Please help - big adulterous mess. THank you!


I am a recently confirmed (this last Easter) Catholic but haven’t become deeply involved in

any one parish. I am in the middle of a web of relationships pertaining to adultery that I

did not until now realize as such. It’s a big mess, and I will be sorely grateful for any

good Catholic advice. Thank You!

  1. I have been in a “relationship” with a young woman for six months. She is Christian,

not Catholic, and divorced. She had just left some kind of live-in caretaker job due to

sexual advances and was without shelter as far as I knew so I let her stay with me. We

have been living together, and were together physically, and I have confessed it in the

Sacrament of Reconciliation. I had in mind that she might get an annulment and we might be

married. Now I have no reason to think there are grounds for that. I never really did and

I was fooling myself. I see that were both were guilty of adultery and I feel obligated to

urge her to try and reconcile with her husband. Is this right? Is it my duty? I feel

responsible for her safety- physically and spiritually. I think the only right thing for

her is to try and be reconciled to her husband.

  1. My parents were divorced and my dad remarried a Christian woman and had 2 more

children, now ages 11 & 13. He has expressed vitriolic anti-Christian and anti-Catholic

sentiment for as long as I can remember, but he was baptized in the Episcopal faith as a

boy. For some reason I never realized until now that his remarriage is adultery. Of

course I want to talk to him about his baptism, faith, and his remarriage as adultery but

frankly am terrified to do so. We had home-shaking arguments when I refused to call the

new wife “mom”. I eventually gave in, not knowing any better. Now I refuse. Should I

exhort him on his adulterous and illegitimate marriage? Try to suggest a reconciliation

with mom? It is hard to imagine. If it did, what about the kids? I feel that the

spiritual significance outweighs the physical circumstances of the kids (whether they stay

with dad or their mom), and would be grateful for an affirmation about this.

  1. Mom started up an adulterous relationship of her own about 8 years ago with a co-worker

and they moved in together. They still live together (in separate rooms), and have

ostensibly ceased from iniquity, but still have what seems to me an unnatural affection for

each other. I just graduated from college, still have an apartment (as far as I know), but

haven’t been able to find a job, haven’t paid the rent this month, may be evicted, and am

in the extremely awkward position of staying here in mom’s house, with the young lady I

still haven’t been able to break off the relationship with, and with mom’s ex-boyfriend-in

-adultery (now sleeping on the sofa in the living room) and his nephew (in his room). My

heart breaks to think of having the adultery conversation with my mom but I know I will do

it soon. It’s an opportunity for me to share about the love of Christ, which I haven’t

done very much with her for some reason. My mom & dad may not even believe in God or the

Church, which may make it hard for them to accept their actions as adultery. I am thinking

about the salvation of my parents, stepmom, stepbrother and sister, and friend. I plan to

testify as boldly as I can. Is it a sin for her to live with the ex-partner-in-adultery

even if now they are “just friends”? Same question for me and my friend? The latter, at

least, seems an obvious example of the ‘near occasion of sin’ to be avoided, not to mention

that she should try to reconcile with her husband. If she refuses do I just sever ties

with her? Is it condoning her past sin for me to stay in my mom’s house? I feel that if I

am silent it is surely a sin.

Thank you in advance for your help!

All things work together for good for those who love God.


Help the young woman find a place to stay (start with her pastor, he can likely find resources at her own congregation).


Well, I would focus on cleaning up your own situation before taking your parents to task on their similar adulterous relationships lest you be accused of hypocrisy. I would help your friend move out and find new living arrangements (maybe she can move in with relatives or get a female roommate in an apartment). You should be careful of taking in women you see as victims. Sometimes us men can get wrapped up in being the knight in shining armor and embroiling ourselves in unhealthy relationships with women who need rescuing rather then looking for a good Christian woman who will make a fitting spouse.


Please, talk to your priest about this. I will keep you in my prayers.


This is excellent advice, particularly about the people we try to “rescue”. Women also make this mistake, only it’s typically “I am the only person who understands him and really loves him” malarkey, as opposed to “knight in shining armour”. Please take it to heart…these "rescue. relationships always end poorly.


At this point your only obligation to this lady is to cease living together as well as all inappropriate behavior. It is neither your responsibility nor duty to have this lady and her ex-husband reconcile. From what you have stated, you have already been absolved of the sin of adultery and as this lady is not currently a Catholic, she does not have the option of going to Confession and being absolved. However, should you continue to live with this lady, you may also be guilty of scandal, so it is important to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

Be honest with yourself here… You are thinking that you will go to your father and tell him that he is living in adultery. There are times to be direct and then there are times to be indirect. If you value and wish to maintain a relationship with your father, you will have to be tactful here. First and foremost, take care of your own situation first.

I think that you are hoping for too much at this point. First, do you see your father actually leaving the person he believes to be his wife simply because you have told him he is living in adultery? Next, do you see your father being open to the idea of reconciling with your mother after he got a civil divorce from the lady he is currently with? Finally, do you see your mother as being open to your father coming back into her life as her husband? Of course it’s not impossible, for with God, nothing is impossible, but let us agree that at this point it is not very likely. As for the children that your father and this other lady have had together, your father (whether the children reside with him or not) is responsible for providing for them.

Again, please take care of your situation first. Then CAREFULLY discern the best way to go about speaking to your mom while at the same time being careful of her feelings and preserving your relationship with her. If you charge in like a bull you my find that either your relationship with your dad or the relationship with your mom or both, may be damaged. If that happens, how open will they be to you and to Catholicism?

Possibly… Catholics are to avoid scandal. Is your mom Catholic?

For you, who are Catholic, there are 3 elements to mortal sin:

  1. Grave matter - Is it a voluntary action or inaction that separates you from God?
  2. Full knowledge - Do you recognize that the action or inaction is grave?
  3. Full consent - If items 1 and 2 are true, do you commit the act anyway?

If the answer to all 3 questions is yes… you are involved in mortal sin and need to go to confession. If there are any “no’s” you may be less culpable… to what degree? Only God and/or you can answer that.




Additionally, I’d say that there is the possibility of scandal, especially if others know that you are a Catholic and see what you are doing. This may lead them to believe that it is alright to “live together” as a married couple without actually being married. Again, I would hold off on trying to talk her into reconciling with her husband at this point. The Church does in fact recognize that there may be reasons for a married couple to separate. These include abuse and other threatening conditions that may be involved in the marriage.

If she refuses to go back to her husband? No, not if you value her as a friend. Whether she reconciles with her husband or not is not any of your business. If you “sever ties” with her because she either does not wish to go back to him or she is unable to go back with him, how will this help her? I would suggest maintaining an acceptable relationship with her if you can do so. If you find that this would place you at risk of sin, then take a step back.

With her also staying there, it is possibly creating a new sin.

St Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Living the gospel is often more effective than verbally espousing the gospel. Let everyone who knows you SEE God’s love in you and you’ll have more credibility than if you simply tell them. God bless.


well first of all…
you cannot expect any one else to take you seriously when you are the pot calling the kettle black.

for your own situation:
you KNOW that sex outside of marriage is fornication at the least… and not licit. but you did that anyway. you need to clean that mess up first. i would suggest that you BOTH talk to a priest about how to reconcile the fact that you wish to be married, but cannot be owing to her prior marriage. (assuming you still want to marry?)

in either case, stop sleeping with her… and work on finding yourself a place to live that is NOT in near proximity to things that are distressing to you. your priest may be able to help…

as to your mom and dad.
well, obviously you cant speak to them until you have your mess under control.
however, other than that… i suggest you dont even try to speak to your father, as he has already expressed his attitudes clearly to you.
your mother may be able to get an annulment
i have seen annulments issued in cases where i would never have thought them possible… and others denied. you dont know what is, or is not, grounds for annulment… its a rather specialized training.
the fact that your father has re married may be of help to your mom getting an annullment.

now, let me ask one further question…
is your mom Catholic? because an annulment is ONLY the recognition of the Catholic church. if your parents are not Catholic… well… the question becomes "does THEIR church/faith recognize their prior marriage?"
its not relevant to your mom unless she is, or becomes, Catholic… it does NOT affect YOU…
even though YOU are a Catholic… your parents state of marraiage is not anything the church has any ability to say anything about… if your mom wanted an annullment she would be putting herself under the authority of the Church, which only makes sense if she is Catholic… or involved with a catholic.

anyway… find out who you need to talk to about YOUR situation before you worry about anyone elses


You do need to help your female friend find a new place to live. You should probably not suggest that she needs to reconcile with her husband - it seem s unlikely to me you know enough about her situation to suggest any such thing.

Your mom and Dad, I would not approach. For one thing, unless they believe that what the CC teaches has some authority, your reasoning will have no power with them. Secondly, you are the child, and situations where you correct your parents need to be handled with a very delicate kind of tact. THey are adults and they are allowed to make their own decisions about how to live their lives, including whether to follow a particular religion and church. I don’t see anything to be gained and much to be lost by having such a discussion with your dad. As for your Mom, I don’t think you have any place second-guessing what she has said about her relationship.

You are a fairly new Christian it seems. Sometimes it is best to simply work on your own behavior and prayer life, rather than to immediately rush out trying to correct the faults of others. Experience will teach you a few things, one being that you need to meet people where they are to reach them; the second that people’s personal lives can be fraught and complicated and require some experience to negotiate even when it is appropriate. And very often, it isn’t appropriate.


Thank you so much for your answers, advice and prayers! They are invaluable!


I wish I had never posted this and had considered & “worked out” my own situation before even using the “a”-word.


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