Did this Catholic woman receive correct advice?

A Catholic woman marries a Protestant man, in his Church rather than her own, and indicates she’s adopting his religion at the same time. Very shortly afterwards, she leaves him for another man and disappears from his life.

A few years later, a second Catholic woman falls in love with the same man and, rather than first pursue a finding of nullity for his original marriage, weds him in his Church, rather than in the Catholic Church.  She continues, however, to think of herself as a Catholic and continues to want to BE as much of a Catholic as she can.  For instance, she brings her children to Mass each Sunday and to the Sacraments, and sees that they receive a Catholic education.  In the meantime, fearing that she is not properly married in the eyes of the Church, she continues to attend Mass but refrains from receiving Communion.

Her pastor, learning of her conflicted spiritual situation, tells her that she need not refrain from receiving Communion, so she now is receiving.  He tells her further that there would be no problem at all squaring her marriage with the Church--that they can take care of everything right there in the local parish anytime she and her husband are ready.

My question:  am I right to fear that her local priest has given her flawed or illicit advice on both counts (abstaining from Communion at the present time and squaring the marriage with the Church)?  Either way, please explain the principle governing a Catholic in her situation who would like to receive Communion and explain what the proper procedure would be for her to pursue the possibility of validating her marriage.

Dear l,

In a word, no! Both marriages were invalid because in both instances a Catholic married outside of the Catholic Church without any permission.

For this second woman to have her marriage convalidated (blessed) it will have to be annulled. In this case it is a matter of verifying all the facts and will not take long. Since her current marriage is considered invalid by the Church, she is living with a man she is not married to and is in the state of continual mortal sin. She therefore may not receive Holy Communion. However, if she goes to Confession and then refrains from sexual relations with her husband until the marriage is blessed, she may receive Holy Communion.

The priest gave her false information and should know better.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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