Protestants and annulments

Most protestant churches accept divorce and remarriage. I understand they do not believe they are doing anything wrong and that those marriages are valid even if not catholic. But do they have some kind of annulment process the Catholic Church would find valid? I have heard someone say their pastor said the marriage was cancelled or they believed it was cancelled. But how are we to treat those people when they want to date? They believe they are doing no wrong, are we to encourage them? Help matchmake when asked? Or respectfully explain that if they are married in the church, a civil divorce is not the same as getting an annulment, which I have no idea would be valid for a Catholic.

Non Catholics would have to petition the Catholic tribunal. The Tribunal does not accept a judgment of a non-Catholic ecclesial communion to my knowledge.

They are not free to marry.

No, you shouldn’t encourage those who married and divorced to pursue relationships, or facilitate those relationships.


I have tried to explain this bit but it is difficult for them to understand when their churches accept and remarry them.

I’m not really sure why you would need to explain this. It’s not really your business what they do. It’s only your business if they ask you to be involved in it. Then simply say no.


Would a civilly divorced Protestant need to seek a Catholic decree of nullity to be free to date?

I don’t go about telling strangers what to do, I’m speaking from conflicts I have encountered and trying to find the best way to address them without hurting others.

That is one of my questions.

A civilly divorced Protestant would need a Catholic decree of nullity to be free to marry a Catholic.

“Well, I follow the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church teaches ABC” is a good way to go about it.

Sort of like those old commercials that said, “Well, my broker is EF Hutton, and EF Hutton says…”

Totally agree. But, that doesn’t address the question of what a Protestant person who is civilly divorced for reasons that might accommodate a decree of nullity in the Catholic Church Should do prior to dating (or if they’re free to date).

:joy::joy::joy: I laughed when I read this, direct and straight to the point. Most people I explain to just don’t get it, but then I wonder if they are to blame when their churches allow it.

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Well, I’m not sure that the Church has any rules about dating (other that the obvious moral laws about what not to do while dating), so that would be more of an opinion. In light of Church teaching, I would say it is a good idea for any Catholic to be free to marry before dating at all. But why would a Protestant listen to the Church’s advice on this?

Here’s how I think the scenario would most likely happen (and let’s just say I’m basing this on people I know): a Catholic dates a divorced Protestant, and eventually proposes. Only then would the divorced Protestant be asked to go through the annulment process in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, I’m trying to imagine how that would play out, and in a lot of cases, I’m guessing it will end badly.

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And to DATE a Catholic too.

the one issue with this is that a devout Catholic is most likely not going to be willing to date a divorced Protestant because a devout Catholic doesn’t want to commit adultery or covet another person’s spouse.

A lapped Catholic, nominal Catholic, or one not well versed in his/her faith though might be willing to date a divorced protestant

A protestant is outside the Church, canonically. They don’t need to “do” anything.

The only time they need to “do” anything is if they are interested in marrying a Catholic. As a matter of prudence, a Catholic shouldn’t really get involved with someone who’s not free to marry. But it happens, frequently. To pursue marriage, they would need to be declared free to marry. That might be by a declaration of nullity, or it might be favor of the faith, or it might be something else (Ligamen, lack of form related to their former spouse, etc.)


My personal approach as a not very observant Catholic back in my young and single days was,
I didn’t date anybody who was still married, and I didn’t date anybody who’d been divorced.
Didn’t care what religion they were, if any. I just didn’t do it.

This was not just because of Catholic teaching, it was also because married-separated-divorced men had a lot of baggage.
I learned this from interacting with a couple of them who wanted to date me and either hid their marital status or wanted to basically sneak around on their wives with me.
Lots of the ol’ “My wife doesn’t understand me” or “My ex-wife didn’t understand me.”
No thank you.


protestant churches tend to go along with secular norms. Many claim that marriage is not a sacrament. How they get around Jesus’s words on marriage is beyond me.

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My theory is that they do this

  1. because they can - often they have no central authority, or the central authority isn’t stopping them
  2. because if they buck the secular norm, they’ll lose most of their base.

I have a question I have not seen answered before.

Is there some kind of form of annulment that will be acceptable to you in Non-Catholic circles? And what would be expected from this procedure to make it acceptable?

I would like to know what is your idea of how a central authourity will correctly advise these people to do it? What kind of annulment in Protestant circles will be acceptable? How should the procedure go? What would be “correct”?

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