Multiple Civil Marriages and RCIA Process


#1

I hope this is in the right forum.

I have a unique situation. My wife and I (and our children) have recently made the decision to go through the RCIA process when it begins at our parish in September. My question surrounds our multiple marriages.

We have been married a total of 4 times, every time to each other. Neither of us has ever been married to anyone else. Without going into a long personal history, we got married for the first time at 19 and needless to say, were not mature enough for such a step. The next two marriages occurred at ages 21 and 26, I believe. The subsequent divorces were a result both of maturity issues and my wife’s (untreated) mental illness. The last marriage occurred in Dec of 2013. I find all of this to be very embarrassing personally, but I will say that in our staying together for this long I know that I am with the love of my life and could not imagine being without her.

During this time, we cohabitated for all of it with the exception of 3 months. If it is of any consequence we also have two children together.

My concern is how/if this will be an impediment to the RCIA process and what, if any steps, would need to be taken to remedy the situation? I just want to make sure I enter the Church correctly.

I was baptized Southern Baptist in 2008. My wife has never been baptized in any faith.


#2

As long as you’ve only been married to each other I don’t think you have a problem, but you’ll want to talk with your pastor to be sure. Do it early in the process – even now, before you start RCIA.

Assuming – as I believe – that your marriage is valid, it will also become sacramental upon your wife’s baptism.

Welcome!


#3

The problem would have come if either of you had been validly married to someone else *before *marrying each other validly. Since neither of you has been married to anyone else and neither of you was Catholic when you married (and therefore were not required to adhere to the Church’s particular laws regarding the marriages of Catholics), there is nothing barring you from being married to each other.

If you want answers concerning your situation sacramentally, I’d post to the Liturgy and Sacraments forum. There are experts on canon law and liturgists posting there who will be able to give you authoritative opinions on that, including how many of these details need to be disclosed to your pastor. (You may keep such information private from everyone else in the parish, if that is your wish.)

Good luck and God bless you in your preparations!! :thumbsup:


#4

I asked this question in a different area first but on the advice of another member I thought I’d try this one for a sacramental point of view.

I have a unique situation. My wife and I (and our children) have recently made the decision to go through the RCIA process when it begins at our parish in September. My question surrounds our multiple marriages.

We have been married a total of 4 times, every time to each other. Neither of us has ever been married to anyone else. Without going into a long personal history, we got married for the first time at 19 (2002) and needless to say, were not mature enough for such a step. The next two marriages occurred at ages 21 and 26, I believe. The subsequent divorces were a result both of maturity issues and my wife’s (untreated) mental illness. The last marriage occurred in Dec of 2013. I find all of this to be very embarrassing personally, but I will say that in our staying together for this long I know that I am with the love of my life and could not imagine being without her.

During this time, we cohabitated for all of it with the exception of 3 months. If it is of any consequence we also have two children together.

My concern is how/if this will be an impediment to the RCIA process and what, if any steps, would need to be taken to remedy the situation? I just want to make sure I enter the Church correctly.

I was baptized Southern Baptist in 2008. My wife has never been baptized in any faith.


#5

Thanks to you both for the quick replies and the welcomes! EasterJoy I took your advice and also posted in the Liturgy and Sacraments forum. Thanks again! You both helped clarify the situation.


#6

The road of marriage is rocky, and no one really needs to tell you that. Congratulations to both of you on your faithfulness to each other! I hope all is well with your wife. God bless you both on your faith journey!


#7

Non Catholics are free to marry any legal way they choose. The church considers all non Catholic marriages to be valid. Since your marriages were not annulled by a marriage tribunal then the church considers you married starting at the time of your first marriage.


#8

Amen on the road is rocky! My wife is doing fine now, she just needed to be properly medicated. All has been well on her health for a few years now. I should have included that in my first post. Thank you your concern and the good wishes!


#9

You’ll have to forgive me because I’m still new to the Church, but what is a marriage tribunal?

And to make sure I understand you correctly, given my wife and I’s non Catholic status at the time of our marriages, and the subsequent divorces, are you saying the Church kind of “dismisses” ( I can’t think of a better word, but I don’t mean it in a negative way) our three later marriages and just starts from our first marriage?

That’s actually the anniversary that my wife and I still celebrate so I don’t mind that at all, I’m just wanting to make sure I understand. Thanks for your reply.


#10

If you are asking whether this is an impediment to entering the church, the answer is no.

What you will need to do when you begin the process of entering the church is sit down with your pastor and explain your history, and follow his instructions.


#11

The Marriage Tribunal is the body that will, upon request from a divorced (usually) Catholic (or non-Catholic desiring to marry a Catholic), look at the situation that existed prior and at the time of the marriage to determine if a couple contracted a valid marriage. If the findings are that they didn’t, the Tribunal will issue a Decree of Nullity (you might be more familiar with the term ‘grant an annulment’), and the two are usually free to marry in the future.

The Church considers the marriage of non-Catholics (who don’t have an impediment such as a previous marriage to another person or a close kinship) valid from the moment the vows are spoken. So, yes, as far as the Church is concerned, your original marriage to your wife is the one that counts. No divorce broke that original bond.


#12

Thank you both for your replies. You’ve both helped illuminate this for me. I will be due to discuss this with my paster either prior to our early on in the RCIA process.

Thanks again!


#13

The Church will presume that your original civil marriage was valid. Only Catholics are bound by the Church’s marriage laws.

Assuming you both intent life long marriage with openness to life (and the fact that you have already had children demonstrates that this was likely your intention), your current natural marriage will automatically become a sacramental marriage the moment you are both baptized.


#14

Another question non-Catholics becoming Catholic commonly have is “does my marriage need to be validated in the Catholic Church”. The answer is: NO. Your marriage will become sacramental once both of you are baptized, by virtue of the Baptism itself. No further ceremony or paperwork is required.


#15

Just to clarify, no further ceremony would be needed if only one were to be baptized or become Catholic. A (natural) marriage is already valid. Baptism of both paries imparts sacramental character, not validity.


#16

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