Any priestly advice?

2 years my BIL started a business with a female ‘friend’ from college. His wife suspected an affair but couldn’t find ‘proof’…Last year he suddenly filed for divorce and things got ‘ugly’ my in-laws took his side 100%

Last Friday: we were told he has a new ‘girlfriend’, who is almost 7-months-pregnant with his baby. They’re living together, although the divorce isn’t even finalised, and yes this is the ‘college friend’ he founded the company with 2 years ago.

‘girlfriend’ only just got divorced herself, and has a 2.5-years-old child…Her ex is Catholic, the boy is too and BIL and ‘girlfriend’ attend Mass together, calling upon ‘privacy of conscience’ to okay the fact that neither of them have an annulment, there’s no plan to get married yet and still they receive H.Communion. They know our views on that, but we’re ‘hopelessly old-fashioned’ ( BIL who had 6 IVF attempts with ex-SIL, saying 'privacy of conscience ’ is the highest law in the Catholic Church even surpassing the Pope himself) They feel they are ‘good Catholics’…

Question: how would you handle it? He cheated on his wife and got his mistress pregnant! Now he’s planning a christening in July for the baby, wants to get his step-son into a top-class private Catholic junior school and expects us to just go along and be ‘happy for him’…If/when they get married they expect us to be matron-of-honour/best man/flower girls (as it’s my dh’s ‘turn’ to be ‘best man’ according to family traditions that the brothers all take their turn in being ‘best man’ for their brother) Not something we feel comfortable with, but it would create massive tension if we declined.

The baby is due in about 5 or 6 weeks. I know we’ll be asked to be godparents, again because it’s ‘our turn’ (in dh’s family godparents are always siblings+wives), and again, I wouldn’t feel comfortable.

My BIL is the ‘favourite son’ who can do no wrong,nearly died at the age of 10, his mother is devoted to him and 100% against his ex-wife, ofcourse it all has to be HER fault, SHE drove him into the arms of another woman, poor BIL who had 2 heart-operations, who again nearly died, went through so much…don’t we just want him to be happy at last?

So, we are in a REALLY uncomfortable situation here, if we follow our conscience…we annoy MIL, FIL and BIL+ ‘girlfriend’…on the other hand, I don’t want to go against church teachings either, and realistically BIL had 12 priest-friends at his first wedding, plus 3 bishops (his family is extremely well-connected) and I can’t see an annulment happening…so, wouldn’t it just be bigamy, even if it’s a civil ceremony (or in the Russian Orthodox church, as she’s Russian Orthodox)…

I don’t want to create a feud in the family:(

My in-laws and BIL know my views, I’ve always made sure they know where I stand on things like extramarital relations and stuff…I also know they think I’m too rigid, too old-fashioned and that ultimately there’s going to be a Pope who will okay everything from living in sin, to condoms to IVF and re-marriage…My MIL had hoped for such a Pope when JPII died and was bitterly disappointed when Benedict XVI was chosen…

Saying ‘we’re busy’ on the day of the wedding/christening isn’t an option, as my in-laws know dh can easily get a day or 2 off work, it just isn’t an ‘excuse’…and it wouldn’t be accepted.

I’ve thought of contacting their priest (I’m thinking he may not realise they’re not married to eachother yet receiving H.Communion) but…I have no idea where they go to Mass, when he was married he used to go to the Dominicans in Oakwood/Enfield (Britain), but now he lives with ‘girlfriend’ in Dunstable, a place I know NOTHING of, and they could very well go to a parish further afield (MIL and FIL never attend their local parish of Edgware, always going to Stanmore, for instance)…Infact, as ‘girlfriend’ is now divorced, I imagine she has switched to a church where nobody knows her, if only not to bump into her ex-husband! And I googled their address: there are 10 Catholic churches in the Dunstable/Luton area…so, writing to 10 priests asking ‘is Mr X and Ms Y a parishioner, I’ve got to tell you something…’ isn’t an option, really…I know BIL won’t want to tell me the name of his church anyway, as he can imagine I may want to talk to the priest…As it is, I live 5 hours away from them…

Please, can somebody give me some guidance: can we attend the wedding, which looks like it’ll be a civil ceremony sometime after the baby is born (Can’t see his divorce coming through in the next 5 weeks), how do we handle the best man/matron of honour/flower girls situation, how do we handle the christening (will a priest christen the baby knowing the parents are still -by church laws-married to other people anyway?)

Thank you, and sorry for being so long-winded…


Dear Anna,

I just figured out that BIL means brother in law, but I still don’t know what dh means.
There is a person involved here that you haven’t mentioned: God. He’s the one you must be most concerned with. By not attending the wedding, you won’t be creating a massive tension, your brother-in-law already has! There is a great amount of dishonesty involved in this whole situation. Remember that the lie eventually always is seen for what it is because it does not represent reality. The truth on the other hand, will invariably be seen eventually because it represents what is. Regardless of the price you will have to pay in the short run, you will eventually be glad in the ling run that you remained faithful to the Truth!

I don’t know why you are so concerned with placating such dishonest people. Stay away from the whole mess. Better to face their displeasure than God’s. Remember, you are destined to meet our Lord Jesus Christ—face to face one day. We want that to be a joyous meeting. You are in my prayers. I know that this won’t be easy, but He knows what it is like to be rejected. He will be right beside you.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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