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Dorothy wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a niece that got married last June 2008. She is already seeking a divorce because her husband was getting drunk very verbally abusive and violent toward her. He was not physically abuse to her . . . yet . . . but she was really scared because of the other violent things he was doing.

Her parents spoke with a nun that is a pastoral administrator at their church. She told them that their daughter could not receive the Holy Eucharist for a year. I thought that her divorce was just a civil divorce and that she could receive the sacraments, as long as she did not remarry. I do not know where that year-thing came from and have never heard of such a thing.

If this is so, why a year?

Her mother became a Catholic 30 years ago when she married my brother-in-law, who is Catholic. She is having a very hard time with this. She is also having trouble understanding why it cost so much to get an annulment in the Catholic Church and why money should be involved.

A reply would be very appreciative.

Thank You,

Dorothy

  { While seeking a divorce due to abusive behavior, does she have to wait to receive Communion? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dorothy,

Either:

  • her parents misunderstood
  • the pastoral administrator nun is completely out to lunch, or
  • there is some information missing.
  • For instance, has the niece received Communion before and was she catechized and married in the Church?

Perhaps the year was for sacramental preparation. That is the only thing I can think of.

Otherwise, it makes no sense at all.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Dorothy,

You wrote:
I have a niece that got married last June 2008. She is already seeking a divorce because her husband was getting drunk very verbally abusive and violent toward her. He was not physically abuse to her . . . yet . . . but she was really scared because of the other violent things he was doing.

Her parents spoke with a nun that is a pastoral administrator at their church. She told them that their daughter could not receive the Holy Eucharist for a year.

As my colleague pointed out, there is no reason that, due to a divorce absent a remarriage, one would be excluded from Holy Communion. Challenge her to prove it by citing documents.

You also wrote:
She is having a very hard time with this. She is also having trouble understanding why it cost so much to get an annulment in the Catholic Church and why money should be involved.

A reply would be very appreciative.

Well, many dioceses do annulments for free or provide help for those who have trouble affording them. That being said, there are a lot of professionals involved in the annulment process and they need to be paid. Some of them even have families to feed. The annulment process is a legal one and costs the diocese a lot of money (think of how much money lawyers cost — an annulment involves several canon lawyers).

Consider, for example, the cost of a divorce in legal fees. The fees for an annulment, when required, don't even begin to cover its cost.

Dioceses can't always afford to cover the full cost of annulments themselves, and so sometimes they charge a fee. Rest assured, this is not by any means a source of profit for the diocese!

If it is a financial burden, I urge you to talk to the tribunal about it to see what they can do. The point is not to put a burden on the petitioner but to have them make a contribution, even if it is small, to what is a very expensive process.

Eric

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