Confused...

DISCLAIMER—This turned into somewhat of a long post; so if you get bored…I have written a short Reader’s Digest version at the end. (feel free to skip to that if you would like.)

I am a relatively new Catholic. Grow up in a Protestant house hold, was married with no children, which ended in divorce. During the divorce I realized that although I call myself a Christian, I was not living in a life style fitting the name, as it were. So I started thinking there had to be something said about the Catholic faith as it had held strong for over 2000 years. I began going to Mass, and now I go as close to daily as possible.

That all being said. I have felt for a while now a tug/pull, although I have tried to ignore it at times, to the Priesthood.

That being said two questions.

  1. If I choose to not apply for an annulment, could I still enter into the Priesthood?

Main reason I ask this is I have some issues internally with applying for an annulment as well as theological issues. I have talked with my Priest about the annulment and although annulments are hard to have approved, it seems my situation is a strong case. (possibility of fraud on her part as well as lack of understanding of the sacrament of marriage with both parties.)

  1. If I do get an annulment, could I enter the Priesthood?

I have talked to some people that said there is no way at all I could enter into the Priesthood even if I did get an annulment. Is that true?

In all things I just want to be obedient to God and do His will.

Short Reader’s Digest version:
I was married, got a divorce, became Catholic, have not applied for annulment but have been told I have a strong case, feel that I am called to the Priesthood. Can I enter the Priesthood? Would I have to have an approved annulment?

You can be annulled of course only if your marriage is really null (meaning, there was no valid marriage). Logically, if you’re not married, then you can aspire for priesthood, but it is still the discernment of the formator that will decide whether you are really being called by God in that vocation.

I apologize don’t really know what I was thinking about the not getting an annulment thing. My main concern was that if it is approved and the marriage was null, would I still be able to discern for the Priesthood or if I would be automatically ineligible regardless if it was found valid or invalid.

If you have been married and your wife is still alive you need an annulment before you can be admitted to a seminary or even to begin discernment with the diocese for a priestly or religious vocation. every Catholic has the right to appeal to the canon law tribunal for a judgement if they feel their marriage was indeed invalid. that does not mean they have the right to an annulment, but they do have the right to have the case investigated.

It could be that the best way to go is to ring up or contact your diocesan Vocations Office and ask them direct…God’s Blessings on your hopes and may He bring them speedily to fruition…Barb:)

I agree that this is something you should discuss with the vocation director of the diocese or religious order you’re interested in.

Cameron Lansing gave an answer to a previous question like this:

Consult the USCCB Program of Priestly Formation (fifth ed., 2006), n. 66:

“Applicants who have received a declaration of matrimonial nullity should be carefully screened. Although these men may have canonical freedom to pursue the priesthood, it is important to ascertain if and how previous obstacles to a marriage commitment or possible scandal might affect their viability as candidates for the priesthood. Care must be taken to certify the canonical declaration of nullity by reviewing the Acta (official documentation and evidence for the canonical decision) to ensure that the reasons and circumstances that serve as warrants for the declaration of nullity are fully disclosed to the sponsoring bishop or religious ordinary, rector, and the seminary admissions committee. If a previously married person has responsibilities for his spouse, this factor is to be considered. If the candidate has responsibility for a minor child, acceptance should be deferred. All such cases should be carefully weighed.”

{ available at nccbuscc.org/vocations/Pr…yFormation.pdf }

In the Latin Church, the simple impediment of a man who has a wife, unless he is legitimately destined for the permanent diaconate, would cease (canon 1042 1º). However, several factors are involved before a man may be ordained. Canon 1025 §§1-2 states that before ordaining a man, the bishop must determine that he possesses the necessary qualities and that he is suitable and useful for the sacred ministry. Canon 1029 also mentions integral faith, motivation by right intention, possess the required knowledge, good reputation, good morals, and proven virtues, and other physical and psychological qualities which are appropriate to the order to be received.

A discovery that touches on any of those factors may have been made in the course of the nullity proceeding. It might shed doubt about the qualities of the man or suitability for orders. Arrangements could be made for the bishop to have access to certain of the tribunal records with the consent of the man. For example, if the cause behind the proven ground of nullity involved deep seated psychological issues in the man, then it might conceivably render him inept or unsuited for ordained ministry.

Ordination to priesthood also requires a freedom to dedicate oneself to the service of God and humankind, and this is the rationale for celibacy expressed in canon 277 §1. But that freedom could be diminished in other ways. The man may also have moral or civil obligations to the former spouse, and / or moral and financial obligations to children born in the union. Those areas will be examined to see if they apply, and if so, are being or have been discharged.

It should not be overlooked, but must still be looked at charitably, that a man’s most important undertaking in life, that of marriage, has not ended well. So there will be special scrutiny made. Some dioceses, do not, as a matter of course, entertain the prospect of admitting divorced men with decrees of nullity into formation. Some will admit them after a diligent examination.

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