Need assistance with a potentially invalid marriage


#1

My parents divorced when I was really young, I think before I turned 5. I am now 37, and have become more educated in the Catholic faith in the last 4 years than the previous 33 combined.

My mom and dad were married in the Catholic Church. After divorce, they both eventually married outside of the Church, without ever persuing annulment of their marriage. My mom is divorced again, but my dad is still married after 30 years to the woman he married after divorcing my mom. Their 30th wedding anniversary is in less than a week. Lately, I have been thinking I should not be supporting their relationship as a marriage. However, after living with this situation for nearly my entire memorable life, I am not sure how to approach it.

I myself was married for 18 months, and then went through a divorce. I pursued an annulment, and my marriage was declared null. My dad and stepmother participated in the witness paperwork for my annulment. I am not sure if this really qualifies as a form of speaking to their own situation. They may think that I pursued the annulment for closure, and not for any spiritual reason.

Anyone care to share their experiences?


#2

I think you can be both honest and supportive.

I have a friend who is in an invalid marriage. From the time she got engaged, I urged her to deal with her prior marriage through the tribunal. She declined to do so and married her (current) husband outside the Church. They have 3 children together and she has 2 from her first marriage. They attend Mass, the kids are being raised as Catholics, but my friend and her husband refrain from receiving Communion.

For 8 years now I have continued to gently urge her to rectify her marriage situation. I’m not “in your face” about it. I just bring it up once in a while. She appreciates my honesty, and while for a long time she politely said she wasn’t interested, recently she told me she is going to pursue a decree of nullity.

So, you can positively influence people to do the right thing without being rude or cutting them out of your life. You also can be forthright about what is right and what is wrong, and you can be honest in telling them you think they are wrong.

It is all in how you do this that colors how it is received.


#3

It is a strong and very natural desire for people to seek life partners/spouses, even after their prior relationship terminated in divorce.

While the Church has rules for dealing with these issues, not everyone values the Church's rules over their own desires for happiness.

The topic thread title, "Need assistance with a potentially invalid marriage," sounds like a request for assistance in sorting through marriage questions and issues.

But it turns out that this is really about the risky business of getting involved in someone else's marriage.

The simple truth is that people pursue marriage, under civil law, even in cases where the blessing of the Church will be withheld.

Regardless of whether or not we approve of someone else's marriage, if it is a lawful marriage, then the couple is married.

For the most part, couples do not want to suffer meddling busybodies, telling them their marriage is no good.

Our energies would be much better applied, to the improvement of our own lives.


#4

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:186209"]
I think you can be both honest and supportive.

I have a friend who is in an invalid marriage. From the time she got engaged, I urged her to deal with her prior marriage through the tribunal. She declined to do so and married her (current) husband outside the Church. They have 3 children together and she has 2 from her first marriage. They attend Mass, the kids are being raised as Catholics, but my friend and her husband refrain from receiving Communion.

For 8 years now I have continued to gently urge her to rectify her marriage situation. I'm not "in your face" about it. I just bring it up once in a while. She appreciates my honesty, and while for a long time she politely said she wasn't interested, recently she told me she is going to pursue a decree of nullity.

So, you can positively influence people to do the right thing without being rude or cutting them out of your life. You also can be forthright about what is right and what is wrong, and you can be honest in telling them you think they are wrong.

It is all in how you do this that colors how it is received.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#5

It is obviously very tricky to get involved in this situation. I don’t know whether your dad and his second wife are practising Catholics, but if they are, then I think you have an obligation in love to point out the truth of their situation; that they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion - cf. 1 Cor. 11.27.

However, if they are not currently practising their faith or receiving communion then your obligation is simply to evangelise them - a definition of which can be “to love someone, where they are at.” Love doesn’t mean going along with untruths pretending they aren’t their, but neither does it mean being abrasive in making the truth known.

“See everything: overlook a great deal: correct a little.” Pope John XXIII


#6

In general, in Christian charity, when we are confronted by a situation involving other people who may or may not be living according to Catholic teaching, the commandments and so forth, we assume we are not, and cannot possibly be, in possession of all the relevant facts. This is particularly true when the events in question happened a long time ago, or to people older than we are. We assume that they took whatever steps were necessary at that time to conform their manner of life to the Gospel and the Church, and We Do Not Judge. This applies most especially to children and other younger relatives of older people. Recognize that it is unlikely, nor is it appropriate, that you would know all the background of what your parents went through 30 years ago. Deal with them today, in the relationships that exist today, and leave the rest to God.

Since your status is not affected in any way, and you are not being called upon to act or make choices in the matter, and you are not responsible for their spiritual welfare as you would be for your own child, for instance, no action seems to be called for on your part.


#7

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