Questions on the annulment process


#1

My husband and I were not married in the church. I was baptized catholic, went to catholic school but, left after 5th grade, was never confirmed. My husband was raised by a Protestant mother but was never baptized and didn't regularly attend church. A few years back I began feeling a strong call back to the church, my husband has also had a call to be baptized along with our children.

The thing is, he was married twice before me. Both marriages were by justices of the peace and no parties were catholic. We are in RCAI and he has entered into the annulment process. Come to find out, he may not be able to receive his sacraments along with the rest of us during Easter vigil this year, but worse, he may not even be accepted into the church. And even worse, I may not be able to receive the Eucharist and my marriage may not be considered valid or be made valid in the church. Am I understanding this correctly? Surely the church would not turn away one who has been called to baptism because of his past. I just don't know what this will do for his conversion and I will be devistated if, after this long journey back to the church, with a strong desire to receive the Eucharist, I would be denied.

Can someone please help me understand this process. I am at the point where I am just putting all my trust in The Lord that this will work out. I just don't know how to prepare for alternate outcomes because I don't know for sure what the alternatives could be. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


#2

I can recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster to help you and he understand decree of nullity, dissolution of the bond, etc. Also, at the top of the Liturgy & Sacraments forum is a sticky note with links to some good resources on nullity.

Regarding your situation, you are currently in an invalid marriage. He, being married, was not free to contract another marriage. That is why he must have a tribunal make a determination regarding his prior marriage(s). Since he is not baptized, he may also qualify for what is known as dissolution of the bond (Pauline or Petrine Privilege). Or, if either of the previous spouses were previously married, the Ligamen might apply. The tribunal will guide him.

It is not his past that is preventing him from entering the Church or you from receiving the sacraments-- it is your present. You are in an invalid marriage. Objectively he is in a state of adultery. Of course this can be forgiven, but that requires the sinful situation cease, meaning the sexual relationship between the two of you until/unless his prior marriages are found null and you are able to marry in the Church. If you are willing to live in continence for as long as it takes, then you can return to the sacraments.

This is something better handled by talking to your pastor-- not the RCIA director, and certainly not us strangers on the internet. Take this to your priest and follow his counsel.


#3

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:310910"]
I can recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster to help you and he understand decree of nullity, dissolution of the bond, etc. Also, at the top of the Liturgy & Sacraments forum is a sticky note with links to some good resources on nullity.

Regarding your situation, you are currently in an invalid marriage. He, being married, was not free to contract another marriage. That is why he must have a tribunal make a determination regarding his prior marriage(s). Since he is not baptized, he may also qualify for what is known as dissolution of the bond (Pauline or Petrine Privilege). Or, if either of the previous spouses were previously married, the Ligamen might apply. The tribunal will guide him.

It is not his past that is preventing him from entering the Church or you from receiving the sacraments-- it is your present. You are in an invalid marriage. Objectively he is in a state of adultery. Of course this can be forgiven, but that requires the sinful situation cease, meaning the sexual relationship between the two of you until/unless his prior marriages are found null and you are able to marry in the Church. If you are willing to live in continence for as long as it takes, then you can return to the sacraments.

This is something better handled by talking to your pastor-- not the RCIA director, and certainly not us strangers on the internet. Take this to your priest and follow his counsel.

[/quote]

I thank you for your help. I have spoken with the RCAI directors, my sponsor, the deacon of our parish and my husband has met with the pastor twice and yet, there is still much confusion.

I understand this is quite a personal matter and I debated for several days before I finally posted this thread. I'm racking my brain trying to think of where I could find some support, some reliable advice and information.

I think what I'm in most need of is advice for how to handle the news if he is not granted the annulments. Where would I go from there?


#4

[quote="DeSanto, post:3, topic:310910"]
I think what I'm in most need of is advice for how to handle the news if he is not granted the annulments. Where would I go from there?

[/quote]

DeSanto,

What you're hearing isn't that your husband will not be 'granted the annulments', but rather, that the timing of the process might not line up with this year's Easter baptisms and confirmations. (It's not necessarily that it won't happen, but only that you're being told that there aren't any promises about the timing of the resolution of the process.)

As difficult as it may be to do, try to stay centered and calm -- please recognize that the question may be the timing and not the final decision. (Of course, as 1ke points out, the best authority on the issue isn't anyone here on-line, but rather, those who are most closely familiar with all the details of your situation.)

If the initial decision takes longer to resolve than this Easter, please know that it's not a situation of "turning away from baptism" a person "based on his past", but rather, making sure that all the past issues have been fully understood and dealt with. There's a lot to deal with in your situation: not just you and your husband, but his past wives (and all their previous husbands, and their previous spouses!). One of the questions the Church asks is "was your husband free to marry, at the time that you and he attempted marriage?" This question, of course, extends beyond you and your husband, and may require a bit of time to sort out.

So, for the time being, as difficult as it may be, try to stay on an even keel. If things don't work out, at first blush, there will be opportunities for further recourse. In the meantime, try not to think about things in terms of this Easter; if it all works out in the next couple of months, great -- if not, please be re-assured that the Church is still working on getting you a response to your requests, and that there are additional avenues of recourse, even if you don't initially get the response you'd hoped for! (And please know that we'll be praying for you!!!)


#5

Perhaps I have exaggerated the Easter time frame as an issue. That, I assure you is not what concerns me. My husband and I understand that the annulment process can take a considerable amount of time, especially in the more complicated instances such as ours and we accept and respect that we may have to wait past Easter to clear up these issues. We also accept we will have to remain abstinent during this process.

What concerns me is this…the pastor said there was a possibility that my husband could be denied an annulment. That the tribunal could decide that he was not free to marry again. If that were to occur, what does that mean?

  1. will he not be accepted into the church?
  2. will he not be allowed to be baptized?
  3. What would I have to do to be in communion with the church?
  4. If he is denied an annulment, what are the additional avenues of recourse you speak of?

I understand I should be speaking with my pastor on these issues, I suppose I need to sort out what it is that truly concerns me before I go to him with my questions. That is what I am doing here. I need help wrapping my mind around all this, to gather all the information I can so I know what all my questions are.

As I stated in my OP, I am trying to stay centered and am putting my trust in The Lord, I’m sure this will work out according to His will. I just want to be informed of all the outcomes so I can prepare myself so as not to become un-centered should the outcome not be the desired one. Whatever the outcome, I will accept it. If he is denied, I need to be prepared to deal with that and able to reconcile it in my mind. Does that make since?

Believe me, I would not unload these issues on a public board if I wasn’t really in need of support. Perhaps I should end this post. Quit worrying about the what if’s and just resolve to deal with it when the time comes. Maybe this is just one of those things where nobody really has a definite answer and I must just give it up to The Lord. We are doing everything we can do, the rest is in His hands.

I thank you for your prayers. That means more to me than any advice one could give right now.


#6

[quote="DeSanto, post:5, topic:310910"]

What concerns me is this...the pastor said there was a possibility that my husband could be denied an annulment. That the tribunal could decide that he was not free to marry again. If that were to occur, what does that mean?

[/quote]

It would mean your marriage could not be convalidated.

[quote="DeSanto, post:5, topic:310910"]
1) will he not be accepted into the church?

[/quote]

If the two of you agreed to live in continence, it would be possible.

[quote="DeSanto, post:5, topic:310910"]
2) will he not be allowed to be baptized?

[/quote]

If the two of you agreed to live in continence, it would be possible.

[quote="DeSanto, post:5, topic:310910"]

3) What would I have to do to be in communion with the church?

[/quote]

Agree to live in continence.

[quote="DeSanto, post:5, topic:310910"]

4) If he is denied an annulment, what are the additional avenues of recourse you speak of?

[/quote]

Since he is not baptized, his marriage is what is called a natural marriage. It does not have the same indissoluable character as a marriage between the baptized. It can, under some circumstances, be dissolved. Depending upon the baptismal status of the other spouse, this would fall either under the Pauline Privilege (both unbaptized) or Petrine Privilege (one unbaptized/one baptized).

Additionally, if these former wives were married before they married him then that would have created the impediment called Ligamen-- a prior bond on their part-- rendering his marriage to them invalid.

So, depending upon the prior marital status and the baptismal status of these other women he could possiblee received Pauline or Petrine dissolution of the bond or declaration of freedom to marry due to Ligamen.


#7

[quote="1ke, post:6, topic:310910"]
It would mean your marriage could not be convalidated.

If the two of you agreed to live in continence, it would be possible.

If the two of you agreed to live in continence, it would be possible.

Agree to live in continence.

Since he is not baptized, his marriage is what is called a natural marriage. It does not have the same indissoluable character as a marriage between the baptized. It can, under some circumstances, be dissolved. Depending upon the baptismal status of the other spouse, this would fall either under the Pauline Privilege (both unbaptized) or Petrine Privilege (one unbaptized/one baptized).

Additionally, if these former wives were married before they married him then that would have created the impediment called Ligamen-- a prior bond on their part-- rendering his marriage to them invalid.

So, depending upon the prior marital status and the baptismal status of these other women he could possiblee received Pauline or Petrine dissolution of the bond or declaration of freedom to marry due to Ligamen.

[/quote]

This was helpful. Thank you so much.


#8

This is a difficult situation.

That said I don't think you *truly *understand that Catholics don't believe in divorce.

An annulment is a recognition that a marriage was not valid. It's not automatic. It's not a divorce. That's why your priest can't offer guarantees. The Church needs to investigate whether the marriage was valid.

So for example a Catholic to have a valid marriage must marry within the Catholic Church (unless given dispensation). Thus, if a Catholic marries in a civil ceremony than marriage is not valid (unless there is a dispensation). However, the Church presumes validity until proven otherwise. This is why a Catholic who has had a civil marriage can't just skip the annulment process.

As to why the Church doesn't go easy on your husband and you. What if turned out your husband was a polygamous and had several wives. Should the Church put his participation on the Easter Vigil on hold? In fact, this is a issue the Church has to deal with in Africa as it expands there.


#9

[quote="Warloff, post:8, topic:310910"]
This is a difficult situation.

That said I don't think you *truly *understand that Catholics don't believe in divorce.

[/quote]

I didn't, no. If I did, I would have gone about things much differently. However, this process has only given me a greater respect and appriciation for the Church and for the sacrament of marriage. I'm glad, and thankful that the Church has such reverence for the institution of marriage.

An annulment is a recognition that a marriage was not valid. It's not automatic. It's not a divorce. That's why your priest can't offer guarantees. The Church needs to investigate whether the marriage was valid.

I never implied that I wanted guarantees, did I?

So for example a Catholic to have a valid marriage must marry within the Catholic Church (unless given dispensation). Thus, if a Catholic marries in a civil ceremony than marriage is not valid (unless there is a dispensation). However, the Church presumes validity until proven otherwise. This is why a Catholic who has had a civil marriage can't just skip the annulment process.

I understand this and do not have an issue with the Church on this matter.

As to why the Church doesn't go easy on your husband and you. What if turned out your husband was a polygamous and had several wives. Should the Church put his participation on the Easter Vigil on hold? In fact, this is a issue the Church has to deal with in Africa as it expands there.

Again, I don't know where you get the idea that I want the Church to "go easy" on us, or that I want them to put a hold on Easter for us. I do not feel that way at all, nor did I imply that in any way. Perhaps I haven't articulated myself well enough. Let me try once again to explain exactly what it is that I have concerns about.....just try to focus on this one scenario.....

"IF" my "husbands" previous marriage is found to have been valid (and ours invalid).....????? What do we do then?

You see....it is not that I don't understand the process and it is not that I reject what the Church teaches on this issue, I just want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Does that make sense?


#10

Actually, I have done some serious soul searching the last few days and I have come to some conclusions that I am at peace with. Let me share with you....

I have resolved that whatever the Church decides, I will accept. I will not turn my back if the decision is not what I hope for. King Henry comes to mind here.

In class a while ago, the question was brought up..."Do you love your spouse more than The Lord". "Do you love your children more than The Lord?" I thought of the lengths Abraham was willing to go to on Mount Moriah for God. I think about what the apostles gave up in order to follow The Lord. I am at peace now and with the fact that whatever The Lord wants me to do is for my own good. Even though it may be hard, I want to do His Will. I would not throw away eternity with The Lord in heaven for my own selfish wants here on earth. If God wants my husband and I to be together, then we will be and our marriage will ultimately be made valid in His eyes and in the eyes of His Church. IF NOT....it will be a great test of faith for the both of us. We will be faced with some tough decisions. For me, I trust the Holy Spirit will guide me and give me the grace and the strength I need to do whatever it is I am called to do. I know this is not up to me and it's not about what I want. The only thing I want is to do His Will. Our Blessed Mother said "Be it done unto me according to Thy Will.", so to do I.

The more I think about these things, the more I realize, I don't need to know all the answers and there is nothing else for me to do but trust in The Lord. I think I just needed to talk it out and figure out what I would do, worst case scenario. I have done that to the best of my ability at this point. You all have helped me to do that. So, I thank you guys for being here for me and listening. I ask that you all will pray for me.


#11

[quote="DeSanto, post:10, topic:310910"]
Actually, I have done some serious soul searching the last few days and I have come to some conclusions that I am at peace with. Let me share with you....

I have resolved that whatever the Church decides, I will accept. I will not turn my back if the decision is not what I hope for. King Henry comes to mind here.

In class a while ago, the question was brought up..."Do you love your spouse more than The Lord". "Do you love your children more than The Lord?" I thought of the lengths Abraham was willing to go to on Mount Moriah for God. I think about what the apostles gave up in order to follow The Lord. I am at peace now and with the fact that whatever The Lord wants me to do is for my own good. Even though it may be hard, I want to do His Will. I would not throw away eternity with The Lord in heaven for my own selfish wants here on earth. If God wants my husband and I to be together, then we will be and our marriage will ultimately be made valid in His eyes and in the eyes of His Church. IF NOT....it will be a great test of faith for the both of us. We will be faced with some tough decisions. For me, I trust the Holy Spirit will guide me and give me the grace and the strength I need to do whatever it is I am called to do. I know this is not up to me and it's not about what I want. The only thing I want is to do His Will. Our Blessed Mother said "Be it done unto me according to Thy Will.", so to do I.

The more I think about these things, the more I realize, I don't need to know all the answers and there is nothing else for me to do but trust in The Lord. I think I just needed to talk it out and figure out what I would do, worst case scenario. I have done that to the best of my ability at this point. You all have helped me to do that. So, I thank you guys for being here for me and listening. I ask that you all will pray for me.

[/quote]

This has moved me greatly. So many people in similar situations come in here and ask similar questions, but get angry when the answers are not to their liking. I am impressed by the utter humilty and love for the Lord that has been shown in this post. :bowdown:


#12

I am not remarried but going through it. I know others that have remarried and it is tough. One of my best friends remarried while she was away from the Church and she forewent the Eucharist for a year while going through the decree of nullity process. He husband, then not a Catholic, is now a third degree Knight of Colombus from her example. She said that she never noticed she missed the Eucharist in the 22 years she was away from the Church but that year was the hardest because she knew what it was like to be reunited. However, that being said I have met couples that live in continence. Whatever you two discern I wish you blessings. God bless and keep you.


#13

[quote="joanofarc2008, post:12, topic:310910"]
I am not remarried but going through it. I know others that have remarried and it is tough. One of my best friends remarried while she was away from the Church and she forewent the Eucharist for a year while going through the decree of nullity process. He husband, then not a Catholic, is now a third degree Knight of Colombus from her example. She said that she never noticed she missed the Eucharist in the 22 years she was away from the Church but that year was the hardest because she knew what it was like to be reunited. However, that being said I have met couples that live in continence. Whatever you two discern I wish you blessings. God bless and keep you.

[/quote]

Yes, I can relate with your friend. There is a strong desire to receive the Eucharist but, I'm rather enjoying the anticipation of it all, maybe even a little nervous. I like to think of this whole process as clearing the way for Our Lord, "making the crooked roads straight", in preparation for the King. That's why it kind of threw me for a loop there for a minute. It had not even crossed my mind that I may not be able to receive the Eucharist. I was not prepared to deal with that idea at all. Thank you for your kind words. I think I'll check out that support group. BTW, its funny you speak of the Knights of Columbus. My husband was invited to one of the meetings, he's considering it.


#14

I thought I would share this for anyone interested…

Pope Benedict on Divorced and Remarried
Blogged by James Preece on 14th June 2012
Speaking at the World Meeting of Families in Milan…
MANOEL ANGELO:
Some of these remarried couples would like to be reconciled with the Church, but when they see that they are refused the sacraments they are greatly discouraged. They feel excluded, marked by a judgement against which no appeal is possible. These sufferings cause deep hurt to those involved. Their wounds also afflict the world and they become our wounds, the wounds of the whole human race. Holy Father we know that the Church cares deeply about these situations and these people. What can we say to them and what signs of hope can we offer them?

THE HOLY FATHER: Dear friends, thank you for your very important work as family psychotherapists. Thank you for all that you do to help these suffering people. Indeed the problem of divorced and remarried persons is one of the great sufferings of today’s Church. And we do not have simple solutions. Their suffering is great and yet we can only help parishes and individuals to assist these people to bear the pain of divorce. I would say, obviously, that prevention is very important, so that those who fall in love are helped from the very beginning to make a deep and mature commitment. Then accompaniment during married life is needed, so that families are never left on their own but are truly accompanied on their journey. As regards these people - as you have said - the Church loves them, but it is important they should see and feel this love. I see here a great task for a parish, a Catholic community, to do whatever is possible to help them to feel loved and accepted, to feel that they are not “excluded” even though they cannot receive absolution or the Eucharist; they should see that, in this state too, they are fully a part of the Church. Perhaps, even if it is not possible to receive absolution in Confession, they can nevertheless have ongoing contact with a priest, with a spiritual guide. This is very important, so that they see that they are accompanied and guided. Then it is also very important that they truly realize they are participating in the Eucharist if they enter into a real communion with the Body of Christ. Even without “corporal” reception of the sacrament, they can be spiritually united to Christ in his Body. Bringing them to understand this is important: so that they find a way to live the life of faith based upon the Word of God and the communion of the Church, and that they come to see their suffering as a gift to the Church, because it helps others by defending the stability of love and marriage. They need to realize that this suffering is not just a physical or psychological pain, but something that is experienced within the Church community for the sake of the great values of our faith. I am convinced that their suffering, if truly accepted from within, is a gift to the Church. They need to know this, to realize that this is their way of serving the Church, that they are in the heart of the Church. Thank you for your commitment.


closed #15

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