First Post, Long Story...Annulments


#1

I'm a Cradle Catholic. At 20, I married a Baptist man in the Baptist church, with dispensation from the Catholic Church, & a Catholic priest present. We have 1 daughter. In short, it was abusive from the beginning, and got worse. 9 years later I had no choice but to divorce.
Many months later, we're adjusting to our new life. I was very happy with us just living our new life, & pretty much had sworn off remarriage altogether. Well...I'm sure you all know what happens when you tell God your plans...enter Mr. Right.
MR also was raised up as a faithful Catholic. He divorced his wife of 7 years after she committed adultery, left him & remarried another man. He is raising 2 children the best he can. They are in Catholic schools, & attend church when they are with him. Their mother (not Catholic) & new step-father (staunch Church of Christ) take the children to the Church of Christ church. They are making the children question their Catholic faith (ex: don't take communion, kids aren't supposed to have wine; your Catholic baptism isn't a real baptism...etc)
I knew MR through the community & church, but was NOT in any state of mind to date him...I didn't want to date, remember?! But, as sly as our Holy Father is...God spoke to me in a dream, & gave me a sign that we were supposed to be together. Me, being the good girl that I was ;) didn't act on this dream at all, or say anything about it. Months later, MR & I met up through mutual friends. I was a little leery of this...not even sure if the divorced but not annulled should even be dating...but I couldn't help but remember the dream that God put in my heart all those months before.
Well...one year later, I'm glad I listened to God, because MR is truly the most amazing thing I've ever met. We are engaged to be married...pending annulments. & this is where the love story comes to a screeching halt...
MR has filed & is still waiting for his annulment. It's been four years. Yes...four. You see, our diocese has gotten into a pickle, & are completely overloaded with cases. My uncle works in the diocese & has given us a little inside information into the workings...the Bishop has even called in a review committee to audit the tribunal. Suggestions were made to improve efficiency, but the Bishop didn't do much to implement them. The head of the Tribunal seems to be very intent on having things his way, on his time. While I understand& that this is a needed process, I think it's very unfortunate that people are expected to put their lives on hold for four + years just because of paperwork. To further complicate things, MR actually had his annulment denied the first time. Mr. Tribunal pretty much said that MR was "old enough to know better" when he got married the first time, & shouldn't have made a poor choice. MR has changed the grounds, & is awaiting final approval.
I filed my annulment 8 months ago, & have been told the process should take 18-24 months from the time they start on it. It hasn't been even looked at yet. It's just in a file, on a desk, sitting.
So...while our parish was without a priest, we spoke to a priest in a neighboring town for advice. We obviously want to be married. We feel like this is finally both of our chances to get the true sacramental marriage that we both tried for so long. Also, it is so beneficial to our 3 children that they all finally get a good Catholic family & upbringing. We think it is very important for us to be together to provide that example to our children...especially since they are not getting it when they are not with us. My daughter finally has a father-figure in her life that she never had. He loves her, supports, nurtures, guides her, & participates in her life. The same goes for MR's children, as I love them so much.
So...it seems detrimental to the family to wait 2+ years to get married & start living together as a family. Those two 2 (which could easily be 3, 4, or 5 the way the tribunal is working) years can make a huge impact on our children’s' lives. We don't have much time left of their formative years, & really hate for them to miss out on what it is like to experience a true, loving, Christian family. We do the best we can now, but it is hard with us living in two different towns.
So, the priests seem to agree with us. They too are frustrated with the annulment process of our diocese. The bishop won't talk to them about it, & they are stuck in the middle of sticking to the rules, & pastoral compassion. One priest told us that while he can't suggest it, most people in our situation would go ahead & have a civil marriage ceremony right now, & then once the annulments are granted; have the marriage blessed in the Catholic Church. He said that he would not deny us communion in the interim, because he understands the situation with the tribunal, & thinks it is no fault of our own that it is taking 4+ years to get an answer, when some dioceses can get it done in 6 months.

Another priest flat out told us (didn't even bother to hint about it) that we need to go to the court, get married, start living as hubs & wife, come to church, & then get the marriage blessed when we receive our annulments. We asked about communion, & he said that he could not give it to us during the interim. But, he said to "not worry about it, God sees what is in your heart, & God is NOT mean & punishment driven, but compassionate for those who are striving to do his will." The priest said it is too hard for us to continue to single parent on our own, & it would be most beneficial to the children to for us to go ahead & start our family life together. He said, "God said man should not be alone...there you go” Very cut & dry. He said that we were trying to punish ourselves for the bad choices we made in our first marriages, but that is not how God sees it.
So, what do we do?!


#2

P.S.

There is so much more to the story...but had to be edited for for space.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

All questions, comments, thoughts, suggestions, and prayers are greatly appreciated!


#3

:) You are going to get a lot of varied answers. The thing is, you have talked to two priests about it and received similar responses. I would weigh their advice against what you know and believe, and go forth with that mind. Only you and your future spouse can decide what is right for you and pleasing to God. Anonymous voices over the internet may just muddy the waters for you, as helpful as their intentions are.

Best of luck, and prayers with your endeavors! I hope that the annulment process moves more quickly than it has so far, and that you are no longer faced with waiting to start the rest of your life.
<3
M


#4

You can still be involved in his childrens lives, and he in yours. I would suggest that you (as hard as it is) act chastely and respectfully.

Sure, in this state you are unable to produce more children but HOW WONDERFUL is this testiment to all three children involved that you are following the church.

I would even suggest you moving nearby eachother…or even into a duplex. You would still have your own personal space, cause no scandal but be able to eat together each night, etc.

You are doing an amazing work here. Keep it up. And if your priest is willing to stake his soul on such a case, then I would look into it, especally if there are multiple priests saying the same thing. You could also contact your archbishop, and find out what is going on.


#5

Thank you for your replies and prayers.

Unfortunately, we can't do much to change our living arrangements at this time. We are pretty much already living as close together as we can (just in our separate cities). Not much to choose from in rural areas. :(

I'm not sure if the archbishop would be able to assist. The bishop has pretty much made it clear that he has done all he is going to do about the inefficiency, and is just trusting the tribunal to work it out.

It's not only the priests that are displeased with the process...our Sister directly told the head of the tribunal that he "was the reason for people living in sin". Pretty strong words coming from a nun. :/


#6

[quote="purplesunshine, post:4, topic:234502"]

I would even suggest you moving nearby eachother...or even into a duplex. You would still have your own personal space, cause no scandal but be able to eat together each night, etc.

[/quote]

I think this is a fantastic idea! As Purplesunshine said, you would be an awesome testament to faithfulness to the Church and respect for the Sacrament of Marriage, while still being able to support each other and be involved in each other's life. It would be difficult, but that is why they say it's a narrow road.

Most of all, I suggest caution, because what if your annulments are turned down in the end? Then, being married civilly and living as husband and wife would be adultery and a mortal sin. You may be sure that this man is who God wants you to be with, but the point of being alive is not to be with someone, but rather to be with God. It's true that God said it's not good for man to be alone, but remember that Adam was literally alone. He had no other humans to interact with at all. Jesus was never married, and priests are called to be single and celibate, as are all religious and some laypersons. If God meant that no man or woman should ever be unmarried (alone), then everyone would be called to be married, not just most laypersons.

I would also like to add that you may not be required to file for an annulment in the diocese where you are currently a member. Ask your priest, or someone in the Family Life Office of the neighboring diocese. Surely if the problem is so well known, the neighboring diocese might be willing to help.


#7

I would consider the advice you have gotten from the priests and nun, and pray about it.


#8

I would be very concerned about this possibility. It’s troubling that Mr. Right’s annulment was denied the first time. I wish there was some way to get the applications worked on so at least the OP and MR would know what their future might be.

I hope people who want to marry outside their faith find this thread and read it. A good example of the heartache and tragedy that can happen. Of course MR may have married within the faith but the OP did not.


#9

A little more information...(who can tell their story in 6000 characters anyway??)

When MR's original petition was denied, the tribunal told him that he was "old enough to know better" when he got married.

That's kind of hard to swallow, since sometimes people do a very good job of lying to you...even spouses.

If that is true, and he is totally at fault for choosing a spouse that would eventually lie and cheat on him...then he's guilty of making a bad choice. So, his annulment is not granted as his punishment? He's not allowed another chance at marriage? Where is the forgiveness in that?

MR was given the option by the Tribunal to switch his grounds to lack of due discretion on part of responder. (Plain language: his first wife was in the wrong). During the course of the process, in addition to the testimony the witnesses had provided, the tribunal was going to have to extensively and continuously question first wife. First wife, not being Catholic, and not caring or understanding about the process, would in turn use it against MR and unfortunately their two young children. In an effort to shield his children from the constant involvement and bashing of the Catholic Church from first wife and her new husband, MR requested that the tribunal no longer contact first wife. Tribunal said ok, but then grounds would be denied.

Again...what is he supposed to do? The facts are first wife was unfaithful, told him she had never loved him, left him, and remarried. But, in order to use this information for grounds for annulment, she would involve the children. Any good parent will do whatever it takes to protect their children.

So, MR asked that if they switched grounds to lack of due discretion on part of petitioner (he is at fault), could they work with this without contacting first wife and further stirring the pot? They said yes. It was finally approved on first instance. He is waiting for second approval, and was told it would be 4 months (6 months ago.)

The only hope I have with my filing is that I'm filing lack of due discretion on part of petitioner. Forget trying to prove that my ex was physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive, and that he lied to me about everything, including his drug addiction. Hopefully this, combined with me being 20 years old when I got married, (so I don't fit the tribunal's "old enough to know better" clause) will help my case out.


#10

It's easy to blame marrying outside the faith on the situation we are in...but I'm not so sure that generalization can be made. There are both truthful and not truthful people in the Catholic Church. There are both truthful and not truthful people outside of the Catholic Church.

As the priest said, "Marriages are Heaven, Annulments are Hell"


#11

[quote="peony5, post:10, topic:234502"]
It's easy to blame marrying outside the faith on the situation we are in...but I'm not so sure that generalization can be made. There are both truthful and not truthful people in the Catholic Church. There are both truthful and not truthful people outside of the Catholic Church.

As the priest said, "Marriages are Heaven, Annulments are Hell"

[/quote]

Neither of your marriages seems to fit the first category. I will hope for the best for both of you, as well as the children. Truly hope that you both are able to marry and live happily ever after.


#12

Well, out of my six siblings, I am only one of two who married a cradle Catholic. I am also the only divorced (and annulled) one. Marrying within your faith is no guarantee. Marrying outside your faith gets you a much quicker annulment, or so I have observed.

It sounds like the Tribunal office in this case is very inefficient, and not doing their job as it should be done. Either that, or there are an incredible number of divorced Catholics looking for annulment.

It took two long agonizing years of added stress to an already stressful time for my annulment process. I think it must be the Church’s way of saying “Are you sure you want to get married again?” In my case, I don’t, but I did want to know if my marriage had been valid.


#13

Do either of you have cause to take your case before a different Tribunal - I am not advocating tribunal shopping but there are usually a few choices dif you live in a different diocese than where your original marriage took place


#14

EDITED now that I see your later message.

The SECOND round of approval comes from another diocese, not your own. So you can’t blame your own diocese for that delay.

I’m afraid I would NOT trust the advice of any priest that told you to ignore the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and be married by civil authorities. Apparently, there are many problems in your diocese apart from the tribunal issue if priests are complaining to laypeople about how the diocese is managed and also are counseling people to commit adultery and seek convalidation later.

The big red flag for me is that your fiance was denied an annulment the first time around.

Annulments are not denied because a person chose his spouse badly. They are only denied because the marriage vows are valid. Also, an annulment is not a sign of the Church’s forgiveness. We receive forgiveness in confession, not from the marriage tribunal. The decree of nullity is merely a statement that the marriage vows are not now and never were valid. In other words, you can be denied a decree of nullity and still receive full forgiveness from the Church. So don’t say that a denial means there’s no forgiveness. They are two different things.

I would also caution you that you were married with dispensation from the bishop while a priest was present – that’s going to make your own case for nullity more difficult, so you might be denied yourself. You MUST face that reality.

The duplex idea is just fine as long as you can maintain the measure of chastity required when both of you are still waiting to hear whether or not your marriages are valid.


#15

I will pray for you.

:gopray:


#16

[quote="peony5, post:1, topic:234502"]
Another priest flat out told us (didn't even bother to hint about it) that we need to go to the court, get married, start living as hubs & wife, come to church, & then get the marriage blessed when we receive our annulments. We asked about communion, & he said that he could not give it to us during the interim. But, he said to "not worry about it, God sees what is in your heart, & God is NOT mean & punishment driven, but compassionate for those who are striving to do his will." The priest said it is too hard for us to continue to single parent on our own, & it would be most beneficial to the children to for us to go ahead & start our family life together. He said, "God said man should not be alone...there you go” Very cut & dry. He said that we were trying to punish ourselves for the bad choices we made in our first marriages, but that is not how God sees it.
So, what do we do?!

[/quote]

My opinion concurs with that of the priest, in that God may direct us in any way He sees fit and that He is the ultimate judge.

However, the reality of the situation is that the priest's advice is contrary to the rules of the Church, and should not be followed if you wish to remain in communion with the Church. I'll be willing to bet that the bishop's advice would be different, and he is authority that you need to listen to in your diocese.

Good luck with your situation.


#17

OP, I find it quite funny how you say God is working in all this. do you REALLY think God would lead you to a divorced man with 2 kids? And the fact you are divorced? No, it is your
choice, not God's.


#18

One more thing,,what if your annulment actually got denied? Would that be God speaking to you or a sign from Him ? Doubt it.


#19

You probably won't like my answer but I am going to say it anyways. I have heard that the annulments are getting harder and harder to obtain now because they have finally realized that annulments were being granted too easily. I agree with this. I have two friends who both had a spouse who committed adultery and then remarried. Both of them went and spoke to priests about annulments. They both told me that they spoke to priests who said it would be easy for them to get an annulment. Then they both went to a faithful priests who said adultery was not a reason to get an annulment.

So they both decided to pray for their spouses to change and come back to them because they were still married in the eyes of God. One prayed for 30 years, living a chaste life. One day he called her and wanted to come back. She was prudent and took her time but then forgave him and they have been happily together with their 6 grown children now for four yrs. My other friend still prays for his beloved bride (as he calls her) and has lived a chaste life for about eight yrs. He has four grown children and he tells me that through all his suffering he has grown closer to God and is grateful for this.


#20

[quote="Ailina, post:12, topic:234502"]

It sounds like the Tribunal office in this case is very inefficient, and not doing their job as it should be done. Either that, or there are an incredible number of divorced Catholics looking for annulment.

Yes and Yes.

In recent years, our diocese removed the fee for annulments, so a ton of people who previously wouldn't or couldn't pay for annulments have now submitted their petitions.

Also, at the same time, the new Tribunal staff took over and revamped the system. Work that was previously performed at the parish level (contacting witnesses, gathering witness testimony, filing out paperwork), is now only performed by the Tribunal.

So, there are now only a handful of people working up the entire annulments for a huge number of petitioners. In an effort to improve efficiency, at the Bishop's request, some cases were outsourced to other dioceses. This has cut down the wait time from 4+ years to 2+ years.

[/quote]


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