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Ron Harris wrote:

Hi, guys —

My present wife and I are both previously legally divorced. My wife's previous marriage was a civil one. My previous marriage I think was Methodist. (I showed deference to the ex-wife.)

My present wife and I were both raised Catholic as children. We both had lived together for many years prior to our getting a civil marriage five years ago. (The legal waiting time per the divorces were adhered to.)

We both do not attend regular church services of any kind, however, we both have talked about returning to the Catholic Church.

  • How may we do this?

Ron Harris

  { How would two Catholics not married in the Church, return, and have their marriage validated? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Ron,

From this description it sounds like both you and your present wife are both baptized Catholics who were away from the Church and therefore were married outside the Church (i.e. not in a Catholic ceremony or with a dispensation.)

Catholics are bound to be married in the Church or with a dispensation or else the Church does not recognize the validity of the marriage. Thus, it sounds like you were both in invalid marriages.

If I am correct about your marital history, then you and your wife should meet with a priest.

I would suggest that you both reconcile yourselves with the Church by exploring the Church's teaching, attending Mass, and going to Confession however to be married in the Church is actually simple.

From what you have told us no Annulment is required and the priest would do two Lack of Form cases and then he will validate your current marriage by having a ceremony in the Church.

For the Lack of Form cases you will need the following:

  • both of your Baptism records;
  • two marriage licenses from your first marriages;
  • two divorce decrees.

Good luck and welcome back!

Fr. Jonathan

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