Why is it being made so hard to convert?


My husband and I have been attending RCIA classes. I was raised Lutheran and attended Catholic school. My husband wasn’t really raised anything. We were both previously married, before we married each other. His marriage ended in divorce after his ex wife was adulterous. They were married in a civil union by a JP and neither were catholic. My first marriage was annulled in the court system, as unknown to me, my first husband married me when he was still married. We were married in the Lutheran church. Neither him or the wife were catholic or married in the Catholic Church. We must now go before a tribunal.
I don’t see why if our civil marriage isn’t acknowledged by the Catholic Church now, why are our previous marriages in need of annulment?
My husband is also leaving for deployment in April. His baptism in a nondenominational church isn’t recognized by the Catholic Church, but they won’t baptize him until the tribunal is over and clear. If he goes over “there” and is killed, he will be unbaptized.
I am very discouraged. I am supposed to be taking the sacrament this easter ,and now may not if the tribunal isn’t rushed along. I just can’t understand why I need an annulment for a marriage that was null in void and annulled with legal documentation.
Any advice would be helpful!
Thanks a bunch!


I’ll let somebody with more experience field your marriage questions, but regarding your husband’s baptism, he is a catechumen (in RCIA) who desires to receive baptism and is preparing for it. If he somehow doesn’t manage to receive it before his death, then he is covered by “baptism of desire” under CCC 1259:

1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

Let us hope nothing happens to your dear husband, but if the worst should happen, he will not “die unbaptized” given that he’s been preparing and working towards the goal, as long as he also has repentance for his sins, and charity.


“Annulment” is a confusing term!

The Church will look at your prior marriages to see if they were valid marriages. Non Catholic people, non Christian people even, enter into valid marriages every day.

The Church presumes that marriages entered into by non-Catholics, if they are free to marry, that the marriage is just as valid as if they were married at St Peter’s by the Pope himself.

The Tribunal will review his marriage to see if it was valid.

If there is nothing else, then yours will likely be reviewed by the Tribunal as a Ligamen or “Prior Bond” case.


Why not? That it was in a “nondenominational church” is irrelevant. What reason has been given for not recognizing his baptism?


Just to clarify, the Church generally recognizes non-Catholic and even non-denominational baptisms so long as they follow the Trinitarian formula and the intent is to make the person Christian.


Likely they cannot confirm it was a Trinitarian Baptism. Some non-denominations baptize in the name of Jesus only.


Question: have you spoken the parish priest about any of this, or just the RCIA instructor?

The reason I ask, while there are many great RCIA instructors and they typically do speak with the pastor from time to time, they don’t always tell Father every detail.

If you haven’t spoken to your priest about your concerns, I suggest you do. You can even tell the RCIA instructor (nicely) that you would like to schedule a time to sit with Father.

Finally, while the Eucharist is extremely important - the most important thing about Mass is actually being there. There are and have been a great number of lifelong Catholics who cannot receive communion, yet they attend Mass every week. My great-grandmother was one of them.

So please do not think that you are not a member of the Church now, you are. You’re just not a duly initiated member. But you are a member.

I pray this helps.

God bless


Two additional points here:

  1. Do you and the Church know for sure he’s baptism is invalid? For example, does your husband clearly remember the minister saying “I baptize you in Jesus’s name” or something like that? Or is it that your husband is not 100% sure if he was baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit” (or Holy Ghost)?
  • If there is a question about the validity, then what the Church would be planning to do is a “conditional baptism.” Meaning, they will baptize him in case he isn’t baptized. But if he was baptized, Jesus knows and will already be recognizing the first one.
  1. If he’s not baptized, and God forbid, isn’t baptized before leaving… there is baptism of desire, where God recognizes his desire to be baptized and considers him to be baptized.
  • Additionally, if your husband is going to head into a very dangerous assignment once deployed, he can speak with the Catholic Chaplain on his deployment (if there is one), if there is a danger of death, then the priest (or anyone else in that case) may baptize your husband.
  • speak to father about what to do if your husband is fearful of death. Because when there is a legitimate fear of death, the reasons to wait for a baptism are trumped. And again, if there is a legitimate fear of death, your husband can have any human baptize him (it doesn’t have to be a Catholic clergyman).
  • NOTE: what I mean by “legitimate fear of death” is not simply being deployed. However, if he’s going to be going into a very dangerous situation where casuities are expected, that would surely be an example. There might be others too. So please talk with your priest now and have your husband contact the Catholic Chaplain when he arrives.

You and your husband are in our prayers.

God bless & Godspeed


The pastor ended his baptism with “in Jesus name”. Our priest says that invalidates it.


I have spoken with Father primarily. We have a major language barrier (he’s from Italy) and quite frankly a culture barrier. He’s apparently accustomed to quiet and submissive women. I’m a very to the point and take the bull by the horns type of woman. I’ve since taken everything into my own hands, as far as the tribunal. I’ve found a lady that soecialisizes in them at another parish, and she’s assisting us now.

Your words helped tremendously, and made me feel like less of an outsider.


You are not a outsider, sister. We love you and welcome you to the Lord’s Holy Church.

I know it’s frustrating. I waited over a year for a simple annulment verdict. I would suggest spending time in Eucharistic adoration. It pained me a great deal not being able to partake of the Sacraments, so the quiet time in adoration really helped give me strength in that process.


It kills me not being able to take communion. I spent 6 years in catholic school, attended mass as a child, was baptized and confirmed as a teenager in the Lutheran church. I’m accustomed to taking communion, so it’s a culture shock. I pray that mine and my husband’s tribunal doesn’t take too long. Mine is a lagamen and his is another simpler one. Was yours formal?


My comment here is probably not going to help the OP in her immediate concern. However, Jimmy akin in his new book “Teaching With Authority” makes the point that the Catholic Church has never formally defined all legitimate baptism formulas.

From page 330…

                     *The Validity of Baptism “in Jesus’ Name”*

549. Based on Matthew 28:19, the Church baptizes using the trinitarian formula “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” However, in the New Testament we also read of baptism being administered “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38; 10:48), “in the name of the Lord” (Acts 8:16), and “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). This raises the question of whether such formulas were actually used in the early Church or whether they are a shorthand way of referring to Christian baptism (as opposed to John’s baptism and Jewish ritual washings)—the full trinitarian formula being too long to give on each occasion.

If baptism were administered using a formula like “in Jesus’ name,” without denying the doctrine of the Trinity, would it be valid? The Magisterium hasn’t dealt with this question in recent times, and the statements of prior popes are mixed. In 256, Pope Steven I apparently referred to both formulas without deciding between them (DH 111), In 404, Pope Innocent I referred to being baptized “in the name of Christ” without condemning it or indicating it was to be understood as shorthand (DH 211). Around 558, Pope Pelagius I stated failure to use the trinitarian formula would invalidate baptism (DH 45). But in 866, Pope Nicholas I cited the precedent of Acts and the opinion of St. Ambrose to indicate that baptism “in the name of the Holy Trinity or only in the name of Christ” would be valid (DH 646). Ludwig Ott concludes: “The Church has pronounced no final decision on the question” ( Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma , pp. 353-54).

It is noteworthy that when the Catechism addresses the issue, it doesn’t discuss formulas like “in Jesus’ name.” Neither does it say the essential form of baptism is the trinitarian formula. It merely says that the trinitarian formula is used, in slightly different forms, in the Latin and Eastern liturgies (CCC 1240). In light of the prior mixed doctrinal tradition on this question, this illustrates why the hermeneutic of precision is important and why we need to consider what magisterial documents are not saying. (Jimmy Akin, Teaching with Authority: How to Cut Through Doctrinal Confusion and Understand What the Church Really Says [El Cajon, Calif.: Catholic Answers Press, 2018], 331-32)


So, my current spouse had married outside the Church. This annulment was ‘administrative’ and no action had to be taken by her since it was considered invalid from the start as she was baptized Catholic and marriage needs to be within the RCC. Open and shut, maybe takes 30 days.

I was previously married as a youth. At that time I was not baptized anything, nor was my then-spouse. I was told this was pretty much open and shut. However, I did have to appear at the tribunal in front of 2 Monsigners and answer a few questions. My appointed advocate was there as well. After that finally happened, maybe 30-40 days later, I got the decision in the mail.

What made it all the more difficult is that I am convert from a family of evangelicals and this previous marriage was 2 decades ago. I had long since relocated and so it was essentially a lifetime ago. So I’m having to convince my anti-Catholic family to be witnesses. They were called and asked questions about my previous marriage. And of course after all this, I’m hearing… what in the world am I joining this controlling cult for? Don’t I know that as a Christian I am "free in Christ", etc, etc.(rolls eyes)

Needless to say, the process was painful and I wished it could have been handled better.

I can tell you that if they cant get you in at Easter, they do have other confirmation services throughout the year. I was confirmed the following Feb since Easter was not happening for me.

As far as your husband goes, I would look into his baptism. I was non-denom as well and they used Trinitarian format for Baptism. But they do have a habit of adding “in Jesus name” to practically everything they say. So it may be valid, just depending on what all was said and how it was said.

Hopefully it all gets taken care of before his deployment. In my case, the Pope had just waived fees for annulments and so they were backlogged bigtime at the diocese and so it took longer than usual. I called and asked for update on my case every few months. And they were helpful and actually gave me a accurate timeline of when I can expect it to get done.

Thank you both for your service. I am former military and I know that spouses have it tough and they serve too holding down the fort while spouses are away. You have your Catholic family to help you along during the process. Hopefully they are making you feel welcome at your current parish. And I will keep your situation in my prayers.


I admit this is a bit of a mess and a well-known canon lawyer, Dr Edward Peters, thinks the Catholic Church needs to make some changes.

If the Catholic Church we do not hold non-Catholics to merely ecclesiastical laws; therefore, non-Catholics are not required to observe canonical form when they get married. However, the Catholic Church holds everyone to divine law. So, it matters not whether you are a Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, member of a non-Catholic faith or a non-believer you are bound by divine law.

The Catholic Church recognises marriages between two non-Catholics if they happened in a way that was public and legal. The Catholic Church teaches marriage is for life. Thus, if, say, two Buddhists married in a civil ceremony according to the laws of their local jurisdiction the Catholic Church would presume they had a valid marriage. Years later they may divorce but according to Catholic doctrine that does not end their marriage and they are not free to re-marry.

In practical terms this means little to people’s lives unless they choose to become Catholic. Before you can become a Catholic the Church requires that you must regularise any irregularities with your marriage situation. Although you and your husband were not bound to marry according to canonical form your first marriages were recognised by the Catholic Church. This is why they must be investigated by a tribunal to determine whether they were valid. It is important that you are aware that the tribunals looking at your first marriages could decide that one or both of them were valid. This would mean that you cannot be married to the man you call your husband.

I do not write these things to upset you or to make things more difficult. It is to explain that if you are becoming a Catholic part of that must be that you fully accept the Catholic Faith. This must include what the Church teaches about marriage.

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