"For example, if a catholic wants to marry a protestant who is divorced, there is no problem as long as the catholic was not married before, or received an annulment. "
That is incorrect any Christian who was Married before must show that the Marriage was not a valid Marriage through the annulment process before they can Marry again.
AND this is one of the errors that needs to be corrected in the Annulment process. As a returning Catholic who was Protestant for 40 years, and who married 25 years ago as a Protestant, I know first hand exactly how the Protestant Church views marriage and divorce. Adultery is considered a ‘Deal Breaker’ throughout Protestantism. That belief should AUTOMATICALLY negate a Protestant Marriage as invalid. They absolutely do not view marriage as indissoluble, and truly have that ‘deal breaker’ in the mix during the vows.
For us, I came back to the Church about 4 years ago. My husband of 25 years did his own due-diligence and is more steeped in Catholicism than anyone I know. His former wife (as my former husband) had an affair, abandoned the marriage and 3 children, and remarried the man with whom she was unfaithful.
My annulment was straight forward, but my dear husband is now on Round 2 trying to obtain an annulment. It has cost us several years, not being able to receive communion with our 17 year old (who became Catholic also), and several thousand dollars to pay both annulment processes and hire a Canon Lawyer…and it STILL isn’t resolved.
To top it off, he’s 65 and his only real witness (his mom) is deceased.
But the fact remains: when he got married the first time, he knew in his mind that if she was ever unfaithful, the marriage was allowed to dissolve and he was free to re-marry…according to Protestant beliefs.
The strange, legalistic stand of Our Church that Protestants are ‘brothers and sisters in the faith’ is absurd in this area. Marriages in the Protestant Tradition are by definition not valid because of this firmly held conviction that adultery is a deal-breaker. So when a former Protestant comes to a new understanding after the fact, and desires to become Catholic, it should be welcomed and honored, rather than severe legalistic roadblocks thrown out.
It is wrong to hold someone accountable at a time when their lack of understanding caused them to hold to a belief…like the Protestant stand on adultery. THAT is the whole REASON for Convalidation, isn’t it??? To have a TRUE, VALID MARRIAGE??? Otherwise, when Protestants come into the Church as husband and wife, there would be no reason to Convalidate if Tribunals believe their initial vows were truly ‘valid.’
This is a disturbing and frustrating contradiction, and it needs to change.
We know several very orthodox priests, a Sister, and several Deacons are in agreement on this point…they understand the Protestant view and think it should be strongly considered…still, we wait for ‘approval’ by the Tribunal…and I continue to wait to finally receive the Eucharist I’ve been denied for many years, and to Convalidate marriage to a wonderful, Godly, Catholic-in-his-heart man who wants to be Roman Catholic after almost 60 years of being a Protestant!