Confessors with differing views

I have a moral dilemma, brothers and sisters, and would appreciate your help with solving it. I’m 42, I was baptized when I was a week old, received my first Communion when I was 8 without having much faith, and left the Church after that. After being married for 15 years to a non-Christian and having 2 children with her I returned to the Church last October, and have been in full Communion for the last 2 months, until yesterday when I was denied absolution by a priest.

In my 2 months of full Communion I have gone for Confession once a week to confess the sin that the book calls “fornication”, and when I explained the circumstances (the “fornicatrix” is my wife and I’m working on getting our marriage convalidated) I received absolution from 6 different priests. I thought that I was being quite chaste by resisting temptation for a whole week (my “illicit” wife is loving and beautiful, and thinks nothing of strutting around naked in front of me). One confessor told me that I wasn’t sinning at all, and another who also knew all the details told me that as long as I was working on the convalidation and my chastity, my sin was venial and I could receive Communion without prior Confession.

Yesterday, when I told a priest that even though I tried I couldn’t honestly say that I wasn’t going to fall again (the flesh is weak), he told me that I shouldn’t recieve the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion until my marriage was convalidated, and that doing so would be a grave sin.

Would it be wrong for me to go to another priest for those Sacraments, if I explain to him my new situation? Thank you in advance.

This priest is correct. You must abstain from sexual relations until your situation is resolved. The other priests are wrong.

Thank you, Thistle. I know what I must do, but if it were that easy we wouldn’t need the Sacrament of Reconciliation at all, don’t you think? Did your answer imply that I shoudn’t ask a different priest for the Sacraments?

(I didn’t mention before that my wife is nursing our second son and that makes her “naturally chaste”, so all the responsability for the “fornication” falls on me.)

In my opinion you should not look for another priest. The fact your marriage requires convalidation means it is not yet valid in the eyes of the Church. That means any sexual relations is a grave sin which would exclude you from receiving Communion for now.
I also agree it is not easy.

A lot of this depends on what you implied here, and I’m not sure how the priest understood what you said:

If you were saying that you intended to not sin again with a firm purpose of amendment, but were worried that you might sin again, that does not bar you from absolution.

If you were saying that you’d fall again if given the opportunity, then there is not valid matter for the Sacrament.

Obviously the confessor cannot defend himself here, so I don’t know if it was just based on that or other things. Were you clear with the confessor on what you meant?

I would normally say that you could receive Holy Communion if you have received absolution and abstain from sexual relations. However, you need to follow what your religious superior says and I don’t want to contradict him.

What do you mean by the last bit?

What’s holding up the convalidation?

I agree you shouldn’t be shopping around for a confessor to tell you what you want to hear. This priest has told you the truth. You cannot receive absolution as long as you are living with a woman you are not validly married to and might slip up with .We are supposed to have the intention to sin no more and are responsible to have a firm ammendment and take action to avoid the sin. You are leaving the confessional and going home to live in temptation. Firm ammendment for you would be you have the convalidation already set up and ready to go and you are just trying to get to that date. Or if necessary you would remove yourself from temptation either by separate bedrooms or a separate living arrangement. Is that where you are?

Seems like you have the old "well if I fall I’ll just go to confession since that is what it is there for " attitude . That’s the sin of presumption. Not good.

Why is the marriage not valid? Marriage between two non-Catholics is still valid (if not Sacramental), is it not?

It is sacramental if both have been baptized. If one or both are unbaptized it is valid but not sacramental.

That’s what I thought, so therefore it’s a valid marriage, yes?

The OP is Catholic. While “non practicing” he married outside of the Church. His marriage is not valid, or sacramental, until it is convalidated.

No, Catholics are bound to follow the laws of the church and he did not do that.

Right - thanks - Joe

I see now, thanks!

Shouldn’t be too difficult to have it convalidated though, should it?

Thistle is correct in his advice.

I would, for the sake of your immortal soul, request of your wife that she not be naked in front of you until your marriage is made right with the Church. If she won’t, you will need to separate until such time as this can happen. If you have children together, you will need to put on mental blinders and sleep on the couch (or in the guestroom). Absolution is not possible where there is no firm purpose of amendment (no conversion of the heart).
You might also want to speak with your priest/advocate about seeing if anything can be speeded up. I feel for you, I’ve been in this spot myself, so know that where the intermal motivation to get right with the Church is strong enough (along with strong devotion to our most pure BVM!), it is possible.

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