Dating and Annulment


#1

I just saw the other question on this subject. I was married in the Church to a man who was baptized Catholic and of his own accord chose to be received into the Church because he wanted to marry me. He left me with a newborn baby before our second anniversary. It was such a devastating experience that it took me two years to sort through it all and file for a divorce (after counseling, etc.) During this time there was a lot of upheaval in our church with many priests being shuffled through. Our archbishop was also being investigated by the Vatican. I filled out all of the paperwork for the annulment and it was eventually sent to a tribunal in a diocese in another state.

During the two year wait, I assumed that you could not date, but then after a number of months someone told me I could. I asked the priest at the church at the time if I was allowed to date. He said, “Yes, just be careful.” I was never sure what that meant–be careful not to have intimate relations? be careful not to get too emotionally involved in case you can’t remarry? I never understood what that part of the statement meant, but I thought he was a good priest and I depended on his answer. If he had said no, I would not have dated. Of that, I am sure. I did date and after the annulment was granted, I became engaged and married.

MY QUESTION: NOW THAT I KNOW THAT WAS NOT RIGHT, SHOULD I CONFESS IT? EVEN IF I AM NOT CULPABLE BECAUSE I SINCERELY RELIED ON HIS GUIDANCE, WOULD IT STILL BE GOOD TO CONFESS OR IS THE PRIEST I CONFESS TO GOING TO THINK I’M BEING SCRUPULOUS? I can’t tell you how good it is to have someone to ask these questions (someone I can trust to tell me the hard truths) Thank you!!!


#2

If you were honestly following your priest’s guidance and had no reason to distrust his advice, you did not sin. Sin requires full knowledge and full and free consent to the action. While you should not worry further over your personal culpability, if you find that you do, you can discuss the situation with an orthodox and balanced priest and/or spiritual director. If necessary, that person can help you discern your level of culpability. Priests, in addition to offering absolution, can help us determine whether or not we have committed sin.

If you are worried about scrupulosity, an excellent book on the subject is Understanding Scrupulosity by the Rev. Thomas M. Santa, C.Ss.R.


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