Validity of Marriage

I’ve posted here before about my wife’s annulment due to lack of due discretion for her last “marriage”. As a convert to Catholicism (grew up Lutheran), and a case of scruples developed out of a fear of going to Hell by studying the Catholic faith (and simply having too much information and not enough proper discernment or guidance) and of learning all the things I was doing wrong, I am now again questioning the annulment.

The CC has officially annulled her previous marriage on such grounds, and I have been reassured by CAF members, as well as my parish priest, that if the CC and the tribunals presented official papers, that I have nothing to worry about and am not living is sin via adultery. Of course, the whole “bound on earth, bound in Heaven, loosed on earth, loosed in Heaven” and “keys to the church” have been discussed, along with other things to reassure me I have nothing to worry about.

But for whatever reason, I cannot seem to come to peace with it. I’ve been told that the Catholic faith is in its truest form the fullness of faith, and I cannot choose to believe most of it, parts of it, etc., all of it is applicable whether I come to terms with it or not. Therefore, the marriage is annulled.

I’ve pulled back out her papers to read them to try and find reassurance that, yes, there is no way this was valid. I’ve looked online and found an article from a search “Catholic lack of due discretion” from the Santa Fe Archdiocese. It seems to describe my wife’s situation. It also has case samples… and it got me to thinking…:

What if one were to marry another and not have due discretion but thus never got an annulment, basically they stayed together for life (until death). Their lack of due discretion would make the marriage invalid. If these two were never validly married because of such, but simply stayed together, would not these two be living in sin?

The marriage would be putatively valid, as all marriages are, and enjoys the favor of law. There would be absolutely no sin.

I honestly don’t understand. The Church declaring something null is something you doubt? Why would you doubt the power of the Church? Why supplant your own thinking in place of Hers?

Could we also say the validity such a marriage is proven by its success?

I suspect many couples who marry young “grow into” their marriages. What could be better than that?

Sin is an offense against God or neighbor. However, “Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense.” If the person did not know their sacramental marriage was invalid, they could not commit a mortal sin (full knowledge and deliberate consent of the will) and, most likely, it would be no sin at all because we presume marriages are valid. Michael Barber was asked a similar question on CA Live recently and sad it was possible some could get to heaven and find out their sacramental marriage was invalid.

But, you should not fret over this issue because your wife’s marriage has been declared null. Father Z addressed it in a post a few months ago. Even though annulments are not infallible, you should trust the Church, who exists on earth to do the work of Christ at His command, to have gotten it right. The Church has authority over this issue and has used her authority to declare your wife’s first marriage invalid. Therefore, you should take the Church at her word.

Check out the comment of respected cannon lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters, to Father Z’s post:

(U)nless you LIED (and your lies were BELEIVED by the Tribunal, and their acceptance was the DISPOSITIVE factor in the case–neither of which point a party can know with certitude) this decision by the Church deserves respect of the faithful.

Father Z suggests speaking to a Priest about scrupulosity. As a person who has suffered from minor scrupulosity myself, I think doing so will help put you at ease (as it did for me).

JMR

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