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UpsetWithTheChurch wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am quite upset with the Catholic Church. My betrothed wants to be married in her church, a Catholic parish, but because my previous marriage was not in the Catholic Church, I need an annulment.

I have the forms to apply for this. Now I am required to re-hash personal information that occurred more than 25 years ago!!

I consider this a serious intrusion on my privacy.

  • Do I have any alternative?


  { Are there alternatives that would avoid me from re-hashing all this personal, marital information? }

Paul replied:

Dear UpsetWithTheChurch,

It's not an intrusion of privacy.

Marriage is a public institution with public obligations to remain faithful and together.

When this breaks down, it must be investigated in order to see if the marriage was valid. This investigation is very important. God joins two people together — for life.

If it is found that God did not join the two in marriage, then the parties are free to marry.



Bob replied:

Dear UpsetWithTheChurch,

It is indeed regretful that the process of marriage and re-marriage should be so painful, but consider that from pain often comes great healing and growth. It is sensitivity to this very issue (and others) that had brought the Pope and Bishops to a synod to look at ways of streamlining the process when possible.

The annulment process is necessary because for Catholics one cannot have a sacramental marriage if there is one already in place — that would be adultery. Civil dissolutions are not indicative of the covenant, therefore a declaration of nullity indicates that the sacramental union was flawed from the start and therefore not permanently binding, freeing the way to remarry.

If a priest counseled you into an annulment, that is likely the route you must travel.

In the end, may God make your journey a blessing.


Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Upset,

There may be alternatives.

  • What is your faith?
  • Were you ever baptized?
  • What was your former spouse's faith?
  • Was she ever baptized?
  • In what type of setting was your first marriage?

Fr. Jonathan

Upset replied:

Hi Fr. Jonathan,

I was raised in the Church of the Brethren and was baptized in same faith. My former spouse was Lutheran and she was baptized there. We were also married there.

Thank you for trying to help me.


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Upset —

The Church of the Brethren has a valid Baptism so your former marriage is considered valid and sacramental.

I am sorry to tell you that the annulment process is the only way to go.

I empathize with you when you say it is an intrusion on your privacy. I can't offer much but this is what I can say:

  • The Tribunal is very used to the stories and will keep your information private. It is like telling a doctor about a personal problem — the doctor has seen it before and looks at it, not judgmentally, but technically.
  • Not all, but most people who go through this process seriously, learn about themselves and are better prepared for their next marriage.

I wish you well.

Fr. Jonathan

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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