I’d like to revisit the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. OK. A better place to take it, and get more useful information might be Liturgy and Sacraments. It seems to me that it discriminates against Catholics who decide in later life that they’ve just made a mistake marrying in the first place (a judgment with which the my own former spouse agreed). Ah but that is not the point. The judgement is the Church’s. You might have made the vows, making you two minister of the sacrament, but the Church ratifies your vows. Therefore, the Church has a say in whether there was a marriage at your wedding to your former spouse. It can’t have people just going off and deciding for themselves, ala Henry VIII.
Also- A civil divorce does not mean a person cannot receive the Eucharist. This is one the biggest fallacies floating about, along with the one about children being made illegitimate by a decree of nullity. It is only when a civilly divorced person remarries outside the Church (strike one) without dispensation (strike two) and having obtained a decree of nullity (strike three!) that the Eucharist is denied them.
It seems especially harsh that the Church denies the Eucharist to divorced and remarried Catholics. Why? Especially when the Eucharist in the most consoling sacrament and the one most demonstrative of Christ’s love. Because these people who get divorce and remarry without an annulment have violated a law of the Church. Christ told the Apostles, the orginal Pope Peter I and his synod of bishops, to “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained.” That was the Gospel this Sunday, in fact. So, by apostolic succession, the Church does indeed have a right to investigate the marriage, and to ask the parties to wait to see if there are grounds for a decree of nullity before attempting marriage with somebody else.
As an aside, I might point out that the priest who “married” us (actulally we married each other) long ago left the Church, married, and has five grown children and 12 grandchildren! What makes Orders different from a first marriage? Nothing! If this priest did not have himself properly laicized, then went off and got married on top of it, he is in grave territory. It does not make it right for him to receive the Eucharist, confect the Eucharist, or do anything else he should not be doing, simply because he does it. And didn’t your mother ever tell you, “Just because Jimmy (Randolph, Hosea, Sam) jumps off the roof, doesn’t mean you should”? This priest’s actions have nothing to do with people who get a civil divorce and remarry without first obtaining a decree of nullity.
I highly recommend the book* Annulment: The Wedding That Was*. Catholic Answers carries it, Amazon carries it, eBay has used copies. It will explain what is not clear to you regarding the topic in question, as well as many other matters regarding nullity.