SPLIT: Internal Forum Annulments

I have been told by a Pastor that “internal forum” gives me the authority to take communion even though I am remarried outside the church without an annulment of the first marriage. I know I can get an annulment and have been told that by several priests. however, even if I got one my Catholic new wife doesn’t believe in annulments and refuses to get one. So if I did get one and she wont try then I am stuck with regards to receiving communion. The priest told me to set aside the “legalities” and use the inner forum. Another priest told this to me too. My question is If I can get an annulment and my new wife refuses to go ahead with annulment proceeding for herself then I would be stuck in a legal position. Jesus teaches that we have to set legalities aside when there is no other option. Compassion and mercy reins which is Christlike, like the good Samaritan that helped the person who was robbed and beat up. The priest walked right by him and so did another person. it was the good Samaritan that helped him and was a neighbor to him. same thing when Christ and his apostles were starving and ate the grains of wheat on the Sabboth and King David and his troops ate the show bread in the temple. Why should I be deprived of communion because my new wife wont even try to get an annulment. My first wife divorced me, I din’t divorce her. She caused my state. So the priests tell me to receive. true or not? Please may a priest help me on this?

Firstly, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981, in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, that those Catholics living together in civil marriages cannot be admitted to the sacraments. c) Catholics in Civil Marriages

  1. There are increasing cases of Catholics who for ideological or practical reasons, prefer to contract a merely civil marriage, and who reject or at least defer religious marriage. Their situation cannot of course be likened to that of people simply living together without any bond at all, because in the present case there is at least a certain commitment to a properly-defined and probably stable state of life, even though the possibility of a future divorce is often present in the minds of those entering a civil marriage. By seeking public recognition of their bond on the part of the State, such couples show that they are ready to accept not only its advantages but also its obligations. Nevertheless, not even this situation is acceptable to the Church.

The aim of pastoral action will be to make these people understand the need for consistency between their choice of life and the faith that they profess, and to try to do everything possible to induce them to regularize their situation in the light of Christian principle. While treating them with great charity and bringing them into the life of the respective communities, the pastors of the Church will regrettably not be able to admit them to the sacraments.
Familiaris Consortio:

Then in 1982, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[LEFT]4. Even if analogous pastoral solutions have been proposed by a few Fathers of the Church and in some measure were practiced, nevertheless these never attained the consensus of the Fathers and in no way came to constitute the common doctrine of the Church nor to determine her discipline. It falls to the universal Magisterium, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to teach and to interpret authentically the depositum fidei.

[LEFT]With respect to the aforementioned new pastoral proposals, this Congregation deems itself obliged therefore to recall the doctrine and discipline of the Church in this matter. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ(5), the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists(6).

[LEFT]This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: “They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”(7).

[LEFT]The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only “to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples’”(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.[/LEFT]
(5) Mk 10:11-12: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
(6) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650; cf. also n. 1640 and the Council of Trent, sess. XXIV: DS 1797-1812.
(7) Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, n. 84: AAS 74 (1982) 185-186.
(8) Ibid., n. 84: AAS 74 (1982) 186; cf. John Paul II, Homily on the Occasion of the Closure of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, n. 7: AAS 72 (1980) 1082.


Thank you for all the church teachings which you posted.
I spoke to two priests and they understand my situation. I also asked a priest if I was in a valid marriage for 32 years. The elder priest asked me how old was I when I got married and I said 21 years old. he asked me if I knew what a sacrament was when I got married and I said no. Today the church wants us to go through a year of instruction before we get married. Back in those days there was no instruction. The priest said if you didn’t know what a sacrament was then it’s a invalid marriage and because of my youth at the time showed my ignorance of understanding what I was getting into. In fact after I was married 2-3 weeks I broke down and told my new wife I think we made a mistake. I continued in this marriage even though I thought at the time I made a mistake. I gave a comittment, “better or worse” and stuck by that. Fast forward 32 years later she commits adultry and wants a divorce. I said I am Catholic and if you want one you have to get it not me, I was willing to stay in this marriage to honor our vowels. However, she wasn’t, even after seeking help through counceling. So we got divorced and then 9 years later I met someone who I love and we got a civil marriage only because our church would not marry us without an annulment. I could get one but my new wife won’t and doesn’t believe in the church doctrine of annulment so I am stuck in a no win situation. I spoke to a priest about this because I was afraid of the adultry sin, being mortal and going to hell because I was living in this civil union. The priest told me that since legalistically I cannot get around this then go to the spiritual side as a matter of conscious. He then said do you believe that god would send you to hell (as we were taught) for marring another whom you love? I said no because God understands my circumstance. he said it’s a matter of conscious. Also, why confess a sin when you do not believe that it is? He was referring to the Internal Forum. Another pastor just told me it was ok. I sighted other stories in my first post where Jesus said “the Sabboth was made for man, not man for the Sabboth” and the David and troops eating the show bread and then the good Samaritan when Jesus okayed what they did despite the fact it was a sin to do those things in Jewish law. he likened my situation to those teachings of Christ. All this legal mumbo jumbo doesn’t address certain situations and I don’t need a church to tell me I can’t receive when the clergy tells me I can. If they dont know the truth then how are we? just because a bunch of men sat around and concocted laws? Some of them are doing things that are sinful and more sinful then me falling in love and living a good holy life with my wife. So I will receive and I don’t believe God will send me to hell for being in love and marrying my wife just because the fathers of the church had a pow wow restricting the faithful according to their interpretations of the LAW.



Wow… lots of stuff there, in your post. let me make sure I understand your situation, though: you were married, your wife initiated a divorce, and you got remarried (civilly). That much seems clear. But, in the context of ‘annulments’, you talk about your new wife not believing in them. I’m a little confused.

Are you saying that your new wife doesn’t think you should get an annulment for your first marriage?

Or maybe I’m misunderstanding you: Are you saying that your new wife is a Catholic who was previously married in the Church and then later was divorced? But that she refuses to get an annulment for her prior marriage?

See where I’m confused?

Thanks for the question.
My new wife is catholic, yet she will NOT get an annulment for herself from a previous marriage. She doesn’t believe in the church anymore and thinks there a bunch of old men who should’t dictate what she can do or not do. Of course she sites all the priests who have been doing bad things. She has a sour taste in her mouth when it come to the RCC. She won’t even go to Mass. I am a daily communicant and I love communion. See my bind? I can get one but if she doesn’t then I am still bound by lack of her annulment. :confused:

The so-called internal forum solution is no solution at all:



I suggest the following:

John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981), paragraph 84.

Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law (1983).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1650 (1992).

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful” (September 14, 1994), n. 4.

The Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “On Communion for Divorced and Remarried Persons” ( June 24, 2000).

Here is an article from the Pennsylvania Bishops that explains it well:


Yes, but it is a bind of your own making.

You married her civilly knowing that it was invalid, knowing it put you outside the sacraments, knowing neither you nor she were free to marry because you were both **already **married to someone else.

Yes, it is possible for your to resume the sacramental life, but it involves foregoing conjugal relations with your current spouse.

Hmm… that is a difficult dilemma – it must be very hard on you to be in this situation. It seems to me, though, that you really do wish to do the right thing and be back in a regular situation with respect to the Church.

1ke’s mention of “living as brother and sister” – that is, living without participation in marital relations – is certainly one option. In a public forum, I wouldn’t want to ask you such delicate questions as would help establish whether this a potential option for you.

However, I do have a suggestion for you. You imply that you yourself do not have an annulment. Perhaps you might consider initiating that process. Perhaps, when she sees how important this is to you – that you’d be willing to go through the annulment process because you value the Eucharist so highly – she might come to a point at which she might be willing to enter the annulment process herself, not for her sake but for yours.

In the meantime, while you’re trying to demonstrate that you hold belief in the processes and values of the Catholic Church, you might consider demonstrating this to her in another way, as well: if you value the Eucharist and the Church through which it is available… then perhaps you should consider denying yourself the Eucharist until such time that you’re licitly able to receive it. That way, your wife will see two awesome examples from you: not only are you asking the Church to determine the status of your first marriage, but you’re also holding to what it teaches about the Eucharist.

It would be difficult, but in the end, it might be exactly what it takes to convince your wife of your sincerity and commitment to the Eucharist…



Thanks for your answer. I checked with a priest BEFORE I got married and he said I could receive and that’s why I went ahead and got married. I didn’t want to be just shacking together as partners but to be married. So that’s part of the reason. I just may proceed with the annulment anyhow in hopes she will do the same. I also just went to another priest/pastor and he said I could receive. I am a lay person listening to two priests who concur about me receiving and if they don’t really know what is right and wrong we are all in trouble I suppose. I probably will just go ahead and receive and and have faith that God will understand and have compassion and mercy. To me it’s a matter of conscious anyhow and with the advice of two priests let God determine my fate. I live love to the best of my ability so I will take my chances. After all, in the final judgement God took the sheep to the right and the others goats to the left. he split them on love and service of other not on all the sins they committed. When did you feed me and clothe me, when you did it to the least of my brothers etc. See book of Revelation.
God gave us free will and the holy spirit to lead and guide us in conscious so I believe I can make my own decision, not all the legalistic stuff that the hierarchy of men who decide my personal situation. I sited 3 or so stories which Christ himself said overrules the law. So I feel I can do the same with the advice of two good priests who told me to do so. In the end everyone listens and hear all the laws and a lot of Catholics aren’t following it. Are we all going to hell because of LOVE. It seems ridiculous to me too. However, I am a devout Catholic so I am in a bind because I do love the RCC and of course the sacrament of holy communion…
Please pray for me and the priests who evidently don’t know the truth regarding this matter, if it is true from all the legalistic quotes my peers have shown and stated here on this site.

I want to ask this in a very careful way, since I don’t want to start a firestorm, but…

regarding these priests whom you asked: are they men who you know to be faithfully following the teachings of the Church? or do they sometimes say things that you know (or suspect) aren’t quite in line with authentic Church teachings?

after all, even though you were told “yes” by these two priests, you still doubted. As you mentioned, other priests talked to you about going the route of an annulment. Still, though, you reached out for additional opinions. Perhaps this means that you, too, questioned the truth of their advice about the “internal forum solution” and about “tossing out legalism”?

Wow, I am astonished and very sad for you. I am truly sorry that you got such bad guidance and from a priest no less.

I really encourage you to do so. It may inspire her to help you reconcile with the Church.

I am very sorry that this has happened to you.

yes, I do know both priests, one is an army chaplin and another is a pastor. The pastor is very informative, religious yet I don’t have a close relationship with him. he doesn’t even know my name and I went to him in confession. the chaplin I do know very well, he is also a pshyco therapist, psychologist and is very holy. The pastor seems to be holy too. They both look at first blush to be very faithful
priests and faith filled. They are both very knowledgeable. The reason for my investigation is because I know there are priests that bend the truth, however I would never suspect these two.
I just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing because I am a devout 3rd order Franciscan who strives to be religious and faithful to the teachings. Another peer of mine saw other priests and gave him permission to do the same thing. Actually, there is a third priest that said if I couldn’t get an annulment he personally, “on him” would give me permission. Seems to me the RCC needs to re-inform their priests on the so called law.
Thanks again, I appreciate your help and concern. My best to you and yours.

Also, too many laws…everything is so rigid. I know Mother Angelica would be appalled at the answers here. I love Jesus, all humans and the RCC. I just want to receive the eucharist…

Well, one of the links I posted is on Mother Angelica’s site, EWTN, so I am not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that she would be appalled.

Mother Angelica, I think, above else was/is concerned with teaching and spreading what is true and what is faithful to the Magesterium of the Church.

that’s what I meant… she would be “appaled” if she new priest were giving bad dogma or advice…ya know?

You are welcome. I want to say, though, that the bishops represent the Apostles and are here to help the faithful retain holiness throughout their lives. The real issue is our holiness which requires charity. To receive the effect of the Holy Spirit requires us to maintain charity to God and others, and it includes not leading others astray (scandal). The Holy See has made clear statements on the matter that are the norm. If there is an internal forum solution in a particular situation, it will be in accord with what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published officially (note that the statement from CDF was by Cardinal Ratzinger, now the Holy Father).

As to conflicting statements by the clergy, the bishops have the responsibility to reign in errant priests. (The priests are subject to the bishops not the other way around.)

Thanks you again for all your help and explanations. It means a lot to me that fellow Catholic Christians care and want to help.
I understand charity and I am all for it and live it too. I’m far from perfect, yet I try in patience and perseverance. If a lay person, like me, who went to a priest and said go to the “spiritual” side and your relationship with God since legally you have a problem, use your conscience and make a decision on getting married and receiving communion because he doubted God would send me to hell because I remarried. That my thinking was a child’s thoughts/fears and that now your 60 plus years old and should have grown past those NUNS and all that fear. God understands my problem. Then I get married and I talk to a holy pastor who said “inner forum” allows me to receive. Then because I still had some doubts I found this Catholic site and low and behold most all that was told to me was a lie. Now I am held in bondage because of priests and my new wife. Believe you me, I want to be holy as “my father is holy” yet I am now more in a bind then before due to these circumstances. So my resolution will be to trust in the Divine and know that God see’s all things and will forgive me. I will probably continue to receive and perhaps go forward with the intention of getting an annulment. As you or someone said maybe them my new wife will see my actions and also do the same. In the meantime I just don’t believe God will send me to hell for falling in love and marring another woman. I have sited other examples from the bible about legalistic issues where Christ overruled the law. So I will trust his sayings and do the same. Thank you all for your help and clarifications, MUCH appreciated. Please pray for me and these priest that lead the faithful astray and then we are held in bondage. God is LOVE and merciful and I hope and pray he/she will forgive my error or look at my particular situation and see my earnestness and faith in him/her.

To address the bold, do you not believe that God is a God of His Word? Read the book of Malachi for His views on divorce. Do you not believe that God takes marriage–one of only seven Sacraments–seriously? If you are married, you cannot marry another woman, and thus your relations would adulterous. Equally, if the woman you want to marry is another man’s wife, you CANNOT marry her, and your relations would be adulterous.

Adultery is serious business.

So is sacrilege, including partaking of the Eucharist when we are not in a state of grace.

Yes, God is love, and He is merciful. He knew your desire to do the right thing, and your conscience continued to bother you, despite the assurances of those two priests. Now, because God is merciful, you have found this forum and learned the truth that your conscience knew instinctively.

You are, as you have said, in a difficult situation. But surely God allowed you to find the truth of your situation in time to do something about it? Please do not simply continue to receive without doing something about your situation. Is living as brother-and-sister possible?

Thx. for your input. Much appreciated knowing you’re coming from a good space. However, all that you said and bible quotes are Gods word. I believe God and his word. My point is am I married in Gods eyes or the churches. Yes, the church is the bride of Christ yet it treats lay people like immature people…lost sheep…yet it seems they are lost…look what they do. It takes the authority of conscience away from the individual. I am more than capable of making a right judgement about myself and my X wife. I say X because I believe my marriage was invalid and should have never taken place. I don’t need a tribunal of old stuffy priests, to make money, to tell me if I am divorced or not. They should look at the plank in their eye’s not the spec in mine. look what they are doing today…poor little children they abuse and MUCH MUCH more. Why should I trust them. I know in my heart of hearts that I am divorced civilly and in Gods eyes too, and I could care less what the church thinks. Jesus and I are what counts. the bible is so contradictory in many ways and you do know that. do you think because Moses allowed the men to divorce their wives with a letter of divorce, as Christ said are going to hell because Moses said it was ok. If he said it was ok, what’s the difference if my two Priests said it was ok? He allowed them to do this because they were stiff necked people. Well, if it was Gods plan for that not to happen then I guess they are all going to hell. What about the people who are married in many different religions, they get divorced and remarry all the time…lots of people going to hell…another scare tactic by our Church? The RCC uses fear to keep the SHEEP in line…everything is fear based, even the nuns who hit us with rulers and pinched our ears, when we were just small children, are they going to hell. God gave us free will, free conscience and the Holy Spirit to guide us. So I listen to the spirit, I listen to my conscience and two priests, holy one’s too, to get their CHURCH input, plus scriptures which talk about legalism which Christ addressed and it all points to inner forum. The church, with it’s many teachings are hypocritical . Take a look at past Popes who were sleeping around…The Borgia’s for example. History is replete with this kind of behavior. The church wants to control us for the money, the need to support their parishes, which are closing up right and left. I should believe them? “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing”, Jesus was right. Poor little boys who have been raped and sodomized…and I should listen to them…the priests…it exists from top down? Are you kidding me? look what Jesus told them at the stoning of Mary Magdalene? “Let ye who has not sinned cast the first stone”
If I do believe, and I do, that I had an invalid marriage, which I discerned by living in that marriage, which by the way was adultery committed against me, should be sufficient for me to make a spiritual and educated conscience decision. Maybe i should just distrust all Catholic priests and it’s hierarchy…
You yourself use scare tactics and who are you? A lay person or a priest? You are a regular member and a lay person. Don’t judge me because you will be judged as you judge…The Our Father???
Well, thanks again for your fear based ideas and religiosity…
Good luck living in your fears…the church just loves you…the sheep with a ring in her nose…I believe in the Sacrements yet you must look deeper into things and not be led by BLIND GUIDES

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