Petrine Privilege Experience

Hi everyone. I was wondering if anyone had any experience of the Petrine Privilege where the baptised person is the one who is petitioning it and the ex-spouse is the unbaptised party?

I read that the unbaptised party must be fully involved and provide 3 witnesses (preferably blood relations) to confirm they were unbaptised. In my case this would cause a lot of tension in the ex-spouses life (who is remarried) and their family would not be willing to do this. The marriage ended due to these tensions, created by disparity of cult.

Has this happened to anyone? Does anyone know if there is any flexibility with how this is handled? Or what the level of involvement would be - is it just paperwork, or would they need to be deposed as well? Would a document stating the ex-party was a member of a different religion be enough, for example?

Am feeling very despondent and alone with this and don’t know what to do. Any input would be helpful.

God bless

Talk to your advocate. Believe in the process and don’t get inside your head with what ifs.


Thanks for your response, we have slowly started the process, but have no idea of what it will be like which is so anxiety provoking. We don’t have an advocate yet. Do you know when they get assigned?

Knowing more about what kinds of questions the non-baptised and their witnesses will be asked and the procedure in general, whether less closely related by blood witnesses can be given would help to ease a massive amount of the overwhelmed feeling I think.

So am just reaching out, hoping that someone has experience about this process that they could share.

Make an appointment with your priest and discuss this with him. He will guide you in the steps you need to take.

Hi Horton thanks for taking the time to respond. We have spoken to priests already, but those we spoke to didn’t know much about the paperwork and intricacies of the process… Just whether someone seemed like they had a case and pointing us in the right directions. Which makes sense I guess? We are following the advice and filling out initial paperwork… but still haven’t had any questions answered I guess.

It would just be nice to be able to speak to people who are going / have gone through this process already. To get a sense of it. This process has felt quite isolating so far.

Your Diocese has a website. Call the Diocese on Tuesday, Monday is a holiday, and ask to speak to the Tribunal. Ask the Tribunal who your advocate is. This is not supposed to be a secret.

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Then you need to do as your priest says, fill out the paperwork and submit it. Once it is submitted the tribunal will access your case to determine what type of case it is, then they will assign an advocate.

In the age of the internet it is easy to anxious about these things. Reading about it without the full knowledge of what the terms mean and what makes a case a certain type can actually be really unhelpful. Also asking here will get you a wide range of answers from one stating they heard about a friend of a relative’s uncle’s step-father’s son…you know what I mean to those who will state they know what needs to happen and to not follow the advice of anyone else because they are right. There are so many variables in marriage cases that only well trained laity or knowledgeable clergy can answer questions for your situation.

I’ve gone through the process but my experience may not be anything like yours. Have faith in God, pray for perseverance, and trust in the system.



The people who operate the system are never immune to mistakes!

Learn the system and fight for what you are convicted in through a formed faith.

You should definitely talk to your advocate – but this line raised a question. Is the ex-spouse a practicing member of another faith, such as Judaism or Islam?

What fight? The marriage is either valid or invalid. It is very black & white, no shades of gray.

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Truth needs to be fought for.

Why would the tribunal not be truthful? As I said, a marriage either is or isn’t valid.

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They are subject to human error too. And Rome has criticized misinterpretation of canon law.

Hi Julian, yes they are Muslim. And have always been. Why do you ask, would this make a difference in the proceedings? This is what I’m so frustrated by, the case clearly meets the privilege, but we may not be able to evidence it in the way that the tribunal may demand due to the family of the ex likely being unwilling to testify.

Hi Ammi, yes exactly, this is what I’m afraid of. Not being able to demonstrate the truth in the exact ways that the privilege proceedings may call for. This is why I was asking if anyone knows if there is any flexibility in the type of proof that is brought. Ie alternative witnesses / documentation / etc.

I’m wondering if the imam of their mosque might be able to help you with some documentation.

Where did you read that?


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Hi Dan,

Thanks for the response. I don’t remember exactly now, I have been scouring the internet. Some advice says 3 witnesses

And other places have said that they are ideally blood relatives, with mother, father, older siblings and aunts and uncles being the best.

Why do you ask, is this not true in your experience?

Hi Julian,

Yes I was wondering this too. I don’t know if they would accept something like this… I will definitely ask when I get the chance.

I asked mostly to see where this was stated (for my own information) and I suppose you might see or suspect some doubt on my part about the truth of those assertions. Be that as it may, I don’t get involved (or at least I try hard to not get involved) in real cases unless I am assigned to them. So, all I can say to you is that I wouldn’t depend on what anybody on the internet says or what any diocesan site says. It all comes down to what the people in your case tell you to do and the requirements they say apply.

In other words, what difference would it make if I (whoever I am) tell you one thing but the people at your own diocese say something else? They aren’t going to (and shouldn’t) listen to some guy on the internet, whether I know what I’m talking about or not.

The best source of information on this process comes from the Holy See, found here:

I also hope you can find the assistance you need to make sure the process is correctly followed. As you have found out, not a lot of people know about it. Nevertheless, it really is not too complicated.


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