Marriage to a CofE Divorcee


as I understand it, as a catholic, I can’t get married to my fiancée who is CofE and a divorcee? She was married to a non-catholic. The marriage has not been anulled. She only got married in a registry office.

Why is this? How can the church say that a legal marriage of two people who are not catholics is valid in the eyes of God? Why am I being punished (and so is my fiancée) in this way? Surely the church should embrace people rather than reject them?

The church (seemingly) is quick to forgive people who have sinned and yet reject people who haven’t.



Hi hon and blessings! I don’t think the church has anything against divorcees, I just think the person needs to follow in the correct path in order to be right with the Catholic church’s teachings… I am divorced as well…Married only civilly, I too had to go through the annullment process even though our priest at first said it wasn’t necessary! Many times we don’t know what we are supposed to do and once we know what to do then all there is to do is do it! :slight_smile: Once that is done and the tribunal approves the annulment or invalidity of the marriage because they were not married by the church, then you are free to date and get married as the church approves! Well at least this is what I was given the approval for…

I am sure it will be the same for you both! God isn’t punishing you dear, GOD doesn’t punish that way, if you know anything from the Bible in the Old Testament, then you’d know how GOD punishes! :wink: Ok sorry with the jokes, but seriously GOD doesn’t want to punish us, He wants us to live in the way Jesus taught in the New Testament and live in peace with each other in love and harmony as well as right under GOD’s laws. That’s all!

Even when things go bad or sour or not all that great, it isn’t GOD doing this, remember we too have a free will, and the reactions and consequences of our mistakes, or our choices do end up coming back and biting us and that’s not GOD’s doing…

HE loves you and wants the best for you! Try praying, let GOD enter in your life through prayer, let the Holy Spirit guide you and your gf. And guide her back to her priest. Let her speak with her priest, get the annulment process going and I am sure things will get a lot better then! :smiley:

Don’t lose hope! God bless…

Hi. . .welcome to the forums.

You seem to be learninjg some fundamental elements of the Church’s teachings on marriage for the first time, and learning them at a time when it causes great stress in your life. I understand can understand your frustration.

The Catholic Church sets up requirements for its own members to marry. It makes no attempt to impose restrictions on how non-Catholic marry. However, it does recogize the validity of the marriages that non-Catholics contract in their own religious traditions, or even in a civl ceremony only. It is similar to the way the Church recognizes the validity of Baptism in other Chrisitian traditions.

Part of the reason that the Church recognizes these marriages as valid, is that the priest or deacon who presides at the marriage in the Catholic Church is not actually the minister of the sacrament of matrimony. The husband and wife are the ministers and they confer the sacrament on each other. The priest presides as a witness and accepts the consent of the parties as a representative of the church.

The Church presumes that the prior civil marriage of the woman you want to marry was valid. Therefore, in the eyes of the Church, she is not free to marry. The only way this could be corrected would be for her marriage to be investigated by a tribunal to determine whether there might have been some impediment that would have caused her marriage to be invalid.

I’m sure these things are difficult to hear and accept right now, but that is where the Church is coming from.

The priest said it was fine and we made it clear that my fiancée was a divorcée however when speaking to my parents, he said he was unaware!!!

I just find it hard to believe the church sees a a marriage as valid which had no religious context to it at all… so something that was put together by law and is seen as valid should also be allowed to be separated by that same law

I understand your frustration and imagine me when I found out after my priest said it wasn’t necessary that it was necessary! And otherwise I wouldn’t be free to date or remarry…It’s not a long process, and it isn’t time consuming…It does make you go back and relive your problems with your ex and all but it’s worth it in the end when I received the approved seal of the Tribunal annulling my marriage! :smiley:

Don’t feel discouraged, this should bring you closer to your gf because you are showing her you are willing to follow in the church’s correct path and loving her the way GOD wants you to love her! :slight_smile: GOD BLESS!

What if her ex doesn’t want to do it? What if she can’t find him? What if they say “no”? I never said “God” was punishing us, we just feel like we are being punished. She is going to church and attending lessons to convert to being a catholic!!!

I know I should be thinking positive but we’ve been let down so far so not sure how much longer it can continue.

May I ask, what did you have to go through and what where timescales involved? Feel free to email me

I didn’t need to get my ex involved…It was me whom wanted it, the tribunal didn’t even contact him…

Just contact your priest and hers and get yourselves in the right direction…

You seem to be taking the view that the religious or state authority “makes” the marriage and can therefore “unmake” the marriage. The Catholic Church does not view it that way. The valid exchange of consent between the husband and wife is what “makes” the marriage.

If the church did not recognize as valid the civil marriages that non-Catholics contract, then it would essentially be saying that all of those people in such civil marriages were objectively in a state of serious sin.

This seems strange. Perhaps he misunderstood the situation when you explained it to him initially. Why is the priest talking to your parents? Has he given you advice on how to proceed?

That’s interesting… I only ask as I don’t believe they are any longer in contact and whilst they didn’t leave each other on hateful terms and she can’t see him being troublesome, I don’t think she would be able to contact him

You seem to be taking the view that the religious or state authority “makes” the marriage and can therefore “unmake” the marriage. The Catholic Church does not view it that way. The valid exchange of consent between the husband and wife is what “makes” the marriage.

Then surely if the two people do the exact opposite of consenting, is this not enough?

If the church did not recognize as valid the civil marriages that non-Catholics contract, then it would essentially be saying that all of those people in such civil marriages were objectively in a state of serious sin. Surely they could just confess?

This seems strange. Perhaps he misunderstood the situation when you explained it to him initially. Why is the priest talking to your parents? Has he given you advice on how to proceed?

Not sure how, we made it very clear. I was too stressed about it all to go to mass so when my parents went, I asked them to have a word.

I am seeing him this Friday to iron it all out.

Because she is already married. Thou shall not commit adultery.

Because non-Catholics marry validly when they marry. God established marriage at the beginning of the human race. It is indissoluable. Christ elevated marriage to a Sacrament between the baptized. He reiterated the indissoluable nature of marriage and stated that Moses had been wrong to grant divorces.

This applies to ALL Christians, not just Catholics.

Christ gave the Church-- through the bishops-- the authority of binding and loosing. Therefore, it is the Church’s domain to investigate marriages to see if they are valid or invalid.

The Church of England does not require marriage to be in a certain form-- for example, in a church with a priest-- therefore they marry validly whenever they marry civilly.

You are not being punished. Quit being melodramatic.

You should not have been dating a married person to start with, let alone making marriage plans with them. You made the choice to do something you knew would lead to problems.

The Church embraces all people and calls them to live according to God’s law. The Church embraces your fiancee. She can become a Catholic and live a full sacramental life as a single woman, or remain in the Church of England.

What she cannot do is go against the moral law and attempt to marry someone. She is already married.

She can petition the Catholic Church to look at her marriage if she has reason to believe her first marriage was invalid. I suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster if you or she know little about the decree of nullity process in the Catholic Church.

If her marriage is found to be invalid, then you can marry. If it is found to be valid, then you cannot marry her.

Your fiancee can certainly be forgiven for her part in the sin of divorce.

What she cannot do is make another attempt at marriage while her spouse is still alive. That is called adultery. Civil divorce does not dissolve a marriage in the eyes of God.

Now, there are many variables the Church can look at regarding validity including whether or not the ex-spouse was baptized, had a prior bond, etc.

You and your intended should sit down and talk to a Catholic priest as soon as possible and begin a tribunal investigation of her marriage.

Wow, such a nice Catholic :rolleyes: I am sure Jesus preached his word using your harsh, condescending and negative approach

Midwest USA… why am I not surprised?

Everyone else has been helpful and positive. Shame you had to ruin it.

Luvmybabies, you and the OP should both be cautious about assuming that your experience with the tribunal process will be similar to the OP’s or anyone else’s. Each circumstance is different. No one should assume that a marriage will be found invalid.

Just by way of example, your profile indicates that you are Catholic and that your marriage was a civil marriage. Catholics cannot validly contract a civil marriage without a prior dispensation, so that may have been the basis on which your marriage was found to be invalid. Because the OP’s intended is not Catholic, the process may be more complicated.

The best thing for the OP to do is to consult with a priest who is knowledgeable about his own situation. However, I understand his frustration since the priest appears to have given him inconsistent information.

I think Friday holds the answer for many of my questions.

For those that have been helpful and understanding, I thank you very much. As for “1ke”, good luck getting into heaven :stuck_out_tongue:

I was letting him know from my experience this is what happened…And I am hopeful it will happen to him as well…And most of the times I advised that he did speak with the priest the sooner the better!

Thanks…GOD bless.

She does not have to have any contact with her ex. She simply gives the “last known address” she has to the tribunal. That’s all. They will contact him. And, he does not have to participate. The process can move forward without him.

This is good!

I know I should be thinking positive but we’ve been let down so far so not sure how much longer it can continue.

The time table will vary from diocese to diocese and case to case.

iluvmybabies case is different than yours. She is a Catholic who was married outside the Church. She had what is called a “lack of form” nullity case. Your fiancee is a non-Catholic therefore had no requirement to be married in Catholic form. Her case would be based on other grounds and would be a lengthier case. Therefore, you cannot compare your situation to iluvmybabies.

I know, and I’m sure learning about the experience of someone else who has gone through the process can be helpful. But everyone also needs to keep in mind that each circumstance is different and therefore the experience will be different. I was simply trying to add that caveat.

Amazing how many Catholics do not know what the Church teaches about marriage. I make sure every CCD class I teach learns these things. The Church has held this teaching since Jesus was on earth.

A good high level of the Church teaching on marriage is below (full text can be read at this link):

When Jesus came, he elevated matrimony to the same status it had originally possessed between Adam and Eve—the status of a sacrament. Thus, any valid marriage between two baptized people is a sacramental marriage and, once consummated, cannot be dissolved. Jesus, therefore, taught that if anyone so married divorces and remarries, that person is living in perpetual adultery, a state of mortal sin.

He said, “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18; cf. Mark 10:11–12).

Paul was equally insistent on this fact, declaring, “Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives. . . . Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive” (Rom. 7:2–3).

This applied, of course, only to sacramental marriages—those between baptized people. For marriages involving an unbaptized party, a different rule applied (1 Cor. 7:12–15).

In the midst of the Greco-Roman culture, which allowed for easy divorce and remarriage, the early Church Fathers proclaimed Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage—just as the Catholic Church does today in our modern, secular, easy-divorce culture (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1614–1615). Other denominations have modified their teachings to accommodate the pro-divorce ethos that dominates modern culture, but the Catholic Church preserves the teaching of Jesus and the early Christians.

While their ex-spouses are alive, the only time that a baptized couple can remarry after divorce is when a valid sacramental marriage never existed in the first place. For example, for a marriage to be contracted, the two parties must exchange valid matrimonial consent. If they do not, the marriage is null. If the competent authority (a diocesan marriage tribunal) establishes this fact, a decree of nullity (commonly called an annulment) can be granted, and the parties are free to remarry (CCC 1629). In this case there is no divorce followed by remarriage in God’s eyes because there was no marriage before God in the first place, merely a marriage in the eyes of men.

If, however, the parties are genuinely and sacramentally married, then, while in some cases there may be good reasons for them to live apart and even to obtain a legal separation, in God’s eyes they are not free to remarry (CCC 1649).

This is not a commandment of men, but one that comes directly from Jesus Christ. As Paul said, “To the married I give charge,* not I but the Lord*, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11).

Fortunately, God will ensure that the sacramentally married have the grace necessary to live out their marriage vows and either stay married or live continently. The sacrament of matrimony itself gives this grace. Whenever we face a trial, God ensures that we will have the grace we need. As Paul elsewhere says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

As the following quotations from the early Church Fathers illustrate, they also recognized the seriousness of Christ’s teaching regarding the indissolubility of marriage.


“What then shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this disposition [adultery]? Let him divorce her, and let the husband remain single. But if he divorce his wife and marry another, he too commits adultery” (*The Shepherd *4:1:6 [A.D. 80]).

Justin Martyr

“In regard to chastity, [Jesus] has this to say: ‘If anyone look with lust at a woman, he has already before God committed adultery in his heart.’ And, ‘Whoever marries a woman who has been divorced from another husband, commits adultery.’ According to our Teacher, just as they are sinners who contract a second marriage, even though it be in accord with human law, so also are they sinners who look with lustful desire at a woman. He repudiates not only one who actually commits adultery, but even one who wishes to do so; for not only our actions are manifest to God, but even our thoughts” (*First Apology *15 [A.D. 151]).

Clement of Alexandria

“That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union, is expressly contained in the law: ‘You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality.’ And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. ‘Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery,’ it says; for ‘if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her’; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband” (*Miscellanies *2:23:145:3 [A.D. 208]).

kage_ar; I live in the real world and obviously not as perfect as you

Sorry for being human

That’s a solid post. This is why marriage should be put up there among the most important decisions made in your life. That is also why a good deal of honest and brutally unromantic discussion should take place before two people get marriage.

Marriage is a lifetime arrangement, and once two people validly consent to enter into it, that consent cannot be revoked.

Non Catholics do not generally have access to the Sacrament of Confession, would be unlikely to approach it even if they had access to it.

Something is still not adding up. If you were too stressed about it to go to Mass, you must have had some indication before your parents spoke with the priest that this was a problem.

I will pray for you that this meeting goes well. In the meantime, I hope you will spend some time in prayer and reflection and resolve to remain with the Church through this process, even though it may be difficult.

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