Catholics question about annulment asked by a Mormon

I have asked this question in many threads, which were not discussing this particular problem. My Catholic husband received the sacrament of Holy Matrimony to his first wife in 1959. In 1977 they were divorced civily, because she joined the Seventh Day Adventist church and took the 4 children and left him. After that he married a woman who died of bone cancer in 1995. Then he and I were married in 1999. I am Mormon. He has been a very faithful Catholic, never misses mass, unless very ill.
He was told that he could not receive any of the sacraments of the RCC unless he could qualify for annulment.
Since he could not tell the priests that he had married by mistake or been coerced into marriage, he was told he could not qualify for annulment.
The priests we have asked have all had varying opinions and have left my husband very confused. For 2 years he was told, “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” this was simply repeated where ever we turned to for answers. My husband then had brain surgery which paralyzed his right side. He still attends mass every week and has given over $6000.00 to the Catholic church just in the past year. Now, last summer, he went to another priest and he gave him some papers to fill out, which he then turned in along with $150.00 to the local diocese tribunal.
The tribunal called and said that the priest should never have forwarded the application for annulment to them as he doesn’t qualify for annulment. They then sent a retired priest to our home, and that priest offered my husband the sacrament of penance.
He said that now my husband could take the Eucharist and go to confession. My husband was very happy and at peace again. Then I told about it in this forum and a priest said that it was impossible for this to happen. I told my husband and now he does not believe that the retired priest had the proper authority, but his parish priest says yes, but now today the person called 'iwonder"says she is a tribunal member and that none of this is possible. So which priests are correct? or is none of them correct? I and my husband are very concerned about this problem with the priests not knowing what the Church believes, or standing up for each other’s views. Can someone who really knows clarify this problem, or tell us who to really contact that can once and for all tell us the truth about it. I know I do not know the correct words to use or how the Catholic Church works, I asked my husband to help me word this thread properly.
This is very sincere and no one has answered my other posts about it. The Catholics either call me a liar or ignore my posts on the subject. So I expect a flood of information now and maybe some priests will weigh in on why all of them believe different things about divorce. The main thing is my husband really forgiven, Why did the retired priest have more authority than all of the other priests? He is the only one who could say my husband was forgiven. But, now his parish priest agrees with the retired priest. :slight_smile: Thanks for all of your input on this, I hope you can put my husband’s mind at ease. He is 70 and soon to undergo colon surgery for cancer. I would so much like him to know in his heart that the priest who forgave him did the right thing.
Even if he is no longer welcome in the Catholic Church, he needs to know once and for all.

:confused: BJ

WOW! First of all, my best to your husband and to you. It sounds like you both have had a lot to deal with. You will both be in my prayers.

While I can’t give you any advice on which priest is correct, I would abide by what your parish priest says. He knows your situation best. If you can, go in for a meeting with him. Make sure you explain EVERYTHING, including any posts on this or any other message boards. Ask “why”, don’t just say “Okay”. I find that if I understand the reasoning behind an answer, I understand the entire process a lot more. Hope this helps.

May God bless you both,

I am no authority on the issue. However, I have been through the process, and my situation shares some features with that of your husband. It differs in some respects, however. I began the process immediately after the divorce was final. Religious differences and religious harrassment were a part of the problem. My ex became a rabid Baptist. My ex was willing to participate, although, I was told, his responses did not match with the responses of the other witnesses.

I would suspect that, as old as the case is, and the SDA’s probable unwillingness to participate, and the unavailability of witnesses after so long a time, it would be very difficult to obtain. Is your husband even sure she is still alive?

If religious harrassment was a part of the problem, this is compelling.

I would suggest that your husband rest easy with the compassionate action of the retired priest and the parish priest.

You might get more responses in another area of the site, but your own religious affiliation is not relevant to the case.

Thank you both for your answers, they are very good and helpful. Yes his ex is still alive and we have had a quite a bit of contact with her because of the 4 children(grown) that they share. We have had a problem with the priests not wanting to take time to answer questions. Perhaps you could tell us some of the questions my husband could ask, that would open the door to more discussion without being irreverent to the priests. The radio priest actually said that since he was so old, he should just wait until his death bed and then have me call a priest for deathbed repentance. He said that was his only hope. That was before the retired priest.
I think part of the situation was that it has been so long, all of the witnesses except his ex are dead and his ex wants nothing to do with the Catholic Church. She just laughs and says they have no power over him and he should just get over it. The thing is he believes so strongly in the Catholic Church, that if he is truely not forgiven then his heart is broken. He asked me today if the Catholic church believes in the Atonement. So I am asking you, do they? If so why is it so difficult to be forgiven for divorce, and so seemingly easy to be forgiven for more serious offenses?
Thank you both again, you have been very helpful in your answers.

If so why is it so difficult to be forgiven for divorce

Sometimes NOT getting a divorce is a worse sin. It is re-marrriage that is the problem.

Yes, the long delay in taking action, the lack of witnesses, and her lack of cooperation are the problem. Quiet compassion becomes the best option. And there are compassionate priests out there.

My prayers for both of you.

Thank you again Jerusha, you eased his mind a lot.

Hi BJ,

Let me start this off by saying that my prayers are with you and your husband in trying to resolve this annulment issue. While I’m not an authority on how to resolve the issue, as you know I’m going through the process with my LDS wife so that we can have our marriage recognized in the church and I can receive the sacraments as well.

Since your husband was married in the RCC, he needs to give a valid reason of why that marriage should be annulled. In the church’s eyes. “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” As far as the Church is concerned, he is still married to his first wife and is living in sin with you. Thus, the reason he can’t receive any of the sacraments now because he is living as a husband in a marriage the Church doesn’t recognize.

You stated that “since he could not tell the priests that he had married by mistake or been coerced into marriage, he was told he could not qualify for annulment.” Unfortunately, Irreconcilable Differences isn’t a good enough reason to grant a divorce. It’s usually something along the lines of abuse or infidelity on her part that the church would look at to consider giving an annulment.

My suggestion is to have your husband re-evaluate why his first marriage failed. An excuse like she walked away from the marriage wouldn’t be good enough. The reason of she wasn’t following the guidelines of marriage in the Catholic Faith, converted to SDA and brought up the kids in that faith, might be a reasonable excuse for the Catholic Church to consider an annullment. The bottom-line is that your husband needs to give them more of a reason to consider granting an annulment.

Things that I’m not even considering in order to receive the sacraments would be to consider a separation in my present marriage or promise the church that I would live like ‘brother and sister’ in my present marriage. Since I didn’t understand the guidelines of the church until recently, I’m not even considering suggesting them to my wife. Fortunately, we’re much younger than you two. Either one of these agreements though, would allow your husband to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive the Eucharist.

Your comment of “Even if he is no longer welcome in the Catholic Church, he needs to know once and for all,” is a little out of line. Your husband is always welcomed in the church. It’s not unreasonable for the church to ask its members to follow the rules and guidelines of the church so that their members can receive the sacraments ‘worthily’.

Again, you have my prayers in getting this issue resolved.

So which priests are correct? or is none of them correct?

The pope is correct. See here: View

Your husband is certainly able to receive sacramental absolution for unlawfully re-marrying contrary to Catholic canon law. But, he is also, like all other Catholics, obliged to obey canon law from here on out.

He is the only one who could say my husband was forgiven.

I want to clarify something…

Forgiveness comes from God when you have true contrition of past sins. Without contrition, no remittance of sin is possible. Yet, with true contrition alone, his sins are forgiven. Frequent heartfelt acts of contrition ought to increase his confidence that God forgives him.

Nevertheless, access to the Holy Sacraments requires more than remittance of past sins, but also reparation and a firm resolve to live as a law-abiding Catholic.

Think of King David and his sins. God forgave him. Yet, even after God forgave him, King David needed to endure great suffering as penance for his sins.

If the Catholic Church decides that your husband must refrain from the Holy Sacraments, then that’s the cross he must carry. My brother carries this same cross, but knows that he is in a state of grace just the same.

I recommend instead of receiving the Sacraments contrary to Catholic canon law, your husband do as my brother does and refrain from the Sacraments knowing that he is forgiven while at the same time, firm in his resolve to live as a law-abiding Catholic.

I also recommend frequent visits to Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass, and praying the Spiritual Communion prayer as often as you can …

Spiritual Communion Prayer

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Know that Jesus is always there beside you helping you exta-sacramentally when you carry your cross.

Spiritual Communion Prayer

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Dave, thank you very much for the prayer. It’s a prayer I didn’t realize I was looking for. :smiley:

Dear B.J Colbert,

You sound a wonderful faith filled and loving wife. I myself have been married for six years to a wonderful Mormon lady. Each of us is committed in our respective faiths and attend with our five year old son, each other services every Sunday (a total of 4 hours)

It took some adjustment at first not to let a spirit of contention enter into our marriage when discussing our respective differences, however we have found a happy and enriching medium of sharing what we have in common, that is praying together to our Heavenly Father, a love of Jesus, reading of the Bible each day and the daily struggle of being parents to our combined family of seven children and five grandchildren (four of which still live with us).

When we got married both of us had been previously married and divorced, at that time the Church required each of us to go through a marriage annulment process. I am eternally grateful that my wife’s Mormon ex husband and her family agreed to participate in this process. Both of us were granted an annulment (I had been married in a Catholic Church she had been through a Temple ceremony)

In regards to your situation, because of changes in the Catholic Churches stance on Mormon Baptism, if you had been previously married in a Mormon ceremony and have subsequently been divorced you should not need to go through an annulment process. However your husband marriage to his first wife, if she is still alive has to go through an annulment process. No priest can prejudge the situation the process of the annulment determines if his first marriage was valid or not

If it was invalid, and a range of criteria has to be looked based on the disposition of each of the marriage partners at the time when they exchanged marriage vows, then an annulment is granted and your husband is free to have his marriage to you regularized within the Church.

I would suggest to your husband because of the various differing advise from Church officials that he look at consulting a Church canon lawyer.

Finally from personal experience when I was in the same position as your husband that is because of my situation I was unable to receive the sacraments, I still was able to practice my faith trusting in God that through His mercy all things are possible, and that His love and mercy for me is never diminished.



The Catholic church has a responsibility to protect the sanctity of marriage. If the invalidity of your husband’s previous marriage cannot be proven, because of the lack of witnesses and his ex’s refusal to cooperate, it might be better for him to accept the situation, not blame the church, but, rather blame her, and his own tardiness in addressing the issue. He can certainly still remain in the good graces of God, and participitate fully in social activities in the church. Just attending Mass, without reaching out to the church community, is not adequate, especially for a person who is in such a difficult situation.

And I can say it directly to you, it might do you well to put aside your anti-Catholic rhetoric in your relationship with your husband, and take a critical look at your own church. Such rhetoric must hurt him-- reminding him of the pain involved in the previous marriage we are discussing.

Religious tolerance in a mixed marriage is essential for its success.

Thank you all for such good advice, I totally understand the post by itsjustdave. That was really a concise statement about the beliefs of the RCC and I read all of these statements verbatim to my husband. He said it is very clear now and he wishes the priests we consulted could have given him the blog from dave and the prayer to offer.

Brian, You are amazing, that is just what Don and I have been doing for the past 6 years of our marriage.(attending each other’s services every Sunday)

Jerusha, I know you think I am anti-Catholic, but I am not really, only when I feel attacked sometimes in these forums do I strike back in the same tone as I feel coming from the attacker. Normally, I am very open and accepting of your religion, as it is my husband’s and we love each other very much. I only came to this forum originally hoping to find answers for him.
If only we had read Dave’s blog years ago it would have saved us a lot of pain, and discouragement. Why don’t priests have this information? It would have been so easy for the priest to just hand out a paper with that information on it. Instead some of them looked at him in horror and turned him out of the confessional, without any explanation. Others told him there was basically no hope for him.
It is so simple really, and all our questions are answered. I should have done this so long ago.
I just can’t thank you all enough for responding and for your outpouring of advice, love and prayers.
I and my husband totally understand now.
Jerusha, I told my husband that you and I have had some disagreements in the past, but that they were about other things. Which you did not understand, and I did not understand and still don’t, but please don’t think I hate you or any Catholics. As I said before in other posts, 3 of my 4 daughters are married to Catholics, and one of my 2 sons was married to a Catholic(she died 5 years ago) he raised the boys Catholic. Some of my grandsons are alter boys and some are deacons in the Mormon church.(two of these boys are brothers in the same family) We have a family that is half and half. If I hated Catholics, I would have to hate my own family and that is just not going to happen. We discuss religion and we have no discension at all about religion in our families. We are like Brian and his wife, we all get along and accept our differences, and embrace the similarities.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank You all, you are the greatest! and we are elated with your answers.

:slight_smile: BJ and Don

You have been in my prayers this past week that a thread would be started to answer your questions. I am so glad you asked!

My best friend (LDS) had to have The Prophet break the seal to her deceased husband so she could marry again in the Temple. I asked her to pray for you and your husband in your struggle. She and her husband were both Temple worthy but could not marry each other for time and all eternity. It broke their hearts.

I stood in the Temple waiting room with other wedding guests while she married her first husband. I cried with her when he died. Then when she was finally able to be sealed to her second husband I stood alone in the waiting room. (The Temple workers were shocked to see me there. They said to their knowledge they had never seen an active Catholic at a Temple sealing “in spirit.” It didn’t seem strange to me. I said, “she’s my best friend. How can I not be here?”)

Your understanding of your husband’s beliefs reminded us of our friendship. Your love and devotion are examples to us all. I hope you will get better answers from the priests and Tribunal now that you have better information to work with. You and your husband remain in our prayers.

Thank you for your note, and the story of your friend. I just appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers so much. This thread has been a great blessing to my husband and I, and I can see the Catholics in this forum in a different light. You have all stepped forward to help when I asked for help with this problem and I just am overwhelmed with your kindness and outpouring of concern and love. I know your prayers will help us have peace of mind with this problem we have struggled with for so long.
Thank You again so much :slight_smile: BJ


I want to start off by saying that you and your husband will be in my prayers.

It may be a sad situation for the priesthood but it happens…not all priest hold true to the teachings of the Catholic Church. And I think that you can say the same thing about some of the members of your church. It think it is a sad situation for both of our side. The best thing we can do is point you to the official teachings of the RCC, like the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, encyclicals of the popes and in your case Canon Law. Opinions of some catholic, even priest would sometimes confuse you and I guess it has already. I’d like to apologize in the priest’ behalf for giving your husband such harsh words. The confessional is suppose to be a place were wounds are healed and not cut deeper.

I hope that your husband could be reassured that he was forgiven when the priest gave him absolution. Doubt doesn’t help at all but i know that sometime it creeps in our consciense. I’ve been in that situation. Tell your husband to have confidence in God and not in the priest for the priest is only the instrument by which God imparts the grace of forgiveness, though the priest forgives in “persona christi”… in the person of Christ.

I hope that all the faithful catholics in this forum have helped you and your husband ease the burden that is on your shoulders.

May God bless you and your family.

Thank you for your kind words in addition to all the others in this forum, I appreciate it and my husband appreciates it. Just through this thread, we finally got the answers we had been searching for.

I know it is sometimes difficult to get through all of the different understandings by people of different religions, but even more so when people of the same religion understand things in a different way.

Whew! Good thing we got through that one with all in agreement. Can’t argue with the Pope. I don’t know how anyone could misunderstand the post by itsjustdave. But, everyone is human, even priests and subject to human error. It happens in our church and in all churchs.

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