Sacrament of Matrimony question

Here is some background to help aid in answering my question. 5 years ago I met my now husband. 4 years ago, he was honorably discharged from the Army after he received full domicile custody of his two children from his first marriage and refused to give guardianship to an on post family so he could be a “good soldier”. He found a job and moved to the town, in the Bible belt, that we are currently in. I moved along because his kids wanted me close by and we had begun to discuss getting married. We were shortly thereafter engaged.

We made an appointment with the priest at our new parish to begin premarital counseling/preparation classes for Holy Matrimony. He said, though, that the Parish was not his and the current Pastor was stuck in Europe due to problems with his visa/green card, so he could not give us a wedding date. We kept on him about the classes/counseling, but he kept telling us he had to have permission from the actual pastor. He also said that since we were living together, we could no longer take Communion.

So, I got a place of my own closer to my college and took a job there working at a Bar waitressing and tending bar. I taught PRE and felt it wrong to attend church/PRE in town smelling of cigarettes and alcohol. I attended Mass at a church by my new place so I didn’t have to do the long drive back to the small town. Around the same time, His PTSD & bipolarism took over him full force and I ended up coming back to take care of him and his kids.

Finally, after two years of the calls and eventually unreturned calls, we grew tired of waiting and were legally married. A year later, we finally decided to have a non-denominational Christian wedding since we were still in the same situation. We personally felt that God would accept it. I sent an email to an old teacher from middle school that had become a Priest, and asked him about going forth to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony and what we could do, amongst other questions. A year a 2 emails later (spaced out of course), he still hasn’t answered me back. We want to begin trying to conceive and don’t want our child to be viewed as out of wedlock or have problems getting them baptized. My husband now has better control, and is finally able to actually attend Mass. We hadn’t gone in a while because the kids didn’t want to go without him. We would watch Mass on EWTN, and I would do some other things to keep Holy the Sabbath, on Sundays since we couldn’t receive Communion anyways. A priest had told me that this would be ok. The pastor that put us on the “list” has now taken over the Parish, but he has yet to call us back or even talk to us after Mass about what to do.

What more can we do? Should we just begin calling every Catholic Church we can to find a Priest that would help us? Would it be a sin for us to take communion now, even though we have had a Christian ceremony? We are feeling as if they don’t view it of importance since there are couple who are now being rushed through the preparation and have dates set in as little as two weeks of finishing, while we still can’t get an answer. What more can se do? Any and all help is much appreciated.
:confused: :slight_smile:

Call your Diocese and tell them you need help. Tell them that you have tried for years to get your priest to help you and that now you are living in an invalid marriage (his first marriage is assumed valid until determined othewise).

You need to get this right, and I know you are trying. But you did go about it the wrong way, and now it needs to be fixed — if it even can. There is NO guarantee that his first marriage is invalid. You need to be prepared for this possibility.

Call the Diocese and tell them to assign a priest to assist you through the Declaration of Nullity process.

And in the mean time, please do get both of you to Confession and do not receive Holy Communion until you do so. You cannot live as if you are married - you are not.

I will keep you in my prayers - you have created a bit of a mess for yourselves. I hope it all works out for you, especially now that children have been involved.

~Liza

Liza,

Thank you for your reply.

In regards to children, the two kids are from his first marriage and offered watching them during staff duty and such when he first began being a single dad. His ex-wife gave up custody and was living a few states away. I offered my help to him, even though we were just beginning to date. Now, of course, they will tell you I am their mom because even if I am not in the home, I am in contact with them at least once a day and it has been like that for about 4 years. I will be posting another thread with a question in regards to them, as well, that I continue to receive confusing answers to. We are hoping to get all of this “mess” taken care of so that with we can conceive our first child in a consecrated marriage.

He did discuss the first marriage with the priest and was told that the church didn’t recognize it since it was a JP wedding at a courthouse without religious context. When I call the diocese, should I go ahead and request the annullment paper work for him anyways or should it not be a worry? Was our first mistake in not contacting the Diocese first?

It’s a real shame that you have not had success with your local Priest(s). :frowning:

I agree with Liza that you should contact the Diocese, and they should be able to get you in contact with a Priest who can guide you through the process.

If your husband is Catholic, then his first marriage in a civil ceremony was likely invalid, and will probably be found so by the Church. Of course, that would also mean that YOUR marriage to him is likely invalid as well. If this is the case, the Church would find the 1st marriage invalid (due to lack of form), and then you and he would have your marriage convalidated (recognized as valid) by the Church.

If your husband is not Catholic, then he would need to go through the annulment process to determine if the first marriage was invalid. Based on what you have said, it possibly was…but it is also possible that the Church will find it was valid, and in that case he is still married to her, and is not married to you (morally speaking, regardless of the law).

In either case, only a Priest can guide you through what you need to do. Some of what he tells you might not be pleasant (e.g., the possibility that you are not currently in a valid or licit marriage), but the situation needs to be straightened out between you, your husband, the Church, and God…and a Priest should be able to help you do that.

Again, I’m sorry that the Priests you’ve been in contact so far have not helped. The Diocese should be able to get you in touch with the right people. I would not recommend asking for the paperwork just yet; first you need to figure out exactly what needs to be done (lack of form, or annulment, or convalidation, or some combination). This would be best accomplished with a face-to-face meeting with a Priest.

Best of luck to you. God bless!

Liza,

Thank you for your reply.

In regards to children, the two kids are from his first marriage and offered watching them during staff duty and such when he first began being a single dad. His ex-wife gave up custody and was living a few states away. I offered my help to him, even though we were just beginning to date. Now, of course, they will tell you I am their mom because even if I am not in the home, I am in contact with them at least once a day and it has been like that for about 4 years. I will be posting another thread with a question in regards to them, as well, that I continue to receive confusing answers to. We are hoping to get all of this “mess” taken care of so that with we can conceive our first child in a consecrated marriage.

He did discuss the first marriage with the priest and was told that the church didn’t recognize it since it was a JP wedding at a courthouse without religious context. When I call the diocese, should I go ahead and request the annullment paper work for him anyways or should it not be a worry? Was our first mistake in not contacting the Diocese first?

I agree with the consensus. Call your Diocese. If you still get the run around wright a letter to your Bishop. I will be praying especially during Holy Thursday Mass and adoration for you and your family. Jesus in the Garden understands your frustration about things not being quite right. Take it to Him.

If neither party was Catholic a JP wedding is presumed valid until proven otherwise, and will require a full investigation. If neither was baptized a Pauline Privilege will be the quick route. If only one was not baptized a Petrine Privilege is probably possible. It is slightly longer and has to be granted by Rome, but we have had good experience with them.

Did his ex have a previous marriage? That is another quick route.

No - you did the right thing, your parish priest should have helped you, he totally dropped the ball. Because of that, you need to go to the Diocese and get help. Make sure they understand you have tried to do it the right way and are not getting the appropriate support at your parish.

Yes - you absolutely must go through the Nullity process. Every marriage is assumed valid. It is not up to us, especially on an internet forum, to determine validity. The Tribunal needs to do that.

Wait till after Easter to call - this is going to be a very busy week for the Tribunal, and many parish and diocesan offices will be closed for the days of Easter week. But make sure you both go to Confession this week!! And promise to live as brother and sister until this is resolved.

~Liza

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