In RCIA and married outside the Catholic Church; can you help?

I am an RCIA candidate. The church at my church said he could not initiate me into the faith until my marriage is convalidated. I married a many 30 years ago who was a baptized catholic in a civil ceremony. The problem is that my husband is angry at the Catholic faith and our marriage is on the brink of collapse. We are no longer have conjugal relations so I thought that the concern about us living in sin would be remedied by the lack of sexual relations (we live as brother and sister). I see 3 options

  1. convalidation (not happening because of my husband’s anger at the church
  2. walk away from my marriage which is not valid in the church anyway
  3. stay in the marriage but do not have marital relations with my husband until he agrees to convalidation
    My priest said only option 1 applies otherwise he cannot let me enter the faith.
    Does my priest have this right? If he is wrong who would you suggest I contact in the diocese to get a more informed ruling? Thanks for your advice

Dear friend,

It doesn’t matter how your husband feels about the Catholic Church. If he, as a Catholic, married you in a civil ceremony thirty years ago, then that marriage would automatically be invalid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Any marriage attempted by a Catholic outside of the Church is invalid by that fact. You do need the diocesan marriage tribunal to objectively confirm that this is the case. Then you will be free to become a Catholic. I’m surprised that your priest didn’t catch this. We priests do get overwhelmed sometimes.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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