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Really Wondering wrote:

Dear AskACatholic,

I was married for 13 years and divorced 13 years later, but not in the Catholic Church. I have received Communion and reading your previous posts, I'm a total sinner!

  • My question is, having never married in the Catholic Church, since my marriage wasn't seen as valid in the eyes of the Church, do I need an annulment?
  • Since I am now divorced, can I receive Communion?

I have been to Reconciliation.

Thank you for your time.

Really Wondering

  { If my marriage was never recognized do I still need an annulment and can I go to Communion? }

Mike replied:

Dear Really Wondering,

Based on your question, I'm assuming you are a Catholic.

You said:
I was married for 13 years and divorced 13 years later, but not in the Catholic Church. I have received Communion and reading your previous posts, I'm a total sinner!

  • My question is, having never married in the Catholic Church, since my marriage wasn't seen as valid in the eyes of the Church, do I need an annulment?
  • Since I am now divorced, can I receive Communion?

I have been to Reconciliation.

Divorced Catholics who have not re-married are always welcome to receive Holy Communion.

Divorced Catholics who have re-married without a determination of whether their first marriage was valid or not, may not receive Holy Communion. The Church isn't trying to be mean or cruel to people in this situation, but has to stand by Our Blessed Lord words that marriage is forever between one man and one woman. The Church has to determine whether the first marriage was valid.

You said:
I have received Communion and reading your previous posts, I'm a total sinner!

Let me say up front, one of the reasons why I love being Catholic is because the Church welcomes sinners, especially the big ones : )

It's good that you when to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As my colleague Eric put it so well:

Remember that the Confessional is a tribunal of mercy and healing, not of judgment. The point is not to accuse you or impose guilt; the point is to relieve guilt and apply the balm of mercy to sins so that [you] might be healed.

A sin is like an injury, and the priest is like a doctor.

You are correct that the Church wouldn't recognize the marriage of a Catholic outside the Church but I still think an annulment would be required IF, you were interested in re-marrying in the future.

Fr. Jonathan can correct me if I am wrong.

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Really Wondering—

Assuming you are Catholic, what you needs is a Lack of Form case.

This is a documentary process much simpler than a Declaration of Nullity.

You should gather proof of your:

  • Baptism in the Catholic Church
  • the civil law Marriage license of the marriage in question, and
  • the final divorce decree.

With this your local priest can file for the Lack of Form. It is a process that take very little time. In fact in some dioceses it doesn't even have to go to the Tribunal as the pastor can do it.

If you are not getting married, there is no need to do this process.

Fr. Jonathan

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