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Alice A. wrote:

Hi, guys —

A few years ago a friend told me that as a divorced Catholic I cannot receive Communion.

I told her she was wrong; that it was an old rule.

I asked my pastor and he said that I should not deny myself the sacraments. He was aware that
I was remarried, although my husband was not Catholic.

My same friend has just told me that Pope Francis recently said that it was wrong to receive Holy Communion. I am very upset and don't know what to do. I am very active in my parish. I teach CCD and am very involved in other ministries. My former pastor is no longer with us and we recently have a new pastor who we are just getting to know.

Here is a little of my background: I was married as a teen in the Catholic Church. My husband turned out to be a drug dealer and the marriage lasted only two years. Fourteen years later, the marriage was annulled and I married in the Church again. My husband was not Catholic but converted a year later. The marriage lasted three years as he refused to have children, or even try to. He ultimately left to go back to his parents half way across the country.

  • Could I have this marriage annulled if I already had a previous marriage annulled?

Presently, I have been happily married for over 20 years. We were married in a Protestant church but began going back to the Catholic Church when our son started school. He received his sacraments and was an altar server until he went to college.

My husband is not Catholic and took offense to the idea that the Church does not recognize our marriage. I assured him this was not the case but told him that I wanted to have my previous marriage annulled and have our marriage blessed in the Catholic Church. He does not attend church.

I don't know where I stand. Last Sunday, while receiving Holy Communion, I was wondering
if I was doing something wrong. In my heart I felt I wasn't.

I am very confused.

Thanks and God Bless.

Alice A.

  { Can I receive another annulment and how can the Church not recognize our current marriage? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Alice,

From what you have told us, you do need an Annulment of your second marriage. Yes, this is quite possible. I would approach your parish priest about beginning the process.

The priest who told you that you should not deny yourself the Sacraments was most likely simply trying to make you feel good but unless that was in the context of Confession, he should not have said that to you.

What keeps you from Holy Communion is technical. The Catholic Church doesn't recognize your current marriage as a valid marriage since you were not free from your second husband at the time of the marriage.

This is hard for non-Catholics to understand so you might want to bring your husband with you to the meeting with the priest. What is actually keeping you from receiving Holy Communion is not the marriage, but it is sexual relations outside of a valid recognized union. Normally, one could just go to Confession and receive Holy Communion; however, since you most likely could not make a firm purpose of amendment to sin no more in the Confession, because you are civilly married, the priest would not be able to give you absolution and that is what is actually keeping you from receiving the Eucharist.

The good news is, it sounds like a straightforward simulation case and so I would encourage you to get that done and then return to Holy Communion.

Fr. Jonathan

Bob replied:

Alice,

What a trial you have been through. I can see that you have had some difficult bumps in the road. While your friend was correct that you should refrain from receiving Communion until you have this former marriage annulled, that doesn't mean the Church is against your marriage and your husband. On the contrary, the Church wants you to do everything to glorify God, which often includes obedience and faithfulness. That can often require us to do things which are uncomfortable and even embarrassing but, in the end, a greater witness to God's witness will come through.

Consider this: I have good married friends that after having a Catholic conversion and finding out about God's plan for them, which included obtaining an annulment from Brazil ( — they are immigrants), lived as brother and sister for five years. They even would be questioned by their little son — Why don't you kiss mommy?

They are the most loving and affectionate people on the planet, and needless to say, when the annulment came through, they conceived their second probably on the same day. I cannot find a more joy-filled and loving family. Never once did they doubt God's love for them or the rightness of their journey. Their commitment to fidelity has witnessed to countless people in their lives, including mine.

So, get the annulment. I am sure it will come through. Witness to your husband that your fidelity to God is central to your life and that, in no way, diminishes your commitment to him. When you find this trial difficult, look to Mary and Joseph, who bore great burdens to bring us Jesus.

  • What is God asking you to bring?

You have been faithful to Him in serving His Church in so many ways. He will reward you on a scale you can't imagine when you honor Him in this way. I guarantee it.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi Alice,

Thanks for the question.

You said:
A few years ago a friend told me that as a divorced Catholic I cannot receive Communion.

I told her she was wrong; that it was an old rule.

I asked my pastor and he said that I should not deny myself the sacraments. He was aware that I was remarried, although my husband is not Catholic.

My same friend has just told me that Pope Francis recently said that it was wrong to receive Holy Communion. I am very upset and don't know what to do.

I'm not aware of any new or old rule on this topic so let me explain what the Church teaches and why so you at least have a logical understanding of why She teaches and practices what She does.

Holy Marriage is between one man and one woman for life that is open to have children through their conjugal embrace. When the Church has any prohibitions in any part of Her teachings, it is only to remain faithful to the body of divine beliefs Jesus left us before His glorious Ascension into Heaven.

If a man and a woman marry in the Catholic Church, yet latter, find that something was omitted from their marital consent like:

  • an immaturity
  • a lack of openness to children
  • an abusive history

although it may have looked like a marriage occurred, it did not.

In cases like these the Church has to discern whether a marriage took place or not. The Church isn't trying to be mean or cruel to anyone but is striving to remain faithful to Jesus' teaching on Marriage being between one man and one woman for life.

Some still erroneously believe that an annulment is a Catholic divorce. It is not. An annulment is a declaration by the Church that a marriage never occurred because of some impediment in the marital consent by one or both parties. — though a marriage physically took place.

For this reason, a divorced Catholic who has remarried without the Church's discernment may not receive Holy Communion because he or she may already have been in a previous valid marriage.

On the other hand their is nothing whatsoever that should stop a divorced Catholic who has not remarried from receiving Holy Communion.

If the Church did not investigate and have this discernment process known as a Marriage Tribunal, She would be attacked by Her enemies for blessing bigamy. Your current husband may not like this answer but he should at least understand the logic behind having your marriage looked at.

You said:

  • Could I have this marriage annulled if I already had a marriage annulled?

Yes, You could start the process by asking your current pastor to talk to the local Marriage Tribunal.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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