Mormon Marriage - Is it a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church?

Hello everyone,

An Italian friend of mine has a bit of a situation he is struggling with and I told him I’d do some research for him, hopefully all of you wonderful intelligent people can help us out!! :slight_smile:


He is born and raised Catholic - Never previously married

She is as Mormon who was previously married “in temple” to another Mormon. She has since had this marriage both civil y divorced and annulled within the Mormon church.

Stumbling blocks:

Living in Canada the local diocese (Bishop) says she must receive an annulment from the Catholic Church, before they can validly be married in the Catholic Church

Is this correct? The understanding by my friend is that the Mormon marriage is considered only a “natural” (Not sacramental) marriage, therefore, being civilly divorced should be enough?

Also, my friend spoke with his former parish priest and local bishop in Italy and they both told him PRIOR to the marriage that there wouldn’t be an issue.

Any insight you can provide would be very beneficial, thank you and God bless!~

The bishop is correct. All prior attempted marriages to other people - even civil marriages - must be annulled before a sacramental marriage can be performed in the Catholic Church.

Her LDS marriage would be considered a civil marriage (which it is).

The Church assumes that a civil marriage is valid, though not sacramental, until proven otherwise. Therefore, until that attempted marriage is annulled by the Church, the party is not free to marry in the Church. This speaks to the Church’s profound reverence for marriage in all its forms.

The intent of the parties when entering into an attempted marriage is key to evaluating whether or not it was valid. When I was seeking an annulment for my LDS temple marriage, the tribunal wrote to my ex-wife. One of the questions they asked her was why she sought marriage in the LDS temple. Her reply was that, as a Mormon, she was motivated by a desire to be exalted to godhood. That was apparently enough to convince the tribunal that the attempted marriage was invalid.

Note: the answers to these questions are strictly confidential - the tribunal does not reveal them to anyone. My ex-wife told me what she wrote to the tribunal. I was very grateful for her co-operation.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

Im guessing that since he is under his local bishop, he is going to have to follow what his bishop said, and not others?

Just a guess.


Thanks for that excellent response. I guess the confusion was in thinking only sacramental marriages required annulment.

I will pass this information along to my friend, and hopefully he’ll proceed with the process.

To Marie5890:

The question wasn’t necessarily to which Bishop should he adhere to, just wanting to make sure everyone’s on the same page so to speak.

According to him (My friend) he says he can change his physical address back to Italy, and his local priest there would then be able to marry them without an annulment, but I’m not sure how true or “right” this is either.


Mormon Marriage is not a Catholic Marriage, as far as I know.

If he’s marrying a non-Catholic I believe he’s supposed to get a dispensation from the Church to do so. I was Baptist before, during and after my divorce. I’m not Catholic and just received my decree of nullity (annulment) for my marriage. It is my understanding that it doesn’t matter what religion someone was married in they still need an annulment before they can remarry.

The above advice applies correctly if she and her husband were never baptized Catholic. If one of them had ever been a member of the Catholic Church, then the marriage could be invalid due to lack of canonical form, but an investigation would still be required.

A natural marriage can be dissolved under certain narrow conditions. If she will be baptized and becomes a Christian, the marriage may be dissolved under the “Pauline Privilege”.

Otherwise, the above advice applies. She must submit a petition for declaration of nullity and cooperate with the tribunal’s investigation before she is eligible to date or marry a Catholic.

We have more than a few of these situation here in Utah, with people who convert from Mormonism to Catholicism, and have previous Mormon marriages. Most of the annulments that do occur in this situation are because of the Pauline Privilege.

Do as the Bishop instructs. The case for annulment will be fleshed out. :slight_smile:

The Pauline Privilege is not an annulment. It is a divorce. The Church can dissolve a valid natural marriage under certain conditions (Ie. grant a divorce) - but never a valid sacramental marriage.

The Church cannot dissolve a valid, sacramental, consummated marriage. In narrow circumstances, a non-consummated marriage may be dissolved, even if it was sacramental. But that probably does not apply to the OP.

The Church can dissolve a valid sacramental marriage that has not been consummated.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Just a couple points of clarification, not sure they matter or not.

She is a Mormon and plans to stay as such. My friend is a Catholic and plans to stay as such. She is not converting to Catholicism/Christianity.

And just to put some further clarification on it for myself…

The Catholic Church recognizes her previous Mormon marriage, as a valid natural marriage, but not sacramental correct?

Therefore, even though she HAS divorced civilly, she requires this natural marriage to be annulled by the Church in order for her to marry a Catholic in a Catholic Church?

Thanks again all.

that is correct.

The misunderstanding is that a natural marriage is a valid marriage. Natural simply refers to the fact that one or both parties to the marriage are not baptized. They still validly contract marriage. Civil divorce does not dissolve a valid marriage, sacramental or natural.

Perhaps they did not understand the situation fully.

There are a couple of options, see this chart:

And, there are details which must be investigated. If both spouses in the Mormon marriage were unbaptized (Mormon baptism is not valid) that is one situation. If one or both were validly baptized as Protestants (in the case of someone who converted to the Mormon religion) then that is a different matter.

The entire thing needs to be investigated carefully. As it stands now, your friend is not free ot marry this girl until and unless it is all sorted out and either a decree of nullity received or a dissolution of the natural bond by the Pauline or Petrine Privilege.

This is not correct. What is likely to happen is that once he and she give ALL the details to the priest in Italy, it will be clear she is not free to marry. Perhaps the priest mistakenly thought he was talking about a Catholic who had married outside the Church. Verbal conversations can lead to misunderstandings. The paperwork would not.

But the Church can dissolve a valid, natural marriage.

That is what we are talking about here-- two Mormons married in the Mormon temple. They have a natural marriage, which can be dissolved by the Pauline Privilege in some cases.

Thanks for the clarification. I work with our RCIA group. When it comes to marriage issues, they are taken care of by one of our deacons. I don’t pry or ask details, and am not involved in the actual process. I know the end result. :slight_smile: The prior divorce is no longer a block to baptism, because of the Pauline Privilege.


Yes, she would require a declaration of nullity. Since she is not seeking baptism into the Catholic Church, the Pauline Privilege does not apply and neither does the Petrine Privilege, so there can be no dissolution of the bond.

In addition to the declaration of nullity from the first marriage on the part of th Mormon, the Catholic will have to receive a dispensation from disparity of cult to marry a non-Christian and the Catholic must promise to raise the children Catholic.

I really think that marrying a Mormon is problematic at best. He should really reconsider all of the issues he will have in raising children Catholic with a non-Christian spouse.

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