Do I need an annulment?

As a Protestant, I married another Protestant in a civil ceremony. He was never faithful, finally divorcing me for another woman. I later remarried a lapsed Catholic in yet another civil ceremony. I now long to become Catholic (I was baptized Catholic at birth but raised Protestant). Do I need an annulment from my first marriage in order to be accepted into the Catholic Church and to have our marriage blessed? Also, my husband refused to be confirmed in his youth and has never been confirmed. Will this prevent us from having our marriage blessed once all other issues have been cleared up?

The Church wants to look at any marriage that appears to have been a marriage in order to ensure that those who have since remarried or may wish to remarry or enter religious life are free to do so. Since you and your first husband apparently were both baptized Christians, the Church would presume that marriage to be sacramental, as well as valid. So, yes, that marriage should be put before a marriage tribunal. If you wish to enter the Church before an annulment is obtained, you will have to agree to live as brother and sister with your current husband.

The Church strongly encourages Catholics to be confirmed before marriage, but it is not an absolute necessity. If your husband has since returned to his childhood faith, after the annulment – or before, if the two of you observe celibate chastity until then – he may wish to investigate confirmation.

**Recommended reading:

Annulments and the Catholic Church** by Edward Peters

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