Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Marriage and Divorce

Q - I was married in the Catholic Church. (I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, but I feel as though I know almost literally nothing about the faith.) Since then I left the church, was divorced and remarried - several times. Knowing what I now know, I honestly feel that I was not capable of entering into the sacrament of marriage due to any number of impediments (acute alcoholism and intention not to have children just two of the most egregious). Now, I desperately want to return to the Church. I am attending Mass, of course, but what little information I've been able to find has left me confused and desperate. I certainly realize that I can not partake in the Holy Eucharist, but I'm also told that I can't go to confession. This scares me and fills me with despair. Is there anything I can do? Any answer, guidance, direction, you can send my way would be so appreciated.

A - Thanks for the question! Peace be with you.

The best advice I can give you is to go and talk to the priest at the parish you attend. It seems to me that if the case is as you describe, (i.e., alcoholism, intent not to procreate, etc.) then the application for a declaration of nullity of the marriage (annulment) seems to have proper grounds for application, that is, if your first spouse is still alive (if your first spouse has died, then you would seek a convalidation of your current marriage – if currently married, but would not need to apply for an annulment).

Please do not despair though. While Catholics are bound by the laws of the Church, God isn’t. In other words, while you cannot receive the Sacraments while in an invalid marriage, there is no reason to despair about God’s mercy and love for you – he has already started to call you home and your response is a wonderful sign of God’s grace working in your life. If you are not in an invalid marriage currently, then all you have to do is go to confession with your priest. Although you can still go through the process of applying for a declaration of nullity if you seek to be married in the future or if you just want to resolve the situation.

I would recommend that you start the process of obtaining the declaration of nullity with hope and faith that this is God’s will for you, if you so choose.

I will keep you in my prayers. Don’t be scared about talking to your priest about this situation. He can help you find the hope you are looking for.

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