If I Become a Catholic, What Happens to My Marriage? (Part I)

Q1: Can I be received into the Catholic Church if I was not married by a Catholic priest? –Rachel

Q2: I was divorced from a Catholic in 2012. Our marriage was not in a Catholic Church nor administered by the Catholic clergy.  I am not Catholic, but I am in RCIA classes now and looking forward to becoming baptized in the Catholic Church this Easter.

There are some questions on whether the Church can proceed with my baptism prior to invalidating this previous marriage.  My Church is telling me I must receive my ex’s baptismal certificate, to invalidate the marriage, or I cannot be baptized. My ex will not cooperate with this request. She will under no circumstance make available her baptismal record, or reveal in what Church she was baptized. My deacon called her and she refused cooperation with him as well.

Can you enlighten me on any recourse I might have to be able to proceed with baptism?  Can I receive special dispensation from the Church to proceed with my baptism? –Jim Continue reading

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When Can Parish Buildings be Rented Out for Secular Use?

Q: Our parish church is located in a two-story building. The church where we have Mass is on the first floor and there is classroom space on the second floor.

The bishop has decided to lease the classroom space to a public school. I am very much opposed to this (as are others) for numerous reasons.

Does a bishop have the right to do this? In other words, is there anything in canon law forbidding him to do this including, but not limited to, the forbiddence (sic) in canon law to use such property for sordid use?  Inasmuch as the public school will be free to invite representatives from the “Planned Parenthood” abortion facility to promote the culture of death to some or all of the students, I would think that constitutes sordid use.

Do we parishioners and/or the pastor have any say in what will happen in this matter regarding the classroom space? –Patrick Continue reading

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What’s the Difference Between a Cathedral Rector and a Parish Priest?

Q: Greetings, who is in charge of a Cathedral Parish? The Bishop or the Priest?

Our priest (he is listed as the “Rector”) states it is his parish, but I feel obligated to obey what our Bishop states to be done when he is there celebrating. –Gary Continue reading

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What’s the Difference Between a Nun and a Consecrated Virgin?

Q1: What’s the difference between a nun and a consecrated virgin?  I assumed the two terms were synonymous, until I read recently about a new Vatican document on the topic of consecrated virgins, and it sounds like they are something different from nuns….  Aren’t all nuns consecrated virgins?  If not, what does this term mean, then? –Karen

Q2: I have been discerning consecrated virginity for several years now but I am not sure if I am qualified.  While I have never engaged in any sexual activity with another person, I have in the past violated chastity in the form of solitary vice.  So while I have physical virginity to bring, I don’t have intact chastity, and I find it difficult to determine whether it matters or not, in terms of canonically or morally excluding me.

The issue of what constitutes virginity seems to be quite complex, in that on the one hand it seems to be understood “morally” as having abstained with integrity from sexual pleasure, and on the other hand to be much more literally a matter of not having engaged voluntarily in actual sex.  My own impression of the liturgy of consecration is that it is the latter that is important, but I am not an expert on these things.

I’m finding it difficult to get people to understand that CV isn’t like “modern” religious life, and that it does actually matter what’s happened in the past as well.  I can’t get anyone to understand why I think it is a problem.  I think the religious order most of my advice comes from have long since made the decision that repentance is sufficient and don’t understand why it isn’t in this specific circumstance, despite theology. –Hannah Continue reading

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Does a Convert Become a Latin or an Eastern Catholic?

Q: I have a question about the church membership of an adult convert to Catholicism.

My grandparents were Greek Melchite Catholics. Their son, my father, drifted away from Catholicism, married a protestant woman, and began attending protestant services.

I was raised and baptized in a protestant church.  When I went to college, I felt called to become Catholic.  The pastor investigated my protestant baptism, and concluded that because it did not use the Trinitarian formula it was invalid.  So I was baptized at the Easter Vigil.

A month later, I was talking to both my pastor and a Greek Melchite Catholic priest visiting from my grandparents’ hometown. I mentioned my grandparents and said that they are, in fact, Greek Melchite Catholics, though I myself was raised protestant. Hearing this, the visiting priest suggested that I am actually a member of the Melchite Greek Catholic Church, because church membership is inherited through the male line.

My pastor says that’s not possible and explains that I was just baptized at the Easter Vigil. The visiting priest replies that the child of an Eastern Catholic is always an Eastern Catholic, and if I really want to be a Latin Catholic, I have to write a letter to Rome.

But the pastor argued that my father’s failure to raise me as any kind of Catholic or have me validly baptized broke the chain of membership and left me free to join a new church. Both priests say that I can attend Mass wherever I want, but my actual church membership will be significant for marrying or having children.  Each priest, though, believes his position is the correct one.  Which is right? –Abe Continue reading

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