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Cassandra Jackson wrote:

Hi, guys —

Thank you so much for reading my question.

I was married when I was nineteen years old and a Pagan along with my husband. We married in a church to essentially make our parents happy but neither of us, to my knowledge, had been baptized.

I have become interested in converting but my husband has abandoned me. I have zero contact with him and he is still an unrepentant Pagan. He has committed adultery and has a new child by another woman.

  • Is an annulment necessary? Or
  • Can I simply leave this feckless Pagan behind for a new Catholic life?


  { Is an annulment needed or can one Pagan leave another Pagan behind for a new Catholic life? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Cassandra,

I am glad you are exploring the Catholic Church. Hopefully through the process of coming in you can heal some of the wounds that still hurt you.

We view your first marriage as presumed to be a valid bond until proven invalid or until dissolved by the Church based upon your conversion.

It is presumed valid because neither you or your former spouse were Catholic so our specific rules about marriage did not apply to you at the time.

Instead, the more ancient idea of what marriage is, applied. Those who pre-dated Jesus in the history of salvation were not Catholic but they certainly were married and so, presumably, were you.

For a presumably valid marriage, it simply means that a man and a woman gathered some place with at least two witnesses and someone received their vows. That happened to you.

So you do need a process to deal with the first marriage but only if you have married another person or intend to. If you are single and want to remain single then essentially, in our eyes you are still married to your former spouse although we recognize that your civil status is that you are divorced and that you no longer live with him.

Speak to a priest about the RCIA program and the details of your marriage. Explore with him whether you plan on getting married again or have already done so and ask him to talk to you about which process to use if you are married or plan to be married. He will most likely recommend either a full annulment or a Pauline Privilege.

Good luck on your journey — take your time though, and really understand what it means to be a Catholic.

Fr. Jonathan

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