Confused by what is allowable


Hello everyone,

I apologize if this isn’t the right board for these questions, but after looking around this seems like the right area.

Here is a bit of my background: I’m currently in RCIA and I attend Mass weekly, sometimes on Saturdays with my 12 year old daughter, as well. I’m loving it. But I have questions that are nagging at me.

I’m married to my husband. We’ve been together for 15 years and married for 13 of those years. He is previously divorced and has two grown daughters from that marriage. Will I even be able to be baptized being in an invalid marriage? His previous marriage, and ours as well, is a secular marriage. Can I be baptized as long as we are living as a brother and sister until our marriage is made valid by the Church?

A bit of background on my husband. He was raised in a strict Baptist household. I think that eventually he may join me in at Mass. I pray for it, but I’m not pushing. He was pushed for so long by his mother that he’s a bit shy of churches these days. I do see him interested in my journey, though.

And now on to my next question: If I’m allowed a Baptism, will I also be allowed Holy Communion? Will I be allowed any or all of the sacraments needed to enter into the Catholic Church? I’m still very new at this, but I’m trying to understand what to expect. My husband and I are on the same page as each other regarding living as brother and sister until we get these questions settled and do what we need to do in order to make our marriage valid in the Church.

Thank you in advance! :slight_smile:


i’ll answer your second question first: baptism is the doorway to the sacraments. as long as you continue to live a life of grace, baptism opens the way for the other sacraments, especially Eucharist.

as for your first question, you should go through a marriage tribunal. there is no way that we, here on a forum without meeting with you personally, could advise you in this particular situation. tribunals last a couple of years, but they weigh all the information and come down with a solid judgement that you can take to the bank, so to speak. they will advise you in the short term as well. arrange these things with your nearest catholic church, not just the one that you like the best.

feel free to encourage your husband to come to rcia classes as well. you don’t have to be considering a conversion to catholicism to attend and there’s no pressure to join.

welcome! you’re in my prayers.


So you are not baptized but your husband is. Also he was married before. You want to become Catholic, and you want to continue in your marriage.

There are two kinds of marriage: natural, and between the baptized, sacramental. The valid consummated sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved, according to the divine law. The question to ask, if the first wife is still living, is: was your husband’s first marriage a sacramental marriage?

If you were both free to marry when you did, per the Catholic Church, then when you become Catholic your marriage would become sacramental, since he is already baptized.

Talking to a priest may help greatly, because it can be a complex question to answer.


You should discuss this with your pastor immediately. Your marital situation is relevant to your ability to enter the Church. It may be simple to resolve or it may take some time to obtain an annulment of his first marriage.

As others have suggested, feel free to ask your husband to attend RCIA class with you. There is no obligation and there is everything to gain.



Simple answers are always best…
The marriage situation should not be too difficult though it may take some time (doubt if it takes two years though). Most likely it will be dealt with as “lack of form”. your husband had not been married in the Church so - sacramentally speaking - not married previously. Same with your current marriage.
Once the Tribunal rules, it is s simple matter to have your marriage convalidated in the Church…

Welcome home…:smiley:



Her husband is Baptist. He had no need to be married according to Catholic form.

Sebrina, make an appointment to meet with your pastor. He will be able to answer your questions and help you get started on resolving issues.


Simple answers seem to be what the norm is here, so here is my simple answer to your question? No you will not be able to be baptized or recieve Communion untill the marriage situation is “fixed”. If what you say here is all there is this should be quite easy to complete if your husband is willing.

First off, see your parish priest or deacon immediately, make an appointment today to meet as soon as you can, there is no time to delay. Your husband was married before so he will have to apply for an annulment of that marriage; if this was like you stated it should be a matter of filling out a form and sending it to the tribunal and in a short period of time be complete, lack of form isthat a Christian was married by a civil authority.

Then if you are free to marry, no impediments, you can have your marriage validated in teh Church.

Keep this in mind, you are not baptised, at least it appears that way, which means you must be baptized before you are married. This is the normal order, baptism is the gateway sacrament. So you would plan your convalidation ceremony directly after the Easter weekend. Your priest and or deacon can handle all of this with you, it’s not that complicated and it is a beautiful witness to the entire Church that you would go through with these steps, in obedience to make these corrections to your state of life in the Church. I applaud you and I shall add you to my prayer intention list!


Thanks for the correction…Sometimes I need to keep my fat fingers OFF the keyboard…



Thank you all for your answers. I’ll definitely make an appointment to talk to the parish priest and give him the information on our marriage as well as his previous marriage.

Someone (sorry, I can’t remember the name) here was asking if I have been previously baptized. The answer is no, I haven’t. I hadn’t even stepped foot into a church until last year. My parents raised my sister and I as agnostic as they could. God and religion was rarely, if ever, discussed. But for the last few years, I feel like I’ve been pulled in this direction, so every day is a learning process. My husband was raised and baptized in the Baptist church.

Again, thank you all very much, and thank you for your prayers :slight_smile:


If I read the OP correctly, neither she nor her husband are Catholic. My understanding is that “lack of form” applies when a Catholic marries outside the Church. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. (Unless maybe the husband’s first wife was Catholic?) So, going by the information we have here, the husband will be facing a full-blown case before the tribunal - with no guarantee that it will result in a decree of nullity.

In my opinion, it reflects pretty badly on the OP’s RCIA program that she has to come to an internet forum for assistance with this matter. This is something they should have warned her about right up front.


Without getting your husbands first marriage annulled you can’t be baptized because the second you were you’ll be sinning because, according to the Church, you’re living in sin. They won’t let you do this.

I recommend reading these Catholic Updates, it should really help you out.

Ten Questions About Annulment
Bringing Your Marriage Into the Church

They just had us read these in our RCIA class.


I think I’m pretty confused now. :stuck_out_tongue:

When I read parts of the Catechism concerning sacraments, I read that being baptized comes first and foremost before going in front of a tribunal. I understood as being that a person has to be a member of the Catholic church in order to even get to that point. (paraphrasing for simplicities sake).

My husband’s ex-wife isn’t Catholic, if I understand it correctly she was raised in a Baptist household and most likely she was baptized at a Protestant church.

Personally, I have also understood it that we would not be living in sin if I were Baptized, as I’ve said a couple of times, we are living as brother and sister until we get this understood/fixed. So now, I’m not sure where I stand or if there is even any point in continuing RCIA if I can’t get baptized or accepted in any way until we go in front of a tribunal which can take quite a bit of time from what I’ve gleaned.


Because the church says his first marriage is still going and valid, he is technically, living in adultery with you, and because of that you are living with a man who is already married therefore you are also committing adultery. But once you get his marriage annulled then you will be fine.


[quote="Quaesitor, post:11, topic:299280"]

Ten Questions About Annulment
Bringing Your Marriage Into the Church


I highly recommend reading both these through, maybe start with Bringing Your Marriage Into the Church first then, because it goes into a little bit of the annulment read the Ten Questions...


No, you don’t have to be Catholic to go before a tribunal. In your case, your husband is the one who would have his marriage examined and he is not Catholic and (I’m guessing) not planning to become Catholic. The Tribunal won’t turn him away because he isn’t Catholic.

Personally, I have also understood it that we would not be living in sin if I were Baptized, as I’ve said a couple of times, we are living as brother and sister until we get this understood/fixed. So now, I’m not sure where I stand or if there is even any point in continuing RCIA if I can’t get baptized or accepted in any way until we go in front of a tribunal which can take quite a bit of time from what I’ve gleaned.

The Church doesn’t actually teach that a married couple should live as brother and sister. That’s not what marriage is about. For pastoral reasons, if a couple can’t separate, a priest may allow them to receive the sacraments as long as they promise to avoid sex, but that is an individual decision of a confessor, not a general rule.

You also need to consider the possibility that your husband may not receive a declaration of nullity for his prior marriage. What would you do then? Would you want to live as his sister for the rest of your life? You need to have the Tribunal make a decision so that you know exactly where you stand.

In general, it would not be recommended for you to be baptized until the marriage situation is resolved. The rule we go by in my parish (and what was recommended by a judge on the Tribunal) is that someone is not allowed to go through the Rite of Election if there is a marriage issue pending. The person is not ready for baptism if they are still dealing with the Tribunal.

You really need to talk with your pastor so he can address the particulars of your situation. Don’t give up before you even get started!


I went through a head ache about this because I’m still married to my ex, as far as the church is concerned, but I’m not remarried so I can be baptized, because and as long as I’m celibate I’m not committing any sins.


Now at least at my Parish, as long as you finish RCIA they said that even if it isn’t taken care of in time for the Easter Vigil, when it comes through you can then be baptized. But this is just what they told our group.

So don’t drop out!!!


It would be advantageous for you to submit your prior marriage to the Tribunal. Then you would know where you stand as far as future relationships may be concerned. In my parish I recommend that the people in RCIA very strongly consider applying for a declaration of nullity, even if they don’t plan to marry again. If their prior marriage is declared null then they know they are free to date and begin a new relationship. If their prior marriage is declared valid, then they know they need to conduct themselves as a married person.


Oh, I plan on it, but my biggest problem is I don’t have all the dates and everything to send off for documents to submit to the tribunal. I am going down next June to California so I can go by and physically get the documents, and on our way home I plan on swinging by the state we got our divorces in also.

I totally plan on conducting myself as a married person until such time as I get a letter from the tribunal.


Thank you for those links. I did read both of them, but they didn’t go into detail at all about my problem or confusion which is… does a baptism come first or after a marriage convalidation. Maybe I’m completely misunderstanding this, but in order to have a marriage convalidated by the Church, one of us needs to be Catholic, is that correct or incorrect? If that is correct, then how can I become a member of the Church if I cannot be baptized in the church and then from there go in front of a tribunal? How can my husband have his marriage annuled in the Church if he nor I are not baptized Catholic? Everything that I’m reading says: One of them must be a Catholic in order to have the marriage convalidated.

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