Cautiously Hopeful with a side of fear


#1

Hello all - I am new to the forums but have been reading for several months.

I was hoping to be able to figure out the answers to my questions by researching on my own, but I just can’t seem to find anything that matches my situation. I will make this as brief as possible in hopes that someone may be able to calm my worries a bit.

[LIST]
*]I was married at age 20, civil ceremony, Catholic spouse (self protestant)
*]We were married 8 years and had two children
*]He decided he was atheist so I took the children to Methodist church & they were baptized
*]He also decided to divorce me to marry a coworker
*]When our children were of age, she wanted them baptized/confirmed in the Catholic church even though their mother (me) was Methodist & their father, atheist.
*]My ex & his wife took them to a different parish and had them baptized/confirmed/first communion (ages 6 and 12) without my knowledge
*]I eventually met and married another Catholic man and we have been married for 18 years and had four more children (2 biological and 2 adopted) We married in a civil ceremony at the courthouse but by a Methodist minister & children were baptized as infants in the Methodist church.
*]My husband was previously married in a Catholic church to a Catholic. They were married less than 2 years and only lived together as husband & wife for 1
*]She is an alcoholic. He knew she had a problem before marrying, but not how severe. She also adamantly did not want children, which she let him know after they were married (after telling the priest she was “open” to it.
*]They divorced. She remarried & is divorced again. He has not spoken to her for 20 years and doesn’t know where she lives. Due to her type of employment, she is not easy to find online so we’re unsure how to notify her of this petition.
[/LIST]

I am troubled because while researching this, I am learning that our marriage is considered “invalid” because my husband did not petition for annulment before marrying me 18 yrs ago. He was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant but wasn’t confirmed until he was an adult and that was 25+ years ago. When we married, he wasn’t active in the Church at all. At the time of our marriage, I had NO idea the importance of an annulment since I was not Catholic & he wasn’t practicing so he didn’t pursue it either.

I am converting to Catholicism & my husband & I are attending RCIA together. He is acting as my sponsor while also re-entering the Church. The priest knows that we’ve both been married and divorced and we are working with him to set up a meeting with him to talk about this stuff but he will be away on retreat next week so it will probably be a few weeks. I am just worrying myself sick about this which is why I’m asking here :frowning:

  1. If our marriage is invalid until if/when he is able to have his former marriage annulled, does that mean I will not be able to be confirmed since I am essentially living with a married man :imsorry: (I hated typing that) and that would mean I am not “right” with the church until that is taken care of? And if his first marriage was not annulled, that would mean I could never become Catholic unless we were no longer married? Meaning I would have to choose between the Church & my marriage, family and husband? When I learned that we were considered adulterers by the Church, my heart fell. I feel weird in mass, like we’re flaunting sin or something if we’re holding hands. Or that our family is not “whole”.

  2. I believe my former marriage is not an issue since my former husband filed the “Lack of Form”. I think they wanted to re-do their vows in a Catholic church (she is VERY actively Catholic, despite committing adultery with my husband and against her own) so I think I was free to marry in both the eyes of the law and the Catholic church.

I’ve searched and searched but cannot find what is done about remarriages when you’ve already remarried and now one is converting while the other is coming home to the Church, all of the info only deals with pre-marital issues.

I feel really, really sad that I might not be able to convert because of poor judgment in our pasts. I have looked carefully at his first marriage and compared it with what I’ve read in Canon laws and it appears that considering they really didn’t know each other well, she refused to have children, wasn’t faithful and had (still has) a sad & terrible addiction along with some other really awful things she did during their short marriage, that maybe the Church will agree that there was no bond there. They both admit that they married out of convenience (sharing expenses, health insurance, job opportunities, etc) but it was still done in a church. Unfortunately, the best man, parents, etc. have all died since then and there were very few people who knew them as a couple as they were actually rarely together due to her work & schooling commitments, so I don’t know how that will affect the process. I also don’t know how cooperative she will be due to her addiction issues.

Ok, so that’s a lot of information for now. I am honored if anyone is able to read this and maybe ease my mind by either filling in some gaps or any thoughts on this confusing matter. I can’t imagine the Church would want a happily married couple (and we really are) and stable family to be separated so that we would be following Church law. But I can’t reconcile not following Church law for my own desires and past mistakes either.

It’s all so confusing. :confused: Many thanks to anyone who made it this far.


#2

Having been through RCIA last year, I can only suggest that you not seek answers about tricky annulments here on CAF. I suggest you contact your parish's tribunal representative, via your RCIA director and setup an appointment to talk with them about your situation. There are so many things that can affect your course of action and only someone who knows what questions to ask will be able to adequately navigate you through the process and set you mind at ease. Anything you learn here will need to be taken with a grain of salt because most answer will be individual opinions and might not help. But put your trust in Christ and pray for patience and understanding. No matter what prepare for a long process but don't despair or stop going to RCIA. Usually if an annulment doesn't come through by Easter as long as you have completed RCIA you can be confirmed when the annulment comes through. A guy I went through RCIA with last year was finally confirmed and had his marriage convalidated this last Sunday. Because he completed all the classes.


#3

I recommend the above poster's advice. This issue is very thick, and though someone on here might be able to look at it and sort it out, do you really want anonymous advice guiding your decisions, when you're ultimately going to have to go to a professional about it, anyway?

God loves you, the Church loves you, and we are happy for you. A lot of people are struggling in situations just like you. You aren't square right now with the Church, that's true, but you can't be expected to be square right away. It's going to take a little time. That doesn't mean that if you die today you will perish forever, because clearly your intent is to become square as soon as you can.

From what I've read, I think it probably won't be too hard to have everything worked out for you two in the end. Try to breathe easily, take some time. If you are worried about your conduct as scandalous at RCIA, just ask whoever is leading it whether you should, for the sake of others' consciences, not hold hands. That doesn't mean it's bad to hold hands, but for the sake of other's consciences, perhaps if the RCIA director thinks it'd be better otherwise, then follow that advice.

God bless you, good luck, this time of uncertainty will pass away soon.


#4

You know what - - it does seem like there is a lot of history here - - but look at the positives. Try to be thankful that your husband cares about your joining the Church, and is supportive of you and willing to do the annulment process. I think if the two of you remain supportive and positive, and willing to look at it through the eyes of the Church - - you are on the right track! I think there are a lot of spouses who don't even care enough to try to work through the past (sadly).
I am remembering you in my prayers, and hoping that things will work out well!


#5

Trying to diagnose marriage issues online is something close to impossible.

Make an appointment with your priest and bring this information to him. He'll help you sort out what needs to be done and the proper steps to take. Resolving everything may take time and effort, but -- as you said in the title of your thread -- remain hopeful.

Prayers for you and your family.


#6

Really have to agree with the other posters.

Talk to someone locally familiar with the annulment process.

I have to say that you included some things in your OP that really do not bear on the matter of an annulment - By this I refer to the issues with the children, their baptisms, confirmations etc. So part of your confusion may have to do with your thinking about these other issues.

The main issues that would need to be addressed are the conditions at the time of your civil marriages. Sitting down face to face with someone knowledgeable in these things will help to sort out and properly focus on the issues that really need to be addressed.

Good luck.

Peace
James


#7

Many thanks to you all. I do understand that each situation is different and that we need to speak to the priest who is leading our RCIA. We are in the process of doing that as soon as his schedule opens up. And reading back, I see my post is a bit jumbled. But truly, the words you took time to write and the prayers are exactly what I needed to hear! I wasn't really thinking this could be solved online or anything, I guess I just wanted to express my concerns and hear some encouraging words, which I did. Thank you!


#8

Let us know how things go.


#9

I agree with the others as well. Wait until your priest gets back from his retreat, and then insist on getting a meeting with him, with both you and your husband. And then do everything he tells you to do, and do not delay.

By "do not delay" I mean, if he gives you a form to fill out, fill it out the same day, and mail it or send it or give it to the person who needs it before the sun begins to set. Do not let any piece of paper stay overnight in your house.

Don't let soccer games, business meetings, or other distractions prevent you from getting to all of the interviews you need to get to regarding this issue, whether it's with your priest or with members of the Marriage Tribunal. (DO NOT say no to any member of the Tribunal - if they even smell the merest hint of the least appearance of a lack of interest, you will go back to the bottom of the pile. Be at the meetings, even if they are in the middle of the night or at three in the morning, or in the middle of your kid's Christmas play, or during your favourite TV show. Be early for the meetings; never arrive just on time or, heaven forbid, late.) Make it your number one priority for as long as it takes until it's solved.

Remember that you have not only these Declarations of Nullity to resolve, but also, once you have them in hand, you have to get married for the first time, which involves everything that is involved with a Church wedding in the Catholic Church - pre-cana interviews, choosing the witnesses, choosing the readings, booking the Church, getting your friends and family to come, and everything else.

Good luck. I am praying for you!


#10

[quote="jmcrae, post:9, topic:343818"]
Remember that you have not only these Declarations of Nullity to resolve, but also, once you have them in hand, you have to get married for the first time, which involves everything that is involved with a Church wedding in the Catholic Church - pre-cana interviews, choosing the witnesses, choosing the readings, booking the Church, getting your friends and family to come, and everything else.

[/quote]

Before Grace totally panics...

The wedding can be as big or as small as you want. If you want friends and family and the whole nine yards, that's great. But it can be as small and simple as the couple, two witnesses, and the priest or deacon.


#11

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:10, topic:343818"]
Before Grace totally panics...

The wedding can be as big or as small as you want. If you want friends and family and the whole nine yards, that's great. But it can be as small and simple as the couple, two witnesses, and the priest or deacon.

[/quote]

Yes,of course. :)


#12

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