Marriage In A Catholic Church After Divorce Without Annulment

by Jimmy Akin

in Canon Law

We get a lot of questions at work from Catholics who got
married outside the Church and want to know if they need an annulment. The
answer is that they do.

Catholics are bound to observe the Catholic form of marriage or to get a
dispensation from it in order for their marriages to be valid. For a Catholic
to "marry outside the Church" without a dispensation thus results in
an invalid marriage, and for such a person to remarry, he needs the Church to
look at his first marriage and officially establish that it was invalid and
that he is thus free to marry someone else.

This process is commonly known as "getting an annulment." The fact
that the annulment is an open-and-shut thing in this case doesn’t mean that the
person doesn’t need one. The Church needs to look at anything that appears to
be a marriage to see if it was before it can give a person permission to marry
someone else.

But what if that doesn’t happen?

Sometimes we get people who say, "Well, our priest said that we didn’t
need an annulment because we were married outside the Church, and he went ahead
and married us anyway. Does that mean our current marriage is invalid?"

Fortunately, no it doesn’t.

The thing that determine the validity of the marriage in this case is whether
the parties were genuinely free to marry each other. If they were bound to
prior partners then they were not free and the marriage is invalid. But if they
were free then, even though they didn’t get the annulment they should have
gotten, the marriage will be valid.

Here’s how the canon law on that works: The Code of Canon Law provides as
follows,

Can.  1085
§1. A person bound by the bond of a prior marriage, even if it was not
consummated, invalidly attempts marriage.

§2. Even if the prior marriage is invalid or dissolved for any reason, it is
not on that account permitted to
contract another before the nullity. . .  of the prior marriage is
established legitimately and certainly.

The first part of this canon deals with those who are bound
by a prior bond and says that they invalidly attempt marriage.

The second part deals with those who are not bound to a prior partner, and it
says they are not permitted to attempt marriage until they receive an
annulment.

But permission only addresses the subject of liceity (conformity with the law),
not validity (objective reality). You need an annulment to get permission to
marry someone else, but if you don’t have permission, that doesn’t mean that
the new union is invalid. It means that it was illicit (not conducted in accord
with the law), but it can still be valid (objectively real).

The situation is the same as it would be if a priest celebrating the Mass fails
to say a required preface to the Eucharistic prayer. He doesn’t have permission
to omit that, and as a result his celebration of the Mass will be out of
conformity with the law and thus illicit. But the consecration of the
elements will still be valid because it isn’t the preface but the words
of consecration that bring about the consecration.

In the same way, in celebrating the sacrament of holy matrimony, under current
law it isn’t the parties having of an annulment that fundamentally determines
their ability to marry each other. It’s their objective freedom to marry.

Thus the green CLSA commentary on the Code of Canon Law notes:

If a Catholic [whose previous marriage was null] re-marries according to the canonical form after a divorce but before a declaration of nullity is granted, the marriage is illicit but valid and need not be convalidated after the previous marriage is declared null [p. 1287].

So in cases where a priest erroneously told a couple they didn’t need an
annulment and went ahead and married the parties, they will be validly married
as long as they had the freedom to marry each other.

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{ 91 comments }

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 6:56 am

Here’s a question I’ve always had about divorce. As I understand it, divorce is never ok for a Catholic. (As always, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) But how does that square with scriptures like Matt. 19:9 (“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”)? Obviously, divorce is a terrible thing, and I’m in no way advocating for it. I’m just confused on the Catholic church’s position on it.

bill912 February 21, 2006 at 7:41 am

“except for marital unfaithfulness” seems to be a mistranslation. The Greek word normally means an unlawful union; i.e., “shacking up”, or adultery. I’ve heard Jimmy give a much more learned explanation than mine.

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 7:52 am

You’re probably right, bill. I just did a quick search and grabbed that from the NIV, which I don’t think is the most accurate translation. I’ve always been taught, and thought myself, that it meant adultery.

bill912 February 21, 2006 at 8:09 am

Or incest. Forgot to include that. Not enough coffee.

M.Z. Forrest February 21, 2006 at 8:22 am

To answer your question APV:
In a sense divorce is never okay in the church. In Catholic morality you’ll often see absolute claims such as this. These statements are always made against a backdrop of competing goods. For example one always has the right, but not the obligation, to protect themselves from physical harm. So if a spouse is being beat their right to physical protection is greater than the obligation to remain wed.
As then Cardinal Ratzinger, I believe, has said many times, divorce in and of itself is not an impediment to communion. Remarriage is an impediment.

bill912 February 21, 2006 at 8:29 am

Good point, MZF. We should add that we mean a civil divorce, that, from God’s POV, a valid marriage, which is determined at the time of the marriage, is a valid marriage “until death do us part.”

Anonymous February 21, 2006 at 8:37 am

Is an annulment valid if the party seeking it lied to the tribunal?

Tim J. February 21, 2006 at 9:03 am

I’m shooting from the hip here, but I’ve always seen that verse this way:
In the event that your spouse has left you and is now living with someone else, you may enter into a civil divorce, but this does not mean you are then free to re-marry.
Assuming a valid, sacramental marriage in the first place, one would NOT be free to re-marry.
In the event that the original marriage was not valid for some reason, an annulment would be needed before re-marriage.

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 9:12 am

I see your viewpoint, Tim, but to me that still seems to go against what Jesus is saying. It’s like telling your son or daughter, “Now when you’re driving, unless it’s an emergency where time is of the essence, never break the speed limit.” That would imply that it IS okay to break the speed limit under certain circumstances.

M.Z. Forrest February 21, 2006 at 9:59 am

I would disagree. The emergency situation “mitigates” the harm done by speeding. The speeding is still not right. When there are competing goods at play, neither is made right or wrong by the presence of the other, one is merely mitigated.

Inocencio February 21, 2006 at 10:11 am

APV,
The disciples response in verse 10 seems to make the context clear that there is no exception that allows one to attempt remarriage. The disciples understand that Christ is teaching that the marriage bond, as God intended, is to be permanent.
St. Paul in 1 Cor 7:10-11 gives the same understanding that seperated spouses only have two options, to reconcile with each other or remain single.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on divorce
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2382
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 10:26 am

Hmmm. I’m still confused. If there is never an instance where divorce and/or subsequent remarriage is allowed, then why didn’t Jesus just say, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery,” period?

bill912 February 21, 2006 at 10:40 am

I think He did. I think the clarification that Matthew mentions was our Lord stressing that He was speaking of real marriages, not what might be called commonlaw “marriages”.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. February 21, 2006 at 10:43 am

Divorce is a civil action. There is no such thing as divorce IN the Church.
IN the Church a marriage is either sacramental or not sacramental. A marriage may exist in civil law while not existing as a sacrament of the Church.
U.S. civil law accepts a Catholic sacramental marriage as a civil marriage. However, the Church does not accept a civil marriage as a sacrament.
There can arise situations when the Church would not disapprove of a civil divorce.
Let’s say a Catholic couple has a valid sacramental marriage. As a valid sacrament, that marriage will never end until death. Imagine that they obtain a civil divorce. The Church considers them STILL married sacramentally. Then the man goes and gets married in a legal civil ceremony to a second woman. The second marriage exists in the eyes of civil law; but in the eyes of the Church it is a sin and not a sacrament at all. In the eyes of the Church, that man SHOULD get a CIVIL divorce from that second woman. He is still married to the first woman in the eyes of the Church.
====
Another possible scenario from a real event I personally know.
A Catholic man and a Catholic woman have both never been married, either civilly or sacramentally.
They get married in the Church.
The woman conceals from the man and from everyone else that she wants no children. Therefore, the marriage is sacramentally INVALID (non-existent)–though no one else knows it.
She takes contraceptives (which are never 100% successful).
One day she finds out she has become pregnant. She tells her husband she is pregnant, she wants an abortion, she wants no children. Despite his protests, she gets the abortion.
Now that the husband knows the woman never wants children, he now knows he is not married sacramentally and never was–though he is married in civil law.
The Church would not discourage that man from obtaining a civil divorce from that woman. In fact, it would be recommended. He gets a civil divorce.
In his case the Church would (and did) grant an annullment–a RECOGNITION of the nullity (invalidity) of the marriage as a sacrament. This is a recognition that a sacramental marriage NEVER existed in the first place; it is not a “divorce process.” He gets the annullment.
The man is free to marry someone else. Or not marry. Or enter a religious order. Or get ordained.
(This is a real history. The man wrestled with the murder of his child and the tragedy of his relationship with that woman. Through much prayer and study, he came to peace. A dozen years later, he is now in the middle of his theological studies in preparation to receive priestly ordination.)

Karen February 21, 2006 at 10:48 am

Ah! I read about this “except for marital unfaithfulness” recently but I can’t remember where. The choice of words translates these days as somewhat ambiguous, and bill912 had it. What is meant by it is:
“Anyone who divorces his wife–unless they were unlawfully together in a sham marriage in the first place–and marries another, commits adultery. For one example, it would address cases of incest where there is no valid marriage in the first place. In such cases, since there is no valid marriage, divorce won’t mean you commit adultery once you do enter a valid marriage with someone else. Same with anyone else in a sham marriage which is invalid in the first place. Think of Herod, who married Philip’s wife, and got criticized by John the Baptist for that. That would have been another example of such a sham marriage. If someone like Herod would have divorced and entered into a marriage which was actually lawful and valid, that would not have constituted adultery, because the marriage to Philip’s wife was invalid anyway.
If I can remember where I saw the explanation, I’ll post back. Besides the possible Greek explanation bill912 remembers, we also know that the meaning cannot be taken to mean that man actually can break apart what God has joined in some cases (like unfaithfulness) because that would mean the gospels contradict themselves.

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 10:50 am

That’s interesting, Karen. Can you tell me where you got that translation?

Karen February 21, 2006 at 11:00 am

Hi, like I said, I’m trying to remember where I saw the explanation.
Anyway, I do have the DRC translation, and it does succeed in making it a little bit clearer:
“And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.”
(Matthew 19:9, DRC)
So, if you put away your wife (leave your wife)–except where it’s a case of fornication [and we know in those cases, she's not really validly your wife], and marry another person, that is adultery.

A Protestant Visitor February 21, 2006 at 11:03 am

Well, duh on my part, Karen. I read that you were trying to remember, and then asked the stupid question. Sorry for the mental misfire.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. February 21, 2006 at 11:07 am

Perhaps someone here has already cited the pertinent Greek word in Matthew 19:9 as “porneia.”
How to translate it?
In my judgement, whatever it is, it’s morally illicit. Something, to coin a word, that is “pornic” or “pornal” or “pornical.”
But what … the marriage itself as “pornic” (therefore invalid) … or an event/deed/situation that is “pornic” after the wedding …?
Whatever the case may be, people are capable of entering a seemingly sacramental marriage dishonestly, invalidly.

John February 21, 2006 at 11:47 am

Try reconsidering your own failed marriage and if you should be entering into another, as Christ made it quite clear in scripture divorce and remarriage was forbiddent
Kenneth C. Jones of St. Louis researched and compiled a number of statistics which he titled “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II,” published in 2003. Among his findings While the number of priests in the U.S. more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, since then, that number has fallen to 45,000, and by 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left; the number of seminarians declined over 90 percent between 1965 and 2002; in 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns, but by 2002, that number had fallen to 75,000; a 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended Mass on Sundays, but a recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend; Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments rose from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002.
Marriage is considered one of the seven sacraments. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: ‘so they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ They ‘are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.’ This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony.” (no. 1644).
What about the annulment you ask for?
Marriages can be declared invalid for a variety of reasons: lack of canonical form if one party is Catholic and thus required to be married in the presence of a priest, deacon or bishop; the existence of an undispensed impediment; the presence of psychological factors that render one or both parties incapable of knowing what they were doing or of assuming the fundamental responsibilities of marriage. Church officials, in the form of a tribunal, are required to investigate all aspects of a marriage and divorce before declaring that marriage null and void. Once an annulment is granted, the parties involved are free to marry in the Church.
One reason for the large increase in the number of annulments in the past three decades has to do with procedural changes in canon law. The main, reason, however, appears to be the fact that the divorce rate, from 1960 to 1991, increased 133 percent.
There are, of course, a number of reasons why a marriage might end in divorce. An oft-overlooked (and politically incorrect) reason is the widespread use of contraception, even among Catholic married couples. The divorce rate doubled between 1965, when 25 percent of marriages ended in divorce, and 1975, when 50 percent of marriages ended in divorce. The contraceptive pill became more and more available, divorce became more and more popular.”
And since contraceptives have arrived on the scene, there is much more adultery than there was before.
And with women are financially more independent. They do have fewer children. They do go into the work place. And, again, when they have difficulties in the marriage, it’s much easier to say, ‘Take a walk,’ than it is to work it out because they need their husband for one fewer reason than they did before.”
So with the church after Vatican II making it easier and easier to obtain a divorce, are they in fact doing just what Christ made clear not to, and hence the fallout in every statistic the church keeps records of?

Karen February 21, 2006 at 11:47 am

Here’s something Jimmy wrote for This Rock magazine on the use of porneia: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0007bt.asp
Maybe that’ll help. It’s not what I’d read before but it’s well-reasoned.
Protestant Visitor– no problem, heh heh. :-)

Pete February 21, 2006 at 1:10 pm

The example of the annulment of a man who actually doubted the validity of his marriage was an interesting one.
Most of what I hear of annulments is from couples who divorce, start dating, and when they want to get married decide they’d like an annulment.
Do people ever doubt the nullity of their marriage when they want the marriage to continue? For example, if someone had not wanted children at the time of the marriage and then experienced conversion– should they seek to validate the marriage? What if a person was emotionally incapable of making the commitment and then became capable and would choose to marry the same person? If the reasons for invalid marriages are these (as they are from the annulments given)–should people be concerned about the validity of their happy marriages?

Anna February 21, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Pete,
A dear friend of mine was married to a man who was suffering from mental illness. She talked to a priest, and was satisfied that there were grounds for an annulment. She, even with that information, chose to stay in the marriage, but I think that they did separate. The man, later, committed suicide (and I am very thankful that he did not take either my friend nor their children with him).
She is now married to another man. I’m not sure whether they married in the church or not. (He’s not a believer yet.)
So, yes, sometimes people do doubt the validity of the marriage and chose to continue.

Anne February 21, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Now that you mention it, Pete, it seems like people who doubt the validity of their marriage should look into redoing their vows. After all, if they run into a rough patch later on and one of them wants to call it quits, the Church is only going to be interested in their state at the time they got married. AFAIK, you can’t defend yourself against an annulment with “Yes, but ten years into the marriage we resolved that problem and agreed to do better.” Private resolutions don’t make you married, you need a public declaration.
Of course there’s a danger of scrupulosity here, with couples feeling like they need to redo their vows every three minutes to avoid danger of an invalid marriage and fornication. But knowing that your spouse could abandon you with the Church’s blessing whenever the whim struck him can’t be good for a marriage either. Personally, if I were in that situation I would talk to a priest I trusted and ask if grounds for an annulment really existed, and if so how I could redo my vows.

Mary February 21, 2006 at 6:04 pm

The question is: should they?
If the marriage is invalid, should they not either leave — if the impediment is not removed, such as a spouse who still thinks that they are free to divorce — or get the marriage convalidated?

Vivian February 21, 2006 at 6:14 pm

I do think that John is correct as the church itself is to blame, if John Paul in his new code of Canon law did not make it so easy to get an annulment, and if the Catholic church had a real pre-cana program run by conserative orthodox priests and not lay persons, maybe those who should not have been married in the first place would not be allowed and if they did, they would know that the church, in her Modernization to the secular world of sin, would not allow it, as I was taught in my instructions before the new code of Canon Law was implemented

Inocencio February 21, 2006 at 7:54 pm

Vivian,
If “the church itself is to blame” then in your eyes it is Christ Himself who is to blame, the Bride and Bridegroom are One. Rather than point fingers and whine maybe you could find a postive way to impact the everyday Catholic in the pew. Attacking the Church because you claim she is not as holy as you does not help.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Karen February 22, 2006 at 1:35 am

In all the talk about the rise of annulment rates, I wonder if it might really be TRUE that the number of invalid marriages are actually on the RISE. I can just say that it wouldn’t really surprise me in today’s culture, if it were actually true that there are more invalid marriages taking place today than there used to be–i.e. giving lip service to their vows and having a divorce mentality and a closed-to-life mentality despite what they promise. Just a thought.
As to Pre-CANA, a mix of priests and laity leading Pre-CANA sounds like a good idea. But the minute you have only priests taking over Pre-CANA, you’ll have all sorts of people complaining that the laity aren’t involved enough in the Church in areas where they should be.
Now I don’t know how far they can take that as a legitimate complaint. I disliked our couples-led Pre-CANA for the most part–it wasn’t our style. It was like a touchy feely creepy counseling session in public with strangers. Having a priest might have brought some dignity to the situation. However, maybe they did go into things a priest ordinarily wouldn’t, and perhaps their personal testimony to the approaches taught gave the approaches some weight and legitimacy you might find more difficult to give them, just from hearing about them 2nd-hand. I dunno.

Vivian February 22, 2006 at 10:16 am

Inocensia
Take a look at the post after yours as it supports my and many others that yes it is the church to blame. As far as I know Canon law is not infallible and by loosening the restrictions and farming out the pre-cana to laypersons who after Vatican II felt they needed to be “more involved” and participate like Protestants, it has created a mess that the church itself can not seem to get a handle on
I was married in a Traditional Church with over 8 (3) hour one-on one sessions with a traditional priest who subscribed back to the Baltimore Catechism and a book that dated back to the 1940′s and our marriage and our friends and families all who decided to get married in a Traditional church are all married to this day, though only in our 40′s, but we have a better track record than so many of our friends who went to get their pre-cana in someones home or a crash course over a weekend with 20 other couples
Attacking the church? Lets all be real and call a lemon a lemon when it is a lemon-but we can make lemonade out of these lemons by restoring the true teachings of the church and the sacraments, and asking that people conform to the church and her teachings instead of the church lowering her standards to suit the secular and sinful modern world that you seem to aspire to

Tim J. February 22, 2006 at 10:28 am

Vivian -
The cheap shot at the end of your last post might indicate a lack of both humility and charity.
You may also find that, in this forum, it makes people much less likely to hear what you have to say.
How would you suggest we go about restoring the teachings of the Church, by the way?

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 10:51 am

Vivian,
So you admit that you believe that Christ Himself and His Bride is to blame? Interesting. If only you were in charge instead of the appointed vicar of Christ.
Let us be really honest all the problems began with disobedience to the norms and laws, not the norms and laws themselves.
Restoring the true teachings of the Church? The true teachings have never been lost because they are guaranteed by the Holy Spirit and not you.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

M.Z. Forrest February 22, 2006 at 11:09 am

Eeks! We’re talking prudential issues here; we’re not talking dogma. The means of implementing church dotrine on marriage are most certainly open to debate. I don’t think anyone here is disagreeing on the ends. The only time I hear disagreeing on the ends is talk of mental illness being an impediment to sacramental marriage, and even here, the talk is generally over degree. The Church can most surely be wrong on whether it is better to have laity prepare couples for marriage or a priest or vise versa.

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 11:32 am

The Church can most surely be wrong on whether it is better to have laity prepare couples for marriage or a priest or vise versa.
M.Z. Forrest may I ask who decides the Church is wrong in these matters?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Tim J. February 22, 2006 at 11:47 am

The problem is not that the laity are involved in marriage preparation, but that the laity are so poorly catechized that they are ill-prepared for these responsibilities.
The problem is (as in so many areas) the failure to pass on the Faith.
Of course, it may also be true that certain priests and bishops prefer a poorly catechized laity.

M.Z. Forrest February 22, 2006 at 12:16 pm

My comment was not so much about assigning fault or blame. The goal is sacramental marriages. There will certainly be disagreement over whether any strategy is actually achieving this goal. Traditionalists tend to believe that the current strategy involving lay participation is the cause of a lack of sacramental marriages. Others want to propose a different cause of increased failure. As far as my point goes, I don’t care which side is correct. My point is that existing policies should be open to questioning and dare I say change. If I were to say that 12 hours of pre-cana was better than the current policy of x hours of pre-cana, I hope you wouldn’t interpret that as a heretical tendency.

Tim J. February 22, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Certainly, M.Z..
But I think the tortured logic of some goes like “lay people have ruined pre-cana, therefore Vatican II is invalid…”, or some such.

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 12:39 pm

M.Z. Forrest,
“If I were to say that 12 hours of pre-cana was better than the current policy of x hours of pre-cana, I hope you wouldn’t interpret that as a heretical tendency.”
No, I would not but if you said “the Church is most surely wrong by not having 12 hours of pre-cana” that would make me suspicious of your comment.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Seamus February 22, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Do people ever doubt the nullity of their marriage when they want the marriage to continue?
I don’t have my copy of Fr. Jone’s “Moral Theology” handy, but IIRC, he says that if one spouse has doubts about the validity of the marriage, that spouse may not “request payment of the marital debt,” though he or she may render the debt if asked.

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 1:13 pm

Seamus,
“if one spouse has doubts about the validity of the marriage, that spouse may not “request payment of the marital debt,” though he or she may render the debt if asked.”
Does that mean asking your spouse to renew marriage vows so no doubt exists?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Vivian February 22, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Tim
I apologize for my lack of charity, but others were confusing my comment for being some sort of church basher
I stand by my comment that the lay people should try to learn their faith better, read on all of the past great saints and doctors of the church, and not only John Paul II, and stick to their own vocation as layperson, husband or wife and leave the clergy to their vocation
My nephew was being taught 4th grade catechism by a twice divorced mother of 5 living with her boyfriend, whom the church thought quite the catch. My sister pulled him out when she showed her doubt about the sacrament of marriage and Penance, and went off to travel the 20 miles to a church that taught otherwise

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Vivian,
We all agree that the laity should learn their faith better by reading great saints and doctors of the Church (who of course were declared such by the authority of the popes).
Your sister did the right thing because her son was not receiving the teachings of the Church, but that is the fault of the teacher not the Vatican.
I would hope that by prayer and trying to live a life that is faithful to Christ and His Church we can help build up the Mystical Body of Christ.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Seamus February 22, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Does that mean asking your spouse to renew marriage vows so no doubt exists?
Clearly not. It refers to asking for sexual intercourse with one’s (putative) spouse.
Of course, there may be instances where doubt about the validity of one’s marraige can’t be easily resolved by renewing the marriage vows. For example, there may be a question of whether the marriage is invalid because of ligamen (i.e., a previous valid marriage not dissolved by death).

Seamus February 22, 2006 at 2:19 pm

italics off
Sorry about that.

Inocencio February 22, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Seamus,
That is what I thought at first but did not want to assume. Thank you for the clarification.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Anonymous February 22, 2006 at 2:33 pm

More to the point of the discussion
Isn’t it possible that it is problems not only in the parish center, or rectory, or whatever, that cause marriages to break down, but large scale problems in a culture of consumerism and death that prevent people from really exercising due discretion and understanding an intentionality to permanence when they marry?

Mary February 22, 2006 at 5:54 pm

“Understanding”? How about “intending”?
If the annulments were granting owing to “simulation of consent” I could understand an enormous leap nowadays.

Mary February 22, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Let me rephrase that: If the annulment tribunals were using that reason, I could see the jump as legitimate.
As I hear a lot more about psychological defects, I doubt it.

Rose March 4, 2006 at 3:22 pm

Please read Dr Joseph Webb’s book TILL DEATH DO US PART it will answer every question you ever had about divorce/remarriage it’s avaliable at Webb Ministries or CPR Ministries you will be amazed at what the Bible really teaches about
divorce and remarriage and Dr Webb will answer all the questions you have!

Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 6:25 am

O.K. How about this Martina marries Robert in civil marriage matrimony. Martina is catholic Robert is apparently Episcopal. Martina would never marry Robert until he was clean of drugs. However she has no time to think and she either marries or loses Robert forever because she has to leave the country. She is not ready to give up on her love for Robert so she marries. There’s not witnesses and the marriage ceremony is a joke. There’s no celebration, family just the two of them and Justice of Peace. After 3 years of Robert being in and out of jail, Martina decides this marriage is not going anywhere and due to her health problems she will get divorce and leaves the country. She couldn’t get health treatment, could not work legally, the government decides the marriage was a sham and refuses the petition. Martina has no money or and can’t stay in country legally. The marriage is broken by the government, there’s not other way but leave in order to survive. How is this marriage valid in catholic church? During the 3 years of the marriage they barely spend time together as Roberts drug addiction drives him to steal and back to jail. Martina had no idea this was going to happen, she knew Robert for 4 years from letters. She prays hard to meet someone decent. She meets Shaun who is also divorced, he was married to internationally as well but his wife cheated on him repeatedly with several other man (was married twice before)d, she leaves for one of them and files for divorce. Shaun did no wrong in this relationship. He’s been baptized in Mormon church but is not practising christian. Martina brings Shaun to catholic church and they become regular. In fact he has read the bible more then her. They want to get married in catholic church but the priest says that Shaun needs an annulment. He says Martina does not need annulment as her marriage is not recognized by catholic church, but Shaun’s is. Why? His wife again re-married for the 4th time, and is divorced again. She obviously does not accept marriage as a life time commitment. But Shaun is penalized for something he had no knowledge of? That is strange. How come Catholic church recognizes his civil marriage as valid, when his spouse would be technically still married to the first man as she as atheist never needed annulment to re-marry???
What is your position on this story? Martina and Shaun are driven to marry outside of the church again. What will happen then about validating their marriage?

tina July 30, 2007 at 6:30 am

O.K. How about this Martina marries Robert in civil marriage matrimony. Martina is catholic Robert is apparently Episcopal. Martina would never marry Robert until he was clean of drugs. However she has no time to think and she either marries or loses Robert forever because she has to leave the country. She is not ready to give up on her love for Robert so she marries. There’s not witnesses and the marriage ceremony is a joke. There’s no celebration, family just the two of them and Justice of Peace. After 3 years of Robert being in and out of jail, Martina decides this marriage is not going anywhere and due to her health problems she will get divorce and leaves the country. She couldn’t get health treatment, could not work legally, the government decides the marriage was a sham and refuses the petition. Martina has no money or and can’t stay in country legally. The marriage is broken by the government, there’s not other way but leave in order to survive. How is this marriage valid in catholic church? During the 3 years of the marriage they barely spend time together as Roberts drug addiction drives him to steal and back to jail. Martina had no idea this was going to happen, she knew Robert for 4 years from letters. She prays hard to meet someone decent. She meets Shaun who is also divorced, he was married to internationally as well but his wife cheated on him repeatedly with several other man (was married twice before)d, she leaves for one of them and files for divorce. Shaun did no wrong in this relationship. He’s been baptized in Mormon church but is not practising christian. Martina brings Shaun to catholic church and they become regular. In fact he has read the bible more then her. They want to get married in catholic church but the priest says that Shaun needs an annulment. He says Martina does not need annulment as her marriage is not recognized by catholic church, but Shaun’s is. Why? His wife again re-married for the 4th time, and is divorced again. She obviously does not accept marriage as a life time commitment. But Shaun is penalized for something he had no knowledge of? That is strange. How come Catholic church recognizes his civil marriage as valid, when his spouse would be technically still married to the first man as she as atheist never needed annulment to re-marry???
What is your position on this story? Martina and Shaun are driven to marry outside of the church again. What will happen then about validating their marriage?

Esquire July 30, 2007 at 6:53 am

Tina,
In neither case was Martina “driven” to marry outside the Church, at least not by the Church. She apparently decided that she valued her relationships with Robert and then Shaun more than she valued her relationship with the Church.
The Church has not, from the facts given, decided that Shaun’s original marriage was valid and could not be annulled. But Martina and Shaun do not want to wait (that would be a “penalty,” because anything that does not let me have what I want when I want it is a “penalty”) for the annulment proceedings to take place. They don’t want to place the decision about whether the marriage was valid or not in the Church’s hands, they want to appropriate that decision for themselves.
That’s my position on your story, based solely on the facts you have provided.

arizcalflalaw July 30, 2007 at 8:34 am

We need to be careful taking the Bible absolutely literally. If we do, we might conclude that divorce is permitted only for adultery, but under the Old Testament, the penalty for adultery is death, so the literal view would command the execution of all persons against whom a divorce is obtained.
Divorce, for its civil effects, is sometimes necessary to the health and safety of a party, and may be justifiable for other reasons as well. It is subsequent attempt at remarriage that must be examined.
The annulment has been criticized as the “Catholic divorce,” even Pope John Paul II expressed concern at how many are granted in the United States, and to my mind, some of the grounds are rather flimsy. The current practice, in many respects, by focusing on the psychological impediments and attitudes of the parties, changes the question from “did the marriage occur?” to “should the marriage have occurred?” which is the incorrect analysis in my view.

Cf September 9, 2007 at 10:44 pm

All this is very interesting but very disturbing at the same time. How about this senario. Two practicing catholics are married to two differant people. They have never meet before. They both have children and 15 year marriages. Their spouses have extramarital affairs and leave the two for the other person. A couple of years later the two people meet and now want to marry. The civil divorces are final and the two that were the victims of adultrey wish to marry and start a life together. Why should they have to go through the 2nd divorce process (annullment)before they can be together in the eyes of the church?

bill912 September 10, 2007 at 2:51 am

A Declaration of Nullity is a declaration that no sacramental marriage existed, despite appearances to the contrary. It is not a divorce, which is never possible from God’s point of view.
And, yes, as Jimmy points out in another thread(9/10/07), the Catholic Church expects her children to live like Catholics.

karl September 19, 2007 at 7:30 am

Monday, September 10, 2007
Would you please join Bai by adding your name to her letter to five authorities
This is very long, and normally I would not put something this long on my blog. But I ‘know’ Karl, and how hurt he has been by no fault divorce, and by the lack of help after his marriage was found to be Valid by the Rota.
If you take the time to read Karl’s two letters, it may open eyes to the ‘other side of the issue’ for some of you.
I am uncertain, but think that Bai got my WICatholic email address from my comments on Fr Joe’s blog in the past. I have decided that this one is worth passing on, to help Karl. Please keep him in prayer, with his family.
If you are interested, Bai Macfarlane has her email address included. Please write to her and let her know. I think she wants names and city/state/country.
God bless!
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Bai Macfarlane < ma.defending@marysadvocates.org>
Date: Sep 9, 2007 7:37 PM
Subject: Would you please join me by adding your name to my letter to five authorities
Dear Group and friends.
Would you join your name to mine as I send a letter to four Roman Catholic Church authorities with this message:
Your Excellencies:
Please help us. The Catholic Church appears to care nothing about marriage when it remains silent in the wake of millions of unjust divorces in the United States. We faithful have no answer for Karl (see attached letters ) so long as professed Catholic abandoning spouses, like his wife, are never advised, at the time of their unjust marital abandonment, that they are even doing anything wrong.
Attached are two of letters explaining Karl’s concerns which we lay people cannot address. 1) an open letter to the USCCB and 2) a letter he shared with a ‘defending marriage’ internet discussion group.
Signed
Bai Macfarlane, founder Marriage Advocates.
plus anyone else who will join me
If you will sign, just let me know via e-mail.
ma.defending@marysadvocates.org
[I want to print these two letters from Karl, and send to my Bishop, Bishop Raymond Burke, The Apostolic Nuncio,the President of the Pontifical Council on the Family, and to the Pope]
———————-
open letter to the USCCB. Karl writes:
My youngest daughter is very troubled by my recent formal defection from the faith and her heartbreak hurts me very deeply. This is yet another fruit of the handiwork of the Catholic Church. Interestingly enough, our daughter knows I have been corresponding with a very respected, retired judge from the Roman Rota and asked me
for his Email address because, my adulterous wife, is still trying to find some grounds to nullify our marriage and believes she has been
unjustly denied a hearing in the United States, since every tribunal which has heard her “new evidence” has refused to reopen our case.
I have encouraged our daughter to have her mother contact this priest so that he may hear her pleas and perhaps give her some guidance.
Honestly, I was completely surprised by my wife’s willingness to communicate with this priest, but I have always valued his opinions
and can think of no better or more qualified person to listen to what she has to say.
I have no delusions that this communication will have any other effect on my situation but I have made it clear to our daughter to let her mother know that I would only accept a Rotal hearing of any new case. I am morally certain of the complete corruption of the American Tribunals in every single case and would trust none of them, at all. Likely, now, if I was told that there
must be a hearing in the United States, I would probably refuse to take part and I would tell them that I would only cooperate with a
Roman hearing of the case. She could have her annulment in the United States. It would be meaningless before God and that that would have
to suffice for me.
BTW here is a letter I wrote to each of the USCCB committee members who are responsible for the recent “marriage initiative”.
To Whom It May Concern:
In late 2006, I wrote and spoke to the pastor of the church of my baptism and requested that he make a notation on my Baptismal Record
of my defection from the Catholic Church. I did this in response to a document I read which described how one would “officially”, in the
canonical sense, leave the Catholic Church.
This came sixteen years after I was divorced against my will in Davenport, Iowa and lost everything including complete custody of our
five precious children, when I refused to accept the authority of the civil court over our marriage. My wife was advised to divorce me and
to seek an annulment by a priest still attached to the diocese of Davenport, as best I know. I was never given the opportunity to speak
to this priest except after I found out about his actions and called him, whereupon he soundly criticized me for wanting to heal our
marriage and told me I should start my own Church because I certainly did not know what the Catholic Church taught.
I defended our valid Sacrament through three successive tribunals, the final two being separate panels of auditors from the Roman Rota.
The final decision was published, I believe, in December 2002 and concurred with the earlier Rotal panel which had decided against
nullity, in opposition to the decision reached by the Davenport trio of judges in July 1994.
All of this was to no avail as from the beginning of our marital difficulties the clergy of the Catholic Church have openly and
consistently encouraged my wife and her lover to violate our vows and do so to this day . It is a disgrace.
The tribunal system is corrupt and the pastoral practices of the Catholic Church are hell-bent against those who want to save their
marriages or heal those which have been wounded . Instead, all is focused on encouraging annulments, via required divorces in a civil
legal system that is NEVER JUST and which only DESTROYS marriages, which are SUPPOSED to be PRESUMED VALID, yet it is a “practical”
PRESUMPTION of the legal system of the Catholic Church in America, in spite of what the universal canon law says otherwise, that a marriage is DEAD when it has accepted a petition for nullity.
I was taught from childhood that marriage was for life. Cruel experience has shown me otherwise and has further convinced me that
the Catholic Church feels the necessity to overlook all the crimes and evil of adulterers (and their accomplices no matter how grotesquely
unjust and/or unending) and to treat with scorn those who would hope for Catholics and the institutional church to act, canonically and
pastorally, to create conditions where it was in the best interest of all that valid marriages be healed, ESPECIALLY when its own legal system has concluded that validity.
My discouragement and hopelessness is so thorough that I am contemplating abandoning Christianity altogether. Outside of countless empty words and endless articles/statements filled with lies by canonists and others who support the divorce/annulment complex of the Catholic Church, I have seen no reason to believe that my experiences are anomalous, but are rather sadly, the rule, in badly wounded marriages. There is virtually no chance that I will be reconciled with the Catholic Church in the absence of radical, canonical/pastoral action to directly support those who have been
abandoned by their spouses and to firmly require repentance, restitution, and a full accounting, both morally and civilly, from their errant spouses and ALL their Catholic abettors (especially among the clergy) or they would face formal automatic excommunication if such just actions are refused.
This, I know, will NEVER be the coarse chosen by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which is not interested in helping those who are
already mortally, unjustly, wounded. It would rather take the convenient way out and focus on prevention.
The Catholic Church is in grave error and is actively destroying lives and marriages with its pastoral practices and its tribunal system. A million valid annulments do not justify a single valid marriage being violated. Our marriage was destroyed by the Catholic Church in cooperation with my wife, her lover, her family and their
friends. I begged for help from the Catholic Church for years and years and years only to be ignored . After so many years of asking for help, in vain, to heal a valid Sacrament, I have finally decided that the Catholic Church, virtually, abandoned me and our marriage in
January 1991, when it was presented with a petition filled with falsehoods and, in practice, did the same when a priest ensured our
divorce with his assurances of the 90-95% certainty of an annulment, which would follow the REQUIRED civil divorce.
Simply put, the end was used to justify the means and since justice delayed is justice denied, I am now a former Catholic.
From the outset, the actions of the Catholic Church were expressly designed to bring about my agonizing death as soon as “invisibly”
possible through my persecution/demoralization by its proxies, my wife, her lover and the state, in cooperation with the clergy, so
that my wife and her lover could be “validly and sacramentally” married in the Catholic Church. The validity of our marriage was just a minor inconvenience since the “adulterous couple” had been accepted, since BEFORE we were divorced, by the Catholic Church. This is simply murder by another name made legal by the state and
morally justified by the Catholic Church.
Go ahead, continue to ignore the Rotal allocution of John Paul II when he taught that an accurate decision on nullity was BOTH just and pastoral and the teaching of as solid a Theologian and Canonist as Cormac Burke, the Retired Rotal auditor, when he wrote that a
decision in favor of validity was an indication of the need to accept it and to heal the sacrament. How many more valid marriages, spouses and children will you destroy to run your annulment mills so efficiently?
I have no desire to receive a reply from this letter because I already know what it will say. I have been told the same since 1989. Nor do I
have a desire to return to this imposter of a Catholic Church.
Your marriage initiative is a sham. You bishops are corrupted to the core, to the man, by a degenerate culture. You pay lip service
against it but your pastoral and tribunal practices bear witness to your true intent. However, since there are so few good Catholics
left, who have not been absorbed by the culture of death which the Church secretly espouses yet publicly eschews, there is no real opposition to your diabolical actions.
There is not a single good shepherd among you, not one.
As a final note, because this is going to Spero and may be published, to be accurate:
I have sought the intercession of the Catholic Church in order to bring about a reconciliation between spouses. It has been said that for the Catholic Church to excommunicate a person like those involved in unjust divorces would prevent the adulterers from exercising their will, freely.
I find this interesting since there was no interest at all, on the part of the Catholic Church, to consider how my free will was
steamrolled by it’s REQUIREMENT for a divorce, in a completely unjust and corrupted civil legal system. Nor did the Catholic Church consider that I was completely opposed to any annulment hearing. So, again, my free will was not worth consideration. It is interesting to note that such a “divorce” requirement is NOT included in the universal canon law. That is a POLICY decision by each local Bishop, I believe, and is pretty much uniform throughout the U.S., as is
deliberately ignoring any serious attempts to bring about a reconciliation between the spouses, which IS part of canon law.
An excommunication does not, in any way, inhibit the choice faced by an adulterer, which is to repent and heal their marriage, if they
really are intending on following the teachings of the Catholic Church. By accepting unrepentant adulterers and merely denying them communion but allowing them to give the faithful the impression that they are “good, practicing Catholics”, does harm to the abandoned
spouse, does harm to the children of the valid marriage and effectively negates the practical meaning of marriage. It streamlines the entire tribunal process to merely provide a potential “way out” for adulterers while doing nothing to restore a valid Sacrament.
To say that it does otherwise is disingenuous of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is playing both sides of the permanence/divorce issue in a very nuanced way, in the eyes of the public. But from my perspective, as an abandoned spouse, the Catholic Church clearly favors the actions of my wife and her lover as she continues to violate our vows. This cannot be mistaken by the Catholic Bishops. They have made a deliberate choice to abandon spouses like myself. It is they who have left me and our valid, Sacrament behind. I have simply acted to make THEIR decision, formal, by defecting from the faith.
The Catholic Church does grave harm to all marriages by failing to formally excommunicate everyone who obtains a civil divorce without
justification or whom refuses to work towards reconciliation with their spouse. Our divorce, as in all wars with too many casualties, has resulted in a triage decision, that our marriage is not worth the resources and has been left to die in favor of new marriages, which only have a fifty to sixty percent likelihood of failure. The “good shepherd” has been cancelled by modern circumstances and the permanence of real marriages is rendered archaic in the Catholic
Church today.
God bless the US Marines who still try to leave no one behind. The Catholic Church could use some Marines as Bishops!
——————–
On Sep 9, 2007, at 11:07 AM, wascatholic wrote:
Karl writes to the ‘defending marriage’ internet discussion group.
Dear Bai,
There cannot be a different Church within a Church. The same universal rules must apply or it is not real. I could not imagine a Church acceptable to me that would be in union with the Roman Church, which I am at odds with, also.
For me I cannot be in union with a Church which accepts unjust divorce. It must take consistant action to restore valid marriages that must include complete expulsion if reconciliation is refused, unjustly by either or both spouses. I can understand an initial tack of gently trying to cajole an errant spouse to rejoin an abandoned union but if there is no movement toward reconciliation in a reasonably short time then the move toward complete expulsion must be certain and reasonably swift. This expulsion must also include all Catholics supporting the errant Catholic, including the Pope himself, if he supports the error, and all clergy in between who support the error. So I doubt I will ever reconcile with the Catholic Church.
Consequently, I doubt I will ever reconcile with my wife. Such action will never occur in the Catholic Church. It is part of my great sorrow. An acceptance, in the long run, of such injustice, by necessity gives incentive for divorce and all the horrors that follow.
What is so hard for me to deal with, as I have now come to see the Church, is that the Church as an institution is not the “conscience”
of an individual. It is a “teacher”. The individual, adult, Catholic is responsible for the education of their conscience and seeing to it that their behavior is consistant with both the teaching of the Church and their conscience in such a manner as to not scandalize another, meaning to not create and take part in a situation that tempts another to sin.
From my conversations with Catholics far better educated and excperienced than me I have come to begin to see that my understanding of what the Church is or should be, appears to be at odds with the Catholic Church’s view of itself, in real terms, as I understand things right now.. That is exactly where I am right now.
I do not agree with that view, as I understand it.
The issue of being able to remain with an adulterous lover, giving them the same support necessary to make a “household, family work”, for the “good of their children” while simultaneously denying those same personalist elements to a valid, Sacramental spouse is somewhere I do not think I will ever be able to go and to accept as just.
But unless I am wrong, and this is what I have not been able to get anywhere near adequately described and explained to me by a faithful, competant, Catholic in legitimate authority, this is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches, provided the relationship excludes sexual intercourse. This human being cannot get past this.
Knowing full well the vulnerability of innocent children, who have a right to an intact family, this still, in my mind, does not justify
the functional abandonment of a valid marriage, when the other spouse is opposed. In fact even if the other spouse is OK with this, I see it as harmful to what a valid marriage means. This effectively reduces marriage to sex, only and it means that marriage is not permanent, but, in name only, not function.
This is my understanding of this issue from my perspective and from what I believe is the perspective of the Catholic Church.
I have no solution other than to reach the conclusion that I have, to defect from the faith. My entire faith is dangling on thread.
For me, if marriage is permanent, the spouses must live for each other in order to sustain each other, for each other, but also for
their progeny. For another relationship to supercede this relationship, to me, eliminates its permanance in function. To say this other relationship supercedes it and is justified if sex, only, is excluded, means that marriage equals sex, only.
Bai, I am extremely hurting over this . I have come to see that my understanding of marriage may have always been at odds with what the Catholic Church taught. This, itself, may be grounds for an annulment. I really don’t know.
I could state with moral certainty, in retrospect, that I would not have promised life long fidelity, and being open to children, if
there was even a sliver of justification that could ever have been acceptable to the Catholic Church to justify such a negation of a
valid marriage. But, in addition to this, I would never have promised life long fidelity, and being open to children if I knew that the Catholic Church pastoral practices were such that what has happened in our relationship would not be answered with formal expulsion from the Catholic Church. Although I was mistaken,
excommunication was, to me at the time of our wedding, formal expulsion from the Catholic Church, not merely refusal of communion.
At that time, I was well aware of the civil meaninglessness of the marriage commitment. Divorces were a dime a dozen then, too. But
that was not my belief in how I expected the Catholic Church to practice.
I was learning “anew” about Catholicism, as an adult, at that time. My wife and I were on a journey together. As time progressed, I
became more and more uncomfortable with Catholic practices in America. I wish I could remember, accurately, when I finally came to understand that divorce and remarriage, no longer resulted in automatic excommunication, as it had for all of my life until 1977. It had always been my understanding that divorce was simply not acceptable in the Catholic Church. In fact, I had relatives, my mother’s cousins, who were Episcopalian, due to divorce. I cannot
remember when, because as far back as I can remember I knew that Dad was Presbyterian, I found out that the reason he was raised
Presbyterian was because of Grandma, who was Scotch/Irish and a staunch Calvinist. Grandpa and Dad were baptized Episcopalian due to a divorce in the generation or two before them. The Wengenroths had been Catholics.

So, Bai, as I am right now, I could not be a part of the Catholic Church. I wonder if I ever was. I was baptised in the Catholic Church
so that probably seals that question but the issues I have just discussed really trouble me.
Pray for me and all of my family, please.
Karl

Karl September 19, 2007 at 8:40 am

This is just out in the news and clearly shows the state of the disrespect for marriage within the Catholic Church and if any of you even dream that this same infection does not pollute American priests, bishops and canonists(who grant annulments like rubbers are given out in public schools and advise for divorce and advise to live as “brother and sister” while refusing reconciliation with a valid spouse and advise the use of “the internal forum” to justify ignoring valid marriages that “can’t be proven invalid”, then think again, kids and open your eyes to what is really the “smoke of Satan” in the Catholic Church.
So, coming soon to a Catholic Church near you and this is a “natural” off shoot of the already present ” forgive”,”move on and be happy” divorce support groups in most Catholic parishes.
The Catholic Divorce Guide
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Catholic priests in Austria are offering courses on how to divorce as smoothly as possible.
The officials in the Linz diocese said that, although divorce runs against Catholic teaching, they want to offer help to people who have decided to go ahead with a split.
Gabriele Hofer-Stelzhammer, who is running the course in the southeastern town of Puchberg, said: ‘A lot of people suffer very badly mentally and financially during divorce. The Church is there to help people in need.’
I just wonder why they don’t do the same to advise the best way to abort, once you have decided to. The justification is exactly the same. They are both grave mortal sins but this shows the undeniable evidence that the “paradigm shift” clearly is present in the Catholic Church and there is a hierarchical acceptance of divorce, while there is not yet the same for abortion. They are BOTH PROLIFE issues, different sides of the same coin and part of the “seamless garment” of life issues.
If heads do not roll for this one, the Pope will have tipped his hand away from his “progressive” chest. Rome has been playing games with the European Church for decades now, which American clerics have seen and taken advantage of. Bishops who do not expel their priests must be deposed and the Americans told, you are next!
But it is a nightmare for Benedict XVI because he already has seen a Swiss Court hold that a renegade Catholic priest is protected from leaving his Church, as he was required by his Bishop, because his removal violated labor laws, which the magistrate decided applied to the Catholic Church as well. I guess this is Reformation Part Deux, forgive my French.
The Pope is in an unenviable position and I will pray for him. So are his fellow Bishops.
Karl

Gary October 1, 2007 at 9:52 am

I would like to know the answer to this question. If a non-catholic man marries a non-catholic woman in a civil ceremony, but later divorces and loses all contact with her, can he and his second wife later become Catholic? What would be the consequences? I read in a post above that civil marriages aren’t recognized by the Church.

matt October 1, 2007 at 10:13 am

Gary,
civil marriages among 2 non-Catholics are presumed valid by the Church as natural marriages. In the case you mention, the Church would perform an investigation of the original marriage and determine it’s validity, if it’s invalid it is declared null and the person is free to marry in the Church. The current marriage would need to be blessed by the Church in a simple ceremony. Speak with a good priest about this process.
God Bless,
Matt

Ram)n April 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm

I wonder… this is an old thread, so will anyone comment? Well the question is if two Catholics marry under a justice of the peace, is this an impediment of form? That is, an invalid marriage because they were not married by a priest? I ask this because I’ve read in the Catholic Encyclopedia about an argument if previously married Protestants who convert will be required to marry in the Catholic church to validate their marriage (that is, to ensure their marriage is a sacrament). The argument was that they do not have to remarry because becoming Catholic confers the sacrament (to their marriage). So, how much more are two Catholics who marry in a sacramental marriage, even if under a JOP?

Maria October 11, 2008 at 8:58 am

Can anyone answer this…I am Catholic and was married three years ago to a Jewish man. We can not resolve the issue of religion with the thought of possible children so he has told me he doesn’t want children. We were married by a justice of the peace. Is my marriage considered invlaid, thus not requiring an annoulment if I get a civil divorce. When I get married again I want to be married in a Catholic church. Thanks for your help.

SDG October 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

Maria,
Thanks for your question. There are several considerations here.
First, marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian (disparity of cult) is possible, but it is a non-sacramental natural union, just like marriage between two non-Christians. Only baptized Christians can receive sacraments, so only two baptized Christians can be sacramentally united in matrimony. Non-Christian marriages are still valid before God, but they are not indissoluble sacramental unions like Christian matrimony.
Second, Catholics are canonically required to observe the Church’s laws with regard to marriage.
Thus, if two validly baptized Protestant Christians are married by a justice of the peace, and if they can and do give valid consent, their union is a true sacramental union of holy Matrimony (even if their theology doesn’t recogize it as a sacrament).
However, when at least one Catholic is involved, whether the other party is another Catholic, a non-Catholic Christian or a non-Christian, the marriage (whether sacramental or not) must be in accordance with canon law. They must be married by a Catholic priest in a Catholic church, or with dispensation from canonical form.
If you did not have dispensation from canonical form, your marriage is not recognized by the Church. Your husband’s unwillingness to have children is another issue. Marriage, sacramental or not, is predicated on openness to life.
If your husband wanted to stay with you and wanted children, then following St. Paul I would tend to think you ought to try to regularize your marriage situation by having your marriage convalidated by the Church. This would not require your husband to convert or to agree to raise the children Catholic. It is a reasonable concession that he ought to be willing to make.
However, if he wants to stay with you but does not want to have children, it is hard to know what to say to that. One might reasonably feel that a husband who wants a wife but doesn’t want children doesn’t really want a wife and doesn’t really want to be married.
If he is unwilling to have children and doesn’t want to have the marriage convalidated, I think you would be justified in seeking a civil divorce.
AFAIK, you would still need a decree of nullity, but I think this would be a more or less documentary procedure. A good Catholic priest ought to be able to give you some guidance in this regard.
Hope that’s not entirely unhelpful.
Oh dear, I see no one responded to Ram)n. Well, FWIW:

Well the question is if two Catholics marry under a justice of the peace, is this an impediment of form? That is, an invalid marriage because they were not married by a priest? I ask this because I’ve read in the Catholic Encyclopedia about an argument if previously married Protestants who convert will be required to marry in the Catholic church to validate their marriage (that is, to ensure their marriage is a sacrament). The argument was that they do not have to remarry because becoming Catholic confers the sacrament (to their marriage). So, how much more are two Catholics who marry in a sacramental marriage, even if under a JOP?

I hope the above comments help address these questions. Two validly baptized Protestants marrying under a JP (or in a Protestant church) who give valid consent are validly and sacramentally married, and if they become Catholic do not need to have their union convalidated by the Church. (That is my situation: I was married as a Protestant to a Protestant in a Protestant church in 1991, and my wife and I were received into the Church in 1992. Our marriage was recognized as valid, and did not have to be convalidated by the Church.)
Catholics are bound by canonical requirements of form, and are thus in a different situation. They cannot be validly married except in accordance with canonical form or with a dispensation from canonical form. So two Catholics married by a JP would not be validly married, and their union would need convalidation.

The Masked Chicken October 11, 2008 at 9:57 am

Dear Maria,
You might also explore the Petrine Privilege
The Chicken.

Maria October 12, 2008 at 8:49 am

So if a marriage between and Catholic and a Jewish man in non sacramental and a civil divorce is obtained, in the future would I have to disclose that information to the church if I was to be married in a Catholic church to a Catholic?

Karl October 12, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Dear SDG,
I believe a marriage between two Catholics who appear before a JP is valid, but needs convalidation to be a sacrament. Validity, I think, falls under natural law, presuming the understanding of perpetuity/fidelity and openness to children are consented to by both parties. If the consent was understood properly and exchanged, even with no witnesses, the marriage should be valid.
Dear Maria,
Why would you want to involve the Catholic Church in your marriage and NOT disclose what you described? It seems deceitful.
Would you not tell the same to your betrothed as well? Do you want him to join in the deceit? Seems like a great way to deceive yourself, in the process. Where do the “hidden agendas” stop?
Common sense and sincerity would require you to inform the Church regarding all such relationships.

SDG October 12, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I believe a marriage between two Catholics who appear before a JP is valid, but needs convalidation to be a sacrament.

This is not my understanding. AFAIK, there is no such thing as a valid but non-sacramental marriage between two baptized Christians. A valid marriage between baptized Christians is always a sacrament. Where there is no sacramental union between baptized Christians, there is no valid marriage.

Karl October 12, 2008 at 6:33 pm

About this one, I cannot argue. Perhaps Ed Peters could comment.
I would like to hear his take on actual consent being exchanged and understood properly, yet not marrying in the Church. I say this because it means that a natural marriage is not a valid marriage in such a circumstance and I wonder about this.

Ed Peters October 12, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Karl, no. SDG, right. Cheers, edp.

Maria October 13, 2008 at 6:49 am

I know the marriage was legal, but I’m still unsure as to whether or not an annulment would be necessary according to canon law if I have a civil divorce decree. As I said he was Jewish, of course never baptized. All that I find is information between two baptized Christians, but nothing addressing the Jewish issue. It is not that I wouldn’t inform the church, my priest, of course I would, I guess I want to know what is legal according to cannon law. I realize now that the marriage was never right and I regret marrying outside the church. I just want this part of my life in the past.

SDG October 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

Maria,
The key fact here is that you as a Catholic attempted marriage outside canonical form without (as far as I know) dispensation to do so. Your marriage is therefore regarded as null; that your putative husband was never baptized doesn’t even come into play.
Before you can marry in the Church, you will still (to the best of my knowledge) need to get a decree SAYING that your attempted marriage is null, but this should be a pretty straightforward matter of filling out some paperwork. It should not be a difficult or complicated process. A good pastor will be able to help you with this. Good luck.

SDG October 13, 2008 at 9:24 am

I would like to hear his take on actual consent being exchanged and understood properly, yet not marrying in the Church. I say this because it means that a natural marriage is not a valid marriage in such a circumstance and I wonder about this.

A natural marriage by definition exists only between two non-baptized non-Christians. Not being Catholic, they are not bound by canonical obligations of form, and can thus be married in any forum. Even if one or both spouses is divorced, the present marriage may still be valid since natural marriages are dissoluble.

The Masked Chicken October 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Dear Maria,
SDG, I believe, is correct. If you never got a dispensation from cult, your marriage would be invalid and easily annulled, pro forma. Here is a pdf document from the Chicago arch diocese which explains the various types of dispensations needed for different situations. Here is an answer from the Catholic Answers Forum, by Michelle Arnold.
I cannot counsel you on the internal problems within the marriage. It is sad to hear that anyone would want to not have children. It saddens me that you find yourself in this situation.
The Petrine Privilege I mentioned above is probably overkill in your situation (still, its nice to have a document from Rome). Any tribunal canon lawyer can probably give you good counsel in the matter of an annulment (should you decide to terminate the civil marriage).
In the best of all possible worlds, your husband would convert to Catholicism and be open to children, but if he does not wish to do this and he cannot understand why children are the primary reason for marriage, then one wonders what he thinks marriage is all about. Even in the Jewish religion, children are the primary reason for marriage. I am afraid to push the matter any further, for fear of meddling. Whatever happens, pray for him, very hard. Your prayers may bear fruit, but not, possibly, while you are still married to him. God only knows.
The Chicken

Nancy Scrivano October 13, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Thank you everyone, and God Bless You.

Karl October 14, 2008 at 5:38 am

Dear Dr. Peters,
Thank you. I needed that.

Alex October 14, 2008 at 1:48 pm

I’m getting married, and he was married and divorced but he was not married in a church but a court house building can we get married in a church or would we be ..well he be turned down?

SDG October 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I’m getting married, and he was married and divorced but he was not married in a church but a court house building can we get married in a church or would we be ..well he be turned down?

No matter what, you cannot marry him inside or outside the church until his first marriage is declared null. A justice of the peace or a Protestant church might declare you married, but your marriage would not be valid. So his first marriage must be declared null first.
This may be very easy, if he is/was Catholic and married outside the Church without permission (dispensation from form). In that case, the annulment is a pretty automatic process. You will have to fill out some paperwork. A good priest can help you with this. If he is not Catholic, the canonical form of his first marriage doesn’t matter and the annulment will be the normal process.
Additionally, assuming you are Catholic, you must follow canonical form or have a dispensation from it, which means you must be married by a priest in a Catholic church or have permission to do otherwise from the bishop or someone authorized by the bishop. Even without the issue of his first marriage, if you attempted to marry him as a Catholic outside the Church without dispensation from form, your marriage would not be valid.
Good luck and God bless.

Don November 11, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I am VERY confused. I joined the Catholic church in April of 2006. My wife and I (neither Catholic) were married in January of 1993 in the county court house.
When I joined the church, they said our marriage was valid, because we had been married for so long.
She was still not Catholic and actually loathed the Catholic faith.
She began an affair with a single, never married Catholic male.
After 5 months in the affair, she moved out and filed for divorce. I never wanted the divorce and even though she was having an affair, I wanted to reconcile the marriage.
After 2 short months, she was granted a civil divorce.
One year later (the fall of 2007), she started her journey of faith to join the Catholic church – which she loathed. In January of 2008, she got engaged.
She was married in October of 2008 IN A CATHOLIC CHURCH and then filed a petition for an annulment.
What is going on? How was she able to marry in a Catholic church, before she even filed the petition for the anullment?
I have not even met with the Tribunal and she has already been married for over a month.

J.R. Stoodley November 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Perhaps she didn’t tell anyone in the Church that she had a previous marriage, and it came out later forcing her to file for an anullment? Just a guess.
Probably when you converted they should have had you look into whether your marriage was probably valid or not. Because neither of you were Catholic at the time the whole courthouse thing shouldn’t be a barrier to validity (assuming neither of you were baptized Catholic or had otherwise been Catholic at some time in the past; if one of you was that could introduce complications). But remember that if neither of you were Catholic could it be possible that one or both didn’t have a proper understanding of marriage at the time, for example that it’s perminant and there has to be an openness to having children? I imagine she’s petitioning for an annulment on those general kinds of grounds not because you were married in a court house, unless again there’s some complication you havn’t mentioned.
In any case I’ll pray for you, since that’s an terrible situation to have had to go through. I hope someone more authoritative spots this post. Posts on old threads like these can get overlooked, unfortunately.

Rotten Orange November 12, 2008 at 7:12 am

I hope someone more authoritative spots this post. Posts on old threads like these can get overlooked, unfortunately.

Dear Don
If you want to follow J. R. Stoodley’s advice, send the question directly to Jimmy through e-mail.

Rotten Orange November 12, 2008 at 7:15 am

Dear Don
The link above doesn’t work. Use the one on the upper left corner of this page, below Jimmy’s photo.

Don November 12, 2008 at 10:55 am

Yes, the church did look into our marriage when I joined and they did validate our marriage.
She married her “new” husband outside of our diocese and I am now in the process of trying to contact the priest that performed the wedding.
Thank you for your help and I will keep you updated…

Don November 13, 2008 at 7:08 am

I was finally able to get in touch with the priest of St. Mary Catholic Church in Mount Carmel, IL, Diocese of Belleville.
“Father Bill” is the priest that performed the wedding and he said, based on his experience of 95% of the petitions filed for annulment result in the marriage being found invalid, that he made a pastoral decision to marry the couple.
He said he spoke with the couple and they did not want to wait for our marriage to be found null by the Office of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Peoria.
When I asked the priest for his last name, he laughed at me! I asked why he was laughing and he said that he felt I was trying to start an injustice. I told him that he had already started an injustice.
I have not even had an opportunity to respond to the petition that was filed with the Office of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Peoria.
My ex-wife and her “new” husband began their relationship while she was still living in our home as my wife, prior to her moving out of the residence and prior to her filing a civil divorce.
Is the Catholic Church as a whole not upholding the sacrament of marriage any longer?
Is the leadership of the Diocese including its Bishop and Priests short-circuiting the Tribunal Process?
Are the Priests of one Diocese now allowed to act alone as a Presiding Judge in the Tribunal Process of another Diocese?
Are Respondents no longer allowed a defense to a Petition of Nullity?
I have requested a response from the Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, IL as to how the Diocese of Belleville interprets Canon Law in regards to re-marriage in the Catholic Church, the scripture and the sacraments.
This presents a difficult question in my faith in the Catholic Church, including its belief on the sacrament of marriage, its Bishops, its Priests and the Tribunal Process.

Brian Walden November 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

It sounds like Father Bill is committing a terrible injustice against you. I’d advise you to find a canon lawyer who can help you and also to report “Father Bill” to the bishop (be courteous and keep it simple, just presenting the facts of what he said – let the bishop do the interpreting of how to handle it. I found St. Mary’s in Mount Carmel on the diocese of Belleville website, http://www.diobelle.org/parishes/parish078.aspx – it appears that Fr. Bill is Pastor William J. Rowe.
To try to answer your questions (I’m sure others will probably do better than me):
“Is the Catholic Church as a whole not upholding the sacrament of marriage any longer?”
Depends by what you mean by “as a whole”. The Church always and everywhere upholds the sanctity of marriage. At the same time, in America for example, the majority of Catholics use contraception – so we are failing to uphold the sanctity of marriage. The Church is full of sinners and always will be, don’t let that blind you to the truth she teaches. The actions of Fr. Bill are particularly scandalous and treacherous. If it’s any consolation, take heart that you are doing all you can to live faithfully according to your marital vows and the more injustice you suffer because of it the more grace God bestows on you.
“Is the leadership of the Diocese including its Bishop and Priests short-circuiting the Tribunal Process?”
This priest is certainly short-circuiting the Tribunal Process. At the very least he’s being disobedient to his bishop by attempting to marry people who are already in other marriages and at worst I’d be willing to bet that he could face severe punishments under canon law. I hope that the Bishop isn’t involved, but rather doesn’t know that Fr. Bill is doing this.
“Are the Priests of one Diocese now allowed to act alone as a Presiding Judge in the Tribunal Process of another Diocese?”
Absolutely not. Your canonical rights are being violated, get a canon lawyer who can help you.
“Are Respondents no longer allowed a defense to a Petition of Nullity?”
Of course they are. You said yourself that your marriage hasn’t been annulled, therefore it’s still valid. Fr. Bill merely bypassed the whole tribunal process. I think I remember recently that one of the Kennedy family wives appealed her case all the way to Rome (and won) to prevent her marriage from being found invalid. You have the same right if, God forbid, it ever goes that far.
Please don’t let the actions of bad Catholics, even if they are clergy, shake your faith the Church. St. John Chysostom noted in the early Church that “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” The church will always have bad clergy. Pray for them, pray for your wife, and get someone who can help you in this process.

Eileen R November 13, 2008 at 10:10 am

I’m not sure from your story why Shaun’s first marriage would be valid. His first wife was married twice before, and that would tend to weigh against their marriage being valid in the first place. (Unless Shaun’s wife’s first two marriages have been annulled?) And from your desscription, Shaun’s wife didn’t have any intent to be faithful in her marriages.
If this is a real situation, the advice from the priest is just wrong. Martina’s marriage is obviously invalid, yes, but she still should get a declaration of that from the Church. Shaun’s marriage is probably *not* recognized by the Church, unless his wife’s previous marriagess have been already judged invalid. But he still needs to get the Church’s decision on that.
So in conclusion, I think that if Martina and Shaun just buckled down and submitted the paperwork, they’d likely both get declarations of nullity pretty quickly, and they can then renew their vows in a Catholic Church any time they like. It’s a matter of observing the forms, not of Shaun being excluded/punished.

The Masked Chicken November 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Dear Don,
I am very reluctant to make comments on your situation, since I am not a canon lawyer, but you have a right to be informed of the annulment and to participate in the process. Here is a link to a brochure from the diocese of Lafayette, Ind. It clearly states:
Does the other party have to know about the declaration of nullity?
Yes. There are no exceptions to this, unless the whereabouts of the other party are unknown. Since a declaration of nullity affects a person’s status in the Church, the other party has a right to know about the proceedings and to participate in them.
Does the other person have to participate in the proceedings?
No. The Tribunal must inform the other party of his or her right to participate. This includes the right to submit testimony, the right to name witnesses, and the right to be represented by an advocate. Moreover, both parties have a right to review the material in the case and to read the decision once it is reached. Furthermore, both parties have the right to participate in the Appeals or at the Roma Rota. However, the Tribunal cannot force a person to exercise his or her rights; the exercise of rights in the Church is up to the individual.

I would like Ed Peters to weigh in on this, but Can. 1684.1 is pretty explicit that one is not free to marry until after the appeal of the original decree (all annulments are automatically appealed to a second court to make sure there was no error in the first process)
Can. 1684 §1 After the judgement which first declared the nullity of the marriage has been confirmed on appeal either by decree or by another judgement, those whose marriage has been declared invalid may contract a new marriage as soon as the decree or the second judgement has been notified to them, unless there is a prohibition appended to the judgement or decree itself, or imposed by the local Ordinary.
It appears that your wife was not validly married by Fr. Bill, since no dispensation was granted (if that were even possible). I would contact a canon lawyer as soon as possible and let HIM contact the bishop. This seems to me (subject to what Ed or Jimmy says) that this is a very serious breach of the sacraments, both of matrimony and ordination.
You also had a right to present evidence, including evidence of her unfaithfulness:
Can. 1679 Unless the evidence brought forward is otherwise complete, in order to weigh the depositions of the parties in accordance with can. 1536, the judge is, if possible, to hear witnesses to the credibility of the parties, as well as to gather other indications and supportive elements.
In any case, you may be able to appeal:
Can. 1686 §2 A party who considers him or herself injured retains the right of appeal.
In any case, I would find a canon lawyer who specializes in annulments and get his opinion. My comments, here, are of the most novice type and should, in no way, be taken as advice of any type – just more, possibly, useful (but perhaps, incompetent) information.
I agree with Brian Walden that you should pray for your wife, pray for the priest, and find someone competent to help you.
The Chicken

Don November 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I received a response to my formal complaint with the Diocese of Belleville:
The Diocese of Belleville interprets the laws on marriage and/or re-marriage according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The ceremony you describe would be invalid according to canon law due to the lack of freedom to marry at least on the part of (my ex-wife). Similarly, Father Rowe would have taken this action on his own without the knowledge or consent of Bishop Braxton, the Diocese of Belleville or regard for the 1983 Code of Canon Law that regulates the sacraments. I cannot speak for Fr. Rowe nor do I know what he was thinking in partaking in this ceremony. However, please know that this matter is being investigated.
Sincerely,
Reverend Kenneth J. York
Chancellor
I also was finally able to meet with the Presiding Judge of the case with the Office of the Tribunal today. He reviewed the petition with me and he noted several inconsistencies and contradictory statements that my ex-wife had made. I noted several blatant lies and then presented him with photos of her “new” marriage in the Catholic church, photos of my her and her “new” husband while they were dating (during our marriage) and the complaint to and response from the Diocese of Belleville.
He was…appalled and shocked at my ex-wife’s actions as well as those of Fr. Rowe. He said that it was a very serious and criminal offense to Canon Law, by my ex-wife and Fr. Rowe and, if he was aware of the situation, her “new” husband (I know he was aware…).
He was also surprised of a photo of the couple with the Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, as he blessed their engagement in the Cathedral, where the proposal took place.
He said their marriage is INVALID according to Canon Law and he would also challenge the validity of their marriage civilly, because Fr. Rowe didn’t have the authority to perform the ceremony.
It makes me sick, but at least the Presiding Judge of the Office of the Tribunal is aware of the FACTS and is as upset about the circumstances as I am.

More Christ Like November 22, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Les McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9. He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall’s paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.

Karl November 23, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Dear Don,
All your wife, please refer to her as your wife, not ex-wife, as she has not received an annulment….yet…., has to do is get pregnant, then she will be told by those in authority in the Catholic Church, in no uncertain terms, that she may remain with her adulterous partner “for the good of the children” and she may receive Communion as long as they live “as brother and sister”.
It would not even matter if she “lost” her annulment cases, as my wife did in Rome. The Catholic Church has made it clear to my wife that her lover and she have obligations to their children of adultery, that render her obligations to God, to society, to me, to our children and her vows void(as long as she goes to confession every time they “weaken” and have relations as “brother and sister”). After all they are living as “brother and sister in truth”(I know very few brothers and sisters who share wedding rings) and just succumb to the temptation and are therefore free to have their weaknesses forgiven in confession. Thus, for “the good of the children”, adultery is forgivable in perpetuity, day after day, week after week…..
This is what happens when the Church speaks from both sides of it mouth.
God luck, Don.

The Masked Chicken November 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

Dear Don,
You wrote:
It makes me sick, but at least the Presiding Judge of the Office of the Tribunal is aware of the FACTS and is as upset about the circumstances as I am.
The sad thing is that, given the way Canon Law is interpreted by some in the United States, the fact that your wife does not seem to understand what constitutes a marriage would probably play in her favor should she decide to try to re-apply for an annulment if the current one is ruled invalid.
This situation seems complicated, because neither one of you were Catholic when you got married, but the Church said the marriage was valid, “because we had been married so long.” Length of time is not a determinative factor in validity cases. It is the disposition at the time of a marriage that matters.
I think having a long talk with a good canonist is essential before this matter proceeds any further. I realize that there are things that you cannot or should not talk about in public, but many aspects of this situation strike me as odd. Perhaps, I have misunderstood.
The Chicken

Sheryl November 24, 2008 at 8:07 pm

The Catholic Church has strict rules for separation and requires reconciliation when the reason for separation no longer exists. The Church does NOT teach divorce/annulment/remarriage.

Lucy December 20, 2008 at 6:50 pm

I believe that a Catholic married outside the Catholic Church, who divorces, does not need an annulment, since that marriage was not considered a Sacrament. What is needed is a declaration of lack of canonical form, which can be obtained “over night” – I have seen this done in our diocese, and new marriages performed almost as quickly after getting it.

SDG December 20, 2008 at 7:19 pm

I believe that a Catholic married outside the Catholic Church, who divorces, does not need an annulment, since that marriage was not considered a Sacrament. What is needed is a declaration of lack of canonical form, which can be obtained “over night” – I have seen this done in our diocese, and new marriages performed almost as quickly after getting it.

Let’s not paper things over with a euphemism. Saying “that marriage was not considered a Sacrament” makes it sound as if there were a marriage, but a non-sacramental one. There wasn’t. There was no marriage. A Catholic who attempts marriage outside the Church without permission is living in sin.
Regarding a “declaration of lack of canonical form” vs. an “annulment,” I don’t know whether there is some canonical distinction being cut here, but as regards the basic meaning of the words a “declaration of lack of canonical form” would seem to be a pro forma finding of nullity, i.e., an “annulment.” Not requiring tribunal hearings or other formal procedures, and doable overnight, perhaps, but still a finding of nullity by reason of lack of canonical form.

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