Why can't I be forgiven for marrying my first husband?


I was just granted an annulment from my first marriage. I am now remarried, but have not yet had my marriage convalidated in the Church. We plan to do this after Easter. Most of my family and his are non-Catholic. Some members of our families are starting to ask questions such as: “Why can’t God just forgive you for making the mistake of marrying the first time?” Although I do follow the teaching of the Church I’m not sure how to answer this question. Also, can you tell me where to go to understand more about why an annulment is required?
Thank you!


Dear CC,

It is not a matter of forgiving you for marrying your first husband. The reason for seeking an annulment is that you attempted to marry someone else while you were already married. Just because the state attempted to end that marriage by granting you divorce, does not mean that the marriage was actually ended. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt 9:16) After an investigation, the Church is satisfied that an essential element was missing from your first marriage and has declared it null. An annulment does not end a marriage, it testifies to the fact that a marriage actually hasn’t taken place.

Now that you have received the annulment, your present marriage is not considered valid until you make your vows in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Since you have been living as husband and wife, you will need to go to Confession before approaching the sacraments of the Eucharist and Matrimony.

I would suggest that you get a copy of “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West and also “Annulments and the Catholic Church” by Edward Peters. Both are available through shopcatholic.com or by phone: 888 291 8000.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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