Married in a Protestant Church


#1

A very close friend of mine has a very upsetting problem. She was a Protestant married in her husbands and her church 20 years ago. Recently she had a enlighting experience and made the decision to become Catholic. She is in the process, taking lessons, etc. The Priest told her that before she could become a practicing Catholic that she would have to get an annulment and remarry in the Catholic Church? Her husband isn’t becoming Catholic and is active in his church. While he has thought about becoming Catholic he hasn’t made his decision yet. I would like to hear if anyone has any hard facts as to what the Priest told her is valid or not… Need help, she’s upset.


#2

[quote=leadbear]A very close friend of mine has a very upsetting problem. She was a Protestant married in her husbands and her church 20 years ago. Recently she had a enlighting experience and made the decision to become Catholic. She is in the process, taking lessons, etc. The Priest told her that before she could become a practicing Catholic that she would have to get an annulment and remarry in the Catholic Church? Her husband isn’t becoming Catholic and is active in his church. While he has thought about becoming Catholic he hasn’t made his decision yet. I would like to hear if anyone has any hard facts as to what the Priest told her is valid or not… Need help, she’s upset.
[/quote]

I would urge her to consult the Tribunal in her diocese before doing anything else. Without knowing “the rest of the story”, I question the priest’s answer here.

If/when someone with more certain knowledge answers here, I will bow to their expertise.

Blessings,


#3

[quote=leadbear]A very close friend of mine has a very upsetting problem. She was a Protestant married in her husbands and her church 20 years ago. Recently she had a enlighting experience and made the decision to become Catholic. She is in the process, taking lessons, etc. The Priest told her that before she could become a practicing Catholic that she would have to get an annulment and remarry in the Catholic Church? Her husband isn’t becoming Catholic and is active in his church. While he has thought about becoming Catholic he hasn’t made his decision yet. I would like to hear if anyone has any hard facts as to what the Priest told her is valid or not… Need help, she’s upset.
[/quote]

Is she still married to the same guy? Or was she divorced and remarried to her current husband?


#4

Don’t be too quick to believe that this is what the priest told her. She may misunderstand what he said or there may be circumstances (like a prior marriage) that she is not telling you about.


#5

If your friend is married to her original husband, she does not need to get an annulment. If she and her husband were both Protestant at the time and married in a Protestant church, she is in a valid marriage. Perhaps she misunderstood (or maybe the priest did). She should definitely contact her local tribunal for help.


#6

Jmj

Greetings Leadbear!

It’s very nice of you to be concerned about your friend. I would venture to say that you aren’t getting the full story however. I’m just a simple layman too, but I think I have a good idea of what’s going on and what’s required in this situation. Here’s what it sounds like (to me) is going on:

Your friend had a previous marriage to another person… before her husband of the last 20 years. So, it sounds like she is on her second marriage. The problem is… there is no such thing as a “second marriage” in God’s eyes… so long as your spouse is still living (the Church takes the whole “you and no other” or “forsaking all others” parts in standard wedding vows seriously.) So, she does indeed need to have an annulment for her first marriage (and if her current husband was married before… he will too! Regardless of whether or not he’s come to recognize Christ’s Church as his home yet.)

The issue isn’t that the Church likes to make problems for people getting married – and she is certainly not trying to make it “difficult” for a Protestant Christian to come to their true home in the Catholic Church. It’s is just that the Church recognizes and does everything she can to protect marriage – not only as an institution… but as the sacrament it truly is. Two Protestant Christians, married in their church (provided specific circumstances and requirements for form are met) are indeed “married” in the eyes of God and His Catholic Church. So, the Church is duty-bound (by God) to protect your friend’s first marriage until (and then… if) the Church can discover that the former marriage was invalid… because only one is a binding marriage. You can’t make a vow of “till death do us part” to one person… and then another – if you do, it’s just a matter of “Which time did you MEAN it!?”

I know very well how difficult and painful this process can be… not to mention the fact that your friend was probably taken completely by surprise! (Which is sad… because it is clear evidence that many Christians have a warped view of the sacrament of marriage instituted by Christ.) Pray for your friend and try to explain it to her gently – I’m sure her Priest has already.

As far as her needing to be “re-married” goes – that’s a little inaccurate. If it is found that the former marriage(s) were invalid (for whatever reasons) – then your friend and her husband will need to have their marriage (con)validated. It’s not being “re-married” at all – you could more compare it to renewing your vows. It can be a simple process in an office, in your friend’s home, or a beautiful celebration in the Church if they wish. But, it is simply the Church celebrating and recognizing the marriage that has already existed for the last 20 years… no new anniversary dates or anything. :wink:

Imagine this: your daughter turns 18 and runs away from home. Many years later, she returns and tells you that she is married! This is wonderful news! But, the guy is still “new” to you… you still have the right to want to know about him before you completely wrap your arms around them both.

That’s all this is… the Church wanting to make sure everything is “kosher” :wink: before they say “welcome home!” :smiley:

Pray for your friend… this might be a hard pill to swallow – but it is absolutely necessary.

May the Lord be with you!

Jason


#7

[quote=leadbear]A very close friend of mine has a very upsetting problem. She was a Protestant married in her husbands and her church 20 years ago. Recently she had a enlighting experience and made the decision to become Catholic. She is in the process, taking lessons, etc. The Priest told her that before she could become a practicing Catholic that she would have to get an annulment and remarry in the Catholic Church? Her husband isn’t becoming Catholic and is active in his church. While he has thought about becoming Catholic he hasn’t made his decision yet. I would like to hear if anyone has any hard facts as to what the Priest told her is valid or not… Need help, she’s upset.
[/quote]

If neither of them have a prior marriage, there is no impediment to her entering the church even if her spouse does not convert.

The only thing I can think of that would prevent her from entering the church would be if either or both of them had been previously married and divorced before marrying each other. In that case, his or her previous marriage(s) would need to be examined.

You need to clarify this with her.

She does not need an annulment or “remarriage” to her current husband if neither of them were married previously. All marriages between baptized persons are presumed valid and sacramental.


#8

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