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Jeremy McKeye wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am getting married at the end of August to a Catholic woman and have just been told that we cannot get married in the Church because I had been married before and my previous marriage was still valid. I would need to have my previous marriage annulled which takes a long time. My fiancée is a Catholic and we have plans to raise our children Catholic.

  • Would converting to the faith free me up from my previous union in the eyes of God and therefore mean that we can marry in the Church in August?
  • Can you help me please?

Many thanks in advance.


  { If I am willing to become Catholic and raise our children Catholic, do I still need an annulment? }

Bob replied:


While there is such a thing as a Petrine Privilege in most cases an annulment is usually sought in these circumstances. You should talk to a priest, but the likelihood that this would all be done by August is highly improbable if not impossible.

Consider postponing if you can.

Best wishes and God bless,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi Jeremy,

In addition to what my colleague Bob has said, I wanted to add my two cents.

First, I'm not sure who told you your previous marriage was still valid.

While we would welcome you with open arms if you truly did believe in our Church and what She teaches, I wouldn't want you to join when you didn't really believe in what the Church teaches but instead joined for the sake of getting married in the Church and pleasing your future wife.

The purpose of the annulment process isn't just to give people who have been previously married a hard time. We have to be faithful to what Jesus said about marriage being between one man and one woman for life.

If you were already in a valid marriage and the Church ignored the annulment process, She would be blessing bigamy.

I hope you at least understand why having a Marriage Tribunal is important and the purpose behind whatever decision She makes. We have to keep faithful to Jesus' teachings. As Bob suggested, talk with your local pastor/priest about this issue.

I used to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore.

If you wish to solidify your knowledge of what the Church teaches, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as faithful Catholics.

As Fr. Jonathan has said, even if the Church ratifies that your first marriage was valid, growing in the truth is always good for the soul.

You can find that truth in the Catechism.


Jeremy replied:

Hi Mike,

First, thanks for your additional words after your colleague.

Just to add some credence to why I have asked this question. I divorced over 10 years ago after my ex-wife had repeatedly committed adultery. She was also pregnant by this man, yet I stuck by her.

In the end I had a breakdown and sadly, while I forgave her, I could not forget the trauma.

All I want to do is to move on with my life. I have found the most amazing woman and want to commit myself to her. My previous marriage was a civil ceremony and was in no way religious.

My fiancée is French and brought up as a Catholic. For some reason she has not been baptized but is currently in the RCIA program and will be baptized into the Church by Easter. I decided to go along and support her during this time, to the point I find the teachings more relevant than my current faith. It is for that reason I asked the question; not that I liked the idea of nice photos for a wedding!

I feel somewhat frustrated that, after 12 years, a part my life is still being controlled by someone who betrayed me and is now preventing me from remarrying.

  • Why is it that the Catholic Church will not allow me to remarry in your Church?

Yours saddened, rejected, and disillusioned,


Fr. Jonathan replied:


Are you baptized or unbaptized?

Fr. Jonathan

Jeremy replied:

Hi Fr. Jonathan,

I have been baptized.


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Jeremy,

If you had not been baptized and were planning on getting baptized in the Catholic Church then a possible Pauline Privilege could have been done in time for the wedding.

Since you are already baptized that is not an option for you.

It is strange for a non-Catholic to be faced with our rules so I very much sympathize with your situation. I can offer two positive thoughts that may sound a bit hollow but:

  1. It is a delay but it sounds like you probably have a case and you have a lifetime ahead.
  2. In my experience when a non-Catholic is willing to do this for a Catholic spouse they recognize it as a great act of love.

I wish you the best,

Fr. Jonathan

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