Annulment Question

My Aunt would like to marry a man named Mike, who is unbaptized and was married/divorced civilly to an unbaptized women. Does Mike need an annulment before he can marry my Aunt in the Church?



Mike’s previous marriage needs be investigated. (Whether the aim is a declaration of nullity or some other procedure I cannot say)

You aunt will also need a dispensation, once Mike marriageability is straightened out. She should start talking with her priest now.

Who Is Not A Canon Lawyer

Mike is considered to be in a valid marriage. So, yes, he does need a decree that the first marriage was not valid before he can marry again.
Does he have any desire to become a Catholic? If so, he could apply for the Pauline Privilege.

Is this true? Can two unbaptized have a Sacramental Marriage? That is what is meant when one says that a marriage is valid.

It is not sacramental - but it is valid. There is a difference, one may be in a valid marriage that is not sacramental.

Two Jews are not baptized, but they are married and their marriage is valid, though not sacramental. As an example.


No, that is not what is meant.

Natural marriages may certainly be valid.
But sacramental marriages must *necessarily *be valid.

No Canon Law Credentials Required

Sacramental marriage = both parties are baptized and free to marry.
No, two unbaptized have a valid, natural marriage. It would become sacramental when both parties were baptized.

Hi, Zeezoo8.

As a person that’s gone through one of the special exceptions in the right-to-marry process, here’s my take based on what you’ve said.

  1. Your aunt’s status is: Properly baptized? Catholic? Previously married?
  2. Mike was unbaptized when his first married by civil means.

As other posters have said, it is critical for your aunt to visit a priest to discuss the specific situation. That said, here is my opinion based on my study and experience.

  1. Two people, never married before, who were never baptized, who marry through civil processes, create a natural marriage. Natural marriages are *valid *(that is, recognized by the Church) but are not sacramental (that is, unable to be dissolved by any power on Earth, as it is a bond through God).

  2. A natural marriage between* two unbaptized people* can be dissolved by the Pauline Privilege if one of the party leaves the other to become a Catholic themselves and intend to marry a Catholic who also is free to marry.

  3. A natural marriage between a baptized person and an unbaptized person could be dissolved under the Petrine Privilege. This is a longer process based on my information.

Note that neither the Pauline or Petrine Privileges are annulments per se since there is nothing to nullify. To nullify implies that a sacramental bond was reviewed and then determined as lacking in something that invalidates that marriage. Unbaptized people don’t have a sacramental bond to their marriages, which also includes people who are not baptized in the form recognized by the Church ("in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit) *and *in Protestant faiths that aren’t considered way out of form (such as the Mormons).

I hope all goes well for your aunt, but do ask her to see a priest for information specific to her situation–my opinion here is just that, and certainly not inclusive to all situations.

Thanks for helping me understand!

I have not had my Canon Law and Marriage class yet, I think that is in the third year.

Your Aunt is dating a man the Church considers married. Your Aunt needs to cool it and let the man work out his marriage issues.

My husband was unbaptized. His ex was unbaptized. They were married civilly and subsequently divorced civilly. He was interested in becoming Catholic and getting married (uh, to me, a Catholic). He had been attending Mass with me and was familiar with the Catholic Church because he’d attended off and on throughout his life with his grandparents. We contacted our priest who looked into what would be needed for us to get married in the CC. He was able to get his civil marriage absolved (I doubt that’s the Catholic word for it) via the Pauline privilege. Basically, he sent questionnaires/affidavits to three people on his side and three people on her side who swore that as far as they knew, the respective party had not been baptized and they were not married by a preacher/minister/clergy in a religious ceremony. After he collected them, he gave them to the priest who forwarded them to the diocesan office. After review, they determined that he was able to enter into a sacramental marriage. In the interim, he was baptized into the church.

Just my experience…

You seem to misunderstand the terms.

An annulment, more properly called a “Decree of nullity” doesn’t nullify anything. It is simply a recognition that a valid marriage never existed. It has nothing to do with ‘sacramental bond’ beyond the fact that a marriage must be valid to be sacramental. It isn’t necessarily sacramental just because it’s valid.

Pauline & Petrine privileges both recognize that a valid marriage exists but dissolve the marriage in favour of the now Catholic party.

So your husband was in what the Church recognized was a valid marriage. Because he was baptized and his unbaptized wife didn’t want to continue the relationship (for whatever reason) the marriage was dissolved.

The short answer is yes. One way or another, that first marriage must be declared null before he can pursue marriage in the Church. If his first wife is deceased (which you didn’t mention) than a death certificate will be enough.

There are a lot of different reasons to petition for a decree of nullity. Mike needs to speak with a Catholic priest to see if any of these reasons would apply to his situation.

And that’s why I’m not a canon lawyer. :slight_smile: Thanks for the clarification.

No, they were both unbaptized before, during, and after the marriage and divorce. He was baptized after the dissolution.

Yes, but if he had remained unbaptized he couldn’t have had his marriage dissolved by Pauline Privilege. It’s only his baptism that allowed that to happen.

The Church cannot annul a marriage that never existed in the Church; there would be nothing to annul.

I think your question is “Is is morally allowed for my aunt to marry Mike?”

This, from the Code of Canon Law, might help.

That is a misunderstanding of what an annulment is.

Because neither he nor his wife were Catholic at the time they got married the Church doesn’t enter into the equation. Mike’s marriage is presumed valid unless it’s proven otherwise.

So, he can either petition for a decree of nullity, which means the Marriage Tribunal will investigate the marriage and determine whether or not it is in fact valid;
he can become a Catholic and petition for dissolution of his valid marriage based on the fact that he is now Catholic and his non-baptized wife doesn’t want to continue in the marriage.

He can petition for a Petrine Privilege dissolution of his valid marriage without becoming Catholic, on the grounds that he wishes to marry a Catholic.

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