Theoretical situation involving possible annulment


#1

Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?


#2

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

I guess I'm confused. How can two baptized Protestants be sacramentally married if they were not married in the Catholic Church?


#3

Check out this article.


#4

[quote="Credo_in_Deum, post:2, topic:337733"]
I guess I'm confused. How can two baptized Protestants be sacramentally married if they were not married in the Catholic Church?

[/quote]

Non-Catholics are not required to follow Catholic marriage laws. Their marriages (assuming no impediments such as a prior marriage) are valid. Only Catholics are required to be married according to Catholic rules. (Similarly, the Orthodox have rules on what is required for a valid marriage; Protestant communities are generally looser in terms of what is acceptable.)

A valid marriage between two baptized people is sacramental.


#5

[quote="Maxirad, post:3, topic:337733"]
Check out this article.

[/quote]

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:4, topic:337733"]
Non-Catholics are not required to follow Catholic marriage laws. Their marriages (assuming no impediments such as a prior marriage) are valid. Only Catholics are required to be married according to Catholic rules. (Similarly, the Orthodox have rules on what is required for a valid marriage; Protestant communities are generally looser in terms of what is acceptable.)

A valid marriage between two baptized people is sacramental.

[/quote]

Thanks for the info and the correction. :)

Since they're both in a sacramental marriage then I don't believe they are able to get an annulment. The husband may divorce his wife in the eyes of society, but in the eyes of God they're still married and I believe the wife is therefore called to pray for her husband’s conversion and to offer her sufferings for this intention. I don't believe his disbelief in the Catholic faith is grounds for annulment. Then again as proven above, I'm not well educated in these matters. I would have the wife talk with a priest.


#6

[quote="Credo_in_Deum, post:2, topic:337733"]
I guess I'm confused. How can two baptized Protestants be sacramentally married if they were not married in the Catholic Church?

[/quote]

It is possible, however now people are ignoring the original question.

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

I would say that a husband divorcing his wife (after ?? years of marriage) with the only reason given that she converted to "any" religion could show that he did not commit fully to faithful marriage if he can turn his back on his vows for such a reason.


#7

[quote="Credo_in_Deum, post:5, topic:337733"]
Thanks for the info and the correction. :)

Since they're both in a sacramental marriage then I don't believe they are able to get an annulment. The husband may divorce his wife in the eyes of society, but in the eyes of God they're still married and I believe the wife is therefore called to pray for her husband’s conversion and to offer her sufferings for this intention. I don't believe his disbelief in the Catholic faith is grounds for annulment. Then again as proven above, I'm not well educated in these matters. I would have the wife talk with a priest.

[/quote]

The OP assumes that these people are in a sacramental marraige. However, two baptized persons married in a church...even the Catholic church...aren't necessarily in a sacramental marriage. They may have held certain beliefs at the time of the wedding that would invalidate the sacrament. One example, already noted, is the view that marriage isn't a permanent state. There are many other reasons as well that the marriage might be deemed invalid. It is complicated to say the least.

The woman needs to speak to a priest familiar with the annulment process to help her sort out whether or not annulment may be possible.


#8

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

A Declaration of Nullity is based solely on the conditions prior to and up to the wedding. If a valid marriage existed at the time of the wedding, the scenario above would not provide a basis for such a declaration. Also if both were baptised non-catholics, there marriage is sacramental. However, the sacramentality of the marriage is also not a factor in making a declaration of nullity. So, given that there are no other relevant facts, a declaration of nullity would not be granted. The key statement in the scenerio is "married to each other with no impediments". This is the definition of a valid marriage. A valid marriage cannot be declared null.


#9

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

She could certainly try. But there's no guarantee it would be granted. The situation would need to be investigated just as any other tribunal case needs to be investigated. The husband deciding to leave because of her conversion would not by itself automatically indicate that the union was entered invalidly.


#10

In the situation you described - two baptized Christians in a sacramental marriage who later divorce - there is no possibility for annulment and remarriage because you built into your hypothetical the fact that they were no impediments. Sacramental marriages can not be dissolved or annuled, and so the Pauline and Petrine Priviliges would not apply. They remain sacramentally married even after one spouse joins the Church and even after they divorce.

If there is a question to the validity (for example, one of the spouses did not intend for the marriage to be lifelong but only last as long as both spoiuses belonged to some Protestant denomination), then the marriage could be brought before the Tribunal. If it is determined that the marriage was never valid then it was also never sacramental and the spouses were never married to begin with.


#11

[quote="davidv, post:8, topic:337733"]
...Also if both were baptised non-catholics, there marriage is sacramental. However, the sacramentality of the marriage is also not a factor in making a declaration of nullity...So, given that there are no other relevant facts, a declaration of nullity would not be granted.

[/quote]

This is not something we should be commenting on as it is the decision of the cognizant Tribunal whether or not the marriage was valid.

Although the church assumes marriages between baptized persons are valid, further review is appropriate in a situation where a divorced Protestant wants to convert and later be married in the Catholic church. Being baptized doesn't mean the marriage was valid in the eyes of the church. Certain conditions could invalidate the marriage sacrament. There are many different reasons, and this is why the woman in question should consult a priest knowledgeable in these areas. This is what the Tribunal would investigate if the priest believes she has grounds for an annulment.

[quote="nodito, post:10, topic:337733"]
...If there is a question to the validity (for example, one of the spouses did not intend for the marriage to be lifelong but only last as long as both spoiuses belonged to some Protestant denomination), then the marriage could be brought before the Tribunal. If it is determined that the marriage was never valid then it was also never sacramental and the spouses were never married to begin with.

[/quote]

This is the way I understand it as well. At the end of the the process the Tribunal declares the marriage "null and void" from its inception.


#12

Usually, the annulment is carried out because there is a new proposed spouse on the part of the Catholic party. I've seen cases like above be annulled. It's possible, but the diocesan tribunal needs to properly go over all the facts and evidence. I've seen a 47 year marriage get annulled.


#13

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

As has been stated already, you have forced a "No" answer by stating the conditions.

Valid, sacramental marriages are not null. That is a tautology. (The fact that the individuals involved were married when they were protestants in not even relevant to the discussion.)

Now there could be an investigation of the marriage in order to determine if the marriage was actually valid and sacramental. (The presumption prior to the investigation would be that it was.) But the tribunal does not change the validity (or lack thereof) of a marriage.

A so-called "annulment" is a ruling from the Church tribunal that the supposed marriage was never valid and sacramental to begin with.


#14

[quote="Maxirad, post:1, topic:337733"]
Let's say that two baptized Protestants are sacramentally married to each other with no impediments. Somewhere down the line, the wife decides to convert to Catholicism. The husband becomes upset once he learns of her decision and serves her with divorce papers. Can the woman possibly get an annulment after both the civil divorce and her conversion to Catholicism are completed?

[/quote]

No, not on the grounds you've given. If you had the Pauline Privilege in mind it can't apply to a sacramental marriage.


#15

[quote="Credo_in_Deum, post:2, topic:337733"]
I guess I'm confused. How can two baptized Protestants be sacramentally married if they were not married in the Catholic Church?

[/quote]

A sacramental marriage occurs when two baptized Christians marry. They don't have to be Catholics to have a sacramental marriage.


#16

[quote="Maxirad, post:3, topic:337733"]
Check out this article.

[/quote]

That article is out-of-date. It also incorrect. Failure to get permission for a mixed marriage does not invalidate marriage.


#17

[quote="Bergon, post:16, topic:337733"]
That article is out-of-date. It also incorrect. Failure to get permission for a mixed marriage does not invalidate marriage.

[/quote]

Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church

Can. 1125 The local Ordinary can grant this permission if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions are fulfilled:
1° the catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith, and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church;
2° the other party is to be informed in good time of these promises to be made by the catholic party, so that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and of the obligation of the catholic party
3° both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either contractant.


#18

[quote="SMOM, post:17, topic:337733"]
Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church

[/quote]

My understanding is that if a priest celebrates a mixed marriage (one Catholic, one baptized Christian) without permission (in a case where the priest himself can't give permission and doesn't get it from the Bishop) would be illicit but valid. In my diocese the priest preparing the couple for marriage is the one who grants permission for a mixed-marriage.

OTOH, a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized (disparity of cult) is invalid without a dispensation even if celebrated in a Catholic church -- not that I can envision a priest being that negligent.


#19

[quote="SMOM, post:17, topic:337733"]
Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church

[/quote]

The article is out of date. Please see HH Benedict XVI's motu proprio Apostolic Letter Omnium in mentem 26.X.2009 following which formal defection from the Church no longer excuses one from observing canonical form.

The article says that mixed marriage is an impediment. It is not. Impediments need dispensations. Mixed marriages do not. A mixed marriage is one between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic Christian. It requires permission; however, if it takes place without permission it's illicit, not invalid.


#20

[quote="Bergon, post:19, topic:337733"]
The article is out of date. Please see HH Benedict XVI's motu proprio Apostolic Letter Omnium in mentem 26.X.2009 following which formal defection from the Church no longer excuses one from observing canonical form.

[/quote]

Close, but not quite. The effect is that no one can claim that a 'formal defection' that took place from 10/26/2009 or later has any effect, since on that date, the notion of 'formal defection' was removed from the CIC. However, anyone who claims 'formal defection' from the point that the 1983 CIC was promulgated, up through 10/25/2009, still makes a reasonable claim under canon law (and that claim would have to be taken into account). Therefore, isn't quite as "out of date" as you claim. If a Catholic claims that they left the Church through a formal act, and that act is claimed to have been made between 1983 and 2009, then the information in the article holds. ;)

The article says that mixed marriage is an impediment. It is not. Impediments need dispensations. Mixed marriages do not. A mixed marriage is one between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic Christian. It requires permission; however, if it takes place without permission it's illicit, not invalid.

Agreed; hopefully, it was just an oversight. As a historical note, though, it's worth mentioning that, in the 1917 code, mixed marriage was an impediment! (Even so, though, it was an impedient impediment -- it affected liceity, not validity...)


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.