no annulment = mortal sin?

hey, i hope i’m posting this in an appropriate place but i have a nagging question about annulments…(i know, ANOTHER annulment question)

my wife and i have just begun the annulment process and will begin RCIA class this august… my question is this, hypothetically speaking, say my first marriage isn’t annulled…because i am now remarried, with the church not recognizing my current marriage, i am basically living in mortal sin? perpetually? unless i were to get another civil divorce, leave my current wife and children, and live a celibate life?

Lord have mercy!

somebody tell me i’m wrong, please!

Christ have mercy!

This is odd…Please do not get offended.
RCIA…so you are not catholic?
Also, you are assuming alot. I would be happy to answer questions but I think you may be a bit confused regarding sacrament v. Civil Marriage.

What is odd about this question?

I don’t think the OP sounds very confused at all. If the first marriage is found to be good and valid, continuing to have relations with the new spouse would be a mortal sin, yes.

A civil divorce need not be granted for the second marriage, but willingness to live celibately (or return to the first spouse) is needed.
Not an easy answer or one that one wants to hear, but the teaching of the Church.

not easy to hear at all…

we have been attending mass for weeks and are certain this is the church Christ has founded…RCIA wont begin again until the fall and we’ve already begun the annulment process because it can take so long to complete…so no, i’m not “really” catholic yet…

thanks for the information…i have been reading and studying the catechism and other church documents and it certainly feels like trying to drink from a fire hose…

it just really hit me today, what would be required if our petitions are denied…

i am honestly feeling crushed and without hope. how can i keep from obsessing over the worst possible outcome for the next 12-24 months? hanging in this limbo of not knowing where i belong? of not being able to join Christ’s church?


You are correct when a prior bond exists and is found to be valid you are committing adultery if you have relations with your current (legal) spouse.

You are not correct that you would have to “get another civil divorce, leave my current wife and children, and live a celibate life”. The Church gives guidance to priests regarding pastoral solutions to divorced/remarried persons, such as remaining civilly married but living in continence. The Church does not advise breaking apart families with young children. Yes, people in invalid marriages need to live in continence until such time as they can convalidate their union (nullity, dissolution of the bond, death of previous spouse).

I do recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster which also talks about the Pauline and Pertine Privileges, which may or may not be applicable to you.

Well, it might be difficult but you just have to try. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

First, review all your options with your advocate. You don’t mention if either you or your first spouse are/were baptized, are/were Catholic, etc. This can have an impact on which avenue the case takes and whether or not dissolution of the bond (Pauline/Petrine Privilege) might apply.

If the bond is upheld, that does not preclude you from joining the Church provided that you can live in continence.

But, again, one bite at a time. Trust in the Lord and let him guide you.

If a first marriage is valid, then a second attempt at marriage is invalid and relatations within that union are gravely sinful.

What happens in a particular case involves a bit of prudential judgement. In general it would be best to dissolve the invalid union in order to avoid the near occasion of sin. The fact that there are children involved makes that difficult due to the harm that separation will do them. In such cases the parties to the attempted marriage are called to live as brother and sister, and ask God for the continued grace to be conformed to his will.

Which is what we all need to be asking for in any case.

You are both in my prayers. Remember: one day at a time.

It is very confused re. Sacrament. If OP in not catholic, and has not a valid baptism, nor a valid marriage, then he is not, was not, and shall not be married till after baptism. Complicated too.

We don’t know that he wasn’t baptised (such would still need instruction such as RCIA before being accepted into the Catholic Church via communion/confirmation).

We don’t know that his ex was not Catholic with their marriage occurring in a Catholic church, which would make it valid and sacramental.

We also need to understand that God is the God of all marriages, not just Catholic or other Christian ones. He is not bound by our form of the sacraments, although we are. So all marriages of anyone entering the Church need to be examined for validity, and the Church is rightly prudent and cautious even in declaring non-Catholic and non-religious marriages null.

thanks, all! i dearly appreciate the prayers and encouragement.

You’re confused because the Church does recognize as valid any marriage that was done in accordance to the couple’s circumstances when they were married. For example, a Jewish couple, married according to the Jewish fashion, is considered validly married in the eyes of the Church. a Muslim couple, married according to the Muslim fashion, is considered validly married in the eyes of the Church. a Baptist/Lutheran/Episcopalian couple, married according to the Baptist/lutheran/episcopalian fashion, is considered validly married in the eyes of the Church. an atheist couple, married according to their station (civilly married) is considered validly married in the eyes of the Church – all of these are assumed to be valid unless proven otherwise. It’s not true that one is not validly married until after Baptism. That’s not what the Church teaches…


And I also want to add that the hypothetical Baptist/Lutheran/Episcopalian couple, providing they are validly baptized in their own churches (and the vast majority of these people are validly baptized) and contract a valid marriage, are also Sacramentally married. Catholics are not the only ones who contract Sacramental marriage.

None of which is known, first. Second, If a jewish couple claims to be married, and they mean they went to a JP, and the male converts, and neither was baptized…difficulties because of the nature of Baptism, Judaism, and Sacramental theology. But hey, quess you read all the particulars in the OP, I missed um.

This is not correct.

Non-Catholics marry each other validly when they marry civilly.

If one or both are baptized, their marriage is valid and a sacrament. If one or both are unbaptized, their marriage is a valid natural marriage.

Your post isn’t really clear.

However, if two Jews marry each other, their marriage is valid.

If one coverts to Christianity and is baptized, their marriage is still valid.

If both convert and are baptized, their marriage is still valid and it becomes a sacrament upon their baptism.

Actually, non-Catholics marry validly when they marry civilly. Their own ministers are acting merely as a civil witnesses and there is no difference between marrying in front of their minister and some other person authorized by the state to marry people.

The only exception is regarding the Orthodox (and perhaps other true particular Churches). Because the Orthodox are true particular Churches (i.e. have valid Apostolic Succession) the Catholic Church recognizes their (i.e. their bishops) ability to create binding particular law on their members. Therefore, the Church deems invalid those Orthodox marriages in which the Orthodox member married outside their required form of marriage.

The OP never said they were a jewish couple who claimed to be married, and that they went to a JP, and he converted, and neither was baptized. I guess I missed those :shrug:

All marriages are assumed to be valid unless proven otherwise, that’s why the OP doesn’t have to give all the particulars. The only marriages we know are not valid, are civil marriages (without the Sacramental part) for Catholic couples. That’s why he’s applying for an annullment via the diocese, and not CAF :wink:

Yes, that’s correct. Did I say something confusing when I said: “the Church does recognize as valid any marriage that was done in accordance to the couple’s circumstances when they were married.”? A non-Catholic couple is acting in accordance of their circumstances by marrying civilly, as they are not obligated to marry in the Church.

I think what you mean is a Catholic who contracts a civil marriage without permission from his Bishop.

I thought it was a given that you had to get permission to do something that you’re not supposed to do :stuck_out_tongue:

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