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?!