I married a divorced man. What about Communion?

I have been married 20 years. This is my first marriage. My husband had been married previously and has a daughter. He did not want to go through the annulment process. As I expected, I could not marry in the Catholic Church. However, one priest told me that if he could he would marry us. He also told me that I could continue to receive Communion which I have done. However, I know others who will not receive Communion.

Was the priest in error telling me that I could receive Communion? If it’s not okay, then please explain to me why I should be penalized. I had not been married and did not meet my husband until he had been divorced for 4 years. I do not consider myself an adulterer nor do I consider him an adulterer. My husband has never been baptized.

Looking forward to your reply.


Dear GT,

The priest had no right to tell you that you could receive Holy Communion while living in an invalid marriage. To have sexual relations with someone outside of marriage is a mortal sin. Civil authorities simply do not have the power to invalidate a valid marriage. How long you have lived as married people or the fact that he had been divorced for four years before you met does not invalidate his first marriage. That it is invalid is yet to be determined. This is what the process toward a possible annulment determines. This matter is quite logical. It’s not a matter of penalizing you for being innocent. Whether or not you both feel like adulterers has no bearing on the objective reality. The annulment process is not all that difficult to endure. Is his wife still alive? If not he is, of course, free to marry you (privately) in the Catholic Church.

Now you may receive Holy Communion if you live as brother and sister, after going to Confession, of course. For a more complete description of the Church’s very positive teaching of marriage and all that pertains to it, I strongly suggest that you get the book, “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West. Also, “Annulments and the Catholic Church” by Edward Peters. Both are available though catholic.com or by phone 888 291 8000.

You both are in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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