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Andrew Howard wrote:

Hi, guys —

At the time of our civil wedding, my wife was Catholic and I was unbaptized. Later, during the marriage, I converted to Catholicism (receiving Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion all at once.) and have practiced the faith ever since. We never had our union convalidated and are now pursuing a divorce.

  • When the divorce is finalized, what is my standing in the Church?
  • May I attend Mass?
  • May I receive Communion?
  • May I continue to serve as a Lector?


  { What is the standing of civilly-divorced Catholics and what can they do in the Church? }

Paul replied:


Civilly-divorced Catholics may receive Communion and are in good standing; as long as they separated for legitimate reasons and have not entered another relationship or marriage.

This is because a valid marriage is indissoluble. It exists until the death of one of the parties.

Having said that, it doesn't look like the Church would recognize your union as having been a valid marriage, since it was a civil ceremony and your partner was Catholic. This raises a question, however.

  • When you became Catholic and recognized your marriage was not valid, was it suggested (or required) that you refrain from Communion until or unless you separate from your civil spouse or live as brother and sister?

That would seem logical.

  • I would make an appointment with a good priest to sort this all out, or
  • perhaps you could take it to the Sacrament of Confession to receive absolution and direction.

God bless,


Andrew replied:

Paul et al.,

Thank you for your quick response.

I will talk to my Pastor, but before I do, I wanted a sense of what's going on.



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