Lapsed Catholic and Marriage


I’m sorry if this is the wrong forum. I tried “ask an apologist” and both my questions were apparently discarded. So I’ll try them here. My poor neighbor is not feeling very secure given that I told here I would get an immediate answer here, and so have received zero…lol…here they are:

  1. My neighbor is a lapsed Catholic of some 10 years. Other than a confession, does she need to anything else to return to the full grace of the Church?

  2. During her 10 year lapse, she married. She had never been married before. Her husband had and was divorced. He was and is not Catholic. Is her marriage valid in the eyes of the Church such that she can partake fully in it? (Communion specifically).

I am rather embarassed to not know the answer to these questions, at least not enough to answer her definitively. I’ve told her to talk to Father,or i will on her bahalf but she seems quite reluctant until she knows what she is facing. It should be noted that this is a small town, and I think she may be concerned about gossip.


I think there are many people here that know answers better than I do… but I’ll take the first stab at them!

I think #1 will depend on #2
#1 - yes, a valid confession should be able to bring her back into grace with the Church… however, I’m not sure she can receive confession depending on #2 (other experts here know better than I do)…

#2 - I don’t believe her marriage is valid in the Church… this may have to be corrected in order for her to receive confession…

I would advise her to talk to the parish priest. He can advise her on how to proceed.


Because every situation is different, she will need to schedule an appointment to sit down with her Priest.

In general, the Church considers marriage valid until proven otherwise. If two non-Catholics are married, the Church does presume that marriage vaild until proven otherwise. It is likely that her husband’s marriage will need to be examined by the Tribunal.

In some cases, when the situation is like this, your neighbor could live as brother and sister, then go to confession and recieve the Eucharist - as long as she refrains from relations until the marriage issues are resolved.


She needs to make an appointment with her priest. This is confidential, so no gossip.

She is not married validly.

She will need to take the necessary steps to have this situation corrected before she can return to the Sacraments. This will involve her husband’s first marriage-- he was not free to marry her and his prior bond will have to be examined for validity.

She should not let the road ahead stop her from returning to Mass. She should return to Mass.

She must, however, refrain from the Eucharist until such time as she is able to make her Confession. The priest will guide her on what can be done in this regard-- the invalid marriage must be dealt with one way or the othe first.


thanks everyone. I figured she really has to talk to Father. I’ll do my best to convince her that he is a wonderfully compassionate and gentle soul. (I know the confessional is sacrosanct. What I meant by gossip, was I think she’s afraid someone will see her enter or leave and start wondering and talking…asking her if she’s Catholic…you know…and I think she’s embarassed.) Again, many thanks…


She doesn’t have to go into the confessional to talk to the priest!
Call the church office and have her set up an appointment to just meet with him. Asking for guidance is not the same as receiving the sacrament of reconciliation… so no worries there.


Her first step should be an appointment with her parish priest. there she can lay out all the particulars of her situation and he can guide her from there. all that she needs in order to return to communion is sacramental confession, but that includes taking care of anything that is a barrier to absolution. An invalid marriage would be one example of such a barrier, but in most cases these are relatively easy to “fix”. Since it is not possible for us, or you, to know all the details of her individual case, it is best that she talk to the priest, instead of becoming confused by advice given here by people who don’t know her.

please tell her from us “Welcome Home”


She needs to make an office appointment. This is not appropriate for the confessional at this point-- this will require lengthy discussion with the priest and is best suited to office hours.

closed #9

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