Sad that I have to leave the Church

Here is the story. My wife I were married 8 years ago, in a Presbyterian Church. I am a Catholic, she was raised Seventh Day Adventist. She had been married civilly and divorced civilly about 20 years earlier. It was a late teenage wedding which she did to escape an abusive household. Plus there was some occult practices going on with her mother and step father. She feared for her safety and saw a wedding at city hall as a way out. The marriage didnt work out and she was divorced. Her husband was also not a Catholic.

In the intervening 8 years of our marriage, we have two awesome children who we had baptized Catholic and intended to raise Catholic. She wanted to go through RCIA and I had joined the Knights of Columbus. We were very involved in our parish. All the while not knowing that the church considered us adulterers. She met with our priest and was given docs to file for nullity. She and I reviewed the docs and we just felt so ugly. My wife doesnt want to contact her ex from 25 years ago, she doesnt even know where he is, last she knew, he had remarried a couple of times and she doesn’t want the strain of reliving the past to come upon us in our current marriage. I agree entirely, I don’t want her to have to think about her relationship with another man, or to be tortured by a past decision made to rescue her from a horribly abusive home situation. Plus there are no guarantees that we will get a favorable ruling, which means this will all be for naught. To add insult to injury, my Priest keeps referring to me by her exes name.

I guess there are no easy answers. I returned the nullity forms to the Monsignor today along with a letter indicating that we were going to leave the church and the faith.I am pulling my daughter who is 5 from Little Church classes, and I am going to resign my membership from KofC later this week. I am so sad right now. I feel like I am having my soul ripped apart, but I honestly never knew that the church viewed us as adulterers and my children as illegitimate. I can’t even bear to wear my St. Michael Medal.

I guess we need to find a protestant church but I feel like I am just going through the motions. I am not looking for answers here I guess I just needed to share…sorry

Have you talked to your local Tribunal…?

Most Tribunals have a way in which she could go through the questions in the format of an interview… where it could be done in an hour or so and then she doesn’t have to confront it any longer. She could name her witnesses, give the Tribunal the name and last known address of her former spouse and they will try to find him. They don’t even have to give him her current last name or anything.

If they married in another diocese, it can always be filed there, which might be easier on her.

Please, before you do anything you might regret later… and clearly this is breaking your heart… PLEASE contact me privately. Let’s try to work this out in the best way possible to make it possible for all of you to be in full communion with the Church and living your life in the fullest way possible!!!

I wholeheartedly agree with kycanonist.

Also, your children are NOT considered illegitimate by the Church.

You need help, not despair. Contact your diocese for the help you need. They will gladly help you.

Also reassure your wife the Tribunal has heard it all–there is nothing she will say they haven’t heard from others. Their function is to help her move forward so she can have rich and fruitful faith, not sit in judgment of her.

I recommend praying the Rosary for your situation. Our Lady will help you find the courage to follow through on what you should do to remain within Christ’s Church. And be assured, I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

I’d probably react the same way you are: hurt and anger. If I ever do, I hope you’ll be blunt with me too!

You are making a decision about eternity based on emotion and what seems to be a single person (priest) with bad people skills. Does that REALLY seem like the best way to discern the TRUTH of God’s revelation to man?

Pray for humility and forebearance and look further into the process. Put your trust in GOD and not the behavior of the imperfect humans who staff His Church. God Bless and keep you!

Have a little bit of faith in your Church. You do not have to leave. Your wife can and should go through the nullity process. I am in the midst of it myself, following a divorce from my ex who was my high school boyfriend and abusive.

Your wife does not need to contact her ex directly. She just needs to provide the Tribunal with whatever information she has as far as his address goes. They will make an attempt to contact him. They do not necessarily need to have success in contacting him, and if they do and he does not want to participate, that’s okay. It is not required.

The odds are overwhelmingly in your wife’s favor that she will get a favorable ruling in a case where she married so young and her husband was an abuser. This is where you really need to have some faith in your Church. The Church is going to find the truth in this situation.

I urge you to reconsider. Do you believe that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ gave us? I am a convert to the faith, and I firmly believe that it is. There is nothing on this earth that would make me leave. Don’t you see that it is Lent and you are being tested?

Your wife can go through this process. She can dredge up those memories. You can support her through this, and she and you can emerge stronger for having gone through this. I have found it time consuming and exhausting, but at the same time very, very healing and worthwhile. I have a new understanding and appreication for the sacrament of marriage. I am sure that this period of reflection will really be of value to and your wife when you go to have your marriage convalidated on you receive your affirmative decision on the nullity.

Here is something put out by the Knights of Columbus that I hope you will look over with your wife. You might just come to appreciate that the Church has this process available.

Ok - you probably aren’t going to enjoy reading this, but you need to hear it.

There is a very easy answer - you go through the process and you suck it up, both of you.

Yes, it will be uncomfortable, yes it will be difficult. But you are talking about your eternal souls and the souls of your children!!! And you are ready to just throw them away because it might be a little uncomfortable to answer some questions?? Taking nails into your feet and hands is uncomfortable. You can do this for the sake of your family, and as husband and father it is your duty and responsibility to do so.

She does not have to involve her ex at all in the proceedings. My ex had absolutely nothing to do with the process.

Given the small amount of information you have given it sounds like there is a good chance her first marriage was not valid, though only the Tribunal can make that determination. Why in the world would you turn your back on Christ - because that is exactly what you would be doing when you will not longer be receiving Him in the Eucharist - because it might be difficult to go through this process? Many of us have gone through this extremely emotional and difficult process, but in the end we survived and are in healthy and Sacramental marriages as a result.

Stop crying in your beer and take care of this. Get the paperwork back, and tell the priest to stop call you by the other guy’s name. :rolleyes:


The Protestant Church isn’t going to make you married in the eyes of God. It isn’t going to nourish you with the Body and Blood of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. It isn’t going to wipe your sins away. It might feel good, but it isn’t going to get you, your wife, or your children to heaven.

The Catholic Church can annul your wife’s previous marriage. The Catholic Church can marry you and her in the eyes of God. The Catholic Church can nourish you with the Eucharist. The Catholic Church can wipe your sins away with Reconciliation. It might not feel good in the short term, but the Catholic Church can get you, your wife, and your children to heaven.

It isn’t easy doing God’s will, facing our mistakes and their consequences, placing our trust in God, and sticking through it even when it doesn’t feel good. It has eternal rewards, though, and it does feel pretty good to walk out of the confessional, to receive the Eucharist, and to kiss your wife knowing the past is forever behind you, too. Only God can fix this situation. He’s given you a way to do it. Don’t puff yourself up with pride, now weeks away from celebrating the Lord of Heaven and Earth riding into town on a lowly donkey to accept a death He did not deserve so that you and your wife would have the hope of resurrection and new life. Humble yourself, trust in God, find another parish, go to confession, love your wife, kiss your children, contact your tribunal or a canon lawyer (ahem! click kycanonist’s PM button), and be done with this!

I know that everything seems impossible right now. Nevertheless, I agree with the other posters - you must see this through.

Remember, it is always darkest just before the dawn. Things can only improve from here - there is no reason to give up hope.

Okay, I know that you said you didn’t really want others to comment on this, and that you just wanted to tell your story. But I do have something which I feel may be important to add.

You said that your wife wasn’t Catholic when she got married to her first husband, and they got married at city hall. As far as I know, this means that the church doesn’t recognize her first marriage at all, and it shouldn’t need to be annulled in order for you two to get married in the church.

You will still want to speak with other priests about this, but as far as I know from another case like yours, if people don’t get married in the church, it isn’t officially recognized by the church, and it is as if your wife had never been married before.

Well, no - the Catholic Church can not annul anything. They can not make something null that was valid. The only thing the Church can do is investigate the marriage and make a determination of its validity, then issue a decree of nullity if indeed the marriage was invalid to begin with.

Words are important and we must use them correctly or we lead people to wrong conclusions and error.


This is not true. He can not just go off on his own and act as if her marriage was not valid on his own determination. This must be reviewed by the Marriage Tribunal, just as in all cases. This is no exception, regardless of how simple it may appear.


That would only apply if one of the parties to the marriage had been a Catholic, but non-Catholics are not required to be married in the Catholic Church, due to the fact that they aren’t even allowed to be - so, because they were both non-Catholic, the city hall marriage could, indeed, be both valid and Sacramental, if they were both baptized at the time.

The factors the Tribunal will look at are, whether they two understood what the marriage covenant is (that is, that it is intended to be permanent) and whether, understanding that, they were capable of entering into the marriage covenant. Issues such as addiction and immaturity are factored in to that determination.

The Tribunal interviews as many people as possible who knew the couple at the time of the wedding, and also of course the two who were married, if it is possible.

When we were learning about this in my leadership course, they told the story of one woman who was really upset because her former husband had refused to cooperate with the Tribunal, and he sent her a really nasty e-mail that contained some detail about their previous life together, and apparently, she got her Decree of Nullity based on the contents of the nasty e-mail - so, you just never know. Save everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem, and give it all to the Tribunal. The more information they have, and the more honest everybody is, the better the chances are for a favourable outcome.

You need to share, but you also need to understand. If you didn’t want feedback, you wouldn’t post on CAF.

I don’t think you understand the nullity process, and I don’t think as nice as the monsignor may be at your parish that he understands the nullity process.

I have been through it. I understand it. Your diocese understands it.

First and foremost, your sweetheart does not have to contact the first husband. The tribunal will do that for her. If they can’t find him based on his last address and info provided by people who might know him, they have other avenues. Your wife will probably never have to see him. This is not a civil court where they will have to sit in the same room together.

If the questions are ugly, well, determining whether or not a marriage was valid is not a pretty business. You want roses, go to a flower shop. You want a determination of invalidity of a marriage, you and your wife are going to have to help out. You can’t just sit there and say, “Oh poor us! The Church rejected us! We had to leave!” You haven’t even given the process half a chance!:eek: You are the ones rejecting the Church, because things are not going your way, and you aren’t looking with any tenacity for the answers you seek. Nobody told you that you had to leave. You are choosing to leave, and it’s a bad choice.

And the Church does NOT consider your children illegitimate. That just makes me angry!!! It’s your assumption, and it’s ignorance. Legitimacy is a civil issue.

I HIGHLY recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was. I HIGHLY recommend you contact your diocese for the weekend when decrees of nullity are explained. Once you understand what annulment is, THEN go back and fill out the paperwork. Go call your pastor and let him know you have questions, and you’d like better answers. But don’t give up just because you assume- because you know what assume does right?

too bad you did not spend the time it took to make this post to sit down with Msgr to talk with him, and correct the mistaken ideas you have received. Your wife is not required to contact her ex, completing the interview, and stating the unfortunate facts that existed at the time of her marriage, can be a healing experience, and establish whether or not full capacity and consent existed when the first marriage was contracted. Too bad she did not see fit to even find out. Too bad all around when all it takes is some communication, and asking the right people at the right time. we will be praying for you.

Don’t go away, EmersonMan!
Somebody has not been Christ-like to you, and that is sad.

Don’t give up so easily. Just because there are sinners here, doesn’t mean you should leave the Truth!

Be the spiritual leader that your wife needs right now. Stick it out. Seek out the answers. Don’t give up!

You do not have to leave the Church. If you do, you are choosing to leave, it is your free will.

You have made a great move, coming here, and continuing to look for the answers.
Find a different priest to walk this road with you and your wife. Someone who treats you with the dignity and respect you deserve for wanting to do the right thing.

Please go to and look for this book:
Annulment: The Wedding that Was: How the Church can Declare a Marriage Null
Understanding the reasons the Church can declare a wedding invalid is half the battle. Going through with the process is the other half.
Blessings and Grace be to you.

Please cite your canon and show how it pertains to this issue, Phemie. I have never seen it in the US. Perhaps puzzleannie, who is more knowledgable on such matters, or cameron_lansing, who is much much much more knowledable, could be of assitance.

I am tired of people crying “The Church considers my children illegitimate” when the Church does not deny those children anything. Show me how the OP’s children are being stigmatized by the Church and perhaps I’ll lighten up.

When I got my annulment 20 years ago, I was given written instructions that specifically stated that the “legitimacy” of any children of the previous marriage was not at issue.

Going through the annulment process bites big time, but it is well worth it. I would have stopped going to church all together before I would have joined another church.

Get the paperwork and DO IT. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will get done, and you will never regret it.

In most things the Church doesn’t treat children differently based on their legitimacy. But it does recognize that legitimacy and Canon 1140 implies that there are cases when it can make a difference within the Church – it has certainly kept men out of the priesthood in the past.

Does it have an effect on the OP’s children? No.

But your assertion that legitimacy is a civil matter only is not correct.

Can. 1137 The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.

Can. 1138 §1. The father is he whom a lawful marriage indicates unless clear evidence proves the contrary.

§2. Children born at least 180 days after the day when the marriage was celebrated or within 300 days from the day of the dissolution of conjugal life are presumed to be legitimate.

Can. 1139 Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent valid or putative marriage of their parents or by a rescript of the Holy See.

Can. 1140 As regards canonical effects, legitimated children are equal in all things to legitimate ones unless the law has expressly provided otherwise.

We got our annulments about the same time, John, and I was given similar paperwork.

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