Do I need an annulment?


#1

In 1995, before I became a Catholic I married a non-baptized, non-Christian. I was a baptized Christian at the time. The marriage vows were non-religious and conducted at a Justice of the Peace. In 2000 we were civilly divorced.

In 2001 I became a Catholic through RCIA, and at the time had no plans to re-marry. I was told by my priest that I did not need to pursue the annulment process.

In 2004, I married outside the Church to a non-baptized Christian (in a Christian ceremony). At the time, I did not place importance upon the Church recognizing my new marriage. But now I do want the Church to recognize my marriage, because I want to be in full communion with the Church. I also want to have my five-week old son baptized in the Catholic Church.

Do I need an annulment from my previous marriage? Can I go to Confession and receive Communion while in my current marital status? Can my son be Baptized?


#2
  1. You are currently in an invalid marriage. You had an impediment to a valid marriage due to the prior bond of your first marriage. Further, at the time you attempted this second marriage you were a Catholic and thus also subject to marrying in canonical form. In order to rectify this situation you do need to deal with your prior bond. There are two possibilities:

a) Petition for a decree of nullity. In order to do this you will need to determine if you have any grounds, and this can be discussed with your priest. Many people approach the process as if a decree of nullity is guaranteed, it is not.

b) Petition for a dissolution of the bond under the Petrine Privilege. This may be an option since you were baptized and converted and your former spouse was unbaptized. However, you would need to discuss this option with your priest as well. This is not guaranteed either, especially if your current spouse is another non-Catholic.

This is a handy little chart that can help you:

diocs.org/CPC/Tribunal/Decision_matrix.pdf

If your first marriage is found null, or you are granted a dissolution via the Petrine Privilege, then you can convalidate your current marriage. If you receive neither of these, then you are bound to your first marriage until the death of one of the spouses. You should discuss this with your priest, because you need to be prepared for this as one of the outcomes.

  1. Can you resume the sacraments? That is a question to discuss with your priest. It may be possible if you and your current spouse with whom you are in an invalid marriage refrain from marital relations until you are married in the Church. Sexual relations with the person to whom you are currently civilly married is considered adultery because you are still bound to your first spouse. If the priest advises you that you can receive Reconciliation and resume the Eucharist while living in continence then by all means do so.

  2. Can you have your child baptized? This is, again, something to discuss with your priest. The priest must have a well founded hope that your child will be raised Catholic. Certainly starting the process of dealing with your first marriage, having your marriage convalidated, and regularly attending Mass will help assure him of your intentions. The priest can delay baptism if he is not convinced of your intentions. So, please discuss your desire to resume the sacramental life with him.


#3

1ke,

Thanks for the very informative reply.

I honestly did not realize the criticality of addressing these issues prior to getting married again. I was ignorant in this aspect of the faith. I can only hope that the Church will grant me the nullity and that my current marriage will eventually be convalidated.

Today I finally discovered the details of what it means to be in a "Catholic marriage," and when I explained the annulment/convalidation requirements to my wife, she became overwhelmed and began crying. She is not a Catholic, but she knows this is important to me and she does not want me to view our marriage as "not valid." We thought our Christian marriage ceremony was sufficient.

It is ironic that I am learning these things now, as I have just recently began a more spiritual and holy commitment to my Catholic faith, after reading "The Seven Story Mountain." Over the past two months I had been faithfully going to Confession and Mass, praying the Rosary every week, reading scripture and praying every day, and reading about the Saints. As I thought that I was moving closer to God's will and in spirituality, I learned today during the Homily at my Church that I am not supposed to be receiving Communion. What a blow!! At the moment when I am most trying to embrace my faith, I am now being locked out of it.


#4

Please talk to your priest, don't feel you are "locked out." Your priest can counsel you spiritually and help you.

Just take it one bite at a time. Don't look at the entire process, just look at each step so you don't get overwhelmed. Your priest will guide you through the process.


#5

I wouldn’t get to upset over this to the point your wife is in tears. You aren’t a polygamist or a bigamist. If it can’t be covalidated I wouldn’t let it affect your ability to be a good Catholic.


#6

So I emailed my priest about this issue and got no response. Therefore, I went to a different priest aboard a military base (I’m in the military) and got seen right away. I am going to track how long it takes to get my annulment finalized.

Day 1: March 1 (the day I got my initial annulment paperwork). I have already completed the initial forrms and mailed them into the Archdiocese of the Military Services. We’ll see how the military archdiocese compares to a typical archdiocese with regards to speed of processing.

In the meantime, I am able to receive Reconciliation but not Communion. I am disappointed but not angry. If anything, this will only strengthen my gratitude and awe for the Eucharist.


#7

I only want to add that this entire process can be one of healing and spiritual growth if you work with Christ's grace in humility and obedience, as you are already doing. I am confident the grace to deal with your marriage situation is a response to the recent growth in devotion you have experienced.


#8

I want to commend you on the wonderful attitude you are taking while going into this process. So many times here on the forums we read from people who are in your situation who get angry and lash out at others. I am praying that everything works out for the best, and that we may all learn from the wonderful example that you are setting.


#9

Copeland45

I also want to say what a wonderful attitude you have in this process. It really is a blessing to read such positive attitude on the forums, rather than people being so frustrated.

I am embarking on the RCIA process in September, and have been twice civilly divorced, both from non-Catholics. Looking at the chart that 1ke provided (thanks for that!), I am looking at the Formal or Petrine process for one or both of my previous marriages. I am living celibately, in no relationship etc, so I hope to be received into the Church next Easter Vigil 2011, and have no intention of remarrying...but over the last few days, after praying many rosaries, I have come to understand that God wants me to have both marriages declared null, and I am getting my paperwork together.

I send you many blessings for your journey.

:signofcross:


#10

[quote="sophies_mommy01, post:9, topic:188825"]
Copeland45

I also want to say what a wonderful attitude you have in this process. It really is a blessing to read such positive attitude on the forums, rather than people being so frustrated.

I am embarking on the RCIA process in September, and have been twice civilly divorced, both from non-Catholics. Looking at the chart that 1ke provided (thanks for that!), I am looking at the Formal or Petrine process for one or both of my previous marriages. I am living celibately, in no relationship etc, so I hope to be received into the Church next Easter Vigil 2011, and have no intention of remarrying...but over the last few days, after praying many rosaries, I have come to understand that God wants me to have both marriages declared null, and I am getting my paperwork together.

I send you many blessings for your journey.

:signofcross:

[/quote]

If you qualify for the Petrine Privilege which is because either you or your previous spouse was non-Christian, than you cannot receive this "favor of the Faith" until/unless you are engaged to be married or preparing to enter religious life. One of the "possible" denials is if you are intending to marry another un-baptized person; I didn't have that problem as **I **was the unbaptized party.

For the OP too you really ought to make sure that you attempt the correct form; as in, if you or your previous spouse were unbaptized you should be looking into the Petrine Privilege. This is important because it does not look at the validity of the marriage at the time of your vows, it dissolves a NATURAL marriage. I was told by one of the priests helping me that he has known people who thought it would be easier to apply for the decree of nullity in this circumstance and was denied because there was not enough evidence. I don't know if this would be an issue for you, but I think it's much better to do the appropriate paperwork.


#11

Hmmm...well I am baptised in the Church of England at the moment, and there is doubt that either of my former spouses were baptized. According to a link that was sent by a fellow forum member, after going down the table, it indicated I would be able to do Formal or Petrine Process, but as we all know, Petrine is granted by His Holiness the Pope and there are conditions attached. So, after looking at it again, Formal sounds the way, right? I will call Monsignor at my local Tribunal on Monday.

:signofcross:

[quote="Jea9, post:10, topic:188825"]
If you qualify for the Petrine Privilege which is because either you or your previous spouse was non-Christian, than you cannot receive this "favor of the Faith" until/unless you are engaged to be married or preparing to enter religious life. One of the "possible" denials is if you are intending to marry another un-baptized person; I didn't have that problem as **I **was the unbaptized party.

[/quote]


#12

[quote="sophies_mommy01, post:11, topic:188825"]
Hmmm...well I am baptised in the Church of England at the moment, and there is doubt that either of my former spouses were baptized. According to a link that was sent by a fellow forum member, after going down the table, it indicated I would be able to do Formal or Petrine Process, but as we all know, Petrine is granted by His Holiness the Pope and there are conditions attached. So, after looking at it again, Formal sounds the way, right? I will call Monsignor at my local Tribunal on Monday.

:signofcross:

[/quote]

Just because it is more difficult does not mean it is not the way to go. Which, it is not difficult. Once I became engaged I met with a priest and we started the paperwork. Then I listed witnesses who knew that I was not baptized (they all had to be blood relatives), and got the address for my ex. They all returned the paperwork (either notarized, or signed in the presence of a priest) and it was sent to Rome. I think the day it was received in Rome was May 15th, and it took until September 15th for us to receive the answer. I think it is most appropriate to do the correct paperwork, but for sure speak with your priest.

What conditions do you mean are "attached"?


#13

Update....

My son was baptized last year into the Church even though my annulment was not finalized. My current civil wife participated in the baptismal ceremony.

I am still waiting on the final disposition of my annulment. The archdiocese told me that the case is complete and going througfh final review and that I should get a decison letter very shortly. It seems that the annulment is going to be approved. Then I can do the convalidation ceremony.

Total elaspsed time thus far: 13.5 months


#14

I spoke to a canon lawyer a few weeks back. He says around 50 percent are given an annulment at the end of the process. In some places where there is a misuse of the practice the number of those who are denied is lower.

I advice the OP to seek the truth. Do not seek an annullment per se, but seek to find out if you are truly married in the eyes of God to your first marriage-partner or not.
Its very likely that you are still married to her in a natural and indissoluble marriage. At any rate its presumed valid by the Church until you and your witnesses in all honesty can proove otherwise. Thus you are bound by the vows of fidelity etc, until the death of one of you.

Do not get bitter at the church if you if She cannot give you an annulment. The Church is bound by reality, not by a false "niceness" and making people feel good. The Church wants people saved, and if your are in spiritual danger the Church must and will tell you. the world will not.

I feel sorry for your wife, but again the responsibility for marrying validly and according to the Church which you freely joined (placed yourself freely under canonical law) belongs to you. You cannot act contrarily to the Church and Canonical law, and then blame others for the consequences.
Your wife is a victim in this but you cannot live with her a conjugal life right now without putting your soul at risk, because you are not her husband. For that reason you should also protect her.
There are others on this board who live in chastity with their new partner while awaiting the results of the process, and its not easy at all, but maybe they can support you, and you them..

Lastly, I don't like that some people here talk about the petrine and pauline privileges.. The latter is only given when one partner becomes a Christian believer and the other one becomes hostile because of that and makes life intolerable for the believing part. The faith might not have at all been the cause of conflict in the OP's first marriage. St. Paul is clear that a person who is married to an unbeliver shall stay and seek to convert the other by a Christian example. So the pauline privilege is very rarely given.. and I'd guess that where a Catholic has attempted to marry a non-Christian for a second time, the privilege is not very likely granted.

I hope all goes well for you but I will not give you false hope.


#15

Final Update:

The Annulment was approved and is final. I received the notification on Feb 17, 2012.

Therefore, the total time it took to get this annulment was 23.5 months. I had heard that annulments take a long time, and that was certainly true.


#16

[quote="copeland45, post:15, topic:188825"]
Final Update:

The Annulment was approved and is final. I received the notification on Feb 17, 2012.

Therefore, the total time it took to get this annulment was 23.5 months. I had heard that annulments take a long time, and that was certainly true.

[/quote]

Wow, I thought this was just someone digging up an old thread, but it is the OP!

Yes, the annulment process can take a long time. And not always with your results. I hope that you will be able to move forward with your marriage and life as you had hoped to. May God bless you and guide you and your family! :)


#17

Why in the world should it take two years to make such a decision?


#18

He didn’t say that. He counted from the very first time he met with someone about it.

I’ll bet you the bulk of the time was doing the paperwork, gathering witness statements, etc.


#19

From the time he sent the paperwork to the Archdiocese to the time he received the decision was about 23.5 months. I am just wondering why it should take so long.


#20

[quote="agapewolf, post:18, topic:188825"]
He didn't say that. He counted from the very first time he met with someone about it.

I'll bet you the bulk of the time was doing the paperwork, gathering witness statements, etc.

[/quote]

Exactly. And if a witness says they will write an answer for you, it can take a while. The questions are thorough, essay questions, not yes or no. It takes a while to get dates and events in your mind as a witness. I was one once for a sibling. And then, there are the dawdlers. You can't rush someone that is trying to help you. Of course, yours is not the only case going through the tribunal. They are not looking at your papers and just rubberstamping it. There is a lot of discussion and investigating that goes on that the person seeking the annulment is not a part of.

If an annulment is worth getting, it is worth waiting for.


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