Marriage rules..

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for some help please. I am a non catholic woman who married in a civil service in 2005. Unfortunately I was divorced in 2008. I met my now fiancé 18 months ago who is catholic and we are planning to get married in June 2014. My question is, can we have a catholic wedding? I know he wants this very much and I do not want to disappoint him. I am worried that we cannot do this.

The civil service was in England and we are planning to get married in Ireland

Thank you


You and your intended need to talk to his priest about this right away. You will have to appeal for an annulment from the Catholic Church of your first marriage before you can marry in the Catholic Church.

Definitely talk to the priest. This topic gets pretty complicated.

For instance, I’m married but my wife is not baptized and we were not married in the Catholic church, so my marriage is not valid (yet). The priest I talked to, when I was discussing a possible divorce, said that after the divorce I would never have been married in the eyes of the church.

So, and I may be wrong but, it appears to me that if your fiance was not married in the church, his marriage never happened and you may be free to marry.

Of course, the nullification process may be required to ensure this. I love these posts because its such a complicated mess of a topic, at least to me.

But you are a Catholic, yes, and were so at the time of the attempted marriage?

Catholics are required to follow Church law on marriage, including getting married in a Catholic Church. Non-Catholics are not required to do so, and they contract perfectly valid marriages when they marry.

The OP absolutely needs to contact her priest.

First since you are not catholic your civil marriage is assumed to be valid. You would need to seek an annulment before moving forward as you are still considered by the Church to be married.

That being said your fiancée is not able to enter into a valid marriage with you until/if a declaration on nullity is granted. Even if he “skips” a Church wedding he would still be in an invalid marriage since Catholics are bound by Canon Law to be married in the Church or receive a dispensation to marry outside the Church. He cannot receive a dispensation to marry someone who is still considered to be married.

Long and short is if your first marriage is not found to be invalid and he married outside the Church he would be cutting himself off from the sacraments as he would be commuting the sins of adultery and fornication. It is for this reason the diocese I live in is very clear that no wedding plans should be made until an annulment is granted.

You two need to make an appointment with a priest ASAP to discuss your marriage plans. He will be in the best position to advise you and start any annulment paperwork (if needed).

You can also talk to your fiances Judical Vicar at your (arch)diocese. Mine invited me to talk to him. They make the decisions on these things.

Sometimes, it takes a while for something to sink into my head.
What constitutes an invalid marriage?

Baptised Methodist woman marries a Jewish man. Woman divorces said man for her safety, physical and financial. Woman now wants to convert to Catholicism and is having a VERY difficult time of it, BTW. Woman can convert and receive the eucharist. But to remarry one day, if she’s silly enough to do it, she will need an anullment to remarry in the Church.

Some are telling me an anullment is necessary, some are saying no because being married to Jewish man makes the marriage invalid. Really?

from the CCC:
1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:

  • not being under constraint;
  • not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that "makes the marriage."125 If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

1627 The consent consists in a “human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other”: “I take you to be my wife” - "I take you to be my husband."126 This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two “becoming one flesh.”

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear.128 No human power can substitute for this consent.129 If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

These are the lines from the CC which at once makes sense, then, not so much as it may or may not pertain to me.
Even asked a priest, who said “No; as a divorced woman, who then converts, you do not need an annulment to receive. You will need an anullment to remarry in the Church”.
That’s assuming, I am assuming, :slight_smile: that he was referring to my valid marriage.

SO!! What might constitute an invaild marriage??

And I’ll be more than happy to give more specifics, but of course, not too specific…

The other posters are all correct - you need to talk to his priest to find the necessary path so you and your fiance may marry in the Church.

There are two exceptions I can think of to your case that could avoid seeking a Decree of Nullity: if your first husband is now deceased (marriage vows are only valid until death), or (and I’m not 100% certain on this, but going on other evidence) if your first husband was a baptized Catholic and you were not married in the Church. For example #2, based on Catholic Marriage ‘Law’ in regards to baptized Catholics, it would seem that a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic outside of the Church would not be considered valid, and so you might be free to marry without a Decree of Nullity.

But, I stress again, your fiance’s priest is the best source, and you really need to go through him to resolve this matter.

Best of luck!

Your first CCC quote–1625–gives you the correct answer…there is no marriage because the Methodist woman married a non- baptized (Jewish) man…there is no marriage…1625 says marriage is between a baptized man and a baptized woman.

The woman can enter the Catholic Church and receive the sacraments…if she wants to marry later…she will have to prove that her first marriage was to a non baptized (Jewish) man…its investigated…then a decree of nullity is issued. Its pretty quick…not complicated or drawn out…because non baptized persons cannot receive any sacraments.

Pax Christi

REALLY??? Does the ex need to be involved? that would be a toughie

This is not quite correct, there would be no sacrament, because the sacrament of marriage exists only between two baptized people, but they could still have been validly married.

OP, while I agree with everyone that you should speak with your priest, if you are getting really confused by the responses and would just like a straight answer from someone before talking to a priest I would pm the poster 1ke about your question as she/he knows A LOT about all the details and nuances in Church law for valid marriages. 1ke often hangs out in the Liturgy and Sacraments forums, so if you post this question there she/he will probably reply. :slight_smile:

Thank you; even the priest is confusing me! He’s not even thrilled that I wish to convert…

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