Should I allow Dad's new civil law wife to attend 1st communion?

My mother and father were married for over 30 years. My Dad then had an affair with a lady (let’s call her “Z” for this question). Dad continued his relationship with Z and then divorced my Mom under civil law, and married Z under civil law. The annulment was propely denied (praise God).

Now, I am in the position of constantly trying to figure out what the right thing to do is with respect to my Dad and Z. It is my understanding that we should not acknowledge his marriage to Z, which we have clearly done (with much pain). The question I have, though, is a bit more difficult. Is it proper to allow/invite Z to attend the sacraments of my children (1st communion of our oldest coming this May)? Obviously it will bother my Mom who will also be attending, but I want to know, putting aside everyone’s interests (Mine, wife’s, Dad’s, Z’s, and Mom’s), bottom line - what is the RIGHT thing to do.

Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

Just my opinion here. Ask Mom to attend. Ask Dad to be reasonable and leave Mrs. Z at home for this short time - to promote peace.

Take charge and start running your life with the best interest of the kids in mind. Sounds like you are well on your way.

Do whatever you can to keep your marriage on solid ground and transmit the permanent nature of this sacrament to your children.

Divorce is part of the culture now. Live a totally counter-cultural life!

This is awesome advice - exactly what I was thinking!

Z. really has nothing to do with your children. It’s not going to kill her to stay at home while the FAMILY of these children celebrate. Besides, its just reasonable in these situations for someone to stay at home to promote peace. It happens all the time with weddings where the parents of the people getting married are divorced and remarried. Even if there was an annulment and all of this were on the up and up, I’d still ask Z to stay home for the sake of harmony for you and yours.

You may be doing this already but pray for your Father and though his actions have caused suffering in your family keep on loving him.

In your case I

  • would not ask her to come to the first communion

  • but if she is coming I would accept that fact that the Church is open for everyone

The real problem is should you call your dad (who almost certainly brings his new civil wife) or not? What is more important: the feelings of your mother, or your relationship with your dad?

I don’t understand why you are picking on Z. Why aren’t you excluding your father as well if you want to be exclusive? He is the one who is making a mockery of his marriage. If Z isn’t Catholic, she is not even guilty of sinning since she is legally married.

Pray for your Dad and his wife…as I’m sure you do.
Christian charity is important and may be the pathway to God for your father and his wife.
Your father’s conscience is his business. Ours is to pray. Your Dad and his wife may need a reminder that until/unless they obtain an annulment and marry in the Church or receive convalidation they cannot receive Communion as they are not in communion with the Church.

Jesus sought the company of sinners. He even went to their houses. He converted some that way.
Showing lack of charity and lack of welcome is the best way to ensure the sins of division, resentment, and so on, in the hearts and souls of others.

God bless you and your family, and especially your child who is receiving First Communion.

Z is also catholic. She is actually a very nice person and is nice to our kids, but obviously that fact has really nothing to do with the decision (although it can make things harder!).

After much pain, prayer and struggle, we (my wife and I) are finally to the point where we are willing to do whatever is right with Dad and Z regardless of how it affects us or others. We just want to know what the truth is and follow it, and sleep good at night.

My wife and I have had a talk with my Dad about her attending things in general (not this instance), and my father did not react well. He has been in full throttle trying to integrate Z into family gatherings. This is not a positive fact about my Dad, but again, I don’t think it’s relevant. Only what’s right.

In the responses provided (which I appreciate very much - thanks!), it appears people are focusing on the effect of her attendance (what it will do to my Mom, how will it affect my relationship with my Dad, etc.) rather than the true question, which to me is, What would Jesus truly do in this instance? Is this a “Jesus eating with tax collector” scenario where I should invite her but continue to make clear where I stand on their marriage/lack of, or because this is a sacrament or some other reason, should she be asked not to attend?

Another thought I struggle with is that we don’t seek to exclude folks doing what my father is doing from mass (and I think rightfully so), so why exclude Z in this instance?

I need to resolve this soon, as it is amazing how much something like this saps your energy. I wish those who have affairs would think about these issues and realize the pain they cause before doing something so selfish.

Again, thanks so much for any thoughts you have.

My response was focused on family peace, but if that were removed, I’d say that the best thing is to invite them both. Jesus doesn’t exclude people from coming to him because of their sin (If he did, none of us would have a prayer!!) But it does create a very volitle situation at a time that should be focused on the sacrament.

Invite her if you think the family can handle it. If not, and she is the woman you say she is, then I’m sure she’d understand staying home that day and maybe you all could get together and celebrate at another time.

I honestly believe the RIGHT thing to do is invite her, but, again, family peace might be considered as well.

You are ging through some tough stuff, and I am praying for you.

thanks Whitacre - I really appreciate your thoughts and your prayers.

I am in you shoes. I make not qualms about the fact that I protect my mother absolutely. My mom was the the one who was left and as a faithtul son, I will do anything I have to save her pain. That being said, I have always tried to be charitable to my father’s wife. We visit them as a family and they are always welcome in my house. However, when a choice needs to be made, I will not shy from doing what I know is right.

It depends on how your Mom is with the whole thing. If she doesn’t want her there, then she shouldn’t be there. If your Mom is okay with it, then she should be. Mom gets to decide, in my opinion.

A little story. When Dh and I were married (both Baptists, in church), inlaws acted immaturely.

My MIL hid out in the kitchen during the reception, to avoid FIL, and my dh’s grandmother wouldn’t even come b/c her ex, dh’s grandaddy, came and brought his wife. Stupid.

It’s not about the inlaws. Not about your mom or dad, but your child. They are going to have to deal with one another the rest of their lives at functions like this, so they need to grow up.

I understand the Catholic stance on divorce/remarriage. So I don’t see why you’re inviting your dad at all. He’s the one who divorced and remarried outside the church’s laws. Why does he get a free pass?

Are you wanting to exclude her b/c she’s ‘not family’ or b/c she’s the one your dad married?
If the latter, he’s as guilty as she, and so should be excluded. If the former, is it really worth the loss of relationship with your dad? And what if, by your kindness, she came fully into the church and it’s teachings, and she and your dad repented?

How many activities will she have to sit home, how many years willl you punish her for BOTH her and your fathers sins? Not to bash, but that’s how it seems to me. I know there’s a lot of anger at her in your family, but either lay it on Both of them, or neither.

If you want to permanently alienate your father, then exclude her.

There is no disrespect to God to have him, and his legal wife, attend a Baptism. He WOULD be a very inappropriate candidate for a Godparent however.

If you want to look at it strictly from what is right or proper, I don’t see any reason to exclude Z that would not apply to your father as well. Regardless of the status of their marriage they are welcome at Mass, just not to receive communion. If you know that one or the other will want to receive communion then I think that would be a reason to exclude them since it would cause scandal and set a very bad example for your child at his First Communion.

Yes. Either invite both or invite neither. All of the sins described were the effort of both. Besides, even if a spouse is innocent of the socially or morally unacceptable behavior of their spouses, you don’t invite a person to a “couple” event without inviting their spouse. It puts the invited spouse in an impossible position, and this isn’t a gracious thing to do. Inviting neither implies that you don’t respect their choices, including the choice to present themselves to the world as a married couple, but that you do respect that it was their perogative to make those choices.

Participating in a scandal such as entering into a civil marriage in absence of a decree of nullity from a pre-existing marriage is reason to exclude a couple from social events, inside and outside of the family, particularly events at which the wronged (and still not re-married) spouse is going to be invited as a matter of course. The couple are bigamists under canon law. If the couple were bigamists under civil law, I don’t think it would be difficult to explain this to anyone.

There is no way to exclude them from the Mass itself. It wouldn’t be a good idea to try; even the excommunicated are not excluded from witnessing the Mass. That does not mean they are entitled to be included in seating in a reserved area, or that it is automatically the daughter’s duty to inform them of the event taking place at the church on a particular day. I don’t see that there is a polite way to inform them of the Mass without inviting them to the associated family events. You may as well call them up and say, “We’re celebrating something as a family, and you’re not invited.”

The OP could try talking to her mother about whether to invite the couple to the social events surrounding the occasion or not, and acting accordingly. That is only if the grandmother’s sense of things are deemed the most important. If the OP does not want to see the one who is a lawful wife only according to civil law, however, then there isn’t much to be done except to leave both her father and his consort off of the guest list.

Wow - had not thought about the issue with them attending Communion issue, and the invite both/neither logic. Good points, and thank you.

You really cannot keep her from attending, can you?

I think this is going to be an ongoing problem that you will need to deal with. Someday you child will likely get married. Will you seek to bar Mrs. Z from the wedding too?

IMHO you need to decide whether or not you want your father to interact with your child and under what circumstances…and there you get to make the rules, not your father. If you set the ground rules that Mrs. Z not be part of your child’s life and your father refuses to accept that, then you will need to accept the fact that under such cirsumstances, your father will not be a part of your childs life.

It may be a matter of picking your battles…perhaps you could speak directly (and privately) to her, explain your feelings, and ask her to respect them.


There is nothing Christian about allowing your Mother to be publicly scandalized at Sacramental Ceremony. Your Father should not insist that you do.

I would say invite everybody, try to act like grown-ups, don’t snub people and tell them to stay home, enjoy the day and make it about the CHILD not the adults! :slight_smile:

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