I’m new here folks. I’m a divorced protestant. I was married for 5 years; my ex sort of abandoned me several years ago. My ex and I were both baptized in a protestant church. No children.

In my own view, I believe I am free to remarry as I choose, based on Paul in I Cor 7, however, I know that the Church does not share this view.

Were I to seek to marry a Catholic, I think I would need to have my previous marriage annulled, is that correct? I’m kind of curious what the steps are for that, and what I would have to do, or if it’s even possible.



technically, in the eyes of God and the church, you are still married to your old partner until they die (death do us part.) in order for that marriage to end, your partner must be dead or you must get an annulment.

I am not sure the full terms of an annulment, but i am pretty sure that it must be due to violence or some matter along those lines, but not issues with the spouse such as money problems or verbal fighting.

im also pretty sure that the catholic church wont allow you to get married in the church if you had a previous marriage that wasnt annulled

sorry if that was confusing, hope i helped

As long as your first spouse is alive, yhou are not free to marry in the Catholic Church.

Despite what a previous poster implied, what happened in the marriage has no bearing on whether or not the Church will grant an annulment. An annulment is not some sore of Catholic “divorce”. Not at all. Rather it is a determination, after an investigation, as to whether the marriage itself was valid sacrament. This, the Church will focus on what was going on before the wedding. It may be interested in what happened after only as an indication or symptom of some defect that existed prior to the marriage ceremony. Examples of this can include mental disturbance, a lack of intent that the marriage be permanent, lying or keeping a secret that would have lead you not to marry your previous spouse, coercion to marry, something that impeded your ability to freely give your informed consent to marry, not being open to life (insisting on contraception from before the marriage). Marrying a non-Catholic outside of the Church generally prejudices the tribunal to rule that the marriage was not valid (an annulment would be granted). However, by default, the Church presumes all marriages to be valid until adjudicated.

You are correct that you would need to seek an annulment if you plan to marry a Catholic. In addition, unless you convert to the Catholic faith, your new spouse would have to get a dispensation from the bishop in order to marry a non-Catholic in a Catholic church. Such a dispensation is fairly straight-forward and generally eazsy to get. The only condition will be that you will be required to agree to raise any and all children in the Catholic faith.

You will need the help of a priest in order to get the process started. I do not know what other requirements or hurdles you may encounter as a non-Catholic who is not converting yet seeks and annulment.

I myself have received a decree of nullity (previous marriage declared invalid). While the process took a fair bit of time, more than a year, I found it to be very healing and helpful. May God bless you as you consider this.

You are free to remarry! God wants you to be happy, the church however doesn’t. They only want to control, that is why you have to jump threw so many hoops. so many rules. 10 years ago the catholic church wouldn’t let me have an outside wedding. I chose GODS LAW and married outside - not in the catholic box. Listening to my heart, God, it was the right choice for sure!

Profoundly uncharitable and absolutely every assertion here is so false that is cannot be reconciled with reality.

This person is asking about what the catholic church has to say about a sacrament if they would persue a marriage in the future with a catholic. Therefore, your personal opinion on the matter is irrelevant. I think it’s a very thoughtful question. What your situation was, has not a thing to do with this question at all.

The Church makes the presumption that your marriage was valid. That is the beginning point - which makes obvious sense. Any outside person looking in would have to begin with the premise that you contracted a valid marriage. Ergo you would not be free to enter into another marriage without having your marriage investigated.

What that investigation and decision would look like depends on [and only on] the conditions that existed at the time you made your vows. So that you had no children in and of itself would not impact the validity. The intention by one or both parties to never have children - especially if they lied to the other person on their willingness to have children - could impact the decision.

I am not sure what passage in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 you feel gives you license to marry after recieving a civil divorce :shrug:.

If you were to want to marry an active practicing catholic in the Church and they you … you would need to submit your first marriage to investigaiton. The investigations are thorough, they will look at evidence submitted that illustrates your ability to freely consent to marry [that you were not coerced], your maturity level [did you understand the vows] etc that existed at the time you and your former spuse married.

There are many good books and information about the process … This is just a quick summary [not to be confused with any official document and the diocesan differences in process from one diocese to another] … and yes there is a cost associated but no one is turned away due to financial need …

Basically you would discuss the process with a priest. Then most probably you would fill out an applicaiton [names, where, when married, baptized or not, current addresses, date of divorce, perhaps the reason for the divorce, children, are decree obligations being met etc]. This is the short initial applicaiton

Then you will be contacted [usually in writing requesting the names of at least 2 witnesses - that knew you when you were married, their contact information and relationship to you. Ditto for your ex …and if they [your ex] reside in a different diocese - jurisdiciton will be decided early on and typically the diocese of the person not initiating the annullment request is the one whose preference is honored if there is a difference …

Then you, your witnesses, your Ex and thier witnesses will recieve a lengthy questionaire to complete … and the questions are lengthy [essay form] and very in depth … The Tribunal sends and receive these questionaires directly from each of you. You job would be to provide honest and complete information whn asked.

The Tribunal wil - when they accept the cause - assign an advocate for you and an advocate for your Ex plus there is an advocate for your marriage - they are called the Defender of the Bond … and the Tribunal will receive the testimony and then they make a decision … It takes time -

What can make a marriage civil and not sacramental - lots of things but not all things one might think … Adultry does not automatically make the marriage in-valid … nor does having children make the marriage any more real [sacrammentally] then it was the day of the “I do” …

Here is an example: if two people get married because the woman was pregnant - a question arrises as to whether the “consent” was freely given … Was the woman forced to marry by parents so as not to bring “shame” to the family? Did the young man feel coerced into marriage - the “ol Shotgun” …

Did a young girl marry to escape a home life where abuse was common place?

It is my understanding that it is the Catholic party who must agree to do all in his/her power to raise the children Catholic. (Of course, if there is disagreement about something as basic as this, perhaps the parties are better off with other partners.)

Thanks for the responses everyone. This is (mostly) academic at this point anyway.

Here’s the passage I was referring to, vs. 15 in particular. I think “not bound” is significant. In my case my ex was a believer when we married, (although neither of us were or are catholic) although it’s safe to say that she is no longer a believer.

12 To the rest I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her;
13 and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband.
14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy.
15 If the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace.

What you have described here is known as the Pauline privilege. However, the granting of such a privilege is left to the Pope, a person cannot make this assertion without the Church verifying this is the case. Marriage is a sacrament and must be treated with the same respect as confession, baptism, confirmation, etc.

LOL, sounds like the Pauline privilege doesn’t happen too much then, I expect!

What do Catholics make of the difference between NAB and protestant translations in the Matthew passage?

NAB: 32 But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

NASB: 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for {the} reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Actually, thousands of converts used to petition the Pope each year and were regularly granted the Pauline Privilege. However, today, most diocesan tribunals see these details and, realizing that a petitioner may qualify for this, will grant a declaration of nullity simply to speed the process. Thus there are fewer petitions. I know this personally because my ex-wife left and divorced me in large part because of my conversion to the Catholic Church. She and I had both been atheists. One of the last things she said to me was that she “could not share the same air with a Christian.” (I just realized something! Maybe she was not wearing blue lipstick before she moved out! :wink: )

As for your translation question, that is an excellent question. I do not have an answer for you but I will tell you that the many, myself included, consider the NAB translation to be of generally poor quality. That is because the NAB used a method known as “dynamic translation” which does not attempt to literally translate but rather “clarify” the meaning. Another, somewhat less charitable, but not entirely inaccurate, way of saying this is that dynamic translation dumbs-down scripture as much of the more subtle meanings are lost.

Here is verse 32 from some other translations that have been approved by the Church.

Matthew 5:32
32 But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

New Jerusalem Bible
32 But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of an illicit marriage, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition
32 But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

I realize this is your thread so you can take where you want, but discussing scripture translations is an oft-discussed topic here and I would direct you to the Sacred Scripture are to submit this question I do not want to derail this thread. However, Catholic Answers, the sponsor of this forum, has a good article on various Bible translations if you are interested. Here is the link.

An annulment looks into the validity of the marriage at inception - (iirc) were the individuals free to marry, able to marry, consent to marry, and were they married in correct form. Within those (and possibly a few I forgot), then evidence is gathered (both before and after the marrage), to determine them.

Were they free to marry? Were any currently already married? Were they related in such a way to prohibit marrage?

Were they able to fulfill their martial duties (perhaps they were psychologically unable to be faithful, be a spouse or be a parent - drug (and sex) addicts might fit here)

Were they able to consent - were they too immature to make the decision, were they under duress to make the decision (pressure from parents, pressure due to a pregnancy, pressure due to abuse, economic pressure). Was the consent based on false pretenses (did their spouse lie to gain consent)

Not sure what all goes under form - but suspect that consummating the marriage is in there. Perhaps also was the marriage civil only.

Anyway, if you are curious, there are plenty of resources available on the web to research this - and perhaps my memory of researching this is faulty.

Thanks guys. :slight_smile:

Actually the Pauline Privilege is granted by the local diocese, the Petrine Privilege is granted by the pope.

The Pauline Privilege can be used when 2 non-baptized persons marry, then one person is baptized and the other person (non-baptized) leaves the marriage or makes the marriage unlivable for the baptized party (the baptism of the “innocent” spouse can be before or after civil divorce). Then when the baptized party marries someone else who is baptized and free to marry the first marriage is dissolved.

The Petrine Privilege is when a baptized person marries a non-baptized person. I don’t know much about this as my case was handled under the Pauline Privilege

You may be right, I am probably confusing the two. However, I thought both could only be granted by the Pope. My situation was more along the lines of the Petrine priviledge which is probably why I assumed both could only be dispensed by the Pope.

Thank you for the correction.

In an effort to reduce the number of annulments, use of the Pauline or Petrine privileges is preferred over an annulment whenever it seems that they would be applicable.


First and foremost I am sorry that you have had to go through something like this. I have enough friends who have experienced divorce and I can share in your pain. I also applaud you for courageously seeking the truth about what Jesus really taught us about divorce and remarriage. I wish more people would do so.

You need to know the truth about what the Catholic Church teaches in this matter. I suggest that you take the time to walk up to your parish priest (even though you are not Catholic), knock on the door, introduce yourself to the priest or house attendant, and explain why you are there.

You can read on this blog, but you are going to only get many opinions of people who may not really know the complete truth about what the church teaches. Having said this, I can assure you that any Catholic is pulling for you and behind you!

Good luck and I will pray for you!

The Pauline Privilege is absolutely recognized by the Catholic Church. It is the dissolution of a valid bond in certain cases involving a party becoming baptized and being unable to live with the unbeliever (unbaptized party) after receiving baptism (the unbeliever will not live in peace with the believer).

This does not apply to you. Both you and your ex-husband are believers (baptized).

You indicated this is a somewhat academic exercise on your part regarding what would be necessary. I highly recommend you get a copy of the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It will explain the Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, nullity, as well as dissolution of the bond under the Pauline or Petrine Privilege. It’s a very good book that explains everything and would really help you understand the ins and outs of it.

Regarding the *procedure *of applying for a decree of nullity, you would contact your local Catholic priest would would help you get started. There would be a discussion of the situation to determine what, if any, grounds you have for seeking a decree of nullity. The priest would then help you get started on the paperwork and process used in your diocese. There is no guarantee that a decree of nullity would be granted, you could very well be found to have a **valid **marriage. That would mean you would not be free to marry a Catholic as long as your spouse is alive.

I just read the OP, so what I will say here might already have been said… But when you get an “annulment” you don’t get a dissolution of a marriage worth being called one. it just declares after investigation and only when it arrives at that conclusion, that the conditions for the validity of your marriage were not all there and that therefore there was no marriage.
It’s not an automatic thing at all! And it takes some time, in the case of a friend of mine it took nine months (as much time pregnancy would usually take).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit