Annulment dilemma, regarding RCIA


#1

Hello everyone,

I am new here on these forums, and I am not sure if I am posting this in the right place! First a little background. I was raised Protestant, but have been married six years to a devout Catholic. We have two children both baptized Catholic as well, they attend Catholic school. We go to mass together every week. I have grown so much in my faith with my husband as my example, and I am ready to ask the priest about RCIA. But, I am divorced. I was married for nine years to another man, we were married in a Protestant church and divorced.
I know I would have to get an annulment before I could become catholic. But I am not sure how to go about this. It would be so difficult for me to imagine how to contact my ex and explain it.

And maybe I don't understand the definition of the annulment, but can a marriage of nine years truthfully be annulled? What I mean is, it was a real marriage, a long marriage, that fell apart. God lead me to my current husband, and his faith saved me and built our family. I know it. God has blessed us and is with me every day. But I feel a missing piece each week at mass when I can't go up for communion. My son will be getting his First Holy Communion in two years, and I would love to have done RCIA this fall, to be able to join him in that special day.

Any thoughts on how to handle the annulment? Is it even appropriate to consider asking for one? And if it is, how might an ex wife of so many years ask her mean ex husband for one :( it makes me afraid just to think of it.
Thanks everyone.


#2

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
I was raised Protestant, but have been married six years to a devout Catholic.
...

But, I am divorced. I was married for nine years to another man, we were married in a Protestant church and divorced.

[/quote]

So, you and your spouse did not marry in the Catholic Church? May I ask why you did not deal with your marriage situation at that time?

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
I know I would have to get an annulment before I could become catholic. But I am not sure how to go about this. It would be so difficult for me to imagine how to contact my ex and explain it.

[/quote]

You do not need to contact your ex. The tribunal does that. If you are on good terms with your ex, you can certainly talk to him about it. But, that is not required.

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
And maybe I don't understand the definition of the annulment, but can a marriage of nine years truthfully be annulled? What I mean is, it was a real marriage, a long marriage, that fell apart.

[/quote]

No.

If the marriage is a valid marriage, it cannot be declared null. The Church does not "annul" marriages. A decree of nullity is a finding of fact regarding whether or not the marriage was valid at its outset.

The nullity process determines whether or not an impediment or defect existed at the time the vows were exchanged. If so, then there can be a finding of nullity. If not, then the marriage is confirmed as valid. If you do not have any grounds for nullity, you cannot file a petition. You should talk to your pastor.

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]

God lead me to my current husband, and his faith saved me and built our family. I know it. God has blessed us and is with me every day. But I feel a missing piece each week at mass when I can't go up for communion.

[/quote]

Your current spouse should not be approaching the sacraments either. He is in an invalid marriage and an objectively serious situation.

Have you two talked to your priest about this? I am just really not understanding why or how this was not dealt with before you married. You characterize your spouse as devout, so it seems it would not be an issue of a fallen away Catholic not knowing the laws of marriage.

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
My son will be getting his First Holy Communion in two years, and I would love to have done RCIA this fall, to be able to join him in that special day.

[/quote]

You and your current spouse need to make an appointment with your pastor ASAP.

I can also suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster to help you understand what nullity is and isn't.

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
Any thoughts on how to handle the annulment? Is it even appropriate to consider asking for one? And if it is, how might an ex wife of so many years ask her mean ex husband for one :( it makes me afraid just to think of it.
Thanks everyone.

[/quote]

Talk to your pastor about whether or not you have grounds to pursue nullity, or whether or not some other process may be employed (depends on baptismal status of you and your former spouse).

Again, you do not approach your ex. The tribunal does that.


#3

Thank you for your reply. I know that my husband should have long ago dealt with our marriage as being invalid but it hurts him to consider it that way, it hurts us both really. We were married in his home church in Germany on a visit there, and we had our pre marital visits with the priest just ten days before the ceremony was scheduled. He hadn't told the priest I was divorced, he hadn't realized it mattered...a little naive. So at that point it was too late to have a catholic marriage on the date the wedding was scheduled. We had a Protestant minister finalize the vows, and his family was satisfied that it was in the Catholic Church and our son, already a year old at that point, :o was baptized at the same time. The priest said it needed to be addressed but we don't live there, we came home and never dealt with it. So here we are more than five years later, faithful church goers and want to make it all right, but how.


#4

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:3, topic:325484"]
Thank you for your reply. I know that my husband should have long ago dealt with our marriage as being invalid but it hurts him to consider it that way, it hurts us both really. We were married in his home church in Germany on a visit there, and we had our pre marital visits with the priest just ten days before the ceremony was scheduled. He hadn't told the priest I was divorced, he hadn't realized it mattered...a little naive. So at that point it was too late to have a catholic marriage on the date the wedding was scheduled. We had a Protestant minister finalize the vows, and his family was satisfied that it was in the Catholic Church and our son, already a year old at that point, :o was baptized at the same time. The priest said it needed to be addressed but we don't live there, we came home and never dealt with it. So here we are more than five years later, faithful church goers and want to make it all right, but how.

[/quote]

I really encourage you to make an appointment with your local pastor and lay out all the facts with him. He will guide you a step at a time. It seems overwhelming, but it is manageable if you take it a step at a time. Please stop avoiding the issue and take the first step!

Also, reading the book I suggested above may help you and answer a lot of your questions.


#5

Be prepared for the possibility that you can't make it all right.


#6

Yes, listen to 1ke. Talk to your priest and take things one step at a time. It might seem awkward / uncomfortable, but you will feel much better knowing where you stand.


#7

[quote="aemcpa, post:5, topic:325484"]
Be prepared for the possibility that you can't make it all right.

[/quote]

I have been thinking this the last hour or so, it would be so terrible for my husband to bring him to meet with the priest and clarify that being married to me is a mortal sin and he can't take communion any more and there's nothing we can do to fix it :( his heart would be broken.


#8

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:7, topic:325484"]
I have been thinking this the last hour or so, it would be so terrible for my husband to bring him to meet with the priest and clarify that being married to me is a mortal sin and he can't take communion any more and there's nothing we can do to fix it :( his heart would be broken.

[/quote]

From what you have told us, he definitely should not be receiving communion right now, and should not have been since he married you. I mean that there is a possibility that your first marriage will not be declared null, and that you will NEVER be able to marry him in the Church (unless your first husband predeceases you).


#9

I'm afraid all this information is scaring you more than it should. None of us know the details of the first marriage and the church may indeed find it wasn't valid. A marriage of nine years doesn't end because it's a great one. Go and talk to a priest about it, get some solid answers and get the ball rolling.


#10

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:7, topic:325484"]
I have been thinking this the last hour or so, it would be so terrible for my husband to bring him to meet with the priest and clarify that being married to me is a mortal sin and he can't take communion any more and there's nothing we can do to fix it :( his heart would be broken.

[/quote]

I would really recommend contacting your pastor right away. Even if you go to the initial meeting by yourself to test the waters. Don't drive yourself crazy with the "what if" game. Go and talk with the priest and see what the next step is.

Talking to your priest is the first step. He'll tell you what the next step is and will guide you on all the future steps to be taken.


#11

[quote="Brandall, post:9, topic:325484"]
I'm afraid all this information is scaring you more than it should. None of us know the details of the first marriage and the church may indeed find it wasn't valid. A marriage of nine years doesn't end because it's a great one. Go and talk to a priest about it, get some solid answers and get the ball rolling.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#12

[quote="Brandall, post:9, topic:325484"]
I'm afraid all this information is scaring you more than it should. None of us know the details of the first marriage and the church may indeed find it wasn't valid. A marriage of nine years doesn't end because it's a great one. Go and talk to a priest about it, get some solid answers and get the ball rolling.

[/quote]

Specifically, they need to talk to the pastor of their parish, and tell him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He will guide the process from there. But there is nothing but spiritual harm that can come from living a lie, so the OP needs to deal with this ASAP.


#13

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:7, topic:325484"]
I have been thinking this the last hour or so, it would be so terrible for my husband to bring him to meet with the priest and clarify that being married to me is a mortal sin and he can't take communion any more and there's nothing we can do to fix it :( his heart would be broken.

[/quote]

Don't let fear keep you from taking that first step. That is the evil one wanting to keep you where you are!

Make that appointment, talk to the pastor. Take it one step at a time. Spend time in prayer. Trust in God.


#14

[quote="Brandall, post:9, topic:325484"]
I'm afraid all this information is scaring you more than it should. None of us know the details of the first marriage and the church may indeed find it wasn't valid. A marriage of nine years doesn't end because it's a great one. Go and talk to a priest about it, get some solid answers and get the ball rolling.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: This!

In addition, there was part of 1ke's answer that was correct in its details, yet only glancingly answered savedbygrace71's question:

No.

If the marriage is a valid marriage, it cannot be declared null. The Church does not "annul" marriages. A decree of nullity is a finding of fact regarding whether or not the marriage was valid at its outset.
[/quote]

savedbygrace:

I suspect that, when you asked, "can a marriage of nine years truthfully be annulled?", you were asking the question "can my marriage receive a decree of nullity?". If so, the answer is not definitively 'no'. 1ke was answering the technical question "does the Church annul valid marriages?", and while her answer was correct, I suspect that it wasn't answering the question you were trying to ask. And yes, any marriage -- if it is an invalid marriage -- can be recognized as having been invalid and 'be annulled', even if it's a nine-year, or 19-year, or 59-year marriage...!

As others have advised you, go to your priest and explain the situation. Chances are, he's dealt with situations like yours before, and ones far more complicated, too! We'll be praying for you and for your husband!!!

Blessings,

G.


#15

[quote="Gorgias, post:14, topic:325484"]
1ke was answering the technical question "does the Church annul valid marriages?", and while her answer was correct...

[/quote]

1ke is a woman?!? (You can tell I don't read profiles like I guess I should.)


#16

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:7, topic:325484"]
I have been thinking this the last hour or so, it would be so terrible for my husband to bring him to meet with the priest and clarify that being married to me is a mortal sin and he can't take communion any more and there's nothing we can do to fix it :( his heart would be broken.

[/quote]

But dear one, for him to keep receiving Christ in an unworthy state is actually WORSE for his eternal soul. A broken heart can heal, but a soul in mortal sin could go to hell and I am sure you do not want that.

Please take our prayers with you, and make an appointment to speak with your priest as soon as possible. Of course I am going to advise that your husband not take communion in the meantime, but one other item is that if you live as brother and sister, he can take communion if he confesses his previous sin of fornication and then continues in chastity in the interval. That way he would not be in adultery even though you two are still civilly married. Not an easy thing to do, but perhaps he would consider it.

But the main thing is not to speculate any longer, but to go and see your priest.


#17

[quote="Gorgias, post:14, topic:325484"]

I suspect that, when you asked, "can a marriage of nine years truthfully be annulled?", you were asking the question "can my marriage receive a decree of nullity?". If so, the answer is not definitively 'no'. 1ke was answering the technical question "does the Church annul valid marriages?"

[/quote]

I don't believe I stated or implied anything like a definitive "no". I did go on to state that a decree of nullity looks at all the facts when the marriage was contracted and that she may have grounds and needs to talk to her pastor.

Sorry if there was any confusion there.


#18

[quote="aemcpa, post:15, topic:325484"]
1ke is a woman?!? (You can tell I don't read profiles like I guess I should.)

[/quote]

Um, yes, I am.


#19

[quote="aemcpa, post:15, topic:325484"]
1ke is a woman?!?

[/quote]

:rolleyes: If I were in a fighting mood, I might ask, "why is it hard to believe that an expert -- in canon law or any field -- would be a woman?".

But I'm not. So I won't. ;)

p.s., btw, I, too, once referred to 1ke as 'he', and was corrected. :blush:


#20

[quote="savedbygrace71, post:1, topic:325484"]
Hello everyone,

Any thoughts on how to handle the annulment? Is it even appropriate to consider asking for one? And if it is, how might an ex wife of so many years ask her mean ex husband for one :( it makes me afraid just to think of it.
Thanks everyone.

[/quote]

I think, after pray you may find in your heart that your first marriage was not real, either on yours or your spouses part.

The hubby and you need to talk to the priest
Is he really still receiving communion? That said, we had a civil marriage before our RCC one and I really missed the sacraments, and cannot honestly say I never took communion, but always felt so guilty afterwards.

The annulment processes is long and hard work, and you will need a lot of prayer. I received help from my ex's friends and family on why they thought it was not a real marriage-we were really young (20) and neither was mature.
When you eventually have a Catholic wedding, my congratulations.


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