Remarriage Question


As a Catholic, I married a woman in the methodist church. We dvorced after 16 years. She agreed to join the catholic church but eventually backed out of her commitment to that decision and to our marriage.

Later, I remarried a protestant in a non-demoninational service.

I have not been active in the Catholic Church for many years.
What can I do to return?


First of all, welcome back :slight_smile:

A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

Call up your local priest. If the exchange of your vows weren’t as #4 above indicates, the marriage wouldn’t be considered valid. Perhaps you’d be requested to live chastely until it’s determined that you can have your marriage convalidated (think that’s the term…)

Good luck and prayers.


Welcome back!

Contact your priest for an appointment to discuss this. He will guide you through whatever process needs to be undertaken.

But you can start right now by going to confession!

:hug3: :extrahappy:


I am trying to understand the process for returning. Since I have remarried can the church recognize my current marriage. My first marriage was based on fraud and no commitment to save the marriage and refusal to worship in the CAtholic Church.

Now I am remarried with a child and wondered what the Church’s position would be if I seek to participate in the life of the Church.


Sounds like you might have a case. Talk to your priest. :thumbsup:


If the first marriage is deemed invalid and an anullment is granted, then yes, your current marriage can be convalidated in the church provided your current spouse has no issues with previous marriages. In the mean time you should be attending mass, but not receiving the Eucharist until the issue of the first marriage is taken care of. And as already pointed out, you should definitely talk to a priest.


Thanks. It is a little scary to face this issue. It is difficult to talk about but I will try to do as you suggest. Thanks.


My first wife would not agree to participate in an annulment process. She indicated years ago that would not cooperate.
Plus we were “married” for 16 years and had 2 children. Her argument is that lthe ength of time together could never be considered as “never existing”.

Plus my current wife was also married, again, in a fraudulent marriage.

The odds are against us in the eyes of the Church, it appears.


Assuming you never renounced the Catholic Church IN WRITING to your local Catholic diocese, the Church has always considered you a Catholic, just one not living his faith. [search in the ASK AN APOLOGIST FORUM for a question entitled: WAS MY SISTER MARRIED… (on May 20, 2008) -I asked Fr. Serpa a similar question in connection with my sister’s situation] As a Catholic, you were required to be married according the Church’s canons (i.e. in a Catholic Church, get a dispensation from teh Bishop to marry outside the faith, your spouse must agree to raise the kids Catholic, etc…) . Since none of those conditions were met EITHER time you married, you were never married in God’s eyes with spouse #1 and you aren’t married right now [which means you’re committing fornication!] You will have to get a declaration of nullity/ annulment for those “marriages” — which will be easy to get since you never married either in the church. You need to go to confession and live chastely until you marry your current civil wife in the church (i think by getting it blessed). Also, you must do everything in your power to raise your children Catholic – and I know you will! Good luck and God bless [and just a suggestion, but if you’re looking for answers to questions as these where you are not looking for opinions but practical advice, go to the ASK AN APOLOGIST FORUM] I am not a canon lawyer- just happened to have asked Fr. Serpa a very similar question recently!


Bless you for your help!


Not at ALL. Is your first wife the marriage tribunal? She seems to know a LOT about this. :rolleyes: These are common misconceptions. Do NOT accept any information except what you get from your priest.

Take heart. The Lord will give you the strength, humility, courage, and longanimity (how’s that for a good Catholic word?) to get through this.


The Church will not hold the fact that your ex-wife will not participate against you. If necessary, they will make a determination without her input.

In the Catholic Church, the length of the marriage has no bearing on whether or not it is considered valid. The Church teaches that if a valid union occurs (God literally joins the two spouses as one), that union can never be dissolved. The annulment process determines if a valid union occurred at the time of the wedding.

Though I cannot say for sure, it sounds like you have a good case for an annulment. Your current wife would need to go through the process for her first marriage as well. If the Church finds that neither marriage was valid, you can have your current marriage convalidated (sort of “made valid”).

No poster on a message board can tell you what will happen. Your first step is to speak with a priest. He will help you through the whole process. I hope it goes quickly and smoothly for you and that you are able to come back into communion with the Church ASAP! God bless you.


Make an appointment with your priest. Don’t be afraid to lay everything out for him.

I also suggest you and your current wife obtain a copy of the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It will help you understand what a decree of nullity is and isn’t. It will also give you and your wife insight into the Catholic Church’s teaching about marriage, the nullity process, etc.


Call the local parish and ask for an appointment with the priest. You do not have to tell the secretary the nature of your business.

While you’re waiting, I highly recommend the book, Annulment: The Wedding That Was.

If you never had permission from the Catholic Church to marry your ex-wife in the Methodist Church, and you never had that marriage convalidated, there is often an abbreviated process. But check with the priest first. He is the one that gets the ball rolling on this!

And welcome home!


You definitely want to go make an appointment with the parish priest. He will know all the ins and outs and details to ask.
From the brief explanation here both marriages are invalid based on your failure to marry according to church teaching. Your present civil wife will need to seek an annullment of her former attempted marriage. Those details will need to be discussed with the priest. He’ll let you know what steps you need to take to straigten things out.

Meanwhile , prayers for you. Glad you are on the road back to the family.

I second the book that was recommended. I bought it recently to help a friend and found it to be very helpful.


The suggestion of other posters is on the money. Seek an appointment with a priest and explain your situation.

One thing that is frequently overlooked in question on this forum is the use of the word marriage. In the CC, matrimony is a sacrament, a union of man, woman, and God that, at God’s word, is permanent-until death ends it. (“what God has joined together no man may put asunder”) It is subject to church authority. Often the word marriage is used in place of the word matrimony in discussions of this nature. Marriage is also a civil contract that is a construct of the state and is subject to the laws of local civil authority. It may be declared ended by civil authorities. Use of the word marriage only and interchangeably sometimes causes confusion.

A civil judge can declare a civil marriage ended - civil divorce. A civil judge has no authority to rule on the validity of the sacrament of matrimony. The church can declare that the sacrament of matrimony was never confected or properly established - a decree of nullity/annullment. Church annullments have no bearing on civil divorce decrees and the judgments of the court. An annullment in the Catholic Church is a spiritual matter and has no bearing on civil law findings in a divorce case, i.e. property settlements, custody of children, etc. etc.

What the church is trying to decide in the ‘annullment’ process is, as earlier posters have stated, whether the sacrament of matrimony was ever validly confected (established). If not, the party in question free to marry in the church and enter into the sacrament of matrimony. One may remarry civilly, one does not remarry sacramentally, unless one’s initial spouse passes away.

A baptized Catholic who marries outside the Catholic Church, without permission of the church, does not enter into the sacrament of matrimony. This annullment category is called “Error in Form”. It’s usually a pretty simple case, dependin on the workload of a tribunal, about four to twelve weeks. (at least around my neck of the woods) From what you have said, especially that part about refusal to worship in the Catholic Church, it seems that this may apply, though as most of us have stated, SEE A PRIEST. One reason is that having been involved in RCIA and annullment issues, often issues that are not even evident at the outset, are discovered as the process unfolds. Your local priest will know best.

Welcome home, best wishes, and I hope everything works out well for you.


Please someone correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that the Tribunal investigates whether or not a marriage is valid, not whether or not it is sacramental. A valid, binding union can occur between a Catholic and unbaptized person, though their marriage would not be considered a sacrament.


You are correct.

I’m not sure why the other poster was trying to distinguish between the terms “marriage” and “matrimony” or what the point of that was.

Keep in mind though, a valid *natural *marriages involving an unbaptized person or persons can be dissolved through the Petrine or Pauline Privilege under specific circumstances. A valid *sacramental *marriage between the baptized can never be dissolved.


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