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Luticia WishesToKnow wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I was married at 17 in a church but not the Catholic Church.
  • We were married for 20 turbulent years until we finally divorced. My first husband died about 15 years ago.
  • 30 years ago I remarried to a man who was also divorced (his ex-wife is still alive).
  • Neither of them was or is Catholic, though they were also married in a church of another denomination.
  • I believe her second marriage has also ended in divorce.

We are now 71 and 68, and have been married 30 years — far longer than either of our former marriages.

My husband would like to join the Church, but he wants no contact with his former spouse.
We would love to have our union blessed and become active in the Catholic Church together.
He is willing to take the necessary instructions.

  • Does it not seem reasonable to see this as our real marriage?

It makes no sense to me to end a 30-year marriage in order for me to be forgiven by my Church.

I write to you because our local priest is from Tanzania, or some such place, and we are having great difficulty understanding his heavy accent.

We need and want a Church. Please tell me if there is a way to get this done relatively quickly or if we have to begin the search for a different place of worship.



  { My husband would like to join the Church, but he wants no contact with his former spouse? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Luticia,

I'll try to analyze your situation canonically:

Your first marriage is not relevant to your current situation as your first husband has died.

Your second Marriage had to have been outside of the Catholic Church as your current husband is not free to marry. This leaves you in a current situation where you are not able to receive Holy Communion, unless you have spoken to your priest confidentially within the context of Confession concerning what is known as the internal forum solution.

As to your husband — He and his first wife were both non-Catholic and therefore it would seem that theirs was and is a perfectly valid marriage, unless and until he proves that it was invalid by way of a Declaration of Nullity, commonly known as an annulment.

The process involves contacting the other party to the Marriage; however, he personally will have no contact with her. Rather, the Tribunal will contact her.

  • Does that make any difference to him?

Perhaps not, but it would be completely unfair to her to make a judgment on her marriage without allowing her to speak. I would encourage your husband to rethink his decision to not take part based upon his discomfort. If he wants to be a practicing Catholic, he must learn that sacrifice and discomfort sometimes come with it. Remember, it is through the Cross that we are saved.

You said:
It makes no sense to me to end a 30-year marriage in order for me to be forgiven by my Church.

This is not something that is in the realm of forgiven, rather it is just a fact. You married someone outside of the Church and 30 years ago this same process was open to your husband and, if you did it then, you would have had 29 years of being reconciled with the Church. Of course, back then you would have needed one too, because your ex-husband was still alive.

The Catholic Church takes the marital vow very seriously — whether it be Catholics or non-Catholics that are married. I would encourage you to give the process a shot. You are only 71 and 68 and you have many more years to live. Before you go church shopping think about trying to do this correctly.

An additional question I have that you did not provide information was whether your husband is a baptized Christian.

If he is not baptized, there may be more options available to you.

I hope this is helpful.

Fr. Jonathan

Luticia replied:

Thanks Fr. Jonathan,

In answer to your question regarding my husband's Baptism, he has never been baptized but his mother told him once she baptized him, though he has no such memory. I am not sure exactly what that means since she was not clergy of any kind.

  • So what is your answer to that?

Thank you,


Fr. Jonathan replied:


That could not have made it more complicated. That will have to be explored by the Tribunal you go to.

If the Baptism is doubtful to probably not — he may qualify for a different process.

If it is probable, then the process wouldn't change.

Fr. Jonathan

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