Can my wife become Catholic?

My wife was going through RCIA two years ago. She was told that in order to continue she needed to get her previous marriage annulled. She is in the annulment process. What if the annulment isn’t granted? Would she be able to come into the Church?

The short answer is “no”. If the annulment is Not granted, then she cannot and you will be living in a state of sin. So you would not be able to recieve the Sacraments either.

Its not an easy thing, especially as you two are “married”. In fact you should not be receiving the Sacraments now as you are married outside of the church. You need to talk with a good priest as soon as possible.

God Bless you. I’ll pray for a positive answer for you.

I believe you have posted on this before. Were the answers not sufficient?

If her prior marriage is found to be valid, and **if **she also did not qualifiy for a dissolution of the bond under either the Petrine or Pauline Privilege, then she will have a decision to make. That’s a big if. I suggest you two read the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was about both decree of nullity and the dissolution of the bond option if her decree of nullity is denied (this depends upon both her and her xH’s baptismal status).

If both avenues were exhausted and her marriage still considered valid, this would mean, for the two of you, a decision to refrain from sexual intercourse (i.e. if you continue sexual relations it is adultery) until such time as she is free to marry (death of her legitimate spouse). It may or may not include the two of you physically separating. Typically the Church will help those with children by not insisting on such an arrangement, merely continence within the household. She would then be able to enter the church.

I think, though, that you should take things one step at a time since the nullity decision has not yet been rendered you might not want to “borrow trouble” by creating anxiety over what **might **be necessary.

Actually, this isn’t entirely accurate. She certainly could enter the Church and they could both receive the sacraments if she and her current spouse made the decision to abide by the Church’s ruling on her marriage and live in continence.

Talk to a priest you trust. He can guide you and help you. This is what can turn people off on our wonderful Catholic faith.

Been there, glad it was worked out. :slight_smile:

She could also become Catholic by divorcing her current spouse.

There is no possible way that any Priest can legitimately baptize anyone that is in an illicit marriage (under Church law), who refuses to leave that marriage.

I realize that some Priests might baptize such a person, or let them go through RCIA, but the Priest would be guilty of a grave sin, and the person that went through the process would be committing a sin also, because they already know that this is not legitimate.

Yes, this can be hard, but you can’t “bend the rules”. Anyone that counsels another to attempt to do so is also guilty of sin.

And go back to her original spouse (i.e. the one she’s currently divorced from to begin with)? What if he subsequently remarried? This could go real far, real quick.

No, the Church does not require this. Although reconciliation would be the ideal it is likely impractical.

Also, the Church might not necessarily require the couple in the invalid marriage to separate, as I mentioned this would likely be the case if children are involved. See this document, paragraph 4:

This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples’"(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.*

I really urge caution here, as people may give the impression to the OP that all is hopeless. This is not the case. The petition for nullity has not yet been ruled upon, there are also possible options for dissolution of the bond depending upon baptismal statuses), and many are putting the cart before the horse here.

I urge the OP to take it one step at a time, and be guided by his priest, and not us internet folk.

Without annulment neither she nor you are competent to receive sacraments. You had to be separated from table and bed, or at least from bed to stop living in sin.

You are right, I have. I just forgot. The answers were very sufficient. This situation is just very worrisome to me.

Yes, we have a five year old.

I’m trying.

He remarried a long time ago and is not cooperating with the annulment. Actually, only one person is cooperating by answering the questionnaire.

My “wife” was baptized Lutheran and her “ex” supposedly, was baptized Catholic. He didn’t practice the faith. His baptism certificate cannot be found and all of the witnesses of his baptism are deceased.

I’m sure it is. Please take it one step at a time. I know it’s hard.

I’m still very concerned/worried for my wife. Again, my “wife” does want to become Catholic and go through the RCIA program, but was told she must seek an annulment first. I wouldn’t say she is “on fire” for the faith at this point, but what if she does become “on fire” in the future and the annulment is denied? What if she knows the Catholic faith well, accepts that it is the fullness of truth, thus realizes she must go to a Catholic priest for forgiveness of mortal sin but can’t because she’s not Catholic?

not enough info
the only way to gather the required info is for her to visit the pastor of the Church where she wants to prepare for reception into the Church, give all the relevant facts about current and past marriages, and follow the procedures to determine validity of past marriages. Each situation is unique so any advice here will be general in tone only, not particularly helpful to her individual circumstances.

some questions that will arise
were either spouse of any past marriages ever baptized Catholic and if so were those marriages contracted under Church law
baptismal status of all parties
and so forth
witnesses who can attest to circumstances that pertained at the time of the original contract which would support her contention that the union was invalid: consent, intention and capacity are the general categories that cover dozens of possible grounds for invalid contract.

she has probably by this time provided all this relevant information to the tribunal and now is waiting for the results of her investigation. The timing will depend in a large part of the quality of the information she gave, and success in locating and getting testimony of witnesses. AFter that the time period to process depends on the work load of the diocesan tribunal. It can be a few months in some places, a couple of years in other. She has a tribunal contact or advocate who should be able to field inquiries about how the process is going. Bear in mind, like any legal case, anytime you ask someone to review your file that takes it out of the work flow stream, and creates a time lag before it gets back on the desk of the right person.

worst case scenario
the annulment is not granted because the first marriage is found to be entirely valid
again, you both have to visit the priest to get spiritual and practical counsel for your own situation. Objectively, spouses in such a situation would be in a state of mortal sin, and so neither could validly partake in any sacrament of the Church, including matrimony, unless they agreed to suspend or forego the marital embrace until such time as both are free to marry (death of prior spouses).

I am wondering why those who prepared you for this marriage did not advise you properly at that time? You were badly served if they did not, so not all the guilt rests on you if in fact your current marriage is not valid.

The time of waiting, testing and even sacrifice involved is an occassion of immense grace and opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work in you both, and the annulment process itself is healing, so the best counsel know is prayerful, obedient humility and wating.

yes it is also a possibility that she could enter the Church if she separated from the current spouse in the current (presumed invalid) marriage. If there are minor children involved it is doubtful a priest would counsel that. This is a situation where you both should have continuing spiritual support and counsel of your Catholic pastor, you especially since as the Catholic party to a (presumed at this time) invalid marriage the state of your own soul is in jeopardy. People on an internet forum cannot help you.

Your question has been discussed in great detail on this and past threads so I can only offer our prayers and the earnest counsel that you go for help where you need to, your own pastor.

the inability to locate documents is the biggest roadblock in such cases, next to inability to locate witnesses or get their timely cooperation.
this actually can work in your favor as the tribunal goes on information it has
the fact that the former spouse was CAtholic should have made this a slam dunk
but the key is proving his baptismal status
this takes a lot of detective work
a diocesa archivist of the diocese where he was most likely baptized may be of help
we had a similar case that took over two years for precisely the same reasons, but thankfully the tribunal accepted the word of the “bride” and her family that the former spouse and his family had assured them he was CAtholic, and their was corroborating evidence, so the lack of form was granted. the couple, and their children were received into the Church at Pentecost last year. alleluia

I would still like to know who dropped the ball for you when you prepared for this current marriage, because they are guilty of letting you get into this troublesome situation and I would like to rattle their chains a bit.

[year 2002] A Catholic priest in our previous parish. We since moved. He is aware of the situation now and he is terribly sorry. At the time, we were seeking his counsel (pre-Cana), he told us that she needed to get an annulment and it should be a simple lack of form because her ex-husband was Catholic and they didn’t get married in the Church or get permission not to. That tribunal declined the annulment because they couldn’t find the baptismal record (nor could we on our own investigation), but our priest told us he could grant the annulment, give us a dispensation and convalidation. He said the only time this might become an issue is if my wife decides she wants to become Catholic. Being told that, we got married outside of the Catholic Church. I thought everything was good.

[year 2009] My “wife” started the RCIA program but was told she needed and annulment. The process began.

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