Annulment or paulene privilege

I am dating a catholic girl and have been attending mass with her and I am considering converting to catholicism myself. We have also discussed marriage in the future and how we could get married in the catholic church since I am divorced. The two possibilities we have came across were Paulenes Privilege or an annulment but its been difficult finding good information on which would be better to pursue. If we do get married, it is still a ways off so she hasn’t talked to priest yet but we are trying to find out as many details ahead of time as possible.

Background: I consider myself a Christian but have never been baptized and rarely went to church but did pray and try to have a personal relationship with God. My ex-wife had never been baptized and I’m not sure how to describe her religious beliefs. She said she believe in God but I don’t know I would say she was a Christian. Well things didn’t work out and we were only married for about 2 years.

Since we were both unbaptized when married and I assume she still is, if I covert to catholicism will I be eligible for the Paulene Privilege? How does it work exactly? It sounds like I complete a form with questions abotu the marriage and witnesses who can attest to me not being baptized and more witnesses who can attest to she has not been baptized. Is this correct? How do I get in touch with people to be witness abotu her? It also sounds like she would have to complete a questionaire. What if she doesn’t want to or refuses? How long does it take to have the paulene privilege approved?

How about an annulment…based on the situation described would I qualify for an annulment? What does it entail and would it be better to try that then the paulene privilege? How long does that process take?

Thanks for the help

You need to speak to the priest. I believe that an annulment is only required where there was a possibility for a sacramental marriage. If neither of you were baptized then your marriage was probably nothing more than a civil arrangement and not recognized in the Catholic Church.

Okay, I’m not sure I totally understand, but here’s is my answer:
The Pauline Privilege would work on two conditions: 1. That your previous partner will not come to the Christian faith; 2. Both of you are not yet Christians (you’ve stated that this is the case because of the lack of baptism). However, I myself cannot find if this privilege occurs at the moment of baptism or if you have to go through certain channels (I would think that latter).
I’m not sure if you can get an annulment simply because the Church uses annulments for married Catholics and converts.
I know it doesn’t help much, but it’s all I’ve got.

As the Lay Director of RCIA in our parish, I run across these situations alot. What I can tell you is, there are many details involved in these types of situations, and none of them are cut and dried.

Each parish should have a pastoral advocate for annulments. This can either be the priest, a deacon, or even a specially trained lay person.

Contact the parish representative, and start the ball rolling as soon as possible. Depending on the diocese, and their backlog, this could resolve quickly, or it could take a long time.

anyone can petition the canon law tribunal of the Catholic Church to investigate a marriage that has irretrievably broken down to determine if it was valid at its inception. This is not reserved for Catholics or converts. Anyone who has been previously married and divorced, who now wishes to marry a Catholic must in fact ask the Church to make a judgement to find out if he is in fact free to marry. Be advised this is by no mean automatic.

The only way to get an answer pertinent to your individual situation is to visit your friends CAtholic pastor, or the pastor of the parish where you be received into the Church, or call the diocesan office where you reside, or where the marriage took place. You would in the intitial interview give all pertinent information. there are so many variables it is impossible to consider them intelligently here.

Okay. Thank you. I wasn’t sure if the Church did annullments for two non-Christians, but from what you said they do.
Again, thanks for correcting me.

No, sorry, the Catholic Church does recognize the marriage of non-Catholics and presumes them to be valid if they are considered valid by their own Churches, most of which allow civil marriages.

I guess that brings the question of where the marriage took place. Baptism is usually required in most Christian churches so I assumed this was not a church wedding. If the marriage was in a church, the Catholic church requires annulment in that church as they have jurisdiction over the marriage.

Again, see the priest first!

Sorry I guess I should have included it in the first place. The wedding did not take place at a church, simply took place at the courthose

That really doesn’t matter as the church doesn’t hold non catholics to the rule about getting married in church. Two non catholics whether baptized or unbaptized may validly contract a marriage through a courthouse wedding.

Your best bet is to sit down with a priest and discuss your options.

You’re essentially correct. As long as you can show enough evidence that she was not baptized then you’re fine. She doesn’t necessarily have to cooperate for this to go through. However, at some point the diocese will send her a registered letter of some sort asking if she’s willing to get back together with you. If she says yes, then the Pauline Privilege is out of the question.

How about an annulment…based on the situation described would I qualify for an annulment? What does it entail and would it be better to try that then the paulene privilege? How long does that process take?

Your first course of action would be the Pauline Privilege. Thats the “easier” route. An anulment is based on your specific set of circumstances so noone on a internet forum could give an full answer. How long it takes depends on a number of factors. Here in New England it takes a minimum of a year and a maximum of up to 2 years.

See your legal lay person at the Catholic Church or the priest.

Sometimes the RCIA director is the legal lay person.

As I understand it, if a person has been married to a Catholic, divorce papers and baptismal certificates are necessary.

The Sacrament of Marriage is only recognized if the couple are married in the Catholic church. Otherwise, non-Catholic persons of civil marriages are not recognized by the church and you would be “living in sin” and the priest would encourage you to get married. The caveat is, as I understand it, that if you are not having sex and living together that it doesn’t really fit into the “living in sin” part. There are many celibate couples.

Still, baptismal certificates and divorce papers may be required for annulments to be declared. This is not such a big deal unless you have been married several times and then it could be expensive and labor intensive.

Your intended should have already spoken to her priest about this. She may be afraid of scaring you off because of the red tape, but once you take care of this I think you will find a burden lifted and you both will be able to start fresh without anything hanging over your heads.

This is my understanding and I hope if I am in error someone will let us both know.

God Bless and I hope you come to the Cahtolic church. I am a new convert, 2 years, and I love it. We have a wonderful priest and a very nice Catholic community.:thumbsup:

No, this is wrong. Only Catholics are required to marry in a Catholic Church for their marriage to be valid - and that requirement can be dispensed by the Bishop.

The civil marriages of non-Catholics are indeed recognized and presumed valid. If both spouses are baptized, they are also sacramental but if one or both are not baptized (like the OP and his ex-wife) then the marriage is not a sacrament but a natural marriage

Still, baptismal certificates and divorce papers may be required for annulments to be declared. This is not such a big deal unless you have been married several times and then it could be expensive and labor intensive.

Obviously, since the OP said neither he nor his former wife were baptized, certificates are not available. And an annulment is far from a foregone conclusion. It is a big deal since they would have to prove that something existed at the time they spoke their vows that stopped that marriage from being valid.

This is 180 degrees incorrect. Not only does the Catholic Church not require annulment from other churches, the Catholic Church will not even recognize annulments from other churches and will insist on a separate Catholic annulment before the person can marry a Catholic.

One difference is that you can start on the annulment right way, but you will have to be engaged to your Catholic girlfriend before an application for the Pauline privilege can be evaluated.

inaccurate and probably not relevant to OP’s case.
he should see his priest and watch out for less than helpful general information in a forum like this

My SIL was married in the Lutheran church and, when she researched this, the diocese said that her annulment would have to be done in the Lutheran church since that church had officiated over the marriage. She is Catholic and the Church did not recognize her marriage at the time.

If something has changed, I’m sorry for the misinformation. This was current about 8 years ago. As I have stated over and over - GO SEE THE PRIEST. Everyone here is making judgments from the limited information posted and their limited knowledge.

I received permission to marry in the Catholic church via the Pauline Privilege, Both my ex-husband and myself were unbaptized at the time of our marriage. My previous natural marriage will be dissolved only after I am/was baptized (Easter 2010) and when I marry a baptized Catholic that is free to marry in the church (this is happening June 5). For me to have this granted I had to prove (via witnesses) that neither me or my ex where baptized (I used our parents and siblings since they have known us our entire life), my ex has to remain unbaptized and have no desire to be baptized (I believe he filled out a form) and it had to be ex’s fault that the marriage broke down (in my case my ex cheated on me and moved in with is mistress).

The Pauline Privilege is a simpler process than going through the full tribunal process for a deceleration of nullity but can only be used in very specific cases. You should speak with your girlfriends priest (he may not know much about Pauline Privilege, mine didn’t), but he can send an application to the tribunal and they can let you know if you will qualify.

He would still need an annulment (deceleration of nullity) in this case since the church recognizes the marriages of non-catholics so long as they are legally married. In the case of 2 unbaptized persons as a valid natural marriage and would still need to be investigated to have it declared invalid.

Actually I was approved to receive the Pauline privilege before I was engaged, however it is not invoked until after you are baptized and then at the time of your new Christian marriage, your previous natural marriage is dissolved.

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