Am I still married to a criminal?

I need help with a question please! I am Baptist. My “ex”-husband is now Catholic. At the time we divorced neither of us were in any church. I filed for divorce because he raped my daughter. He is now in prison for his crime.

While in prison he has became Catholic. He tells me that, no matter what, we will forever be married, and that when he is released he will find me because we will still be husband and wife. I understand the sacrament of marriage and when I said my vows I truly meant forever.

But due to the horrible circumstances I no longer feel anything for this man. Am I truly expected to be married to this man forever? God wants for me to be happy, I know this … so how can I be happy and have a family if I can never be with anyone other than a child rapist? This man hurt my daughter!

Rest assured that the Catholic Church does not expect you to re-admit this man into either your life or into your daughter’s life. Even if you were a Catholic you would have had every right to divorce this man and have him prosecuted for the crime he committed against your daughter.

The Church considers civil divorce the equivalent of legal separation and allows it in cases where common life between the spouses is impossible. In your case, common life with the man who raped your daughter is certainly impossible. I would go so far as to say that you had a positive duty to protect your daughter and yourself from him by expelling him from your life.

Since your ex-husband has been contacting you from prison and threatening to “find” you once he is released, I recommend making copies of any evidence of contacts that you have (e.g., letters, emails, answering machine messages); reporting the contacts to the prison at which he is incarcerated; and consulting with a lawyer about the measures needed to protect yourself and your daughter if and when he is released. Our prayers are with you. God bless.

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