Q: I was raised Episcopalian. My first husband was baptized Catholic, but he never practiced his faith. Our marriage was civil. We moved to Europe, and later divorced. I remarried another lapsed Catholic, civilly, then decided I wanted to become a Catholic.
The parish priest determined that my first husband 1) had been baptized Catholic, and 2) had not married in a church. Once this was established, he proceeded with my reception into the Church, with no mention of the need for annulment of my first marriage.
Subsequently, the priest procured for me and my second husband a Sanation of Marriage. We thought we were good to go.
But then I contacted a woman in the US who has worked with divorced Catholics for 20 years, because she had been recommended as someone who might be able to help with unresolved pain from my divorce. On hearing my history, she said I would need to get my first marriage annulled, that the Church recognizes as valid even a marriage done in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. When I told her this had been approved by my priest in Europe, based on his investigations into the validity of our marriage, and that I had an official document from the Archbishop rendering my second marriage valid, she said there was LOTS of confusion among priests about this stuff, that he had either been uninformed or trying to do me a “favor.”
So, I agreed to refrain from relations with my current husband until the matter was resolved…. However, a visit to your website seemed to confirm what my parish priest had done.
Was my first marriage considered valid according to the Church? From this article in your blog, it would seem not.
Yet my confusion remains…. This woman appears to be a legitimate expert, yet after my research, and discovering that I already have a Sanation of Marriage, I would like a second opinion before I put all this time and effort into what may already have been accomplished. Was my parish priest just trying to paper things over and get me in the door, or did he make the right determination? –Charlotte Continue reading