divorce and conversion

I am divorced with no children and considering converting to the Catholic Faith. My ex is non Practicing Jewish, was emotionally abusive, wouldn’t let me particiapte in our marriage couldn’t hold down a job, and made a cruel and crude joke regarding a miscarriage that I endured. My marriage was over that day, but I continued for five more years, giving it my best shot. I do not wish to rule out remarriage, necessarily, but in wanting to do what is right according to the CCC, I need help in interpreting the following:
(And this is my first thread, I hope I am doing this right! Yes I read the rules, but I have questions there, too!)

from the familiaris consortio re: divorce (and abreviated for space and consideration):

  1. Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony. Since this is an evil that, like the others, is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The Church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The Church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.

There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.

Together with the Synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorce, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

**However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. **They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”(180)

I would want with all my heart to receive communion, but would I be able to? I really cannot tell from all my reading.

thank you

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_19811122_familiaris-consortio_en.html

Being divorced does not prevent someone from becoming Catholic.

However…(you knew there had to be a “however” didn’t you?)

The Church believes that marriage really is “until death do us part.” Therefore, you would be considered to remain as a married woman.

I strongly urge people in RCIA to file for what is called a declaration of nullity (often referred to as an annulment). A Tribunal can examine your marriage to see if it was valid. If it was indeed a valid marriage, you would not be able to consider marriage as long as your husband is living. However, it is also possible that the Tribunal will determine that something essential was missing and there was no valid marriage. If that is the case, you would be free to pursue a relationship and marry sometime in the future.

Your local parish can help both with RCIA and with the annulment process. This is a common issue and they will know what to do.

Thank you for the information. I knew it wouldn’t prevent conversion. I am not in RCIA yet and remarriage is not at the top of my concerns; receiving communion is, however. This is where I am confused in the familiaris consortia and the CCC.

**Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. ** :confused:

thanks

You could seek an annulment. They tend to take a long time so you might want to try for one soon.

That paragraph should be read in the light of the paragraph that follows:

This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

[size=2]Essentially it is saying that those [size=2]who have divorced and rema[size=2]r[size=2]ri[/size][/size][/size]ed cannot approach the sacrament of reconciliation unless they live [size=2]chastely[/size] and refrain from intimacy. [size=2]The church [size=2]recognizes that in abusi[size=2]ve relationships there might be no other recour[size=2]se to [size=2]separation[/size][/size][/size][/size][/size] or divorce as a means of protecting the safety of the [size=2]abused spouse.[/size][/size]

Divorce in of itself is not a sin. It is only sinful if someone walks out on their family. To divorce in cases of abuse is not sinful. It is a means of protecting ones self. The issue comes when a divorcee remarries. While the Church recognizes that separation or divorce may be necessary in abusive marriages, abuse does not automatically make the marriage invalid. Because of that when a person remarries without a declaration of nullity they are still presumed to be married to their original spouse and would presumably be committing the sin of adultery with the their “new spouse.” That is why reconcilitaion can only take place once a divorced and remarried person has undertaken “a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage” (i.e. abstain from sexual relations with their new spouse [aka “living like brother and sister”])

Speak with a priest and they can help explain it, but I would think there is nothing in your way to seeking reconciliation as part of your conversion.

I believe that paragraph is talking about a couple in which at least one party is divorced and remarried. It’s saying that in order for a person in that circumstance to be allowed to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, they must repent of the adultery they have committed by remarrying without an annulment and they need to abstain from sexual relations with their current “spouse” (who isn’t really their spouse, because they are really still married to their first spouse).
Simply being divorced is not a sin in itself. Sometimes separation the only way (in cases of abuse for example). Before you would be able to get married again and not have it be an adulterous relationship, you would need to petition for and be granted an annulment. Until that happens, any further attempt at marriage with someone other than your ex would be adulterous because, until proven otherwise, the Church assumes your first marriage is valid (even though you are divorced).

Usige is right.

Divorce is one issue. Divorce followed by remarriage is different and adds complications. But you don’t have to worry about that.

Check with your local parish. They will be able to help you start the process of becoming Catholic.

This depends greatly upon the situation and the location. Some dioceses are slower than others, and some individual situations do not take a great deal of time to resolve.

OP, the CCC that you quote applies to people who are continuously living in sin. That would be someone who married, divorced, and remarried, for example. Or someone who is divorced and now shacking up with someone else. In other words, a continuous state of adultery. The Church does consider that you are still married in the eyes of God, but you are not committing adultery so there is no ongoing sin.

Please go and speak to a parish priest as soon as possible so that you can get into a class for those interested in conversion. We’re happy to have you here at CAF, too!

Welcome home.

:slight_smile:

*You could seek an annulment. They tend to take alongtime so you might want to try for one soon.

Divorce in of itself is not a sin. It is only sinful if someone walks out on their family. To divorce in cases of abuse is not sinful. It is a means of protecting ones self.

While the Church recognizes that separation or divorce may be necessary in abusive marriages, abuse does not automatically make the marriage invalid.

The Church does consider that you are still married in the eyes of God, but you are not committing adultery so there is no ongoing sin.* ***

Thank you!!! The above was what I needed translated. Thank you.
And before that appointment, as a divorced woman not in a relationship, let’s say the marriage is not deemed invalid; would I be able to receive communion after conversion? In other words, is anullment the only way to receive? I think no. ??

You’re still combining different and unrelated things.

If you plan absolutely never to remarry, you don’t need an annulment at all. I still urge people to seek one if they are in your situation because you don’t know what may happen in the future and I think it’s better to be prepared.

Communion is a separate issue. When you go through RCIA, you are received into the Church, Confirmed, and receive your First Communion. It all happens at the same Mass. So your “conversion” (or more precisely, being received into the Church and making a profession of faith) would happen at the same Mass as your Confirmation…and that would be at the same Mass as your First Communion. You can’t do one part without doing the others.

As a divorced woman, not in a sexual relationship, you would be allowed to receive communion, after conversion. You would be required to refrain from receiving communion however, if you should remarry outside the Catholic Church. In order to remarry in the Catholic Church, you would have to seek an annulment from your first marriage. You can ask for an annulment at any time. They can take years to be granted, so it might be a good idea to seek one soon, before it might become an issue later.

To put it another way, even if a tribunal decides that your marriage was valid, you are still allowed to receive communion. What would be forbidden would be remarrying. So while you will have to have your sins forgiven through confession (or baptism, or both?), your current state of being divorced and living as a single person will not prevent you from being in full union with the Church and receiving communion, even if the annulment is not granted.

The reason you hear so much about not receiving communion is that unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a person to do what is forbidden by the church - that is get remarried when no annulment has been granted. In that case, the Church says that they are not eligible to receive communion because of living in a state of serious sin. It is not considered to be an equal choice. Rather, not being able to receive communion is an indication that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

As others have noted, you may convert and receive the sacraments provided you do not remarry.

If you ever consider remarrying, you will need to address you marital situation. In that case, you may or may not need an annulment. Dissolution of a marriage is also an option if one of the parties is not baptized, which I am assuming is the case since your husband is Jewish. IMHO, it is best to address this situation sooner rather than later, since this will take time to handle.

***To put it another way, even if a tribunal decides that your marriage was valid, you are still allowed to receive communion. What would be forbidden would be remarrying. So while you will have to have your sins forgiven through confession (or baptism, or both?), your current state of being divorced and living as a single person will not prevent you from being in full union with the Church and receiving communion, even if the annulment is not granted. ***

***If you ever consider remarrying, you will need to address you marital situation. In that case, you may or may not need an annulment. Dissolution of a marriage is also an option if one of the parties is not baptized, which I am assuming is the case since your husband is Jewish. IMHO, it is best to address this situation sooner rather than later, since this will take time to handle. ***

Oh, I think I got it now: remain single without remarrying/ “shacking up” (as one put it!) and continue to receive communion after being received into the Church AND determine quickly if an annulment is needed, which it may not, in case I wish to marry a much nicer Catholic boy in, of course, the Catholic Church, where we are both ‘at home.’ to receive communion.:thumbsup:

Forgive my slowness! (Between a slight concussion and my ever present over analytical brain, sometimes it takes a few gentle whacks on the head, so to speak. HA! That said, thus ends the questions, if my Final Analysis is correct. Thanks to all!!! :thankyou:

You are allowed by the way to seek a decree of nullity even as a non-Catholic. You do not have to start RCIA to do this. This is something that is often misunderstood as well. Just wanted to throw that in as well.

Really??? THAT sounds good… THANKS!! (Yeah, I am not anxious at all…)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.