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Amy Rodgers wrote:

Hi, guys —

Both my husband and I are Catholics. We were only married by the civil law and we truly want to get married in the Catholic Church but we are not able to since he married his ex-wife when he was only 18. This is common in a lot of Mexican families. My question is:

  • Am I able to confess?


  { We want to marry in the Church but can't, so I was wondering, am I able to go to Confession? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Amy,

One can only make a true Confession if one can make a firm purpose of amendment to sin no more.

If a Catholic is married outside of the Church they are presumably engaging in sexual relations outside of Marriage. With no intention to stop, there is no firm purpose of amendment.

The end result is that a Catholic cannot go to Holy Communion.

You and your husband should talk to your priest. It might be a fairly straightforward Annulment.

Fr. Jonathan

Amy replied:

Thanks Fr. Jonathan,

Now I have a question regarding an annulment. My husband married his ex-wife right after he turned 18 and it was more of his ex-wife's family who pushed them into getting married in the Catholic Church.

There is an old Mexican tradition that once the daughter lives under the same roof as the boyfriend they have to wed within a year. After their wedding, they separated a little over a year and divorced right after. My question is:

  • Would an annulment be possible?


Mike replied:

Hi Amy,

Let me say up front your Old Mexican tradition is just that: an Old Mexican tradition, and is certainly not in line with Catholic teaching on the sacrament of Marriage.

Any family who would put your Old Mexican tradition before their Catholic faith, really doesn't believe in the Catholic faith and are basically practicing Protestants.

You originally said that both, you and your husband, truly want to get married in the Catholic Church. For this to happen, both of you have to believe and accept the faith of the Church. This includes raising your children Catholic.

  • Are both of you willing to do this?

As lay Catholic Apologists we do not have the background to make an annulment assessment.
Neither would Fr. Jonathan without investigating both of your backgrounds.

This is the purpose of the local marriage tribunal within your diocese. The Church isn't trying to be mean or make your life terrible. She first has to verify, before she blesses or convalidates any marriage, that a current marriage doesn't exist.

If there was a marriage that was valid and the Church went on to bless your current marriage, She would be blessing bigamy. Something Jesus obviously would not bless.

Issues like being married under pressure are real, but none if us, including Father can make that judgment.

I would encourage you to get the ball rolling by talking to your local pastor about petitioning for an annulment.


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Amy,

You said:

My question is:

  • Would an annulment be possible?

I would have said yes. As in, it is possible.

Fr. Jonathan

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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