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Jennifer Thomas wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a married woman. My husband is Catholic but I am not. I have decided I would like to join the Catholic Church.

This is my first marriage but my husband was married before. He never had his first marriage annulled and now I'm being told that I am not allowed to join the Church unless he gets his first marriage annulled. It was not his decision to get divorced and he doesn't want to get his first marriage annulled as he believes it was a valid marriage. He understands that he can't fully participate in Mass, but he is still a Catholic. His unwillingness to have his first marriage annulled prevents me from being a Catholic.

  • Is it really true that I must pay for his sins and not be permitted into the Church for a marriage that I had nothing to do with?

The other option that was presented to me is that we no longer to continue to live together as husband and wife. I'm amazed that the Church would encourage ruining my marriage.

  • Is this really my only option due to a situation I have absolutely no control over?

Jennifer

  { Why do I have to pay for his sins and be barred from the Church for a marriage I took no part in? }

Bob replied:

Jennifer,

I feel for your situation. It seems so utterly unfair. In my opinion, the basic crux of the unfairness is originating with your husband.

He should be willing to have the annulment process take a thorough examination of the previous marriage in order to be fair to everyone involved. He is not the sole judge and arbitrator of these matters, especially since he has brought you into it. You deserve this hearing. Even if there was no impediment to a valid marriage on his side of the equation, a fault could have existed on the other side or from a circumstance he was not aware of.

Somehow by what you said, I am inferring that he is content to live in formal adultery and make you complicit because he was treated unfairly. Well, he needs to put his wounds aside and get down to the real business of sorting this out.

The whole reason for this process is fidelity to our Lord's teaching about adultery, which the Church has no authority to reverse. (cf. Matthew 5:32; 19:9)

I would suggest meeting with a priest and getting some counseling for you and your husband. I know you feel the Church is being unfair but the standards She is trying to uphold are from Christ himself. Pope Francis is acutely aware of the struggles that people in your situation face and is trying to work with the Church to streamline these processes without forfeiting principles. It is a delicate balance.

If you keep seeking the Lord in this, he will guide you through. Don't quit. I would also like to hear what Fr. Jonathan says about options as well.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Jennifer replied:

Bob,

Thank you for such a quick response.

  • I understand what you are saying and my husband has agreed to speak with the priest, however, if he decides that he still doesn't want to pursue an annulment, do I really have any other options?

It appears my only options are:

  • leaving my husband, or
  • not be allowed to join the Church?

Jennifer

Bob replied:

Jennifer,

December is my craziest time so forgive me for taking so long to get back to you. Here are my thoughts:

Slow down! Give the process a chance. There are more details to sort out, and generally, things work out in the end.

Take one step at a time and you will see more options unfold as you go — and your husband may come around . . . or his ex— could.

Patience, prayer, and determination.

God will not let you go without creating a path. Those who seek shall find — so don't stop.

Peace,

Bob

Jennifer replied:

Thank you for your response Bob.

I really needed to hear that.

My initial emotion was anger and now that it has subsided I have had a chance to really think about it and I am just going to be patient and see how the process plays out.

Thanks!

Jennifer

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Jennifer,

I absolutely fully understand your frustration and confusion.

The problem however lies with you husband.

The Church believes in the sanctity of Marriage and his first marriage is presumed valid until proven otherwise. You are civilly married to a married man.

For the sake of his own faith and especially yours, he ought to be willing to explore nullity.

Pope Francis has recently made the annulment process easier in many cases. It is time for him to step up and explore this.

The Catholic Church is not trying to ruin your marriage, She wants to sanctify it.

Fr. Jonathan

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