Can divorced Protestants converting to Catholicism receive Communion?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
I apologize in advance if this question has been asked before. My husband and I are wanting to convert to Catholicism as we are both very disillusioned witht the Pentecostal/Charismatic church. I was wondering if there was any chance of us being able to receive communion? I was raised as an atheist and never attended church until I got saved in a Protestant church when I was 26. I was married by a justice of the peace when I was 18. My husband abandoned me and my 1 yr old child when I was 23, it took us a year to track him down and I filed for divorce. My second marriage was a year later to a Moslem who was non-practicing, we married in a wedding chapel and I was still atheist. We had two children and when I became a Christian in our 5th year of marriage he went crazy. He refused to let me go to church, have a Bible in our house (he tore every single one up) or to pray or say the name of Jesus out loud. He had also become a drug abuser, was unfaithful and physically abusive to me and our children. He tried to kill me one night so I left him. After a 9 month separation, he asked me to come back and I did on the grounds he would let me attend church and he agree. After 3 months he returned to he previous anti-Christian behavior and I had to sneak out to church and hide my Bible. After one year he found out that I was going to church and he filed for divorce and moved me and my children into an apartment. He said my Chrisitianity was the reason for the divorce. I met my current husband at my church, he is my pastor's son and he also married us. Now my husband's story is different. He grew up in Protestant Church but "backslid" (as you would say, was no longer in a state of grace) in his teens. He married a non-Christian girl. He caught her having an affair with his best friend and separated from her. She decided to stop the affair and my husband forgave her and took her back. After only two weeks, she left him again for the same guy and she filed for divorce. He came back to the Lord right after his divorce and that is when we met. We are practicing Protestants and if we convert are we never able to take communion? Thanks for reading this long post!
-- Jaime (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2003
-- Jaime (email@example.com), May 06, 2003.
You may or may not be able to receive the Eucharist. It will depend on whether all three of you and your husband's prior marriages are declared null.
I am not learned enough in the canon laws regarding marriage to give you an opinion on whether your marriages are valid or not. Please visit the pastor of your local Catholic Church and discuss it with him.
Good luck with your journey.
-- Glenn (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2003.
The divorced can not receive Communion in a Catholic Church....they based on the church teaching have broken the bond of marriage...The bond of marriage is a covenant that can not be broken by man and because someone has chosen to divorce, they have broken that covenant with God...Sorry if I sound harsh, but that is just a teaching that I and many other Catholics live by...God Bless
-- Jacob (FLAKE777@HOTMAIL.COM), May 06, 2003.
The Church makes a sharp distinction between one who "through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage", and one who "has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned". In other words, if your spouse walks out on you, and/or divorces you, and your own sinful actions have not been a major contributing factor, then you are a victim of divorce, not guilty of divorce, and you are free to continue participating fully in the life of the Church, including the sacraments.
-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), May 06, 2003.
Wow, two totally different answers! One was extremely judgemental, the other had wisdom and decency. Okay, time for me to get on my soap box. I have been walking with the Lord Jesus for 11 years. I grew up without any knowledge of Him, none of it due to my own fault. When I came to know Him through the witnessing and wonderful unconditional love of my Christian neighbor, I did everything in my power to follow His word. I even went back to an abusive husband who had almost killed me and my children because I believed divorce was wrong. Bottom line was that I underwent MUCH persecution in my marriage because of my faith (he beat me everytime he found a Christian book in our house, everytime a Christian friend phoned me, everytime he caught me watching a Christian show on tv, on and on). He divorced me anyway even though I tried to be the best wife I could and show my husband the love of Christ. He was unfaithful to me the whole time and spent much of our money on drugs. It was a miracle that he didn't give me AIDS. My first husband left me alone in a state where I had no family or friends with a baby, and it took me a year just to track him down with the aid of a lawyer so I could at least get some child support. All of these things happened BEFORE I even had knowledge of Jesus or Christianity. To judge me for sin before I was saved is LUDICROUS! My husband's wife left him, he tried so hard to do everything she wanted and work things out but when someone thinks they are in love with someone else it is very hard to change their mind. I have had it pounded into my brain every since I started going to church that Catholics are judgemental, holier than thou, that think the unforgivable sin is divorce. I understand that divorce is a very serious sin when you have two believing Christians who get married in the church, in this circumstance I could possibly understand the denial of communion. But for people who were not believers, that is just ridiculous. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he did not tell her that she could not worship him because she was in marital sin, at the time she was not a believer. He also didn't refuse Mary Magdalene although she was a prostitute and had many demons cast out of her. Mary M. became one of his most devoted followers and Christ honored her with letting her see him after the resurrection. From spending days reading these boards and seeing all the hypocrisy and division, I get the feeling that some Catholics view their religion as a private club for the "non-divorced" and forget about grace and forgiveness. If it wasn't for the few on here who seem to get it (that Jesus came to forgive our sins and call us to repentence) I would just turn my back on Catholicism. And what is all this stuff about a different liturgy? What does Jesus care? All he wants is his followers hearts, for them to love him with all their hearts and to be willing to lay down their life for a stranger (or neighbor). All the rest is just icing on the cake, remember "seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all esle will be added unto thee." The kingdom of heaven is when Jesus Christ lives in mens hearts, not in what liturgy they speak. Real prayer is a response from your spirit to the Spirit of the living God, a deeply personal and fervent relationship, not the recitation of words. It is not so much exactly what words are read or what language they are read in, but the the language and state of the heart, as long as the prayer is Biblical. Just my Protestant two cents worth. God bless and may the Peace of the Risen Lord be with you.
-- Jaime (email@example.com), May 06, 2003.
I'm not sure anyone has yet addressed your original question directly. If you and your husband become Catholic, will you have to refrain from receiving the Eucharist? If there are serious questions regarding the status of your previous marriages, then - yes, temporarily - until those matters are resolved. However, from what you said about your previous marriages I would expect (though I can't guarantee) that decrees of nullity would be issued for both within a matter of months or less, not years. So I am confident that you would both be able to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church before long. Presumably you will both be taking the RCIA classes? If so, the teachers of the program should be helpful in getting done what needs to be done. I teach RCIA myself, and situations like yours are not uncommon.
Incidentally, the two quotes in my previous post were not personal opinion. They are official Church teaching, taken verbatim from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2386.
-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), May 06, 2003.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid all the above answers are based on a false premise. Unless you and your husband can obtain declarations of nullity for all of the previous marriages, neither you nor your husband will even be allowed to convert to the Catholic Church. (Note that you and your husband are in this as a couple: Even if you obtain a declaration of nullity for both of your previous marriages, if your husband cannot obtain a declaration of nullity for his previous marriage, you would not even be allowed to join the Catholic Church without your husband.)
-- Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2003.
Mark, do you really feel that if Jesus Christ himself were here wandering this tread with us, he would respond as you have just done. Too many here are trying so hard to be "good" Catholics that they have turned their backs on the essence of all that we adore. Christ has called us all to "love one another as we love ourselves." We need to watch how we are called upon to share "his love." It seems that if being a "good Catholic" means that we can turn our back on the Lazarus's of the world and respond as you seem to be responding, then I really and truely believe that I don't want to be "Catholic" in the way that you wear "Catholicism."
Paul, your post was valid and your suggestion of RCIA is appreciated. I would go a step further and reccommend that Jaime not persue this forum much further, step out and get a breath of fresh air in a "real" Catholic Church . . . one where words such as love, peace and forgiveness have a true home.
-- Leon (email@example.com), May 07, 2003.
I don't think there should be any problem with your both receiving communion. Talk to your local parish priest, who can make the call. The people who post on this forum are really not competent to decide.
Your second marriage to the Muslim offers very clear scriptural grounds for annulment under the so-called Pauline privilege (based on a text in St. Paul, I can't find the reference, where he advises Christian converts with non-Christian spouses to leave if the spouse has a problem with their Christianity). Your previous marriage and your husband's previous marriage could be annuled under a provision of canon law that a marriage is null if one or both of the spouses was too immature at the time of the marrriage to make a sound decision. In any case, I think the prohibition on divorce applies only to Jewish or Christian marriages, so the Church may choose to simply treat your earlier non-religious marriage as a pre-marital affair, which is sinful, but can be forgiven and forgotten.
Divorce is one area in which Catholics are fundamentalist bible-thumpers. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, since it leads to a much lower divorce rate for Catholics, and no one can deny that the New Testament clearly and unambiguously prohibits divorce. However, like other varieties of fundamentalism, it may lead to a self-righteousness and lack of charity that are definitely not Christian. I hope and pray that in your case, your local Catholic community welcomes you and your husband with love.
-- Stephen Lynn (StephenLynn999@msn.com), May 07, 2003.
Leon, I am sincerely sorry that my response could be viewed in the manner that you mentioned. You have my assurance that I did not intend it that way at all. I wrote it late at night, and I obviously wasn't as clear as I needed to be.
Jaime, Please know that I did not mean my response to be at all critical of the paths that your life and your husband's life have taken, or your good fortune to find the Lord and meet a wonderful husband after your earlier experiences.
I was alarmed when none of the earlier responses brought out the point that I mentioned in my response, because I was actually in a slightly similar situation myself. I had been going to RCIA classes for two months before anyone told me that unless I got a decree of nullity for my first marriage (*and* my wife got a decree of nullity for her first marriage), I would be sitting alone in the pews at Easter Vigil watching the rest of the RCIA class join the Church.
Because of my experience, I've become very familiar with the Church rules relating to annulment, and I wanted to share that knowledge with those who are uncertain of how the Church will treat them. My first response was a simple statement of how those rules would apply to you, Jaime, intended without any overtones of moral judgement.
Stephen, while you are correct that Jaime's second marriage very closely fits the scriptural description of the Pauline privilege (I Corinthians 7:15), your knowledge of how the Church would treat Jaime's situation is quite amiss. If Jaime were to use Pauline privilege, it would be for her first marriage. Then, her second marriage would qualify for an administrative annulment based on prior bond. And the Church never treats prior marriages as pre-marital affairs.
-- Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 07, 2003.
Thank you so much Leon, your post is very well taken and I will follow your advice and not pursue anymore help on this forum. I have learned to judge things the way Jesus taught, that is by the fruit it bears. The reason I wanted to come to the Catholic church was because it takes a very uncompromising stand on sin which is sadly lacking from the denominations I have been in. I am very committed to marriage, very pro-life, anti-pornography, and all the things the Catholic church takes very firm stands on. I also love the way the church is mission based and servant centered. I have always believed the greatest joy is to serve others for Christ's sake and the denomination I was in was all about what God can do for you, what he can bless you with, etc. I love the way the priests and nuns live lives of servanthood and by being unmarried can devote their lives to the pursuit of God. The married ministers I have sat under seem to have too many wife and child problems to devote enough time to their flock. I have also seen too many wives that control their husbands in the pulpit just like a puppet. I like the structure of the Catholic church and the fruit I have seen her bear. I like the fact that divorce is not tolerated, I will never ever divorce my husband no matter what he does and I woudn't have divorced my first two, they left me. I will be contacting the local RCIA class, my first cousin has just been ordained a Priest and he personally knows one of the priests as he was his teacher in seminary and says he is a very knowledgeable fellow. Thanks for everyone who took the time to post, no hard feelings. I know some of the responses came across hard, but I know see they were just hurt feelings as a result of personal experiences in the church. Rejection hurts, especially when you feel it is unwarranted. God bless you all!
-- jaime (email@example.com), May 07, 2003.
I am puzzled by something you told us here: "I had been going to RCIA classes for two months before anyone told me that unless I got a decree of nullity for my first marriage (*and* my wife got a decree of nullity for her first marriage), I would be sitting alone in the pews at Easter Vigil watching the rest of the RCIA class join the Church."
Can you tell me under what "theory" you would have been denied Baptism (or reception into the Church, if you were already baptized)? Can you point to any canon(s) covering this in Canon Law?
Was the problem the fact that you would have been presumed to be living in adultery and thus unable to receive sacraments? If so, would you and your wife have been willing to do what was necessary (living as brother and sister until you would hear from the tribunal), so that you could have entered the Church on the Easter vigil? Excuse me if I am prying too much.
God bless you.
-- J. F. Gecik (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 07, 2003.
Mark, thanks for the correction.
Jaime, hope you have your eyes open. I think your reasons for wanting to join are more or less valid, but the Catholic church isn't perfect to say the least. As we've been finding out, many Catholic priests are gay or worse, probably because they are forced to stay unmarried. I think that a married priest is better than a perverted hypocrite. Also, there's a bit of a gap between offical Catholic teaching (conservative) and actual Catholic attitudes (mostly liberal). The Pope is great though, and the good news is that he runs the show.
-- Stephen (StephenLynn999@msn.com), May 07, 2003.
Hmmmmm, maybe I will check out the Lutheran church. They believe in the "real presence", have confession, but non of the divorce hang ups and I think the priests are allowed to marry, but I'm not sure. Also Presbyterian priests can marry, but not sure about them having confession or believeing in the "real presence." Gotta love the Pope though, he is a great and honorable man. Thanks opening my eyes a bit. I really don't do well in liberal churches. God bless!
-- jaime (email@example.com), May 08, 2003.
I'm not sure that I have very good answers to your questions; I'm afraid that I haven't quite figured out the connection between Church theory and Church practice yet. I will say that the Yahoo group CatholicsRemarry seems to track Church practice quite closely. The thread starting here is about civil remarriage as a bar to baptism.
As for living as brother and sister, that is a nice theory, but our priest didn't even suggest that to us as a possibility. One person suggested that on CatholicsRemarry and had their head handed back to them in a basket. I'm guessing many priests don't consider it a realistic option.
I joked with the RCIA leader that it would have been easier for me to join the Church if I had just moved in with my second wife without benefit of civil remarriage. Although he couldn't recommend that alternative, he acknowledged that I was correct from the point of view of actual Church practice.
-- Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 08, 2003.
Jamie - First off, there are still some Catholics that realize that jesus came for *everyone*, not just the good people. Jesus came for the people that needed his help, the sinners/outcasts, not the ones who can make on thier own. Take heart :)
Listen to Paul. He is a really smart guy and very nice.
Don't convert to Catholisism just because you are unhappy in your faith. Convert because you believe in the teachings/dogma.
As for "All he wants is his followers hearts, for them to love him with all their hearts and to be willing to lay down their life for a stranger (or neighbor)."
This is not exactly the case. Faith is not alone. Faith *must* be coupled with works or it is not true faith. To believe is not enough. To work everyday towards the perfection that only Jesus can ever attain is ;) Yes, it is a long road. But pleasant usually :D
-- OperaDiva (email@example.com), May 08, 2003.
Hello, Jaime and "Collegian."
One of you wrote: "First off, there are still some Catholics that realize that jesus came for *everyone*, not just the good people. Jesus came for the people that needed his help, the sinners/outcasts, not the ones who can make [it] on their own."
There actually are no "good people." As Jesus told someone, "Nobody is good but God alone." We are all "sinners/outcasts." No one "can make it on his own."
One of you wrote: "Hmmmmm, maybe I will check out the Lutheran church. They believe in the "real presence", have confession, but none of the divorce hang ups and I think the priests are allowed to marry, but I'm not sure. Also Presbyterian priests can marry, but not sure about them having confession or believing in the "real presence." Gotta love the Pope though, he is a great and honorable man. Thanks opening my eyes a bit. I really don't do well in liberal churches."
If you "don't do well in liberal churches," then there is no point in looking into "mainline Protestantism" (Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, and so many other -isms).
To be really honest, logical, etc., what you need to do is determine (with our help, if you wish) which is the Church that Jesus founded -- and then join it. You don't want to join something that was started by a mere man or woman 1500 to 1900 years after Jesus died (e.g., Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, or any of the thousands of other Protestant denominations). When you have done enough research, you'll determine that Jesus founded only one Church -- an indestructible Church, a Church that cannot teach error -- and that Church is the Catholic Church.
Lutheranism may have what it calls "real presence" and "confessions," but these are mere shadows of what the true Church of Jesus had in the first century and still has. All of Protestantism, including Lutheranism, actually has the "real absence," since -- lacking a valid priesthood -- they are incapable of making Jesus present in their "eucharist." All of Protestantism, including Lutheranism, has no true forgiveness/absolution of sins in "confession," again because they have no valid priesthood. Only real (Catholic and Orthodox) priests can absolve us of our sins.
Catholicism has no "divorce hang-ups." Our Church treats marriage with the dignity it is due, according to the Bible's teachings. It is Protestantism (and even Eastern Orthodoxy) that acts contrary to Jesus's declaration that only God can end (by death) a valid marriage.
God bless you.
-- J. F. Gecik (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 08, 2003.
I found the "living as brother and sister" post in the CatholicsRemarry Yahoo group:
-- Mark (email@example.com), May 08, 2003.
The living as brother and sister thing is abused by many in the Church to include those who have wrongly abandoned their marriages. They are NOT the ones who that questionable theological construct is meant for.
It is meant for those who have been abandoned only! Even then it encourages evil, using children as the excuse.
The Church needs some annulment respondents who have successfully defended their sacraments against the Church annulment machine to be involved with the bishops to get this Church back on the right track.
They are a real resource the Church completely ignores, by choice.
-- Karl (Parkerkajwen@hotmail.com), May 08, 2003.
Speaking of the "living as brother and sister thing"....
I am a relatively new Catholic also, a convert about two years ago. Since that time, I had to have my previous marriage (pre-Catholic) annulled by a tribunal. I had to have witnesses, and drag the whole thing out into the open...including with my ex. This process took about a year and a half. I was happy to go through this process as I wanted to follow the teachings of the Church.
It took two years of being a Catholic convert, before I was finally able to be admitted into the Church, this past Easter Vigil. I was baptised, confirmed and was able to finally participate in the Euchrist...in a State of Grace. A true blessing.
However, after my first marriage (but before my conversion) I had remarried. My husband and I want to have our marriage validated, now that I am a true Catholic. (He was a "cradle Catholic" but had been away from the Church until recently.)
At my first confession, BEFORE my baptism, etc. Our good and faithful priest told us the truth..."you can't have marital relations in an unvalidated marriage, and then take communion, because you would not be in a state of grace." He seemed sorry to have to tell us this, but was adement on giving us the truth, as the Church teaches. We were very grateful for this, because we wanted to know the Truth...not the politically correct horse-hockey that everyone is so fond of dishing out. The priest did offer the "brother/sister" thing.
My husband and I decided to remain chaste...yes, that's right...until our marriage can be validated. This means, that since my baptism at Easter Vigil, my husband and I have lived in a state of grace...if ya know what I mean.
This has been somewhat difficult, but it has deepened our relationship with each other, and with Christ...an added benefit that we were not expecting.
I thank God for our priest who had the guts and moral fortitude to "tell it like it is!" I only wish everyone did that.
The main thing is: either Catholicism is true or it isn't. If it isn't, we need not worry about these things at all. If it IS, we can't deny that, and we have to deal with it.
BTW, I was a Pentecostal Protestant, before converting to Catholicism.
-- Victoria (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 19, 2003.
Victoria, BRAVO! I will pray for you and your husband. Your faithfulness is sure to be rewarded many times over.
-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), May 19, 2003.
I think you may find a home more readily among Old Catholics. Old Catholics / Independant Catholics follow the older laws of the church, rejecting the rule of the Vatican and the concept of papal infallibility. Many Old Catholic jurisdictions allow priests to marry and have children, and allow the divorced to recieve the sacriments
for more info:
-- (email@example.com), August 11, 2003.