New Catholic


I was most joyously confirmed into the Catholic faith last Easter and I cannot begin to express the joy and peace I have found.
However a Catholic recently told me that I should not have been admitted because my dear husband is divorced-I am not.
This has caused me some upset so I'm hoping to find some help and guidance here.
Thank you
Annie (Australia)


If I understand, you husband has been previously married and that marriage has not been declared null?

Your first step if that is the case is to either refrain from communion or go to confession and then refrain from sexual relations until this is addressed.

Your second step is to speak to your priest about your husband’s previous marriage. If your husband is Catholic and married the first time outside of the Catholic church or if his first wife was Catholic and they married outside of the Catholic church then having the marriage declared null will be a matter of paper work. If your husband is not Catholic and his first wife was not Catholic then a marriage tribunal will have to look into his first marriage to see if there were factors at the time of the marriage that would invalidate the marriage. If that is the case, and the tribunal declares the marriage null you and your husband may have your marriage convalidated in the Church.

I should say I’m surprised that this was overlooked before your entry to the church but sadly I’m not. Our previous parish allowed my husband to convert without addressing the fact that we married outside the church. It wasn’t until 6 years later when we changed parishes that it was addressed and we had our marriage convalidated.


Well thank you so much!!
Not take Communion?Go to Confession? What else do you suggest?
Leave my husband?
I will do what I should have done in the first place and that is to go and talk to my local Parish Priest who I am sure will treat me with his usual kindness and compassion.
He usually says that when someone comes to him with a problem/question he says to himself"What would Jesus do?"
He also says there is only ONE judge.
Something for you to think about perhaps.


[quote="anniestuart, post:3, topic:186394"]
Well thank you so much!!
Not take Communion?Go to Confession? What else do you suggest?
Leave my husband?
I will do what I should have done in the first place and that is to go and talk to my local Parish Priest who I am sure will treat me with his usual kindness and compassion.
He usually says that when someone comes to him with a problem/question he says to himself"What would Jesus do?"
He also says there is only ONE judge.
Something for you to think about perhaps.


I'm truly sorry you're so upset. :( If you read rayne89's post closely, however, you'll see that they were in a situation quite similar to yours. They were just relaying the very advice that they themselves received from the church. In all honesty, this is probably exactly what your priest will tell you, and it is factually accurate according to Canon Law. NO ONE is trying to judge you, but this kind of question is common on here and involves a lot of church legalities.

Now, you're right... the ONLY person that's going to be able to sort this all out is a Catholic priest, because NONE of us are professionals in Canon Law, nor are we priests. They'll be able to tell you what to do in your specific case. All we can do is tell you the kinds of things that commonly happen in such cases. However, in the eyes of the church, it is possible that the church might still consider your husband married to his first wife. Is your husband Catholic as well? This will make a BIG difference. If he's not, you probably don't have much of a problem. If he is, he will have to see if there is a valid reason for having his first marriage annulled. The Church will need to investigate this with a marriage tribunal (which is not nearly as intimidating as it sounds). Catholic teaching is very clear in that it considers a marriage to be permanent, until death. There is NO way to dissolve it once undertaken. However... it is possible that the marriage was contracted under extenuating circumstances, and so was never valid in the first place. This would result in an annulment. It is very likely that the advice you will receive is to temporarily live as brother and sister (no sexual relations), just until the investigation is done, on the off-chance that your husband's marriage is still considered valid. You may or may not have to refrain from Communion, because your situation was completely unintentional, and one must knowingly sin. Your priest would be the one to suggest that.

I wish you the best and hope that everything works out for you! :)


I wasn’t judging you at all. That was the furthest thing from my mind. You asked the question and I gave you Catholic teaching. That *is *Church teaching. A person can only be validly married once “until death do you part”. Since your husband was married before until the marriage is looked for validity his marriage still stands in the churches eyes. One can not be married to someone who is already married. The church does not recognize divorce as ending a marriage. I also commiserated that the people running RCIA let you down by not giving you all the facts before your entered the Church. My husband and I had to stop receiving communion for a while until our marriage was convalidated. I didn’t think their was anything unkind or not compassionate about that. Those are the rules of the church and we followed them once we knew them.

I’m sure this is difficult. I am not judging you at all, if I’m judging anyone its those who were in charge of instructing you in faith at your parish that let you down by not asking you the questions they needed to ask and/or not telling the truth about marriage according to the church.


[quote="anniestuart, post:1, topic:186394"]
I was most joyously confirmed into the Catholic faith last Easter and I cannot begin to express the joy and peace I have found.
However a Catholic recently told me that I should not have been admitted because my dear husband is divorced-I am not.
This has caused me some upset so I'm hoping to find some help and guidance here.
Thank you
Annie (Australia)


the only person who can answer your question is the priest who prepared you for reception into the Church and he can only do it if you have given him all the details of your background, including marital history. This should have been done in and in-depth interview shortly after you began the RCIA process. If it was that lapse is the pastor's fault, not yours. Make an appointment with the priest, tell him your concerns, and be completely honest about your situation. He will guide you from there on further action that may be necessary. No one accept the priest can give you personal pastoral advice on how to conduct yourself should you find that the marriage indeed needs further steps taken to render it valid according to Church law. The type of advice offered elsewhere here may be objectively true but only a priest can tell you what applies in your own personal situation.

Welcome Home! you will find your way even through unexpected bumps in the road, and if you have the wisdom and humility to accept the guidance of the Church your conversion and your marriage will be stronger.


Dear Anniestuart,congratulations for your entry into the Catholic Church.For what ever reason unknown to you, the shadow of the cross has come into your life.Please keep calm and have peace of mind.It seems in the first place,the situation you describe is not of your own doing,as I understand the buck stops with the priest who accepted you into the church.Maybe it was an oversite on his part or perhaps had not given all the facts about it.I think it would be good if you went to the same priest and told him your concerns.See what he says,if your soul is still not at peace with what he says,then I would suggest seeking a wise and holy priest.

I can give you an example of the situation a good friend of mine.He was a single man,never married,he met a catholic woman at a dance who was devorced--a catholic with no annulment of the marriage.They "fell" in love with each other,a religious sister encourged her in this relationship(she did not persevere in this vocation).They went to her "charismatic" priest,an old Irishman.He married them in the Church,with a nuptual Mass and all the trimmings! He knew she was divorced ,as the reason her husband left her (she said) that she was too spiritual!!.:eek:

Some years later my friend went on a retreat,his soul was heavy as he knew it was a sinful union.He told me that when he went to confession to a holy priest,he told him this is the deal---:
"go outside and pray and think things through "---I cannot forgive you your sins, unless you decide to either leave your wife or agree to live as a brother and sister in the same house";all they could do, my buddy said ,was to give an affectionate kiss on the cheek--nothing else!"

Being an honourable person and having received the graces in prayer(including the prayers of the holy priest) he went back and agreed to the terms demanded--depending on what his "wife" at home agreed to! So he turned his life around,his "wife" accepted the second, which was to live as brother and sister.He is an outstanding catholic but carries a heavy cross.

She has never confessed to having being wrong :as she uses the excuse that it MUST have been alright as Father blessed the marriage and her "Sister" friend backed her.Since his "wife" maintains that it was all above board,she refuses to get her first marriage annulled! She resents my buddy for not giving her marital intimacy.

As for the Priest who married them,well he is now retired,since I know him--I would say that he thought with his heart ;rather than with the mind of the church,God Bless him.He was like that in his Liturgical customs--he came out with beauties-very Irish--
"do not worry if you are not an appointed to give out communion--you are all able to do it by your baptism,it all went well ,until some experts in Rome interfered "!

My prayers are with you **Anniestuart **and also your partner,as the saying goes " all things turn out for the greater good ,to those who love God,


Everything happens for a reason- maybe it was overlooked because it was God’s will for you to come home to the rest of us. Welcome to the Church with open arms.

Now as far as the other issue - have faith. God did not bring you this far to let you down - no matter what the circumstances are He never gives us anything more than we can handle or that is not part of His plan. Think how much more compassion you will have for someone entering the Church than it sounds like was shown to you.

I would never go as far as to say someone should not have joined the Church but that the situation should have been addressed prior to the situation so that the Catuchumen/Candidate had a full understanding of what their standing would be so that the process would be more charitable.

Good luck to you and your husband.


I’m really not so sure what that has to do with anything, if you were confirmed both you and your husband are 100% OK with the Church with regards to your marriage situation. It is no one’s business to sit around podering how much of a sinner you are or your husband is due to their past life.



First of all, welcome home! I’m so thrilled that you have found peace and joy in the Catholic Church and I pray that you continue to experience these spiritual blessings. I truly hope that, regardless of how your situation resolves itself, you will continue to feel at home in the Church that Christ founded.

I’m sorry that your RCIA program didn’t fully explain the Catholic understanding of marriage. This seems to be a common problem in the United States as well. Simply put, the Church recognizes marriage between two non-Catholics as valid. It also believes that marriage is permanent, for life. Once a valid marriage is contracted, nothing can be done to end it. (“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder”) Divorce is a legal term which in no way affects the actual validity of a marriage.

The reason you received some of the above advice (refrain from communion until you’ve been to confession, refrain from sexual relations, etc) is because the Church presumes that the man you consider to be your husband is actually still married to his first wife. Since a man can only be married to one woman, the Church presumes that the two of you are not married, and, as you know, sexual activity between non-married persons is gravely wrong. Thus, unless and until the Church examines your husband’s first marriage to determine its validity, you shouldn’t be acting as if you are married.

That said, we don’t know enough about your husband’s situation to judge the validity of his marriage or the difficulty you will have in applying for a decree of nullility. Please do talk with your parish priest. I pray that the situation can be addressed expediently and in a way that maintains your love for the Catholic Church.

God bless.


I’m back and have settled down now.!!
Thank you for the replies and I have arranged to see my parish priest next week.
Just some background information here:-
1. My husband is NOT a Catholic and has no intention of becoming one.

  1. He was divorced long before I met him (he and wife No1 were also married in a civil ceremony and she was also not a Catholic)

  2. We were married (in a civil ceremonyover 20 years ago) before I became a Catholic ( a move he fully supported by the way).

  3. When I went through RCIA my marital history and that of the other candidates was never discussed.

Does all this still mean that he may still need to seek an anullment of his first marriage?
If he was a Catholic I could understand it but I really don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to expect this of him.
Just say an anullment was granted.Then what?Are we expected to remarry in the Catholic Church? Again I don’t think that is fair to my “very definitely an Anglican” man
Sorry it just all seems very complicated to me.
If push comes to shove and I’m faced with a choice here -well I know what I will do.


You're husband does not need to become Catholic. A marriage between two Protestants is considered valid until proven otherwise. I do not know if two protestants marrying outside of their church would be seen as valid or not -this is something your priest can answer. If your husband's first marriage is declared null than you would have a convalidation of your marriage in order to have it recognized by the church. All that is required is you and your husband, two witnesses and a priest. You would say your vows in the church. Your best bet is to see your priest. I'm sure he can do better job explaining how you should proceed than strangers on the internet can. God bless.


Sooo glad you are going to see your Parish Priest. Don’t worry… I am sure he will help you work it out. It may seem daunting but the Church deals with these sorts of situations all the time… It may take a little time…and paperwork… but after being Catholic for a year, wouldn’t you agree that it’s worth it? Just a bump in the road… that’s all.

God bless you & your dear husband!


That is quite a problem. Each person seeking to become a Catholic should go through a process to make sure there are no impediments or things that need to be taken care of before Baptism or Confirmation. I am sorry this happened to you. It is something that you should make sure your priest corrects in the program for future RCIA inquirers.


God’s law on marrigae being between one mand and one woman and until death binds all people, not just Catholics. Catholic Canon Law (like who must witness the marriage, etc) applies only to Catholics. But the teaching on marriage that Jesus gives is for all people.

It is called convalidation. This is an exchange of vows in the Catholic form. There is also something called radical sanation that may be an option, and it does not require the restatement of vows.

It is not a matter of fairness. It is a matter of obeying God’s law.


It might help to see what the issue would look like if the position was reversed. Let's say a couple was planning a church wedding. They got to the church, said their vows, went through the whole ceremony, and even had the reception. HOWEVER... the couple never went to the courthouse, never obtained or signed a marriage license, never posted an official announcement in the paper, never changed their names, and didn't alter anything on their tax forms. Are they married in the eyes of the state? Well, the answer depends. They wouldn't be in some places, but depending on the law, in others they might. In most US states they could eventually be recognized as legal, but only after a process of regularization, or the recognition after the fact that the couple has a "common law" marriage. Even then, these arrangements retain a somewhat uncertain legal status which can change depending on the state one lives in. Ultimately, the easiest thing would be for the couple to go back to the courthouse, get a marriage license, and restate their vows in front of a judge and two witnesses. It could be done very quickly.


I have just seen our beloved priest Father K who confirmed me last Easter and he has totally set my mind at rest by assuring me that I have done nothing wrong at all.
I do not have to go to confession and not take communion etc etc .
He explained that there are two things which could be done in these circumstances:-
Seek an annullment for my husband’s first marriage or leave the situation as it is and decide that it is between me,Father K and God.My heart is finally light again.
Bless him.No wonder his is so loved and such a good and non judgemental shepherd to his flock.
Annie-still a Catholic and most proudly so.


God bless you Annie. With due respect, I do not believe that the second option your priest gave (dear man though he may be he is not infallible and if he contradicts the Church’s teachings he is wrong, even though a priest) is correct. The first --to seek an annulment–is correct. I am very, very sorry that you are facing this situation. I am sure that you are extremely hurt by hearing hard truths, and especially so when those who should be giving you proper guidance are opting to defy the Church and set themselves up in opposition thinking that it will be less ‘hurtful’ to you not to have to face the hard truth.

In fact, Annie, if Father had told you, “Heavens, child, we were terribly wrong. . .your husband must seek an annulment and until then you must live as brother and sister, because in God’s eyes he is still married to his first wife”. . .would you (be honest please) have **remained a ‘happy’ Catholic? Would you?

**Judging by your comments I think you would have violently rejected the Church and its ‘interference’. And certainly since you were woefully, shamefully treated in not having this dealt with at the proper time, you can be ‘angry’ that people did wrong in NOT having you regularize the situation.

But that still wouldn’t make you ‘right’. And it isn’t making the situation ‘right.’

Now certainly you are less ‘culpable’ in that your priest is the one who will bear the majority of the punishment for giving you such advice as you say he has. This is dreadfully wrong advice and I ache for him for at the judgment this will be a black mark against him indeed. . .his part in fostering not a ‘loving Catholic’ but a person who is in defiance of Catholic teaching and thinking that she is NOT. God help you. For you see, in coming here, even though it is ‘hard truth’, even though you have a ‘priest’ who said otherwise, you** did learn the truth.**

And if you are intellectually honest and truly concerned with being a Catholic Christian, you will ‘go the extra step’ that the Internet has made available and you will go to the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law and you will find the hard truth that, despite the ‘good intentions’ of your priest, his ‘advice’ is wrong and you must do the hard thing, the right thing.

It is entirely possible that he can receive a decree of nullity. It is quite possible that he was not capable of full understanding of marriage, or ‘free consent’, at the time of that marriage long ago. But until that is known, he **is still married to that first wife, in the eyes of God and the Church --“The Church”, not one priest who has decided in a muddled spirit of ‘helpfulness’ to give you wrong information. **And if he is married to that woman, then he is not validly, sacramentally, married to you.

If we didn’t care about your immortal soul it would be easy to make soothing, comforting noises about how it’s all ‘just between you and God’ and how surely God understands and doesn’t get all ‘legal’. Easy. . .but wrong, and indeed damnably wrong. No, it isn’t easy to say these hard truths and to face your hurt, and possibly even your hate. It isn’t easy. . but it is vital for me as a Catholic Christian to tell you these, in love, not hate, in helpfulness, not hurtfulness. . .in truth and not in falsehood.

Please contact your diocesean Marriage tribunal. And know that you will have our prayers.


I am sorry in your priest's misplaced compassion he did not have the courage to tell you the truth. There are plenty of places where you can find the truth if you chose to be open to it. You can contact your diocese, you can visit a Catholic book store, search the web.

The Catholic Church does not permit the practice of divorce and remarriage under any circumstances...
...A Catholic cannot substitute his personal judgment as to whether his marriage was invalid (internal forum) in place of the legitimate Church annulment process...
...Contrary to what many believe, divorce does not end a marriage. Quite simply, divorce is a permanent separation of spouses recognized by the authority who grants it. A divorce does not change or remove the obligations to the marriage bond. Our Lord made this clear in Mark 10:1-12...
...There are those in the Church who erroneously teach the “internal forum solution.” Proponents of the “internal forum solution” wrongly argue that a Catholic can substitute his personal judgment about his marriage for a legitimate declaration of nullity. Such a solution allows for an easy means to dispose of an unwanted marriage situation, legitimize remarriage and return to the sacraments unhindered. *The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive Holy Communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. . . *.
(continue reading here )

To understand Catholic annulment, you have to understand marriage.
Marriage between a man & woman in the Catholic Church is a sacrament. It's both a sign of the love between Christ and his Church, and also a participation in that love. Really! St. Paul calls this a "great mystery" in Ephesians 5:32.
Catholics believe that marriage is permanent, "till death do us part." This teaching comes from Christ, as recorded in Scripture (See Mt 5:31-32 and 19:3-9, Mk 10:2-12, Lk 16:18)...

...Church law recognizes twelve specific impediments to marriage. They include things like coercion, being too young, already being married, blood or in-law relations, having received holy orders, being under vows of chastity, or being impotent (permanently unable to engage in sexual intercourse)...

(continue reading here )

These are just a couple sources of the many out there that explain what the church teaches. I am sorry you are in this difficult position. I am so very sorry that the one that should be teaching you the faith in the name of charity has told you some that is in direct contradiction to what the church teaches on marriage, and one receiving the Eucharist. Truly, not being clear on what the church teaches isn't charitable at all. You have been told the truth here. What you chose to do with that truth is up to you. You have my prayers.


It sounds like you still view yourself as the final judge of what is right and wrong. I hope you will realize that Jesus put His Church here to guide us and be our authority on earth. If you truly believe the Catholic Church was instituted by Jesus, then you need to submit yourself to the Church’s teaching, and not your own.

I hope you didn’t just join the Church with the view that “As long as I agree with the Church, I will obey.” If so, you still have placed yourself in God’s proper role as final judge.


Dear Annie,

It’s unfortunate that the kindly priest in your parish gave you such poor advice.

Here is what the catechism says about divorce and remarriage (CCC 2384):

Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

This is what the Church has written regarding the admittance of divorced and remarried members of the faithful to Holy Communion:

In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists.

This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: “They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”.

You can read the full document here:

Your priest was correct in advising you to seek an anullment. But he did you a great disservice by suggesting that you could also choose to ignore it because “it’s between you and God.” Ultimately, God will be our final judge, of course, but to suggest that you can therefore ignore a situation which “objectively contravenes God’s law” is to imperil your immortal soul. In charity, we must assume that beloved Father K does not fully understand the ramifications of what he is teaching.

I truly hope that you know that we are not judging you (though I understand it can be hard to read words like “adulteress” and not feel judged). On my part, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can come online to question something they’ve heard and who pursues a quest for truth, especially one that may entail great personal sacrifice. Do not give up; it’s not worth risking eternal life.

God bless.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit