Divorced Anglican marrying in a Catholic Church

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I am a practising Catholic, and my fiance is a divorced Anglican.

He has agreed to marry in a Catholic Church, and he has agreed that the children will be raised Catholics [although he will not convert].

However, previous advice on this site tells me that for me to marry him in a Catholic Church, he would have to get a Declaration of Nullity [an official recognition that the first "union" was not a valid, sacramental marriage in the eyes of God and the Church] from the Church.

My fiance loved his wife throughout his marriage (she was the one who suddenly abandoned the marriage). He considered himself married for the 7 years that he was married.

I therefore have a real problem asking him to acknowledge that his first marriage didn't exist! It just doesn't seem right.

How can I approach this? If he refuses, will we not be able to get married in a Catholic Church? HELP!

-- Distressed (meme@yahoo.com), April 06, 2002

Answers

A declaration of nullity does not deny the existence of a Marriage, it simply states that there was no sacramental bond.

-- Father Chris LaBarge (marydelfr@starband.net), April 06, 2002.

Jmj

Hello, Distressed.

I'm sorry to have to tell you that the answer to your closing question is, "If he refuses, you will not be able to get married in a Catholic Church."

Fr. LaBarge told you: "A declaration of nullity does not deny the existence of a Marriage, it simply states that there was no sacramental bond." I would like to clarify something about his reply.
I would agree with it, if he is using the word "marriage" in a secular sense of the term. In other words, a Decree of Nullity does not say that, in the eyes of the state, there was no civil marriage. On the contrary, it is assumed that there was a civil "union" and that any children born of it were legitimate.

But if Fr. LaBarge intended to say that "A declaration of nullity does not deny the existence of a Christian marriage," then he would be mistaken. [I doubt that he intended that.] The reason that one should say that a Decree of Nullity does deny the existence of a Christian marriage is found in the following statements from the Code of Canon Law:
Canon 1055 1 -- The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. 2 Consequently, a valid marriage contract cannot exist between baptized persons without its being by that very fact a sacrament. [Conversely, if the partners are baptized (and Anglicans are baptized), but there is no sacramental marriage, then there can have been no valid marriage contract. JFG]

Canon 1057 1 A marriage is brought into being by the lawfully manifested consent of persons who are legally capable. This consent cannot be supplied by any human power. 2 Matrimonial consent is an act of will by which a man and a woman by an irrevocable covenant mutually give and accept one another for the purpose of establishing a marriage. [A Decree of Nullity, if granted to your friend, will state that this consent was not truly given, and thus a Christian marriage was not "brought into being." JFG]

Dear Distressed, please ask your friend to visit your Catholic pastor to talk this over. I think that his mind will be put at ease. Although he himself may have given a genuine consent to the former union, it "takes two to tango." It is quite possible that the other woman did not (or could not) give a genuine consent, in which case you will be able to marry validly now.

God bless you.
John

-- (jfgecik@hotmail.com), April 08, 2002.


In two places in my reply, I referred to "Christian marriage." After rereading my reply, I would ask the reader to substitute "marriage (in God's eyes)" for this phrase. Thus, I should have written:

"The reason that one should say that a Decree of Nullity does deny the existence of a marriage (in God's eyes) is found in the following statements from the Code of Canon Law ..."

and

"A Decree of Nullity, if granted to your friend, will state that this consent was not truly given, and thus a marriage (in God's eyes) was not 'brought into being.'"

JFG

-- (jfgecik@hotmail.com), April 08, 2002.


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