Questions about coming back


Hello and peace to you all,

I was raised Catholic growing up. When I got to high school and into the military, I became something of an unbeliever or rather an agnostic. I married a lady who was a Baptist. I was not interested in going to Baptist church but after she bugged me to go to church, I compromised by agreeing to go to a PCA (Presbyterian Church). She and I had a child. I believe she started getting something of a mental issue. She left me and my son. She and I got a divorce. I stopped going to church.

A few years later, I married (my current and future wife) a lady who like me was raised Catholic. However she is not interested in religion one bit but she and I do get along very very well. She also is very supporting of me expressing whatever my belief is as this is extremely important to me. I have been very interested in seeking Christ in these last few years. I’ve found I can’t tolerate going to PCA church and started going to Lutheran services. Recently though, I am discouraged that there are too many theological divisions even amongst Lutherans. I am interested in looking more back into Catholicism but it’s been a very long time. There are some doctrines I still have issues with but mostly I can overlook as I tend to believe civil disagreement is ok.

My wife was married before like I was. However, her ex-husband was a severe alcoholic who severely neglected the children and he did leave her. I believe to me (and I agree this only to me and I can’t speak for God) our marriage is valid. I’ve read that if I go back to RC mass, that I cannot partake in the Eucharist and officially am not in good standing. I am conflicted in getting an annulment as I don’t believe it’s necessary. Does not Jesus himself say, (Matt 5:32) “32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”? I am open to anyone’s explanation why this is still necessary.

I also disagree with the salvation by works but I am in full agreement that without good works (real good works for other humans and not vanity good works) our faith is indeed utterly dead. But, I can live with the cart before the horse or horse before the cart argument as they both mean the same really.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing from you.



If you want to go back any church will accept you.


This is something to sit down and talk to your pastor (Catholic pasto) about locally. You have a prior marriage (but it sounds like you did not marry according to Catholic Church requirements so it is likely a simple “lack of form” case). Your wife has the same issue of a prior bond-- and it also may be a simple lack of form if she did not follow Church law on marriage. It would be a formal case if she married in the Catholic Church the first time. So there are many variables, and it might be simple paperwork or might not-- it is best to take things one step at a time with the priest who can delve into all the pertinent facts.

That is a misinterpretation of the verse, it is talking about unlawful marriages (i.e. what the Church today would call an invalid marriage or a marriage that receives a decree of nullity).

We do not have the authority to determine what is valid or not valid on our own. The Church is the one given this responsibility and authority by Christ.

Whew, good to know because the Catholic Church does not teach salvation by works. In fact that is a heresy.


Where do you think that longing in your heart to return to Catholicism came from? I don’t have all of the answers that you are looking for but I am sure that the Church does. Make an appointment with your local priest and tell him of your situation and desire to return.


Thanks guys for the explanation. I have always been very spiritual and to me the notion there is no God, no Christ, we can all do what we want has never sat well with me and I have no idea why. I’m no less a sinner than anyone else (and a bigger one than most believe me) but I know we need Christ else we are lost in darkness.

I will go talk with a pastor about this. Thanks again and Christ’s peace be with you.


Hi 1ke, thanks very much for this but I am wondering do you have a cite where this is the case? I’m having trouble finding something on it. I’d be curious to see.

Thank you :slight_smile:



I don’t have a lot of advice, but as a revert who spent time in the PCA church as well (for which I am thankful–they were good and holy people, and friendly, too–except when they got started on John Knox, whom I cannot admire), I will certainly pray for you.

We cannot give you useful advice. You really need to talk to a priest, or the marriage folks at the diocese would be even better. All I can say is do not allow yourself to become discouraged if the first things the priest tells you sound a bit grim. You need to listen to them, but try not to let them affect you emotionally. The first priest I talked to when I came back was discouraging about the possibility of getting an annulment, even though as it turned out, I didn’t need an annulment at all, just a declaration of lack of form.

God bless you and help you on your path! If my experience is anything to go by, it is well worth it in terms of peace for the soul.



I’m happy you are going to see your Pastor to find out what needs to be done.
Christs peace be with you too.


Hi JR,

I’m not an expert either, but I agree with what you have already been told. Ultimately, you have to either talk to a local priest, or the Bishop of your Diocese.

From what you said, I doubt your 1st marriage was in a Catholic church, so to the Catholic church it wasn’t a real marriage. So the civil divorce should mean nothing to the church.

I’m wondering if your 2nd marriage was in a Catholic church? If not, the Catholic church may not recognize it.

Was your current wife married in a Catholic church the 1st time? If not, then again I think it was invalid. If it was, and her husband was an alcoholic who left her, she may be able to get an annulment and be free to remarry.

Finally, there are several other scriptures in the NT that deal with divorce and remarriage. But I don’t remember them or where they are. Except that I recall 1 or 2 are in the Epistles of St. Paul. So you have to go to a priest or Bishop.

If you do, I’d like to know what the outcome of this is. To me this is a perfect example of what I think the new Pope wants to discuss. It sounds like both you and your current wife became divorced through no fault of your own. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Pope Francis intends to rethink situations like yours.

God Bless You.


Hey guys, thanks much for your comments.

So you guys are aware:

My first marriage wedding was at a Baptist church.
My wife’s first marriage wedding was not at a Catholic church but I’m not sure on the details. There was no RC Priest residing.

My wife and I’s wedding ceremony was done by a pastor in a wedding hall (not at a Catholic Church or by a RC Priest).


I agree that talking to a priest is a great place to start. I might mention, too, that I am helping teach RCIA this year at our parish. Several people in our class are folks who have been away from the Church for decades and want to have a better grasp of the teachings. I think the way that I have resolved the faith/works dilemma is to realize that if we have faith, and we “put on” Christ, it is impossible not to strive to do good works. But we could mever earn our way to heaven. We can only be there by God’s grace. Of course the priest could give you a much better explanation than I. Welcome Home!


Good luck on your journey home. I will keep you in my prayers.


Found this on

The Council of Trent harmonizes the necessity of grace and works: “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or by the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema” (Session 6; can. 1).

The Council fathers continued by saying, “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema” (Session 6: can. 9).

I never knew the first part was in COT. How about that.


Well, the Church doesn’t usually put out documents saying “this is what we don’t believe…”

These should help as far as what the Church teaches:

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