issue?

Except they don’t always know they don’t know. Better to see the chancery directly.

The most important part of the equation is the children. Making love would be a hard thing to give up, but the children are completely innocent and can’t suffer for their parents’ mistake. In a perfect situation (well, as perfect a situation as this could be), if the annulment couldn’t be granted then the father would realize that his duty is to his children and to the woman who bore them, and the man and woman would live as brother and sister at least until the kids are grown.

However, as a previous poster pointed out, this would almost certainly be dissolavable under the Pauline or Petrine privilege.

Ok, I feel some people are missing the point.

This is a hypothetical situation in which the first marriage has not and cannot be either dissolved or annulled. I’m sure it’s happened before. Let’s get to the point, folks. :thumbsup:

The Catholic Church has laws on all these issues. Just because you don’t know them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Is the man she married the second time Catholic - I keep reading it but maybe I am missing it.

Not sure what that’s supposed to mean or how it pertains/responds to my post.

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