Seperated- can I recv Holy Eucharist?


I am new to this forum, and have a question that I haven’t seemed to find the answer or similar question anywhere. Being raised in a wonderful Catholic family, having received the sacraments, and then left my Catholic faith as an adult, I then got married by the local jp to a christian, baptized gal. Attended for a number of years the baptist church, however, the marriage soured after several years,(like 10, and with 2kids), I said to myself, “what am i doing in this faith?” and came back into the Catholic church with a renewed vigor. It’s been 3+ yrs., since I moved out. No divorce or legal separation, and neither of us are in any kind of a relationship with someone else, nor is there any desire to rekindle our marriage. my pastor has told me to continue to grow in the faith and continue receiving the sacraments. I also have been told the opposite. The priest would not finish hearing my confession! So, I have been living my life very committed to the Church like I should have been all along. But, the question still remains…? Am I doing what I should be?


Mike, you were never married in the eyes of the Catholic Church. If you confess your living in sin apart from the church for those years you can receive Communion. I’m guessing the priest must of thought you were still living with your wife or is lacking some information. Get the civil divorce and good luck on your journey back.

May God bless and protect us,


I don’t think we can should with certainty that he was “never married in the eyes of the Catholic Church.” If someone formally leaves the faith, then he is no longer bound to the Catholic form of marriage; instead, it is simply two Protestants that got married, and that would be seen as a valid marriage.

One does not have to write a letter to the bishop renouncing Catholicism in order to have left the faith. Maybe others can weigh in on this aspect.


How are the kids doing through all of this? I’ve gone through the same thing 20 years ago. The big thing I regret was that I wasn’t part of their religious upbringing because of all the friction of the situation. Didn’t turn out too badly after all. Not without a lot of prayer. Mostly that I keep my composure. My advice is that you try your best to keep an open line of communication. My prayers for you are that you have a humble and discerning heart. Jesus is truth. Open up to Him. He will guide you. Your faith in Him will heal you and correct your errors. These are your rewards for wanting Him in your life. I did not see this clearly then but He has healed me. It’s not a small thing that a man doesn’t have his kids at home with him knowing that they are secure.



In Canon Law, there is no such thing as a “formal defection” any more. As the link shows, the 2009 motu proprio Omnium in mentem removed this term from all the canons containing it. There is no exception from canonical form of marriage for Catholics who attempt to “formally defect” in this way. But this law came into effect in 2009. It probably does not affect the OP, but read on.

Jimmy Akin wrote a document about formal defections. This information was current as of 2006, and while now out of date because of the change in 2009, contains important information on what is actually considered a formal defection. This still won’t affect the OP unless he actually made an act of formal defection in some way. He says he started attending a Baptist ecclesial community. But he does not say in what way he left the Catholic faith. The vast majority of people do not make a formal defection. This is the kind of things that atheists do when they are enraged by the thought of their name being held in Church records and being counted in census long after they rejected the True Faith. They may choose to formally defect. But people who go Protestant do not commonly make a formal defection. We will have to get confirmation from the OP about his actions, though.

There was also once the concept of “notorious defection” from the faith, but that pertained only under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was abrogated in 1983, which precedes the OP’s marriage, and probably doesn’t apply anyway, because the OP would have to be notable and basically make news headlines with the story of his defection for it to be “notorious”.


For the abandonment of the Catholic Church to be validly configured as a true *actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia *so that the exceptions foreseen in the previously mentioned canons would apply, it is necessary that there concretely be: [LEFT]a) the internal decision to leave the Catholic Church;
b) the realization and external manifestation of that decision; and
c) the reception of that decision by the competent ecclesiastical authority.

[LEFT]Read it here:

Format defection has no impact on matrimony since Dec 21, 2010 (three months after publication in AAS). It did before that from January 25, 1983 with the promulgation of the Latin Canon Law.


First of all, welcome back!

I would chime in that the church would consider you married but you are allowed to live separately as long as you don’t get romantically or sexually involved with anyone else. If you have that desire, I would suggest getting an annulment through the church. Even if you don’t have that desire, I probably would anyway to not worry about it later.

Regarding confession, if you make an honest attempt to reconcile with God, that’s good enough for Him. This is a matter of the heart, not a game of logic. You can always bring up those concerns at a future confession when you need to go again for other reasons. In the meantime, there’s nothing stopping you from praying to Him directly with your apologies.

Finally, having recently joined the faith last Easter, I would suggest being patient and forgiving of yourself as you rebuild your faith. Otherwise, your head can be swimming with questions and concerns. God is very patient and doesn’t expect you to have it all figured out right away. None of us are perfect, we’re just trying our best. God is not going to open the trapdoor to hell under you when you are doing your best to form a relationship with Him.


that has been one of my biggest concerns. one is with me and is being raised Catholic, while the other is w/mom and church is not the priority it is with us. I hate being all split up, but we are making the best of it. I pray every day that we all will soon practice our Catholic faith as a family-my kids and I. Please keep us in all your prayers.


I would suggest getting an annulment through the church.

Mike , this is not necessary due to you not being married within the church. Trust me on this one my wife was married outside the church prior to our marriage and all that was required was that she had received a civil divorce from her first husband so that we could be married within the church.



It is not called an “annulment” particularly because this gives a false impression of the mechanism behind them. It is called a declaration of nullity - the finding that the marriage was null from the start.

The OP may not need an annulment, and certainly doesn’t require anything but a good Confession to begin receiving the Eucharist again, but if he plans to date and remarry, a legal divorce and then an investigation into the previous marriage is required. The investigation should find that his marriage was invalid due to a lack of form. No investigation can take place before he is legally divorced. But this is jumping the gun; read on.

As the situation stands now, the OP is still married to his wife both legally and ecclesiastically, and he has the same obligations as any married husband does. As it stands, it would be well for him to seek counseling to try and save the marriage before a divorce is sought. There are secular counseling programs available and there are many Catholic options. A popular one is called Retrouvaille - see the link and click “Program Information” to find one in your area.

If the OP does decide to reunite with his wife, his first step should be a convalidation of the marriage. This is sometimes called “blessing the marriage” and is essentially a small wedding ceremony because it involves the exchange of vows before witnesses in order to contract a valid Catholic wedding. This is typically preceded by the same type of preparation courses given to couples being married for the first time.

So you do have a lot of options, and many of them are good ones, so I will keep you in my prayers.


It is true that you are good to take communion once you’ve made a valid confession which you have. The advice to get an annulment would apply if you ever want to date again. Even then, I would just ask your priest what he wants from you and go with that even if you hear different things. No need to be a canon lawyer to be a good Catholic. It’s more about a good faith effort to love your God, love your neighbor, and love yourself.

Again, welcome back!


WRONGO…I did the exact same thing and as long as he didn’t publicly renounce his faith he is still Catholic. I married a Jewish man and attended with him for 10 years. My priest is a canon lawyer. I had to get a few paperwork items and the tribunal gave me a paper saying it was never valid, just so that there’s no questions later. But you can’t do that until you get a civil divorce. As long as you did not renounce your faith you are still Catholic and the marriage is not valid. BUT you will need a declaration from the tribunal if you are in the USA stating its invalid and it’s a very simple process. Took me all of 3 weeks.


This is incorrect information. In the USA we are told that we must get the local tribunal to verify that no marriage took place in any Catholic Church and also that it was never convalidated. My priest is a canon lawyer so I am positive that this IS required and if it wasn’t done, then that priest is negligent. The lady at the tribunal said you would be shocked at he number of people who lie and say there were never married in the Catholic Church so there are a few documents that must be supplied, one by the church where you were baptized/converted who is the keeper of your record. They have to show “no notations” under matrimony and it can’t be older than 6 months. Then a marriage license and civil divorce decree and your baptism or conversion certificate. Then I had a form that had 12 very short questions and it was a very nominal fee. I had it back in less than a month. It IS required in the US Catholic Churches just to make sure that your marriage wasn’t convalidated…etc.



Well thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses. i do appreciate it. everyday is a struggle in some way, but with the grace of God and the power of prayer, what can we all not achieve? God bless you all!


If you have been legally married in any way, Declaration of Nullity is required. In the case of a Catholic marrying outside the church, it is a simple process, but it is still required. It is declaration of Nullity based on Defect of Form. This doesn’t apply to the original poster, however, because he is still married.

To the original poster: Try Confession again, and be very clear with the priest. Your separation (or even divorce) is not a barrier to you receiving the Sacraments. The only thing necessary for your return to the church is a good Confession. Details of any necessary annulment can be worked out if you should divorce.

I will pray for you and your wife, and your two children. Even after a 3 year separation, God can work miracles.


Yes, but what defines a public renunciation of faith? Adult Baptism in another church? Membership (not just attendance) in a church of another faith? Besides, I got the impression that he was a lapsed Catholic at the time of the marriage, but his attendance at the Baptist church didn’t take place until after the marriage began.


The Church has written this:[LEFT]1. For the abandonment of the Catholic Church to be validly configured as a true *actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia *so that the exceptions foreseen in the previously mentioned canons would apply, it is necessary that there concretely be:
a) the internal decision to leave the Catholic Church;
b) the realization and external manifestation of that decision; and
c) the reception of that decision by the competent ecclesiastical authority.[/LEFT]


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