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Rachel wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a inquiry about a Catholic that has married a Methodist.

We are currently separated. My question is about:

  • the necessity of an annulment
  • if this marriage is even recognized as a marriage in the Catholic Church, and
  • if it's even possible for me to remarry etc. when we were married it was in Mexico.

The Catholic party didn't receive permission to marry outside of the Catholic Church.

The non-Catholic was not informed that any children would need to be raised and baptized in the Catholic religion.

  • Is this marriage recognized in the Catholic religion as a valid marriage?
  • If we divorce and I'm not Catholic and want to remarry a Catholic in the Church, is it possible and what is the process?

Thank you in advance.

Rachel

  { Is my marriage recognized by the Church as a valid marriage and can I remarry as a Catholic? }

Mike replied:

Dear Rachel,

Based on what you have told us, no, this would not be a valid marriage according to the Church.

That said, there may be nuances that have been accidentally omitted from your question.

For that reason, it is best to make an appointment with a pastor or priest at a nearby Catholic parish.

He can review and assess your current marriage situation and provide the proper guidance on what to do next.

You said:

  • If we divorce and I'm not Catholic and want to remarry a Catholic in the Church is it possible and what is the process?

I'm a little puzzled.

  • Why would you want to marry in the Church if you are not a Catholic?

If you wish this for our spouse's sake, the Church does permit mixed marriages but you would have to agree to be a witness to your spouse raising your children in the Catholic faith. You don't have to become a Catholic but if he is going to raise them Catholic, why not join them?

If you want more information, this is what the Catechism says on Mixed marriages:

I hope this helps,

Mike

Rachel replied:

Mike,

I am seeking out Catholicism for myself and was curious about it in case our marriage doesn't work out. We have been in counseling for quite some time and getting nowhere.

In reviewing my original question, I see I didn't add that we were first married by a judge here before being married down in Mexico. I'm not sure if that changes anything.

Rachel

Mike replied:

Dear Rachel,

Although none of us are priests or canon lawyers, I see nothing stopping you from joining the faith.

The additional fact that you were married by a judge before being married somewhere outside the Church, fares well for you.

For certainty on your situation, make an appointment with a Catholic pastor or priest in your area and share with him your interest in joining the faith. Also, ask him what ministries the parish has that you can get involved in. This is key to building any current or future vocation you have.

Coming from a Methodist background, there may be more to learn as to what we believe as Catholics.

For that reason, I would encourage you to get a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read a section at a time until you're done.

If you have further questions you can search our database or just ask us:

Search our database here: http://www.AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch
Ask us here: http://www.AskACatholic.com/AskUs

I hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Rachel,

It is wonderful that the Holy Spirit has led you to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. Congratulations! and a warm welcome!!

As I understand it, any marriage between two Christians may be presumed valid. The ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are the bride and groom, the priest or deacon serve as witnesses so there is an initial presumption that any legal marriage between Christians is valid, especially if witnessed by a Christian minister. Catholics are required to marry in the Church however, except for extreme circumstances. For example, you are living in a country where Christianity is banned and there are no priests available.

Again that's my limited understanding. I also believe that granting an annulment in such cases, while it might be little time consuming, is very easily granted, as it indicates a lack of understanding of the Christian Covenant of Matrimony, prior to entering into it. Also, the process has been expedited. This should not be an issue with you entering the Church in the meantime but if you want to remarry it will likely need to be addressed. It sounds like you want that option so you should look into it. It's possible you don't need an annulment but it will have to at least be looked at.

As Mike said, the first step is contacting a local priest. He will help you set the wheels in motion for both:

  • your entry into the Church and
  • for an annulment if the latter is indeed necessary.

In the meantime, I want to encourage you, to attend Mass as often as possible. While you can't receive the Eucharist, you can go up and receive a blessing when others receive Communion. Just ask preferably (the priest or deacon) or even the Extraordinary Minister to bless you.

You can also make what we call an act of Spiritual Communion. That simply means praying that Lord come into your heart and commune with you. (if that sounds familiar, it is essentially what Evangelicals do when they ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives.)

If you have the time, you should try to spend some time praying in front of Eucharist, either at an Adoration Service, when the Eucharist is exposed on the altar in a monstrance (a fancy item that holds the Eucharist so all can see HIM). or you can just pray in front of the tabernacle.

If you have any difficulty understanding points of doctrine, don't hesitate to write and ask us. That's actually more our area of expertise, as opposed to Canon law and pastoral counseling. We are Catholic apologists. We provide explanations and reasons for why the Church teaches certain things. All of us come from different backgrounds. I'm a revert, meaning I left the Church, became a Protestant minister, then returned so my strength is explaining Catholic doctrine in a Protestant language. Others on the team have backgrounds in philosophy or theology. Some are cradle Catholics and some are converts. Our mission is to foster an understanding of what the Catholic Church teaches . . . really teaches . . . not the far too common misunderstandings which many hold on to.

You shall remain in our prayers. Please stay in touch. Let us know how your journey is going.

Warmly,

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

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