Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

Ask the Fathers! about Marriage.

Do you have a religious, ethical, or historical question for any of our Priests?

Ask the Fathers is taking a break. We will be taking questions again soon.

This page answers questions concerning marriage. Other questions are sorted by subject matter at the pages below.

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On January 30, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My wife and I were married in her Lutheran Church 17 years ago. I was raised Catholic and she is now becoming Catholic. Our Fr. scheduled her time for Reconciliation, then was to receive the Eucharist a few days later. In 3 months we planned to have our marriage blessed with family and friends while visiting our hometown. Our priest told us that we must abstain from marital sex and live as brother and sister in Christ for her to remain in a state of grace for Holy Communion. Does this mean we both should not receive communion Until our marriage is blessed? While we were married in the Lutheran Church, both of us believe that our marriage is and always has been a Holy Sacrament. We were both surprised by this unexpected change, can you help explain?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

The priest is giving you proper advice.

One possibility would be to have your marriage blessed shortly after the reception of the other sacraments. This could be very private with priest and two witnesses and free you both to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Then at your family celebration you could have a public ceremony with the priest's blessing and your renewal of vows.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers,

Thank you for reading my hopefully simple question. I was married in a Catholic Church but unfortunately had to get a divorce and would now like to remarry. Can a Catholic priest remarry me outside of a Catholic church without an annulment? I am in the process of getting one, but wasn’t planning to remarry in a Church. It will be an outdoor wedding.

If a Catholic priest is unable to do this, what other options do I have to remarry if I don't have an annulment?

Thank you,

Gary

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

In some places it is possible to get an dispensation from "canonical form" (ie in a Catholic church before a Catholic priest or deacon). Without that dispensation a Catholic minister (priest or deacon) would not be allowed to officiate at your wedding. Nor could they officiate before your annulment is granted.

If you are in the process of getting an annulment, it sounds like being married in the church is important to you. Give it time.

Is there a chance for a "convalidation" of a civil marriage, after the annulment comes through? Yes. But is that playing games?

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father,

I am getting married this year and have found a gorgeous church that is open to performing the ceremony on a sunday. I want to know when the priest asks "why do you want to get married here" what is the answer you are looking for? I know only to say how important it is to me to just get married in a church. I have a reception that will be very close to the church. I honestly can say all i know- the importance, my religion, the location, and how beautiful the church is. But what is the answer the priest is looking for? Any guidance would help. thank you=

Fr. Bob answers:

In regard to marriage, the statements you make are supposed to be the truth.

If you are looking for an "expected answer" instead, you are on shaky ground.

Be honest.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father, My husband is an ordained deacon in the catholic church. We have done our traditional and court marriage in Nigeria. I am pregnant and we intend to do the white wedding after I give birth in december. I wish to know if it would be possible to do the white after giving birth. Thanks.

Fr. Bob answers:

Colors have more to do with cultural traditions than church teaching. Go with whatever you and your husband are comfortable with.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On January 24, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

My daughter who has been raised Catholic has been living in Australia with her Protestant boyfriend. They just got engaged and are discussing having an outdoor wedding in NY. How can I explain to her the importance of marrying in the Catholic church?

Thank you.

Father Bob Stein answers

You have a conflict between the sacrament of Matrimony and the wedding event industry.

Catholics understand Matrimony as a sacrament (an encounter with Christ) and teach that the couple must knowingly and freely enter into it. That is why they demand instruction before the sacrament. The state also demands a license from the government to make it legal. For a church wedding you need 5 people, bride and groom, 2 witnesses, and a priest or deacon in a Catholic church where the sacrament will be recorded and record of which will be forwarded to the parish in which you were baptized.

The wedding industry sells photo ops, events, destination weddings, theme weddings, media extravaganzas, and other major productions. What people have seen in the movies (sometimes in over-budget productions) is marketed as "normal". All the extra add up. Sometimes to the detriment of the couple.

This is the wedding day, not the marriage it self. Most people do not get the distinction.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father,

I was married in 1983 in a civil service. At the time neither of us had been baptized. . In 1985 during the marriage, I went through RCIA classes and was baptized in the Catholic Church. My husband chose not participate in any religious practice. Both of my girls were baptized in the Catholic Church. We divorced in 1993 due to his physical violence. I not only feared for myself but for my two little girls. During the divorce process I was told I "must" not divorce no matter the circumstance and I would not be allowed back at church by the priest. Even though I pleaded with him that I feared for our safety. I left the church in 1993 and moved to another state.

I remarried, in a civil service to my present husband in 1995. Our relationship is everything the bible speaks of as a as true union. He has been a wonderful husband and father. He was baptized in the Baptist church as child. We all attended a Methodist church as the girls grew up.

Both girls are engaged now to very nice Catholic young men and will go through RCIA to complete their catholic education. Both couples will be scheduling Pre Cana classes too.

My husband and I have had many challenges during my our life together but have remained prayerful and faithful. However, I have missed mass and practicing the Catholic faith desperately. My husband is very supportive in my desire to return to the Catholic Church.

What do I do from here? Am I allowed to participate in mass? Can my husband enroll in RCIA classes? Do I have to have my first marriage annulled? If so this will be very difficult as we have had no real communication through the years except through attorneys.

Can you please give me some advise?

Thank you,

Pam

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Pam,

"Am I allowed to participate in mass?" No reason why you may not participate at Mass, even though you may not receive Holy Communion at present.

Even as a Catholic you may secure a divorce for sufficient reasons, which you appear to have. However the divorce does not make you free to marry in the Catholic Church without an annulment from your first wedding.

Since your case involves a change of religion, there are possibilities that the annulment can be reached.

I suggest you present your case directly to the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal of your diocese. It may be reached by phoning the Bishop (Archbishop's) office directly. They will probably refer you to your local priest and if so ask their help and explain the situation and difficulty you have.

"Can my husband enrol in RCIA classes?" He may attend the classes, but could not receive the sacraments until the marriage straightened out.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers

Need your help...On July 21,2012 a Deacon married us outside the church because I already had been married by church to my first marriage, this is my second marriage so we asked if he can do a small ceremony at the hall reception and he said yes,,,well after the ceremony I asked him to sign our marriage license and he said he couldn't sign it cause he married us outside the church,,,what I want to know now,,,is my marriage valid or not? can the Deacon still sign my license? please I cannot keep thinking my marriage is legal and have doubts,,,thank you for your help

Letty

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Deacons can officiate at weddings of Catholics, in Catholic churches, according to the laws governing Catholic marriages.

If you had an annulment of your previous marriage, and if you had a special dispensation from the (arch)diocese for a wedding outside the usual setting (in church), the deacon might have received delegated authority from the pastor of the local parish to preside at your ceremony. Without the annulment and dispensation the deacon had no authority from either the church or the government to do so.

FR. Bob Stein, SDB


Hello Father,

I find myself in an interesting situation, and am trying to figure out how I should respond to a friend. I would appreciate any guidance that you might be able to give on the situation.

I am a catholic layman who was asked if I would officiate at a friend's wedding. Both parties are more or less agnostic with a leaning toward belief, but both were brought up in christian traditions. The Groom-to-be was baptized as a Methodist, but the Bride-to-be was never baptized. We spoke about it and she says that she believes that accepting Christ into your heart makes you a christian and that baptism isn't necessary (she views it as a public ceremony, no sacrament, etc.). Their wedding is to be held in a Unitarian hall building.

My initial thought was "I don't think that I am able to perform that function," but as I thought about it, I considered the fact that they would be the ones who were marrying and I would be there only to act as a master of ceremonies, of sorts, and that the position would allow for a prayerful atmosphere from someone they know, as well as the support of someone who they have said they look up to in a spiritual sense.

The questions I have for you are as follows:

Is their marriage valid?

Can I, in good conscience, officiate in such a marriage?

If not, what would you suggest I do to explain my position to them?

I am confused because I feel torn between a potential conflict in doctrine and the command to love one another that I hear from Christ. Thank you for your guidance.

Yisep YHWH,

-Mark

Father Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Mark,

What a blessing and opportunity to be asked to officiate at a wedding! Catholic judges do it all the time, even for Catholics who “attempt marriage” [canonical term] civilly. If you do not qualify by your position to officiate, it is simple enough to become [at least temporarily] a deputy marriage commissioner for the ceremony.

You have the opportunity to share the “Good News” even without specifically mentioning Jesus or God. Mutual love is a sign of the presence of God in people, especially a married couple.

The Church, at first sight, looks upon marriage according to law and custom as a good, valid marriage, unless it is proven otherwise. The Church only makes rules for its own members, not anybody else.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

Thank you for taking the time to answer this question. I do not feel comfortable asking my own priest. I have been married 32 years to the same man and have never been married to anyone else. My husband, however, has been divorced twice. His first marriage lasted 7 years, his wife had a mental issue at the time and he received custody of his son. His second marriage lasted 3 years and he admits that they were never compatible to begin with but she wanted to be married. Both of those marriages were in held in Methodist churches. Our marriage was performed by a Justice of the Peace in 1980.

My husband and I have raised both of our now grown sons in the Catholic church. When my children were making their first communions, I talked with our priest and he told me it was acceptable for me to take communion and I have been doing that ever since then. My husband and I both attend mass every Sunday and most people assume we are both Catholic and were married in the church, even though he does not take communion. I am very active in my church and community.

I would like to become a Eucharistic Minister but I was told from another parishioner that unless my marriage was blessed by the Catholic church, that could never happen. And now I am even wondering if it is acceptable for me to take communion.

Since we have been married for over 30 years, is there some “streamline” convalidation that would apply for us?

Fr. Bob answers:

If your husband has attended church with you and helped raise your children Catholic, has he ever thought of joining the Catholic church himself? You mentioned that both of his prior marriages were in the Methodist church, but did not say whether or not he was baptized or a member of the Methodist church.

The statement that his first wife had an unspecified "mental issue" raises the question of whether or not she was capable (having sufficient understanding and freedom of choice) of entering into a permanent, lasting relationship of mutual fidelity. The validity of the second marriage would be questionable during the life-time of the first spouse.

From the bits and pieces, there are hints that annulments and convalidaton or sanation might be possible. That is something to take up with your local (arch)diocese; whether or not you go through your local priest.

In the meantime, refrain from the Eucharist and delay putting yourself forward to be a Eucharistic minister.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father

I am a catholic and my ex husband is a catholic. He divorced me in 2001. I am 68 years old and he is 75 years old. I don't think it is a reasonable option for either of us to seek a catholic annulment due to our ages and his having documented memory and cognitive problems.

I do not envisage a further marriage for myself. Do I still have a catholic sacrimental marriage with my catholic ex husband. Our two sons were raised catholic, baptised, confirmed. We were married in the catholic church before a priest in 1968. The separation was due to his inability to control his aggression or remember such.

I would really appreciate having this matter clarified to me.

Estelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Estelle,

You do not need an annulment unless you plan to marry again.

Your first marriage is still sacramental, and you have no restrictions to your Catholic practice....

Fr. John Malloy SDB


On January 17, we received these questions:

Dear Father

I would be grateful if you could confirm the following from me. A married couple, wife Catholic & husband Baptist are married in the Baptist church but now weekly attend Catholic Mass and are Sunday Ushers. The wife as i mentioned is Catholic, goes to regular confession. Can she receive Holy Communion?. Can their Parish Priest give their marriage a blessing if the husband was married before but that marriage was never annulled? If a blessing is given, can the wife who is a catholic then receive weekly/ daily communion.

Many thanks

Amanda

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

The proper course of action would be for the prior marriage to be annulled, and the current marriage convalidated thus allowing the Catholic party to receive communion. This done through the (arch)diocese, not at the parish level.

A priest may bless them and try to incorporate them into the parish community as ushers or whatever, but without the annulment and convalidation, receiving the Eucharist is not permitted.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Hello Father,

I was married in a civil marriage to a Jewish man several years ago. I am a practicing Catholic as well as our children. I want to join a new parish. Their questionare asks if we were married in the church. If I tell them that it was a civil marriage, what are the consequences? My kids have been baptised and my youngest will be confirmed in s few years. I really want to be accepted into this parish but I'm worried that I will be rejected or reprimanded. Can you explain the consequences of a civil marriage?

Thank you for your response.

Linda

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Linda,

The "proper form" for a Catholic marriage is in a Catholic church before a Catholic priest or deacon. That hold true whether or not both parties are Catholic. A 'civil marriage" declares before the state that you are married. A church marriage is both a civil marriage before the state and a sacramental marriage before the church.

The first step is for you and your husband to discuss whether or not you are open to having your marriage blessed in a Catholic church.

The process is called "convalidation". The process is similar to that of marriage in the church: proof of your freedom to marriage--your testimony and that of family witnesses, your baptismal record, an instruction about the Catholic understanding of sacramental marriage, an affidavit that your husband does not oppose your sharing your faith with your children.

It sounds like all that is already happening.

I cannot guarantee you will not run into cold and insensitive people in the best of parishes. There is always that chance, that risk. But there are also warm and caring people in all parishes. I hope the support of the one helps you overcome the challenge of the other.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I thank you for taking the time to read this. To get right to the point almost 10 years ago I was granted permission as a catholic to marry a Jewish girl. The ceremony was performed outside of the church but done by a deacon. In the short of it all I am legally divorced a couple years now and although I do have grounds for annulment I don't have the time to go through the process considering I would like to re-marry my current fiancé who by the way is catholic and never married. I understand the churches position re-marrying only if annulment has taken place. My question is could it be possible to still have a wedding ceremony in a catholic church without annulment? Even if someone performed the service and in the eyes of the church was not valid is it still possible to use the church for its beauty ? I apologize if this is offensive that is not my intentions... With all do respect father I would have gone through annulment had I known earlier it would be an issue and now we are engaged I we lack the time it takes to go through it... We REALY just want to be married in a catholic church that we love. I'm asking if it's possible before I attempt to speak with anyone from the church we have in mind. Thank you once again for your patience and attention to my situation.

VIVAT JESUS!

Billy
Knight of Columbus

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

From what you say you have two routes for an annulment. The first is your statement that you have sure grounds, whatever that might be. The second is a marriage to a Catholic after a previous marriage to a non-Christian. Yes, both will take time.

Yes, the church demands that an annulment takes place of your previous marriage before you can marry in a Catholic church. Just as the Knights of Columbus demand that you are a practicing Catholic. No, churches are not open to use for marriage other than those sanctioned by the Catholic church.

Start the annulment process as soon as you can asking which route would be fastest in your case. Good luck.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father,

My husband and I are both Catholic immigrants to this country from the Philippines. From Kindergarten to high school I was schooled by the Sisters of St. Paul and from college to Med School went to a Dominican University . My husband was also schooled from Kindergarten to High School by the Theresian nuns and got his college education from De La Salle University in the Philippines run by Lasallian Brothers. We met here in the USA while I was in my residency training in Anesthesia at the University of Iowa in 1996. We had plan for a Catholic wedding, however at that time we were unable to fulfill certain requirements to attend pre-wedding seminars because of my schedule. We decided then to have a civil wedding and planned for a church wedding when we go back home to the Philippines. Also because most of our relatives were there including our parents. However, as the time went on we were unable to do this because by then I have a J visa and was not able to go home without procuring lots of paperworks from immigration. My child was born the following year and we have her baptized in the Catholic church. Meantime I became busy as I continued my training in Pittsburgh. At about that time I started inquiring about convalidation of my marriage but too often we either could not complete the seminar or my husbands confirmation certificate could not be found. The elementary school run by the Theresian sister has long been gone in the late 60s and the church could not provide us any documents. Throughout those years me and my husband continued our Catholic faith going to mass every Sunday, making confessions and receiving the sacrament. Everytime we joined a new parish I do not volunteer to inform them that I have not yet receive the sacrament of Matrimony for fear that they will not accept us and thus would not be able to attend the mass and participate in the Eucharist. Deep in our hearts are our desire to get the sacrament but I feel that there was too many impositions of the Church preventing us to obtain it. By 2004 I started to have this strong desire to have my marriage get convalidated . We were residing then in Tallassee AL and I spoke to our parish priest, he requested that we again have to join some seminar and then have to provide at least 2 pairs of catholic sponsors. Being immigrants and new to places most of our neighbors and co workers then were Baptist and could not complete the requirements. I was too ashame to tell the priest our situation , and was just waiting to schedule it when relatives from CA who are Catholic come and visit us in AL. Well, by then we have moved again to Pittsburgh, in 2006 . I was glad the priest from St. Pauls Cathedral was willing to meet us. I thought that he may be more lenient to our situation. To my dismay , he again requested that my husband secure the lost Confirmation certificate or we have to attend the RCIA for most of the year then attend a weekend retreat and provide a pair of Catholic sponsor. By this time I am fed up . I told Christ , he have witnessed our union , we are now blessed with a 15 years old girl who is raise in the Catholic faith , attends Sunday school got confirmed 2 years ago. Our family continues our Catholic upbringing as we go to church every Sunday and holy days of obligation in a small Catholic parish in the suburb of Pittsburgh. I am afraid to tell our parish priest the real situation since he knows our faces and might start to refuse us communion during the mass if he is aware. Father, all we want is to receive the sacrament of Matrimony. I don't think Christ will require us paperworks for us to receive the sacrament if he was here on earth. I don't think Christ would require us weekends of seminar from Catholic couples when we are in fact better to give them seminars having been together for almost 16 years now . I know several friends who were married in the Catholic church who underwent all those seminars and are now separated.

I think the only way would be to go home to the Philippines spend a fortune ($1200 for a RT airfare) , get confirmed again (the Basilica of the Black Nazarene gives a one day seminar and we will get confirmed the same day), then maybe find a priest there who can give us the sacrament if we tell him our situation, unless you can give me any suggestions.

Marie

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Marie,

For a valid Catholic marriage in any country, the US or the Philippines, you must know what you are doing and freely choose to do it.

The pre-nuptial instruction you seem to be baulking at is an attempt by the church to instruct couples in the Catholic understanding of the sacrament of matrimony. This covers the first requirement.

The witnesses being asked for are two people who have known you since your teen years who can verify that you are free to marry. Those witnesses can do the paperwork at any Catholic parish and have it signed by the priest taking their testimony who will forward it to person doing your "convalidation." This covers the second requirement.

If the school where your husband was closed, the sacramental documents should have been a) sent to the parish he was baptized in, b) recorded in the local parish the school was located in, and c) forwarded to the motherhouse and or diocese.

It is not a question of finding a priest who will do things your way. It is a question of your being willing to do what is asked of anyone wishing to be married in the church.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Hello – my fiancé and I have our wedding scheduled for May 31st of this year. We both want to be married catholic (I am Catholic and she is Lutheran but never really practiced it). The day of our wedding, we want to have the ceremony and reception all on site. Meaning ceremony first and then reception to follow immediately. The priest we have asked to marry is OK doing the ceremony outside BUT wants to do the actual marriage with the paperwork a day or two before the ceremony. At first my fiancé was ok with this but then asked if we could do it the day after the ceremony because she is thinking it will be weird getting officially married before the ceremony in front of everyone. She believes walking down the aisle won’t be the same and won’t feel as special if it’s more of a renewal. I guess my question is, can the priest do it the day after? At first he said yes but now he seems to be opposed to do it after.

Thoughts? Thank you for your help and God Bless

Jesse

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

The Catholic understanding is that there is one sacrament, one exchange of vows, one commitment. There can be another ceremony in another church or another locale renewing the sacrament, the vows, the commitment, but not one day for one and another day for another--Lutheran church one day, Catholic church another. "Faking it" one day to have the "real" marriage another day might not go over too well with the state or the church. Have one date with both the church and the government.

The "proper form" for the marriage of a Catholic is in a Catholic church before a Catholic priest or deacon. Dispensations from proper form are given, but I am not sure "desire to have it at the same site as the party" will be enough to get that dispensation.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Fathers,

I was raised Catholic but haven't gone to mass in several years. My husband isn't Catholic and doesn't express any interest in converting. We were married in a church with traditional vows but a Catholic priest didn't perform the service. Our daughter is six months old and I have just made the decision to have her baptized instead of a dedication. I do want to start attending church regularly and devote my life to God. I have moved to a new state and know no one. I wouldn't consider most of the people in my life to devout Catholic. I. Know I need to have someone that is Catholic as a God parent. Could I ask my God son to do this? He will be 18 in several months and attends regularly. Will I have problems getting her baptized because of my marriage and lack of attendence described above?

Elisabeth

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Elisabeth,

You can regularize your Catholic status by joining the local parish RCIA program Your husband would not have to convert, but he must promise that the child be instructed in the Faith.

Your marriage is not recognized by the Church, so you need advice as how to straighten that out. It can be simply done.

A local priest can help you, and explain RCIA.(instruction in the Catholic faith)

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Good morning Father,

I have several questions that I need help with. I was raised a Catholic, was baptized, received holy communion and confirmation. Married in the catholic church in my late 20's.

I thought I was marrying a good man and believed I would be married forever. However almost from the beginning he drank allot and stayed out until all hours with both men and women.

I told him I did not like what he was doing and we argued allot. He was jealous and accused me of having affairs which I did not. He

also wanted to control me. I could not take it anymore and 7 yrs. later “D“ with a broken heart. Six months later he wanted a second

chance, I agreed and 6 months later we split for good. I have not received communion all those years because of my “D“ as I understood I could not. I however attend Mass every Sunday when I am able to and have never been away from it.

However I have friends that are “D“ and still receiving holy communion as if nothing ever happened. Is it still a church law that onced “D“ you can no longer receive holy communion.

Is there something I can do? I apologize for the long e-mail.

God bless you and thank you.

Sincerely,

MV

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

The Catholic church does not believe in "divorce and remarriage". The church does not demand that you stay in a dangerous, abusive relationship. Sometimes separation is necessary for the safety of a spouse and/or the children. In our society divorce is also necessary to protect the spouse and/or children from legal and financial responsibility for the other party. That is understood. This civil divorce does not negate the sacramental marriage. Nor does it bar one from the sacraments.

What would prevent one who is divorced from receiving the sacraments? Entering into another relationship while the sacramental marriage is still in effect. One who is single and divorced can receive the sacraments. One who wishes to marry again must go through the process of "annulling" the first marriage--proving why that marriage was not what it appeared to be, due to lack of knowledge, freedom, maturity, intention, or whatever. An annulment is not necessary to receive the sacrament, only to remarry.

Divorce does not keep you from communion. Remarriage without an annulment does.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Fathers, my sister and I are extremely close. She is having a baby soon and has chosen me to be the godmother. I really want to, but I'm concerned because I am married but my husband is not catholic, so we were married by a justice of the peace and not the catholic church. I'm I still able to be the godmother if all other requirements are met but this one???

Thank you for taking the time to answer.

Andrea

Fr. Bob answers:

Catholics can marry non-Catholics in the Catholic church. Since you already have a civil marriage with the justice of the peace, you can have that marriage "convalidated" by the Catholic church. Once this is done you can receive all the sacraments and also be a godmother. Talk it over with your husband.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


I have a question concerning the RCIA process I began last night at St Mary's. I am married to a catholic (civil marriage) and I have previous marriages ending with civil divorce. Am I eligable to join the Church and be Baptised or must I have annulments approved first? Please advise. Thank You!

Michael

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Michael,

Many blessings as you continue your faith journey – and asking questions!

Before attempting a response, there are a couple of things to ascertain first. Were you ever baptized in any Christian church?

If you were never baptized, the process of being clear for Baptism becomes simpler.

If you were baptized, then other details of your previous marriages become more relevant. For example: was your first wife a Catholic? Had she been married before?

You should enter a dialogue with your parish priest right away. Perhaps he may direct you to someone at your diocesan Tribunal who will be able to sort it out with you in legalities of Canon [Church] Law.

We are entering into Ordinary time in the Liturgical year. It is the ordinary time of God’s grace in our journey with Him.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 8, we received these questions:

Fathers,

I am Catholic and I got married in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas in 1990 and got divorced 10 years later. I am in a relationship with a Catholic widower and we’re talking of getting married in the Catholic Church.

What do I need to do?

Appreciate your help and guidance.

Annabelle

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Annabelle,

It is a matter of collecting all your paperwork.

You would need marriage registration and final decree of divorce, and verification that your civil marriage was not "convalidated" or blessed by the church during those 10 years. You would be applying for a dispensation for a "lack of form"--as a Catholic you were not married in a Catholic church before a Catholic priest or deacon.

He would need his marriage registration and death certificate for his first wife.

These papers would document both of your freedom to marry within the Catholic church.

Then you would follow all the local procedures for marriage in your parish.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Hello,

My sister asked me and my children to be in her wedding (civil union). We are practicing Catholics, and she recently admitted to me that she no longer believes in God even though we were both raised catholic. She doesn't want God to be a part of their wedding. I told her that we couldn't be in the wedding, but we will still attend. This has caused everyone including her to become very angry with us. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and God bless,

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers

Mary,

So sad to hear of your sister's loss of faith. Insist that you love her dearly, but it is sinful to be part of such a marriage ceremony.

Better that people, rather than God, are angry with you.

Tell her that you will pray for her and love her always.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

Here's my situation. I am catholic and have been since practice since i can remember. I'm 37 now. I was married in the Catholic Church in 96 to someone that was not catholic and I thought I was going to be with forever. I was raise with great morals and beliefs. We were married 3 years when we were blessed with a little girl in June of 99. My daughter was raised as catholic since she was born. A little after she was born he committed adultery and did not want to be married. I wanted to save the marriage but, he would treating me to take our daughter because he's family had money. I was young and very scared and naive it was a horrible divorce that with Gods strength I through it. We were divorced in 01. I spent all my time raising my daughter men and myself weren't a priority. My daughter started asking me questions about why we weren't married at the age 9. I didn't think it was right for a young girl to know what happened so I just said, that she was brought into this world with love and we love her. Sometimes things don't workout. I know I lie but, I was doing it for her. He on the other hand puts the blame on me, which i explained and I know god knows and that's all that matters to me. I have not been with another man since my ex husband. Dec '10 I met a wonderful man and to be honest I didn't think I was going to love or be with a another man after my husband. We have been together for two years now and couldn't be happier. He's catholic and never been married before. We go to church together and we really want to get married and have the churches and gods blessings. I just found out that I have to get my first marriage null. We are very simply people with not a lot of money. Then with this economy it's hard. I picked up papers and it will cost a lot to do this. Which i don't have the money for. Plus, I have my daughter asking me why do I have to do this. I explained and she's very upset that the church that she's been going to and part of is wanted to null a marriage and say that in gods eyes that marriage was void. I understand being catholic and we have rules but, I'm torn what to do. I want to marry this great man and stay in our faith but, father I'm having some concerns for my daughter and myself too. I feel like I'm being punished by my own church and I don't like that feeling and part of me is questioning my religion. I would like some guidance father. I have not talk to my priest at our church yet because I'm afraid too. But, if that's what I need to do then I will.

Sincerely,

Diana

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Diana,

A lovely letter, full of Faith! It reminded me of my own life situation growing up. My mom divorced my dad when I was just two years old. What I remember is that she never said anything bad about my father.

Now you have a working relationship with someone, and you are thinking about getting in harmony with the Sacraments of the Church. We human beings! Sometimes we end up with complex situations. But if we are to be authentic disciples of Jesus in the community of the Body of Christ in the world, then we have to work to be in harmony with Him. Thus the principle is that an authentic Sacramental Marriage is a lifelong covenant. If circumstances break it up, the Church can made a formal research and evaluation to see if everything was present so that the Sacrament existed not just by external celebration, but internally also.

So this is what a Church Tribunal does. It looks into everyone and everything to see if everything was present, or not. If not, then a formal decree is issued, so that a person may be able to enter into the Sacrament.

In your situation, when you enter into dialogue with your own parish priest first, then with the Tribunal, you will be looking to see if anything was missing at the beginning of the marriage. This ends up to be a real healing.

In the mean time, and if everything doesn’t work out in the end, you should follow the advice of Blessed Pope John Paul II who told couples to do their best in their Christian life; participate in the community of the parish in everything possible; rear your children in practice of the Faith, including the observable things, such as Sunday Mass and catechism.

As regards the office fees, the Tribunal is usually open to negotiating this. Also the parish can be involved. Or the Catholic Charities of the Diocese. Or the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Or the office of the Bishop. It is not an insurmountable thing.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father

I am a practicing catholic. I was married years ago in the church and got an annulment. I then got married in a civil ceremony. We have twins. Can I get the twins baptized in the Catholic Church? Can I get my marriage blessed in the church or have a church ceremony now?

Thank you

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary,

You can have your marriage blessed in the Church. Your local priest can help you. Your twins can be baptized hen.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My ex-husband and I were married in 1980. We renewed our vows in 1993. After 22 years of marriage, 2 children and 6 years of divorce, my ex was granted an annulment of our 1980 marriage. Does the renewal of our marriage vows in 1993 still hold or was that annulled, too? Thank you….gail

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

The renewal of vows is not another sacrament, but a recommitment to one another. Some couples do that quite often.

The annulment would apply to the whole marriage. It does not, however, effect the "status" of any children born of that union.

The annulment granted to your ex-husband is also granted to you at the same time.

I hope that clears up some points for you.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Fathers,

My husband is Greek and Greek Orthodox. I am a lifelong Catholic. We are going to have a child and he would like to baptize the baby as a Greek Orthodox. We intend on sending our child to Catholic schools and we would like our child to receive first communion, reconciliation and confirmation with his/her class.

Is this possible?

Heather

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Heather,

To respond completely and correctly, there are a couple things to ask: Were you married in a Catholic Church? Or, if married in the Greek Orthodox, did you have the Catholic Bishop’s permission to have the wedding in the Greek Orthodox church? There are a series of documents and forms done for a marriage either done in a Catholic church or with the direction of a Catholic priest with the permission of the Bishop. Among these is the formal commitment by the Catholic person to baptize and rear children in the Catholic Faith.

All of this assumes that the Catholic spouse continues life as a practicing Catholic. In this case it makes sense to rear children in the practice of the Catholic Faith and receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church. If one is not practicing the faith, doing all these things brings confusion into children’s lives instead of authentic belief and practice of Faith.

For all of these things you should be in contact with your local Catholic parish priest and follow his advice.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 5, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers:

I am a baptized Catholic since babyhood/attended Catholic School for 12 years. I am married to a man of Jewish descent for over 26 years. We were not married in the Catholic Church due to his family's objections at the time. My husband has converted to Christianity many years ago (since our engagement in1984) and is familiar (and practices) many Catholic prayers and traditions because of his exposure to the faith through my family. Our faith is sincere and has stood the test of time.

I was denied confession after our marriage during a particularly difficult time in my life and the priest said in the confessional that we were living in sin and I could not receive the sacraments in this state and turned me away. I found this so jarring at the time (in a particularly vulnerable state) and so hard to reconcile I have not been to mass regularly since. I struggle with imagining Jesus turning me away and it seems impossible from all I have been brought up to believe that He would do so.

I miss the sacraments but struggle with whether I should remarry in the church to satisfy the rules so I can receive the sacraments, or continue to pray as we have these many years, happily married but not connected through the sacraments.

Your insights would be appreciated.

Thank you, Fathers,

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary,

You could repeat your vows at a simple ceremony; 2 witnesses, yourselves and a priest or deacon. As long as neither of you was previously married. Your husband would not have to convert to make this possible.

Speak to your pastor for arrangements.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Father,

I was baptized and confirmed Catholic. ihave been married 13 years. My husband was previously divorced. We tried to get an annulment before we got married but his ex-wife would not cooperate fully. Thus we were not married in the Catholic Church nor have we had our marriage blessed.

We have two children that are baptized Catholic.

My husband's ex-wife was married before she met my husband. Her marriage to my husband was her second marriage.

She is not Catholic my husband is not Catholic and her previous husband to my understanding was not Catholic either.

Is there anything I can do to have my marriage recognized by the church without the annulment? Also is there anything I can do to be in good status to receive communion again?

Thank you in advance for providing clarification.

Sincerely,

Tracy

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Tracy,

We human beings! Sometimes we get into situations that become technically complicated. Then we can only follow the advice of Blessed Pope John Paul II who encouraged people who have become not in harmony with all the Sacraments simply do the best we can, participate as much as we can regularly at Sunday Mass, give good instruction and enroll the children in religious education classes, be sure that they are practicing the faith fully, etc.

As for your current circumstances, let us see what is possible. The principle which guides the practice regarding marriage is that the promise made as husband and wife is made for a lifetime, unless it can be proved that it was not a true marriage in the first place. Technically there may be a variety of reasons why a true marriage did not happen. An easy example would be that one of the spouses had been forced into it. If this can be proven, the marriage can be declared non-existent. So a decree of nullity can be issued.

In your husband’s case, if his first wife’s first marriage, still technically existed [that is, not proven that it did not exist in the first place], then his marriage to that spouse was not valid, as her previous bond had not been dissolved by death of a spouse.

Yes, this legalese sometimes seems somewhat arbitrary. The Church, however, has to live what she believes: that marriage is a permanent covenant until death of one of the spouses. If the Church shrugs at this principle, what is to prevent her from shrugging at a variety of things, and thus not being faithful to Jesus Christ?

So I would encourage you to begin a new contact with your local diocesan Tribunal, and see what is possible, if anything can be done. In the meantime follow the counsel of Pope John Paul II.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

I have been dating my boyfriend for almost 2 years. We are both juniors at the same college and met our freshmen year. I get along wonderfully with his family and him with mine. However, he was born and raised Catholic, and I was raised in an Alliance Church. His family goes to church every Sunday and I have been to church with them many times. I otherwise go to a non-denominational church, he has visited with me a few times. I am fairly certain that my boyfriend has been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church. I have not yet been baptized but I am a "born again Christian" (I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus into my heart when I was young). For a long time I felt as though my boyfriend and I were perfect for each other- we have many things in common and have the same interests in life. But as we become more serious as a couple, the fact that we are two different denominations seems to be dampening our relationship and I feel as though our relationship is losing it's long-term purpose. He is pretty set on remaining Catholic and raising kids that way, and I am leery of becoming Catholic because I feel more connected to God in the non-denominational setting. We have discussed this issue countless times; coming up with options such as going back and forth between a Catholic and non-denominational church- if we were to get married. My issue with this is that the kids (assuming we would have kids) would not have consistency, and I myself would resent not being able to have a "home church"- one that we could become part of a church family with. I know there is a lot of pressure in Catholic families to marry Catholic and raise the kids Catholic. We are at the point in our relationship that we want to reach a conclusion on this issue. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we don't want to invest years in a relationship that doesn't have the potential to one day develop into a marriage. We are both very committed to our separate denominations, yet I feel as though he is committed for the sake of tradition and I am committed for the sake of a relationship with God. I deeply respect his commitment and appreciation for tradition, but I am having a tough time helping him to understand the relationship part. (I'm still working on it myself!)

What advice do you have for us (that I can share with him also) about addressing the denomination issue and then making a decision on whether or not we should continue our relationship? How should I go about the topic of a future wedding/marriage and how the kids will be raised?

Thank you so much for you time.

Missy

Fr. John Malloy answers

Dear Missy,

Your personal connection with God is admirable. Your sincerity is evident. Your boy friend's connection with his Catholic tradition doesn't seem so fervent.

However. We believe that the Church of Jesus was founded by Him, and His Apostles were chosen to spread this one true faith.

My suggestion to you would be to join the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) in the local Catholic Church. It's a program for Catholic and non-Catholic who want deepen their understanding of the Church.

You can marry without changing your faith, but your friend would have to promise to raise children as Catholics for a valid Catholic marriage.

May the Holy Spirit enlighten you.

With my prayers for a peaceful and God=filled relationship

Fr. John Malloy SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am scheduled to married in late May. We have most of the paperwork started and the Can-A classes scheduled. My fiance' is baptized, has done communion and been confirmed. I am baptized catholic but have not done my first communion and obviously not been confirmed.

I heard from one source that I can be allowed to marry so long as I have started the classes for communion, plan to be confirmed and get a document stating that is the case. However, I have also heard from another source that I can still have a sacramental marriage in a church just so long as I am baptized. There was also something mentioned as about possibly needing permission from a Bishop to do so without the document.

The whole situation has left me very confused and worried we may have to push the wedding back, costing her family thousands upon thousands (obviously our fault, but none the less it would be great to avoid!). Can anyone there give a definitive answer or point me to someone who can?

Thank you so much and best holiday wishes!

Matt

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Matt,

Any pastor could help you. Speak to your local priest.

You could be married without the sacraments mentioned, but a plan to make up would be a great help to your Catholic marriage.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On December 26, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am a practicing Roman Catholic. My wife is a Nichiren Buddhist. She is very fervent about the practice of her Buddhism. We have put off marrying in the Church until I get through medical school. Since we were married in a civil ceremony, seven years ago, I have felt that something is not quite right. She is a very good person, but has stated that she “feels uncomfortable” with Catholic imagery in the apartment, e.g. a local Church calendar, so I have obliged her. Things have gone consistently wrong/bad since we were married. Outside our concrete interrelations, all is “not right”. Whereas I seemed to naturally get along with my previous girlfriends’ friends, e.g., the opposite is now the case. I realize that I made a mistake by marrying outside the faith, but it was her sincere religious practice that I admired, albeit in Buddhism. Do you have any thoughts?

Sincerely,

J.D.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

J.D.,

Your fiancées religious status is not to be denied. She’s fervent in her belief. But this is not your belief. You may be very satisfied with your sexual union, but for a total commitment you need more than that, including agreement as to practice of faith.

Catholic “ imagery” should be part of your lifestyle, if you are a Catholic believer.

You were married out of the Church, so that union is not accepted for you as a Catholic. You cannot remain an accepted Catholic unless your defences can be overcome and your union blessed by the Church.

It appears that your union will not remain happy until these problems are settled.

With a special prayer for your peace of heart,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On December 13, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My Fiancé and I would like to have our wedding ceremony at St. Peter's Church this upcoming May of 2013. I am not a Catholic but he is a Catholic. His family prefer to have the ceremony in Vietnamese language. Is there a Vietnamese speaking Father who could facilitate our wedding ceremony?

Thank you!

C.D.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear C. D.,

Church bulletins all over the country state that arrangement for marriages should begin at least 6 months beforehand. You are already over a month late for a wedding in May 2013. If, indeed, you need to have a May wedding, there are only 4 possible times in May next year: 11:00 AM on May 11; 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM on May 18; and 11:00 AM on May 25.

We do not have a Vietnamese priest at SS. Peter and Paul. There are three parishes which have Vietnamese Sunday Mass: St. Boniface and Holy Name of Jesus in San Francisco and St. Raphael in San Rafael. There is also a Vietnamese priest working at the Archdiocesan Tribunal. I do not know his availablility. If you go to one of these parishes, they will be able to accommodate you more easily than here.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


dear father, my name is ashley my boyfriend and i would like to get married he is catholic i was saved as a christian as a child i was wondering what steps i should take so we would be able to be married in a catholic church before God.

 

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ashley,

If your boyfriend is a practising Catholic you can be married in the Church, as long as you promise to raise your children as Catholic.

You don’t have to be Catholic, though it would be better for your future family and yourself, if you did join the faith..

The local Catholic priest can explain the simple steps you would have to take.

Wishing you God’s blessing,

Fr. John Malloy SDB


Hello,

I am Catholic since I was 2 weeks old. I have a good friend of many years that has recently asked me to marry him. He is a non-Catholic and has been divorced about 4 years. I would have to move out his way and live at his house.

Can we get married at the court house and get the marriage blessed even though he is not Catholic? If not what is the process he needs to go through? I have never been married so I know it shouldn't affect me since this would be the first for me.

He got his ex wife pregnant out of wedlock and decided to marry her out of his dying mother's request. Does he need an annulment first or can we get the marriage blessed? Thank you for your help.

Susan

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Susan,

In looking at the validity of a marriage, understanding and free will are essential.

For him to marry you or to have a civil marriage to you blessed, he must be free to marry. The question of the pregnancy and his dying mother's request could both influence the level of his freedom in his decision to marry his ex. That is what the annulment process would have to look at.

Since he is seeking to marry a Catholic, the marriage tribunal would have jurisdiction. (Marriages between non-Catholics are presumed to be valid unless proven otherwise.)

Other questions that might come up are: Was his ex a Catholic whom he married civilly? Are you speaking about "moving out his way and living at his house" before the annulment and church marriage, or afterward?

Step one would be for him to get his papers (marriage registration, final decree of divorce, baptismal records if they come into it) together. Then he would approach the archdiocesan marriage tribunal about an annulment. They would ask him questions about his first marriage and ask for names and addresses of people who could corroborate his testimony. They would also try to get her side of the story. Then they would try to weigh all the information and come to a decision.

So, don't call the moving van just yet...

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB

Sue followed up:

Hi Father Stein,

Thank you for your quick response :) To answer some of the questions. His ex-wife is not Catholic and neither is he. I think he is Christian but not sure what faith exactly.

He was married about 18 years or so. I am not moving out there to his house till we are married first. I have my own house and he is buying a new home 3 hours from where my house is. I have to get rid of a lot of stuff and then rent my house out first. It should take time.

Is there times where the Catholic church will not grant annulments? He was young back then and he cared about his child. He was the care taker of his mom while she was dying of cancer. I don't think he loved the mother carrying his child at the time but did so because he cared about the unborn child and his mom said it was the right thing to do. He was really close to his mom. He told me his wife got worse and harder to live with over the years. She started to yell at his children as they got older and he felt it was best to leave. He separated and started the divorce about 4 and half years ago. His kids are 16, 19, and 21. He wanted to stay till his kids were old enough.

What are the chances the church won't grant him an annulment? I feel we will have a great marriage and life long. We have always had a lot in common and get a long well. We feel we are soul mates. He has been having life like dreams at night for years of us married and are very happy. He is 49 and I am 54. He said he wants his life partner. He brought it up to me with no persuasion from me.

Thank you,

Susan

Fr. Bob responded:

All of those facts will be considered once the annulment process begins. What is most important is the situation at the time of the actual marriage. Did he know what he was committing to, and was he freely doing so? was there pressure from his mother? the mother of his child? society at large? did guilt or shame add pressure to marry? was there fear of "labeling" the child? It all comes up.

Finding someone new or better after the fact is considering a second marriage, not the first.

What the chances are of getting an annulment depends on the nature of the case, and the testimony of the witnesses. He will have to consider who among his family and friends knew about his thoughts and feelings, his promise to his mother, and other particulars at the time of the wedding. There testimony will be important.

I cannot predict how long the process will take. Distance and time can either work for you or against you. If the documents and witnesses are all local, it will move quicker. If you are dealing with other states or other countries, it will take longer.

The church tries to show as much respect for the first marriage as you want them to show to intended/second marriage. Until proven otherwise, that will be how they will proceed.

Fr. Bob Stein


On December 6, we received these questions:

Hello,

My fiance and I are both Catholic and plan to marry in a Catholic church in front of all our close friends and family 2 years after our private civil ceremony.

My fiance is divorced from his estranged wife, whom he married in a non-denominational (non-Catholic) church 8 years ago. They have 2 sons who he wants to raise as Catholic. I understand that his first marriage is not recognized by the Catholic church because his ex-wife is not Catholic, nor was it in a Catholic church. Is this correct?

I just want to know if we should work on his annulment, or if the Catholic Church will recognize our marriage with no problems. Please advise.

Thank you!

Fr. John Malloy answers:

If your fiancée was Catholic at the time of his first marriage, it was invalid in the eyes of the Church.

An annulment is not needed, but you have to take steps to staighten out his status in the Church. Approach your local priest, and he can direct you.

Living together in marital union is sinful. Why wait two years, when you could settle it simply in a private exchange of vows? You can always arrange a celebration at a future date.

Rev . John Malloy SDB


On December 3, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I'm 17 and I plan on getting married to my boyfriend, however we need baptism records how do we obtain them, what are the steps?

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Denisha,

According to law, you are of marriageable age. However there are extra steps you have to follow besides the ordinary ones. Are you Catholic? Or your boyfriend? Or both? Request your Baptism certificates from the church in which you were baptized.

Besides filling out certain forms for yourselves, there is also a form for a witness for you and and one for your fiancé.

Then because of your current age, both of you will be expected to see a family marriage counselor. I am sure the Catholic Charities in your diocese will have that service. You will also need your parents’ approval.

Your letter implies you want to get married in the Church. You need to really pray and ask guidance from the Holy Spirit for this important step in your life. As disciples of Jesus Christ you need to be sure that this is what Jesus is inviting you to. Without Jesus as the anchor, you don’t have a chance. With Jesus, you become a bright light in the world around you. This is the Sacramental sign of God’s presence among us through the unity of husband and wife in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

My boyfriend is a baptized catholic that has not been to church in many years. I am preparing to begin my RCIA lessons and we have an 18 month old daughter we live together but are not married. The RCIA woman at the church that I am joining says that after all my rites but before I can be baptized my boyfriend and I have to get married or I can’t be baptized. However, his mother, who is an old school Catholic German says that I should be able to be baptized even if we are not married. But it is my understanding that we are currently sinning and that that would still be a sin. So I guess my questions are

1. Do my boyfriend have to be married before I can be baptized?

2. Can I still be baptized if my boyfriend refuses to marry me?

3. When my daughter gets baptized does she have to be fully immersed?

I am really lost here please help.

Blessings,

Tiffany

Fr. John Malloy replies:

Tiffany,

1. Do my boyfriend have to be married before I can be baptized?

Answer: No. A good preparation will prepare you for baptism. No restrictions, if your faith is firm and spiritual life in order.

2. Can I still be baptized if my boyfriend refuses to marry me?

Answer: Certainly. His agreement has nothing to do with your baptism. , provided you are prepared.

3. When my daughter gets baptized does she have to be fully immersed?

Answer: No she does not. A simple sprinkling is sufficient. Immersion is used in some parishes, but it should be by choice.

My prayer is that you make the right decision.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

My husband and I were married December 1997 broncx new York in the Catholic churh. I was clear to him that i would only marry him if it was in My Catholic church, we were living in south Korea at the time. Now he is saying he was forced to agree. He meet with a priest in South Korea, and he knows many exceptions were made for us, we didn't attend clasees, and he knows that. He agreed to raise children Catholic, or Priest wouldn't have married us, all 4 boys were baptised catholic and In the early years we attneded Catholic church, he never expressed a desire to go to a different church, we started going to a different denomination just so that we would have his participation, I asked my father first if it was okay. Where does my marriage stand , he has been abusive and unfaithful most of our mariage, So is this fraud , Where does the church stand,

Thanks

Donna

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Donna,

There seems to be a couple of questions here.

Understanding and free will are necessary for a marriage. What is important is: "What was the situation at the time of the marriage? Did he know what was being asked of him and did he agree to go along with it?" That is essential for the validity of the marriage. Changing one's mind after the fact does not change the validity of the marriage. It does make life miserable for those suffering through it.

If the present situation is abusive, you should take steps to protect yourself and your children from danger. If professional counseling does not help your relationship, physical separation might be necessary.

Each relationship is unique and the church tries to listen to both parties to see what course of action to take.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On November 27, we received these questions:

Hello!

So I am baptized, raised, confirmed, part of a parish Catholic and am planning to marry a non-Catholic. He is baptized and it has always been a dream for me to get married by my parish priest because I've known him all my life and been very involved in my parish. Can he officiate the ceremony? Even if we don't want to participate in a Sacrament of Matrimony would he be able to act as the officiant?

Thank you!

Catherine

Fr. Bob responds:

Catherine,

Catholic priests can officiate at wedding of two Catholics in a Catholic church. They can also officiate at the wedding of a Catholic and a non-Catholic in a Catholic church. Marriage is understood as a sacrament by the Catholic church. The ceremony for a Catholic and a non-Catholic included the liturgy of the word, the exchange of vows and rings, and nuptial blessing. It does not include the Eucharist prayer and communion from which the non-Catholic partner and guests would be excluded. All of this your priest-friend could do.

Catholic priests are not authorized to do strictly 'civil ceremonies'.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Father,

I've recently become engaged and my finance and I are planning our wedding. I'd like to married in my parish church as it is where I was baptised, first received communion and then confirmation as well as being my primary school church. My future husband is happy to get married in a Catholic Church however he is not baptised in any religion and has been divorced for about 10 years.

I've briefly looked into our options and understand that the Church would need to annul his previous marriage. I feel conflicted as the questions asked are very invasive and I feel bad that my husband to be's ex-wife will have to get involved. Whilst they were married at a young age and the marriage turned out to be an unhappy one, I've no doubt at some stage they were in love and their marriage produced two lovely children. I feel by having the marriage annulled it is unfair on his ex wife to almost say that it never existed although there marriage was not in a church and his ex-wife is not religious it still takes away from what must have been important and special years in her life. The other issue is that of the nature of the questions, unfortunately she is a rather difficult personality and she will mock the questions and answers and make them public for all friends and family to see, including John's children.

I feel extremely conflicted and feel that rather than encourage us to marry in the Catholic Church before God and our family we are being pushed away by the very nature of this process. And if I choose to marry outside the Church, which we may have to consider, then it is not recognised by the Church.

What are your thoughts?

Best Wishes,

Sarah

Fr. John Malloy replies:

Dear Sarah,

You are certainly called to make a difficult decision. I will pray for your fortitude in facing a dilemma, which concerns heaven and hell. These may sound as harsh words, but are at the heart of every marriage between Catholic and divorced man or woman.

My thoughts may sound cruel, but they are not mine—they are from the Lord’s Church—which is concerned with your eternal happiness. You know a Catholic may not enter a marriage with a previously valid marriage partner (civil or Christian) without an annulment of the first marriage.

Life is short and feelings are powerful. I realize how difficult it is for you to give up your relationship. But remember only God knows how long you will live. The state you are in when you die will last forever. It comes down to minutes of earthly pleasures (with pains included) versus eternity. I pray your soul will win over your body.

With prayers,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

we are a practicing catholic family. my children all go to catholic schools and my oldest daugther went to a catholic grammar school and hs. she dated this boy for 3 years long distance because she was home going to college and he stayed in Tx with his family also finishing college. they would see each other every 3-4 months. She asked him to ask her to marry him and he did. They never had the formal meetings witha priest and only attended the pre cana here in chicago one day. I did not know that she had asked him to ask her because she wanted to get out of the house. Needless to say she wanted a divorce 2 years later. By this time was she already leaving in Tx. it turns out that he got a girl pregnant while they were getting the divorce. Now she is telling me that she already started the process to have it annuled. She is dating this other man and tells me that she doesnt sleep with him but he is her boyfriend. She was very upset at me because I told her that I was not sure that she shouldbe taking Holy Commmunion because before God's eye she is still married to her husband. the boyfriend is not a practicing catholic but he was baptized and then his parents changed religion. He is willing to learn about the catholic religion.

I dont know what to tell her about her situation and she taking Communion. She goes to church every Sunday.

thank you!

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mother,

If your daughter has been to confession within the year, and is not sleeping with her boy friend, and has made her peace with God, she may go to communion.

An annulment would leave her free for a second marriage.

If the new boyfriend was baptized in the Catholic Church and is willing to return to the Catholic Church, he should take instructions to make up for what was missed in his youth and then can easily be re-admitted to our Faith.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On November 20, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers,

My husband was married briefly when he was a teenager – 23 years ago. He never lived with the woman, in fact, he never saw her again after the ceremony, which was performed at city hall. She was not Catholic, although he was. At some point later an official divorce was granted, presumably so she could marry. My husband and I were married in 2006 in a non-Catholic ceremony. We are now wanting to come back to the Catholic church, have our marriage recognized and baptize our children. Is it necessary to go through the formal tribunal process for annulment or is there another way to annul his previous marriage? There has been no contact with the previous wife or her family in 23 years and he is not willing to dredge up the past, even if it is the only way to return to the church.

Any help is welcomed.

Thank you

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Melissa,

If he was a baptized Catholic, the marriage in question was not valid. He can easily be freed to marry you in the Catholic Church.

Your local pastor can help you. Tell of your interest to rejoin the Church and validate your marriage. You can have a simple ceremony, without fan fare, and have the children baptized.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

Can someone marry the ex husband of her cousin of they have obtained an annulment. There are children from the marriage.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Katrina,

As long as you are not married to the ex-husband, and free to marry, you could marry the man in question.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On June 11, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My sister in-law ( who is a somewhat practicing Catholic ) is planning a civil ceremony to be attended by her friends and then a year later having a Catholic wedding that can be attended by her large Catholic family. She is in the process at the moment of doing a marriage preparation course. My husband and I have objections to this and are trying to find the right words to express to her our concerns. We need help in communicating clearly what exactly the Church says about this situation.

Many Blessings

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karen,

It will be painful for you to express your concerns, if the marriage in not in accord with Catholic teaching.

Putting it simply: She cannot have a civil marriage and exercise marriage rights, without committing a serious sin, which would prevent her from receiving Holy Communion and would make her a sinful member of the Church which she wishes to profess.

What prevents the marriage ceremony from taking place without the civil ceremony?

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On June 8, we received these questions:

I have a son who is gay and is getting married in Nov 2012. He know we don’t believe in same sex marriages. He also know that we don’t believe in his gay life style. We have made it very clear that we love him as our son and will never stop. We will support in his career and all he does in life, expect for anything dealing with his gay life style. He wants us to attend the wedding, but I don’t know what to do. We hear so many different pros and cons on going to the wedding, but what is the truth? Awaiting your answer, soon please.

Thanks Andrew

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Andrew,

Love the sinner not the sin.

He’ll always be your son. Reaffirm your love for him at every opportunity.

I would tell you not to attend this ceremony, which is a travesty of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Don’t participate in an act which will make your son believe that you approve his action.

Fr. Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 29-June 5, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am a 65 year old Protestant. My first husband and I were married for 14 years. He became sexually involved with my best friend and moved out, leaving me with our three young children to raise by myself. He asked me for a divorce. I did not want a divorce but had no choice in the matter. He married her and they are still married.

I have now been remarried for 14 years. He is a Protestant and does not want to join the Catholic Church or get an annulment from his first marriage.

I want to join the Catholic Church and am willing to apply for an annulment but I have read that even if my annulment is granted, I will not be able to join the Church because the Church does not recognize my 14 year old marriage. To join and take communion either my husband would have to get an annulment or I would have to leave him. I can't believe the church would ask me to leave my wonderful husband in order to join the Church.

My ex-husband and his wife joined the Catholic Church 10 years ago. They were never asked about prior marriages, were active in the church and took communion with no questions asked.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I am having problems understanding what I need to do to become a Catholic. I have been praying the Holy Rosary for a year and have asked my ex-husband to forgive me for whatever I did or did not do to cause him to leave me.

Sincerely,

Patty

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Patty,

We human beings can certainly get into complex situations. Sometimes they can be unraveled, sometimes not.

You have made some assertions which I am not so clear about. Your former husband and his wife joined the Church and were never asked about prior marriages. That is certainly something that should have been asked and resolved. If not, it is a situation which contradicts the Church’s understanding of authentic marriage.

If instead it was resolved, then you should have been notified also.

To the present! By any chance was your current husband’s wife a Catholic and not married in the Church or had been married before? Certain circumstances could be ascertained without your husband being involved.

On the other hand, in circumstances such as yours and a variety of others, we should follow the advice of Pope John Paul II, namely do the best you can, participate as much as possible, believe in God’s love for us notwithstanding everything. Through the ages, sometimes couples have promised to live as brother and sister, and thus are admitted to the Sacraments.

If the Church [i.e. us, the people] does not uphold its principles, then what depths we could fall into!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

Here is my and my husband's predicament.

My mother in law started the process for an annulment last year. At that time, the priest let them pick a wedding date. Reason was that the annulment process was only a year process and the church fills up fast so they wanted to save their spot.

It seemed as though the annulment was not coming through on time and my mother in law and fiancé became impatient as they have made many plans and sent out "save our date" cards to everyone some of which will be spending money on plane tickets and such arrangements. They made the decision to have their wedding at a Methodist church instead of their home Catholic parish, with the idea that they will have their marriage blessed once the annulment was final.

We are trying to live our Catholic faith. We are presenters for Catholic Engaged Encounter and know the importance of marriage and want to uphold that as best we can. We told her that we will not be able to come to the wedding if the annulment is not granted, as that would be celebrating adultery. We were also unsure if we could even attend the wedding ceremony of two baptized Catholics in a Methodist Church.

It is now four weeks from the wedding. My mother in law received the first letter stating the annulment is approved but is now being sent to the "defender of the bond" process. Our understanding is that until the process is final and she receives notice of a declaration of nullity, she is not free to marry. But, she then called her Vicor and told him about our situation. The Vicor acknowledges the fact that the annulment has been sent to the "defender of the bond" step of the process, but he said that the annulment was approved on their end and that her son could buy plane tickets and attend.

Our concern is two fold, that we would be attending and supporting their union, but the annulment wasn't in fact final. Our other concern, is that they are two baptized Catholics marrying in the Methodist church. Which by the way, their preparing priest is in support of and has even offered to say a reading during the ceremony.

If you could shed some light on our situation, we want to make sure we are upholding the sanctity and importance of marriage and are keeping in accordance with Church law.

Thanks,

Roisin

Fr. Malloy answers:

Roisin,

Too bad they did not set the wedding date a little later in the year--although it would not have been right to do so until the annulment was finalized. The present conclusion is costly and disturbing.

The priest doing a reading is not acting in the interests of the Catholic Church. His conscience must be his guide.

You may attend the ceremony in the Methodist Church as long as you take no part in the service. It is not a valid marriage for the Catholic partners.

In order to reinstate them in the Catholic Church, they would have to seek permission from the Bishop, or his vicar, and then have the marriage blessed in a Catholic ceremony--which may be a very private one.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello again Father,

I have spoken to both a parish priest from my diocese in NY and to my fiance (whom I address as husband, and he addresses me as his wife). We will be meeting with a priest from the parish closest to us now, as we live in another state. I'm sure all my questions will be addressed as well as his, but I would appreciate and value your feedback to the following issues. I'm not sure how long it will take to be in contact with the new parish in respect to getting more in depth with religion and Catholic teachings. My husband has many many questions which I cannot always answer, despite my religious upbringing and lifelong Catholic school education (all the way to college).

As I mentioned before, I made a promise to God and our Blessed Mother that I would help him find his faith again, so I am doing all I can. One big issue aside from his lying has been his addiction to pornography. His ex wife condoned and even pushed it on him but that sort of stuff has no business in a true, loving, Christian relationship. He knows I am against it and I see that he has gotten a lot better about not watching it, but he still doesn't understand why it is wrong. I threw his entire porn collection away when i found it in his old house which he & his ex wife used to live in. It hurts me so much that he watched any of this during our relationship, and i dont know how else to handle it. I feel that a great deal of his behavior has to do with his loss of respect for all churches and lack of faith. His mom blames his ex wife for this too because that is when he changed. He has not attended his services since he married that woman, except for a few times that I brought him to my parish. He questions God, thinks every bad thing that happens is because "God is up there laughing and getting a kick out of us." ...... His dad died when he was 10 and I know that affected him greatly. He also says that when he would ask his pastors questions about religion they would simply tell him "that's just the way it is." His stepdad was Catholic but converted to Methodist when he married his mom.

So my questions are these:

1. How do I help my husband understand that porn and checking other women out is wrong?

2. How can I help him find his way to our Lord in a manner that does not make him feel like I am pushing Catholicism on him?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. Malloy answers:

Grace,

Porn will break up the strongest of marriages. You would be better off if you withheld vows until he promises to seriously try to cure his addiction.

Certainly, the marriage will not be blessed if he refuses to change. God will not be part of the union. Its durability is doomed to failure.

You can’t do it alone. You can’t push Catholicism on him, but you can demand that he keep the law of God and his country, as long as he wants a relationship with you. He can’t love you and porn at the same time!

Rev. John Malloy, SDB

 


Dear Fathers,

First and foremost, may the Light of the Holy Spirit enlighten you always. I am a Catholic woman from a very strong, religious family. Although they are good people who meant well, my family upbringing was very harsh and violent. I tried to always follow my religious teachings, however in my 1st year of college I became pregnant from my high school sweetheart. My dad forced me to marry him and knowing the circumstances were not good, I refused to marry in the church and chose a justice of the peace instead. Sadly, I knew inside that the marriage was not out of love and I did not see it correct to be married before our Lord. We did try to make it work but the families actually made it worse. Needless to say we later divorced amicably.

Fast forward several years... I am now engaged to the love of my life. This is a love that has truly endured the greatest and the worst. My fiance, who is a non-practicing Methodist, and I met 12 years ago in the military but had lost touch until 6 years ago. At the time, he was going through divorce of his own and we kept is friendly. After a year he told me he was divorced and we began dating. It wasn't until a year later when we became pregnant that he confessed to me of his divorce not being finalized. I never suspected because he lived alone and it has taken a lot to get past his betrayal, but we persevered and made it through once i found out WHY he lied. To make a longer story short, he married this girl because she lied to him about being pregnant (we have proof and witnesses to all this ). She also lied about her infertility. She made him believe it was all his fault and constantly threatened to kill herself if he left her, no matter how many times he tried filing for divorce. She knew about me before I knew of her still being in the picture. She became obsessed with our son and tried to kidnap him. It has taken police involvement and court orders to MAKE her divorce him and also to leave us alone. My fiance is trying to turn the divorce into a legal annulment. Is this acceptable by the Church?

Fathers, it has been pure hell and pain but love conquers all. In the nearly 5 years we have been together, we have been blessed with 3 beautiful children (our littlest just born) and have been living together for 3 years. His family loves us and in fact thank me for reuniting them. You see, his ex somehow made him lose his faith and when he refused to be near her she began pushing pornography on him as well as pushing him to drink. I took him out of all that and have slowly brought him back not only to God but perhaps even to Catholicism. All my children are baptized Catholic. I made a promise to God and our Virgin Mother the night before we unknowingly conceived our son, that i would help my fiance find his way back to Him. This is why I never gave up. It is my firm belief that this is what God wanted for us. My fiance feels the same and he is very devoted to our family. We want nothing more than to sanctify our unity. What can we do to be married in the Catholic Church? Can we be forgiven?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Grace,

The easiest part of your story is an answer to your question: “ Can we be forgiven?” You certainly can!

But we need some clarification.

I don’t understand how you could have had your three children baptized as Catholic, without the regularization of your marriage status. All your marriages are invalid for you as a Catholic.

Your present husband needs an annulment of his civil marriages, since they are accepted as valid.

However, you will have to do a lot of paper work. Get documentation of all marriages involved—yours and his. Approach your local Catholic priest with the document acquired and ask his help. He can help you make the needed corrections, acquire other papers. If needed, and obtain support from the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, which has authority in the case.

Retain your trust in Jesus and Mary and pray the grace necessary for and your family.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB

Grace followed up:

Dearest Father,

Thank you for your quick response. Let me clarify some things:

1. I was only married once through the justice of the peace. That ended in divorce and I understand it is considered invalid. Annulling my previous marriage, if necessary, won't be a problem as my ex feels the same.

2. I have 5 children altogether, 2 from my ex-husband and the 3 babies from my fiance. We are trying to do the right thing by getting married after meeting so much hell from the woman he married. That was his only marriage. After speaking with lawyers it seems HIS marriage meets the guidelines for an annulment. The problem is that his ex refuses to let him go and it is taking court orders to push the divorce, stalking charges against her, etc.. due to her infertility and his not wanting kids with her to begin with, he feels he was coerced into marrying her through the Methodist religion. Her constant threats to hurt herself if he left her were witnessed by everyone.

3. My parish never had a problem with baptizing my children. The only one not baptized yet is our newborn. They are aware of my divorce. Why would the church deny baptizing a child? As far as I've always been taught, the Rite of Baptism is for anyone wishing to be a part of God's community without any prejudice and it is our decision and responsibility as parents to raise our children in good faith. Is it not?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. Malloy answered:

Grace,

If your parish allowed your children to be baptized they should be able to help you through the process of making your marriage valid.

You don’t need a formal annulment, only a permission from the Bishop.

An annulment for your present companion’s marriage is also available.

If his first wife refuses to testify, others who know the circumstances can take her place and explain the circumstances of the marriage and her present refusal to testify.

Get your priest to work!

With God’s blessing,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hi my name is Shawn and I belong to the knights and I was told by my uncle that I need to get a priests blessing that I marry my fiancee because she is not catholic and we are not marrying in a catholic church we are getting married in a Christian church I just need to know because we are having a hard time getting a hold of a priests to give us a blessing because my uncle said I would lose my insurance and spot in the knights I need to know the answer to this question before June 10th because we are getting married on June 23rd of this year thank you so much.

Shawn

Fr. Malloy answers:

Shawn,

You cannot remain a Knight if you marry out of the Catholic Church.

You should b e able to find a priest to bless your marriage. I don’t know what diocese you are in, but check the office, if you have difficulty. Or go to another diocese for the wedding.

One problem may be the shortness of time and lack of preparation.

You can marry a non-Catholic if you receive approval.

You could also marry her in a Christian Church, provided a Catholic priest participates and permission from the Bishop’s office obtained.

However, most requirements for Catholic Marriage include a longer time record, than just a few weeks.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father(s),

I'm grateful that such site exists where people can gather answers to possible common questions. I have read through most of the Q&A's posted here, but did not find any that completely answered my question.

My 25 yr-old niece recently got engaged to her longtime boyfriend of 6 years. The entire family could not be happier. We've begun with what we consider the most important of all of the wedding preparations, calling our church(es). Unirtinately, this is where the problem lies.

My niece is a raised, baptized and confirmed, active catholic. Her fiancé is a Baptist. According to the churches we have contacted, she is allowed to marry in the catholic church, as long as they complete the premarital classes and promise to raise their children in the catholic faith, both of which they have no problems with, and intend on doing. The problem is that we're being told here in Miami, that she cannot have a full mass, where neither she, nor any other elegible guests, could receive holy communion. There would also not be any readings from the bible. She would instead, simply have a "wedding service".

I was shocked to hear of this, as I was in her same situation when I got engaged to my husband of 22 years now. I was fortunate to be able to get married in a catholic church, with a "full" catholic mass. We gladly agreed to have our children raised in the catholic church, as we have, and the only restriction we given, was that my fiancé (now husband), would not be allowed to receive the holy communion, but any other elegible guest, as well as myself, would.

My question is, has the catholic church changed their view/law on this? If the couple has no objections to completing the premariral courses and agrees to raise their children in the catholic faith, why wouldn't the catholics attending the wedding, be allowed to have a full mass with readings and holy communion?

If this were to be the case, it would be truly sad to know that a catholic person was being denied what I would consider the most important part of the service, just because they chose to live the rest of their lives with someone of a different religious belief.

Respectfully,

Maria

Fr. Malloy answers:

Maria,

I am sorry to hear of the difficulties presented for the marriage in question.

I don't know of any diocese that won't allow Mass for mixed marriages.

Did you get this information from the Miami Diocesan Tribunal or the local parish?

If it was the parish priest that required this, I suggest you call the Diocesan Office, or you can speak to a different priest at a neighbouring parish. The marriage could take place wherever you can find a Catholic priest willing to offer Mass with the Sacrament.

May God give you the way!

Fr. John Malloy,

SDB


On May 21, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I’ve been married (in the Church) for 15 years and have two children. Simply put, my marriage is dead. My wife doesn’t want me sexually and we only have sex once or twice a year and it’s only her, as she puts it, “letting me have it.” No desire on her part only a putting up with it once or twice a year. When I ask her if she loves me, she says she doesn’t know what love is. I translate that as meaning, no, she doesn’t love me. She has struck me on several occasions and puts me down in a verbally abusive way some times. She won’t have anything to do with couples therapy and puts any blame for things squarely on me.

I am sad about this and think constantly about how I can get out of this marriage or whether I should, morally or not. What does the Church teach as a remedy for this type of situation?

Thanks,

S.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear S.

It’s sad that your marriage has crumbled. If your wife is Catholic, she certainly has not lived up to her part of marriage vow

Sad for your children, too. How does she relate to them and they to you? That is a serious consideration you must take before you seek a divorce. Morally you have already been forced out of his marriage. Only she can change that by accepting her duties as a wife.

You have not taken the final step and for the sake of your children delay as long as you can. Offer up your pain for your salvation and that of your wife and children.

Divorce would be allowed in extreme circumstances, but you would not be free to remarry.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I am blessed to be in a beautiful relationship with a very Catholic man, I myself follow the faith too. We know we want to get married. However, I wonder if my previous marriage will present itself as an issue. I was married in court only, not through any church. We were divorced 2 years later. My former husband & I never consummated the marriage b/c we didn't get married for romantic reasons or to create a family. This was an error from my part that I later regretted & therefore we were divorced. I'm thinking that as long as I'm divorced this previous marriage shouldn't present itself as an issue, am I right? Thank you for you response. Have a blessed day!

Ana

Fr. Malloy answers:

Ana,

If you are Catholic, your first marriage was invalid and null in the eyes of the Church. If you are not Catholic a dispensation would be needed.

As you prepare for this new relationship, present the facts before the priest who prepares you for the ceremony. He can easily procure the necessary papers, which will free you from any ties with the first marriage.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was divorced March 2011 & my ex-husband remarried August 2011. To my knowledge she is Catholic & my husband converted to catholicism about 5-6 years ago & we had our marriage blessed at that time. I have no knowledge of an annulment & am confused of how he can take communion & seem to be convinced he is in communion with the church. Could he have gotten am annulment without me knowing? Also, we divorced because he had an affair & after tring to move past it for 6 months he assaulted me & put me on a deep confusion & depression. I then stepped out & he became more violent despite my efforts to keep my family together he told me I ended this relationship & I live with the guilt everyday of what I did even though I have confessed several times & prayed to God for healing. He has really made me feel like I wasn't good enough for him & to see him create a new family with my children on his weekend with them kills me. They don't like to go with him because they have been rushed into so much change & feel unimportant to him but I have no choice but to send them with him by law. Please help.....any advice helps.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Your pain grieves me. I pray God to help you in these difficult times.

If I understand you correctly, you and your husband, both Catholic, had your marriage blessed by the Catholic Church.

When divorce follows, no remarriage would be allowed without a declaration of nullity.

Your ex-husband could not have received such a declaration without your knowledge.

If an annulment can be obtained, do your best to promote it.

The presumption is that he is living in sin and is not free to receive Communion.

You are precious in God's love. Thank Him for that and offer up your pain for the good of your children and the conversion of a selfish ex-husband, especially as you attend Sunday Mass.

It seems to me you have nothing to confess. You did your best to preserve the union. Don't blame yourself for a situation you could not change. Encourage your children with your love and positive comments and without disparaging their father.

If things become worse, speak to a family counsellor and see how the visitation rights can be changed.

May your faith, and self approval, be kept firm! God love you.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

I am currently, and always have been a practicing catholic. I became friends with a great guy a year before he was sentenced to prison. He has been married 3 previous times and I know he would need to get his past marriages annulled, if he were "free" to marry me. He has a wonderful family and 4 gorgeous, great young girls. He is looking at 14 years, but we will know for sure in a week, how long he will have to serve. He is being charged with drug related charges from 3 years ago. I know him well and he hasnt been involved with that world he was previously in in 2 years. He is not catholic. I would like to be able to visit him while he is "away". In order to have face to face contact, we would have to be married. I know we could marry with a justice of peace, but that is not exactly how I should be married. I want to be married in the church. Is there anyway, while he is serving his time, that we could go through the process of him getting his marriages annulled and us getting married by the church? What would this take? Is this even possible?

Thank you! Brenna

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Brenna,

Helping someone begin anew is certainly what a Christian disciple is called to do. In the practical forum with the circumstances you describe, the first thing would be to figure out if, indeed, your friend is free to get married. So, yes, his past marriages have to be looked into. Contact your local Diocesan Tribunal; learn about what has to be done; do a lot of the leg work yourself. Once it is known that he is free, there are either of two things to do. One is, if there is a Catholic chaplain, perhaps he could undergo the task of preparing you for marriage. That is not easily possible, I would think. The other way is to have a marriage commissioner officiate in the prison environment, but do not take advantage of “conjugal” intercourse. Then when he gets out, your first visit is to your pastor, to prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 19, we received these questions:

 Fathers,

My mother was raised catholic and in some ways passed some of her beliefs onto us although she was not active in the church since she was a child. I was never raised to be one specific relegion until i was a teenager and i have been considering converting to catholic. I was previously married and my husband passed away and we have 2 children together. I have since remarried and my new husband had 2 children from a previous marrige. He got a divorce because his ex wife commited adultry many times and she is an alcoholic and drug addic still to this day. I have good faith that his marriage to her could be annuled by the catholic church. My question is would his two children from his previous marriage be considered bastards in the church and how could they be accepted and also my new husband and i have 2 children together, so are my children considered bastards as well? I feel so horrible about this beings i was raised that as long as my children were not created out of wedlock and i was married before conception that they were not bastards. But now looking into the catholic relegion it has me second guessing. I want all of our sins abolished and to be right in the eyes of the lord.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Beth,

God bless your good intentions. I pray your journey, and your family with you, will be grace filled!

Don't even think of it! Your and his children are not bastards!

May the annulment be successfully pursued.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


I got married in a free catholic church at the time I did not know it was a free church, my mom set it up. Today I call to get a copy of my marrage certificate to bautise and they tell me it's not valid in the regular church. I am so sad I feel like if I have been living a lie. I call to talk to a father and no one is available to talk what should I do

Edith

Fr. Malloy answers:

Edith,

Don't get discouraged.

Continue to contact your parish (or a neighbouring parish) and ask for an appointment.

Explain your mistake and tell the priest you would like to correct the discrepancy.

If you and your husband are free from former marriages, it would be easy enough for you to have a private ceremony (yourselves, two witnesses and a priest or deacon) that would validate your union in the Catholic Church.

Contact me again. If you have further concerns or doubts as to your standing in the Catholic Church.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Can my daughter and her catholic boyfriend get married in the catholic church? She is not catholic. She is pregnant.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ann,

As long as neither of them have been married before, they can get married in the Catholic Church. She is not required to convert, but must agree to raise the baby as Catholic.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On May 15, we received these questions:

My cousin is getting married soon in a protestant church. He was raised in the Catholic Church and has been divorced twice. This is his third marriage and he has never gotten an annulment.

I am wondering what the church says about Catholics attending this wedding?

Mary

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mary,

Catholics can be present at the wedding as long as they take no part in the ceremony.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father My Name Is Alondra And I Want To Ask You A Very Important Question I'm In Love With My Cousin And He's In Love With Me. We Are Madly In Love And We Would Give Up Our Lifes For Each Other But My Family Is Againist It And Dont Let Us See Each Other We Want To Be In A Relationship But Our Family Members Wont Let Us Not Even Speak To Each Other. Is My Family Doing The Right Or Wrong Thing ?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Alondra,

Cousins cannot validly marry. Not according to canon 1091.2, which says marriages are invalid up to and including the fourth degree.

When it comes to the biological relationship between prospective spouses, the Church has laws which are based on natural law. We all know that geneticproblems tend to arise in children whose parents are too closely related by blood. Canon law is therefore simply reflecting what nature (i.e., God) intended.

Twenty five states also prohibit such marriages.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 9, we received these questions:

Good morning Father,

My wife and I had a civil wedding and we're planning to have a church wedding in the philippines by next year but i'm wondering if the church will allow us since my wife was divorced twice ( both civil marriage). She had kids in both past marriage. And we have son.. With these facts, would the Roman Catholic church in the philippines allow us to get married?

Lawrence

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lawrence,

The Catholic Church would not allow you to get married until your wife-to-be is released from her first marriages. Her case must be referred to your pastor. Follow his instructions.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I was just wanted to know if I should attend my sons wedding,the ceremony will not be in the Catholic Church.He was raised in the catholic church. The thing I am really considered about is,that a women is officiating the ceremony. And I don't believe that a women should do that. He is telling me that I am not supporting him.And,my heart is telling that I should not go.

God Bless

Fr. Malloy answers:

Unfortunately your son has lost his faith. As a baptised Catholic, his marriage out of the Catholic Church will not be recognized as a sacrament.

A woman may not take the place of priest or deacon for any Catholic marriage.

You may attend the ceremony, but make clear you do not agree with what your son is doing, But do support him with your prayers.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On April 30, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

While having a book club discussion the topic of a Catholic being able to receive communion in the Catholic Church if one is divorced came up. I said that while a Catholic would have to confess it once forgiven a divorced person can receive communion. They told me no, that is not true! I know that if a Catholic remarries before an annulment is obtained the rule states they cannot receive communion. Is there or was it ever a rule of the Catholic Church that a divorced who is not a remarried Catholic cannot receive communion?

Respectfully & Gratefully,

Angela

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Angela,

Nothing excludes a divorced single person, just because of the divorce, from receiving Communion.

A divorced person is not sinful because of the divorce. He or she may have committed sins leading to the divorce. Confession can cure that!

Remarrying out of the church would be sinful.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I am married to a catholic. I am a protestant. We have gone through the process of getting my previous marriage annulled or cancelled through the catholic church and my husband just

announced that we will have to have a convalidation of our vows. I don't want to cause any problems I just want to know what that consists of.

I (being a protestant) just do not want to say anything or make a vow that I don't believe and am not comfortable with before God.

I do not believe that we should be praying to anyone other than God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit so will there be any vows made to Mary or the saints?

I love my husband and do not want to upset him that is why I am asking you.

Thank you for whatever help you can give me. If you have an example of what would be said that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Kathy

 

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kathy,

The spouses are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage because the mark—the external sign—of the sacrament is not the wedding Mass or anything the priest might do but the marriage contract itself. This does not mean the wedding license that the couple receives from the state, but the vows that each spouse makes to the other. As long as each spouse intends to contract a true marriage, the sacrament is performed.

The effect of the sacrament is an increase in sanctifying grace for the spouses, a participation in the divine life of God Himself.

The saints, including the Mother of God, are not part of the ceremony if not personally introduced by the spouses.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Father,

Okay, I don't think that our situation is that difficult; however, nobody seem to know the answer. I am a lifelong Catholic who, as a youth, never finished my Sacrament of Confirmation (Baptized and First Communion I have). I will receive Confirmation next month.

My Wife and two children recently (on Easter Vigil) completed their First Communion, Baptism and Confirmation.

Now, I was told (by a church administrator) at my Adult Confirmation class that my Wife was OK to take First Communion... she [Wife] should then have confessed her sin of accepting Communion due to the fact that our marriage is not yet blessed AND not take Communion moving forward until OUR marriage has been blessed.

She [administrator] also advised that I not accept Communion either. I would really like some clarification.

PS. We are SOOOO not opposed to having our marriage blessed. In fact it something that we are--very much--looking forward to we just want to practice our Faith to our best ability.

Thank you,

Fr. Malloy answers:

Brandy,

Neither of you should receive Communion until your marriage is blessed.

Previous marriages must be absolved by the Church before a new marriage maybe entered into.

The Communion may be received by you both when that is completed.

Once the partners are free, a simple ceremony of marriage vows can be performed (priest, two witness and yourselves).

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

A couple is married by a justice of the peace—both the wife and husband are baptized Catholics. Their marriage has not been blessed by the Catholic Church. What is the status (if any) in the teaching on adultery?

Sherrie

Fr. Malloy answers:

Sherrie,

Their marriage is not recognized by the Church.

As Catholics married out of the Church, they are both guilty of adultery.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 25, we received this question:

Hello, my name is Mike. I am a lifelong practicing Catholic who is engaged to be married to a lifelong practicing Catholic woman from the Philippines. We live in Los Angeles. Her father cannot make the trip to the US due to health problems. Her mother would like us to get married civilly in the us and then come to the Philippines and get married through the Catholic Church there.

My family is in Northern California. My question is can we have 2 catholic marriage ceremonies one in cal usa and the other in the Philippines?? Is there a way to hurry the process if we meet the requirements marriage classes paperwork etc. Does it help that her tourist visa will expire soon and we want to get married in the US before going to the Philippines?

Is there acceptance by the church for being civilly married first by a non denominational minister and then one year later on anniv date get married in the Philippine Catholic Church??

I would of course had preferred to get married one time only and in my los angeles parish but matters seem to be needing a different situation. Please give guidance in any way thank you.

4th Degree Knight of Columbus, Mike.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mike,

You may not have two marriage ceremonies, civil and Catholic, to the same person-- unless a civil marriage would be a requirement of another country. (Not the case in the Philippines.)

I suggest you marry here and have a special ceremony in the Philippines. You could have a solemn blessing there.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On April 18, we received this question:

My boyfriend and I both are Catholic and have never been married through church although we both have had a civil marriage with other partners and have been divorced. We have been together for 1-1/2 yrs and had seriously been talking about getting married. We both agreed to have a church wedding. He has a daughter with his ex-wife and she was not happy when he decided to move on with his life. At first she refused to allow him to visit and then she refused to let me be around their daughter. They were fighting in court about custody but mostly because she wanted to be paid more alimony. But because he refused to give her any more money she went to the authorities and is now accusing him of molesting their child. He is currently in jail because unfortunately we cannot afford the bail. We want to continue with our marriage plans and do not want to wait for however long this process is going to take. We love each other and I believe in his innocence. Is there any way that the church will marry us with him being in jail?

Thank you,

Yesi

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Yesi,

Oh, we human beings! How weak we are! How hurtful we can be! --from the very beginning of human life on this planet.

That is why Jesus came – to show us God’s love for us, to encourage us to love each other as He does, to build His peace and harmony among us.

I know that marriage commissioners do officiate at marriages in prisons. One would have to discuss the possibility of this kind of thing with the prison chaplain.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 10, we received these questions:

Good Afternoon Father,

My husband and I got divorced legally in 2006. We never got an annulment and he just recently passed away as a dear friend to me. I was wondering I we are still married in the eyes of god.

Thank you,

Pearl

Fr. Malloy answers:

Pearl,

You are legally free of your marriage, but when your husband was alive, and you did not get an annulment, the bond of marriage was not broken.

But death separates us and In heaven there are no marriages.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I am a cradle Episcopalian, have had Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation in the Episcopal Church. My boyfriend was raised Catholic. I am willing to convert as I have strong family ties to the Catholic Faith and have always been willing to do so if I found the right man. The glitch is his family is Catholic, my family is Episcopalian, I want to have a service where all can participate in Holy Communion, which from what I gather is we would have to get married in my home church with a Catholic priest present to bless the service? What steps do I need to take to begin this process between the two churches, and how do I begin to convert to Catholicism?

Thank you

Kelly

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kelly,

Your conversion should begin with a visit to a local Catholic priest. Ask his help. He will explain the necessary steps.

After your Catholic conversion you would be eligible to receive Holy Communion, but those of a different faith may not receive the Sacrament.

They can be present at the marriage and may approach the priest at Communion time to receive a blessing.

One can also have an Episcopal priest, together with a Catholic priest, serve at a wedding in a Catholic Church.

To be married in your home church would require the Catholic Bishop’s approval.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received this question:

Father:

I am a Roman Catholic got married in a catholic church in 1972 divorced in 1999 and my ex just passed away in 2012 may I now get married in church again and what do i need to do?

Bonnie

Fr. Malloy answers:

Bonnie,

No problem. You are single now and may freely proceed with marriage in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 29, we received these questions:

Good Morning,

The following information is about a married couple. They want their marriage Blessed by the Church. They want to follow the Catholic Church rules. She wants to become Catholic. Her husband is Catholic. They’re married for over 20 years with an adult son and daughter.

A Justice of the Peach (JP) married them. The wife’s first marriage ended in divorce. The JP also married them. The divorce occurred during the 1970's. Eventually they lost contact with each other. She doesn't know if he is alive or deceased, or where he lived. She doesn't know his Personal Identifying Information for example social security number, driver’s license number, residence location.

Question No 1 - Can she become a Catholic? How does she carry out this?

Question No 2. – Is the current marriage valid in the "Eyes of the Church" so to speak?

Question No 3. – What do they need to do for their marriage to be accepted by the Church?

Question No 4. - Will they have to receive the Sacrament of Marriage in order for it to be Blessed by the Catholic Church?

Question No 5. Will she need to provide any information about her previous husband? She thinks he is deceased by now. But she doesn't know where his death occurred and she doesn’t know his social security number.

Question No 6. – About her previous marriage, will the Church ask for proof or evidence that this marriage ended e.g divorce document?

Question No 7 – Will the Church want to know the status of her previous husband? If so she does not know where his whereabouts or if he is alive or deceased.

Question No 8 - Will the Church make her get an annulment to the first marriage?

Please share your thoughts and advise us what to tell her.

Thank You,

Leonard.

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Leonard,

What situations arise among us human beings!

I shall give some thoughts, ask some questions, and attempt some response to the series of questions, some of which are related to each other.

First off, by any chance, was the first husband a Catholic? If so, the whole ting becomes quite simple. I’ll continue as if he was also not a Catholic. The Church does its best to hold on to its principles – marriage is a lifetime commitment. The Catholic Church makes rules for its own members. It acknowledges as true, valid marriages of other people according to law and custom. To declare a marriage not valid, some research has to be done.

So finding information regarding the husband is the first chore. The original marriage certificate [and license] will have the parents’ names. Also, I believe, the birth dates of bride and groom. With this information one could contact the Salvation Army’s search for lost persons department. (I did that many years ago, and contacted a long-lost cousin.)

If he turns up deceased, everything is simple from then on. Otherwise she has to try to find some of her old friends and relatives who could remember some things about those early times. The Church Tribunal will be most helpful for this.

Even without discovering about the first marriage, the couple could live as brother and sister (for any serious fall in this regard is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for). In this case the wife could surely enter the Church formally.

In all things we follow the advice of Blessed Pope John Paul II: Participate as much as and as fully as you can, the Church and God [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] loves you individually and together, no matter what.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

My fiance and I are both Catholic and engaged to wed in Aug 2012. He had been married before in a Catholic wedding ceremony and is now going through the annulment process. (I have never been married). We want to have a Catholic wedding as our religion and faith are a major part of our lives. Now that it is getting close to our wedding date and still have no answers regarding the annulment, we have concerns regarding our options. If the annulment is not "approved" before our date, can we still get married in the Catholic Church without it being a Catholic ceremony (have a minister perform the ceremony) or do we have to get married at a different church altogether. If we are not able to be married in the actual Catholic Church itself, is there a way to have our marriage be recognized/blessed Catholic once and if the annulment is finalized?

Thank you for your time!

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Lindsay,

I am sure that in the application for the annulment your fiancé filled out there was a statement to the effect that no wedding date can be set until the Decree of Freedom to marry came through. But it seems you did set a date, and now the process is not yet completed.

You won’t be able to have a Catholic priest do your wedding in a parish church, which is the normal setting for celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony. If you have been planning for a Catholic wedding ceremony, you will already have met with your parish priest a few times, filled out forms, obtained Baptism documents, done a formal marriage preparation program. These are all things which will be done afterward, if you go ahead and do a wedding ceremony in some way. It will become recognized when you go to the parish priest to have your marriage “blessed” or the term in church law –“convalidated.”

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


What does a non- catholic have to do to marry a catholic lady in the church in the Philippines?

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Ron and Toni,

All marriage preparation is similar everywhere. Among the forms to be filled out, there is one asking for a dispensation for a Catholic person to marry a non-Catholic person with the promise of the Catholic person to rasie any children in the practice of the Catholic Faith.

Usually there is a time frame for the preparation. Many years ago there was a lady in the parish for whom I had written a letter that she could get married. She came back from the Philippines still single. So her groom came here where the marriage was accomplished within the time limit.

So you have to inquire about the practices over there directly.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

 

When I was 20 years old, I was young and thought I was "in love." My now ex-husband and I had a child before our marriage in the church. I am a Catholic and he was a Lutheran. We did have to do pre-marriage classes in order to be married in the Church. Our marriage was in shambles from the day we said "I do." Immediately following the wedding, he gambled any money we did have to support us and our son, he started to do drugs and we got into several altercations of violence among other abuses. I left him before one year of marriage and legally divorced him 8 months later. Since that time he has not had any active role in our son's life and has seen him approximately 2 times in the last 3 years. I have now met a wonderful man who is the most wonderful man I have ever, or will ever know. He is a great father figure to my child and we would like to get married in the church. I do not have the conscience to not get an annulment from the church before getting planning our wedding. I understand that there has to be an investigation and that the Church may need to contact my ex-husband. I was wondering if this is always necessary? How long does the process usually take? My fear is that he will either not respond and delay the process and/or sabotage the process due to his innate ability for spiteful actions towards me in order to hurt myself and our son.

Please help if you are able. We would like to get on with our lives and enjoy this love between us all in the eyes of the Lord.

-Jennifer

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Jennifer,

What sad things sometimes we human beings go through!

From your short description of your situation, it seems to me that there should be good grounds for a “Declaration of Nullity” to be issued. There is a step-by-step legal process for this. Your local Diocesan Tribunal will help you all the way. Usually the process ends up to be a very healing experience.

Yes, the Tribunal will need to notify your “ex” that this process has begun. Only if he actively participates with the Tribunal can he obtain copies of your story and witness – at the end of the procedures. Often there is no participation, and the Tribunal continues its project anyway. Foreseeing how long it will take is hard to do. It depends on how quickly people respond to the Tribunal’s requests. It is not that the process itself is so long, but that some persons do not act quickly in their role.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Originally from San Francisco, I am a Catholic, widowed 4 yrs. ago at age 60. My wife was Catholic. I was certain that I would never again find a love as I had with her. But I have met a wonderful woman, a divorced Protestant. She was divorced 7 years ago. Unbaptized when she married in 1983. Her husband a baptized Protestant. She did all she could to keep the marriage together despite his chronic, multiple infidelities and substance abuse. He even facilitated drug abuse in his daughter – a daughter now saved by her Mom, and a wonderful, stable drug free young woman. We both believe in our very souls that Our Lord brought us together. Our love makes us each better persons and we feel closer to God because of it. At the time of her final turmoil with the divorce, she was baptized in a local Baptist church and is now a devout Christian. We would like to spend the rest of our lives together. I have continued to go to Mass without fail. She often accompanies me and I try to do a “doubleheader” once or twice a month, going to her church after Mass. She is interested in learning more about Catholicism. I cannot believe that the loving God in whom I believe would deny this lady who did everything in her power to sustain a marriage, a chance for a loving, happy and secure life with me. One she so richly deserves. In our love I feel, as Gibran says, not that God is in my heart but that I am in the heart of God. It is so difficult to understand the ‘technicalities’ of Canon Law in this regard – even more so to explain it to someone not of our faith. But I have no idea as to how likely it would be she could obtain an annulment.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Bob,

My heart goes out to you! I am so sorry that there is no easier way to obtain freedom to marry without an annulment from a first valid marriage.

If you find a priest willing to work with you (every priest should be willing), he can facilitate the case through the marriage tribunal. Proofs of infidelity would need to be produced, but I see no reason why the petition would not go ahead. Pray God’s will be done!

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On March 27, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am an episcopalian married in the united churches. My husband and I divorced after 20 years of marriage and 3 children. This was due to incompatibility. My ex-husband is totally against the Catholic church. I have been married to a wonderful man now for 11 years and he is catholic. He too was divorced but his first wife has died. We were married in the Episcopal church. I have always wanted to convert to Catholicism but was told, my ex-husband would have to declare our marriage an "unmarriage" this I could never ask him as it was a marriage. I am facing a terminal illness and want to become a catholic to receive all the rites and be buried next to my current husband. Please help me! God Bless.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sandy,

You don't have to declare your marriage as an "un marriage." But you do need an official recognition by the Catholic Church to obtain a dissolution of your first marriage. Speak to the pastor of the Catholic Church in which you live. He would be able to help you.

Fr. John Malloy SDB


Hi Fathers,

I am Catholic (received the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation) and my husband is not (but was baptized by the Catholic Church as an infant). I would like to have my 3 month old daughter baptized. Both godparents (male and female) are Catholic.

Is this possible and what is the general process for baptizing my child?

Thank you in advance,

Frances

Fr. Malloy answers:

Frances,

Go to your parish priest and ask for baptism of your child. He'll show you what must be done.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers,

I was married to a Naval Officer in 1994 in a chapel by the Catholic Chaplain. This marriage led to a divorce finalized in 2010.

My current boyfriend, also a Catholic was married in 2000 in Civil Court in Nevada and divorced in 2009.

We are both baptized Catholic and practicing our faith. We would like to do it right this time by getting married in a Catholic Church.

I don't think that my boyfriend has any issues marrying in a Catholic Church since his first marriage seems to be null in the eyes of our church.

Would it be possible for me to get married in a Catholic Church if my wedding ceremony for first marriage was ordained by a Catholic Chaplain in a Military Chapel?

If so, what would be the process to get married in a Catholic Church ?

After an excruciating divorce battle, I am trying to avoid an annulment which I was told may need to occur in order for me to marry in a Catholic Church. Please advise.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Arleen

Fr. Malloy answers:

Arleen,

You would need an annulment from your marriage by the Catholic Chaplain.

In case of refusal of one of the partners, a case can still go through the marriage tribunal.

You need to speak to the local pastor to initiate the process.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB

Arleen followed up:

Thank you for the information. Treasure Island closed down and I can not locate the Chaplain :-(

Fr. Malloy responded:

Arleen,

Treasure Island would be under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. 415-614-5500.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was married at Holy Trinity Church in Washington D.C. in 1967. I was and am not catholic yet my ex-husband was and maybe still is. Our marriage was officiated by three members of the clergy - the priest at holy trinity, Monsignor Theodore McCarrick (now Cardinal McCarrick) and the Reverend from my church in Washington D.C. Rev. Marshall was graciously invited to read some prayers from the episcopal prayer book during the service.

Now, my ex-husband and I have been divorced since 2001. He remarried in 2004 in a Methodist church. My grown children have been asking me questions as to the validity of their fathers status in the catholic church and I do not have any answers for them. Their father attends the catholic church in his community and takes the sacrament regularly.

Thank-you for your assistance regarding their questions.

Julie

Fr. Malloy answers:

Julie,

Your marriage was a valid Catholic union and as such may not be changed without an annulment from the Catholic Church.

If your husband remarries without this permission, he may not receive Communion, unless he gets the marriage annulled (which would be almost impossible to do, in your case)

That he go to church is commendable. His reception of Communion is sacrilegious, as he is living in a illicit marriage.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 20, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My Lutheran cousin has invited me to his wedding at a Masonic Center. As far as I know neither of the families has ties to the Masons and they just picked the spot because it was pretty. Is it okay for a Catholic to attend the wedding?

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kare,

Yes. It is OK for a Catholic to attend the wedding.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was born to Jewish parents, and my husband, who is Roman Catholic, and I were married 25 years ago by a rabbi and a priest in a non-denominatinal chapel in New York. As only one officiant had to sign the marriage license, it was signed by the rabbi. All I have regarding the priest is his name, Father Pascal.

I am now going through RCIA to convert to Catholicism, and was told that I must have a certificate from the church stating that we were married in the eyes of the church. I have tried to locate this priest, yet as he was not my husbands parish priest, but was found by the rabbi, I have been unable to locate him, and therefore unable to obtain the certificate.

Can you tell me what this means for my conversion? Both my husband and myself are so upset.

Thank you so much in advance for your guidance.

Fr. Malloy answers:

I am sorry about the lack of evidence you have concerning a priest who took part in the wedding.

There is doubt if Fr. Pascal is (was) a Catholic priest. If there is any way you can get his full name it would certainly help. With a name you can cheek the local diocese which has a list of all priests who have served there.

IF your husband did not have permission for a mixed marriage, the union world be invalid for him. But it can be validated.

If both of you have not been married before, you could arrange for a private marriage (yourselves, a priest and two witnesses).

Also if you have difficulty with the local priest, call the diocesan chancery office and speak to the marriage tribunal-ever ready to help you.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Father,

I am in a situation and it feels I have sinned so badly. I was raised a Christain but during my teen years stopped practicing my religion. I had my first son when I was 17 and at the time my ex husband joined the military. They told him the only way he could support his son is if we were married. My parents had to sign papers in order for me to get married, which they didnt want to do. We signed papers in a court house. My ex husband does not believe in god and we never attended any services. Our marriage ended when my ex husband became abusive, it was a nasty situation that I am so happy to be out of. I met another man who I love dearly and he is catholic. He was not practicing his religion at the time we got together. We have been together for three years, married in a civil ceremony and have a son together. We started going to Mass on Sundays and I love the power of the lord and I dislike myself for turning my back on him all these years. I want to make things right.. Where do you suggest I start?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Chandra,

It’s never too late to make up—unless you die!

Since you are going to Mass, check with the pastor. Joining an RCIA group (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) would help settle your Catholic status.

You would need to have your first marriage annulled.

If that is done, it is easy to have your present union rectified with the Church. (A private ceremony with yourselves, the priest and two witnesses would be all that is needed.)

Then have your children baptized.

Continue going to Sunday Mass, sold give you the strength to follow through.

My prayers for you and the family. God is with you!.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I'm hoping you can shed some light on a situation we're currently faced with. My husband is Catholic and I'm Jewish. Given the mixed religions we were married outside of the church. My husband has been asked to be the godfather to our niece (he's been baptized, had his communion, confirmed, etc). Can you help me understand what needs to be done in order for him to do so? I completely respect his religion but given it's not mine I'm curious if he can cover any requirements alone or if I need to be involved in whatever is required for him to be eligible to be a godfather. I've heard we have to have our rings blessed by the church. Can only he have his rings blessed if this is the case? I really would appreciate your insight.

Thank you for your time.

Jessica

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jessica,

I admire your concern in this situation.

There is only one way your husband would be allowed be godfather of your niece. It would require that your marriage be acknowledged by the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, he entered an union not accepted by the Church.

It could be accepted, if you were willing to be married again by the Catholic Church.

It can be a very private ceremony: yourselves, a priest and two witnesses.

Your rings would both be blessed, if you wish, but it is not part of the ceremony.

You would not have to change your religion.

Rev John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I am a 65 year old Protestant. My first husband and I were married for 14 years. He became sexually involved with my best friend and moved out, leaving me with our three young children to raise by myself. He asked me for a divorce. I did not want a divorce but had no choice in the matter. He married her and they are still married.

I have now been remarried for 14 years. He is a Protestant and does not want to join the Catholic Church or get an annulment from his first marriage.

I want to join the Catholic Church and am willing to apply for an annulment but I have read that even if my annulment is granted, I will not be able to join the Church because the Church does not recognize my 14 year old marriage. To join and take communion either my husband would have to get an annulment or I would have to leave him. I can't believe the church would ask me to leave my wonderful husband in order to join the Church.

My ex-husband and his wife joined the Catholic Church 10 years ago. They were never asked about prior marriages, were active in the church and took communion with no questions asked.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I am having problems understanding what I need to do to become a Catholic. I have been praying the Holy Rosary for a year and have asked my ex-husband to forgive me for whatever I did or did not do to cause him to leave me.

Sincerely, Patty HB=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Patty,

We human beings can certainly get into complex situations. Sometimes they can be unraveled, sometimes not.

You have made some assertions which I am not so clear about. Your former husband and his wife joined the Church and were never asked about prior marriages. That is certainly something that should have been asked and resolved. If not, it is a situation which contradicts the Church’s understanding of authentic marriage.

If instead it was resolved, then you should have been notified also.

To the present! By any chance was your current husband’s wife a Catholic and not married in the Church or had been married before? Certain circumstances could be ascertained without your husband being involved.

On the other hand, in circumstances such as yours and a variety of others, we should follow the advice of Pope John Paul II, namely do the best you can, participate as much as possible, believe in God’s love for us notwithstanding everything. Through the ages, sometimes couples have promised to live as brother and sister, and thus are admitted to the Sacraments.

If the Church [i.e. us, the people] does not uphold its principles, then what depths we could fall into!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I met my 1st husband very young at age 13 we had a baby not long after we met and were together for awhile we got married when we were 18. We were both baptized catholic but neither of us were practicing our faith or going to church at all. I had an affair after marriage and now we are divorced. I am with the man I had an affair with we have 2 children and want to get married in the catholic church he is a catholic but I have left the catholic church through baptism of a Christian church. Will I need an anulment through the church and will a priest even marry us due to our affair. Oh and we have been just living as brother and sister we made a vow not to be sexually involved until marriage.

Fr. Harold answers:

To give a proper response, there is at least one background question to ask: Did you and your first husband get married in the Catholic Church? If yes, there are a series of things that would have to be done. If not, it becomes fairly simple. For a Catholic, marriage outside the Church is invalid. You will need your Baptism certificate, the certificate of marriage and the final dissolution. With the help of your parish priest, present these to the diocesan Tribunal. A Freedom to Marry decree should ensue.

Now the current situation. Was your husband ever married before? If not, it is simple. Just go through the ordinary marriage preparation at your parish.

What a marvelous commitment to one another! It shows your deep love of God in Jesus.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 18, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

If my ex wife did not annul her previous marriage before our catholic marriage, does our marriage valid? Can I annul it?

Val

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Val,

Without an annulment, the Catholic marriage would be invalid. Check with your local pastor for your next step.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

Please bear with me as I need to give some background before addressing my question. It's 5AM and I have been crying over this since 2 yesterday afternoon.

First, let me tell you that I am not, nor have I ever been a Catholic, so if this site is reserved solely for those of the Catholic Faith, I apologize for taking up your time. I was raised by a Protestant Mother and a Baptist Father - Since my Father's Father was a minister, mostly I spent time in Baptist Churches as a child. Unfortunately, although I believe very strongly, I have not been as much in tune to "organized" religion as I certainly know now I should have been while raising my children. I married young, had 2 children and was physically and mentally abused by my ex-husband. 25+ years ago I remarried a wonderful man - he was raised Catholic, but also did not attend Mass regularly. My children were raised with my Protestant religion, but certainly not with the consistency they deserved to have.

Now, for the problem causing my heavy heart. My older daughter converted to Catholicism while going to college as she prepared to marry her high school (very Catholic) sweetheart 6 years ago and they have been happily married since. My younger daughter, who has been Baptized in her own church (Protestant), is now engaged to a wonderful young man (also Protestant). Her fiance` has been divorced, although he did not take the marriage or the divorce lightly and has looked to his own Church for Spiritual guidance). Their entire lives my daughters planned their wedding days and what it would like. But, now my older daughter (although she has known for several months that the engagement was imminent) has told her sister that she doesn't know if she can take part in her sister's wedding because of the fiance`s previous marriage. Needless to say, this is ripping our family apart. I want to respect my older daughters right to her religion, but think that if she knew this was going to be an issue when she was shown the ring by the fiance` months ago, she should have sought her Priests guidance at that time and maybe taken the time to talk to us before she dropped a bomb like that on her sister. She knew that none of us were aware that it would be a problem........if we had known her position before, we probably would have saved her the discomfort of asking her.

And, of course, since I was married before I met my current husband, her current position makes me feel even worse........like in her eyes I have been living in sin for 25 years. I believe that the God I worship is a loving God and that ALL people should be made to feel like they WANT to be closer to God. I feel that our current situation is driving a wedge in my family that I am not sure can ever be removed, and certainly making me SURE that I do not want to belong to a religion or group of people that have interpreted God's word to mean that we should deny any person the right to become closer to Heaven through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.

So, is it the Catholic Churches position that a sibling who is a practicing Catholic not participate in a wedding of 2 NON Catholics?

Respectfully,

B

Fr. Malloy answers:

Brenda,

I am so sorry for your unnecessary grief over this family situation.

A sibling who is a practicing Catholic may participate in a wedding of 2 NON Catholics.

If it were a Catholic seeking a marriage out of the Church it would be a different matter.

Your older daughter is not in a position to judge the younger daughter’s choice. Leave that to God.

Sad to say many Catholics, who should know better, are not as devout as non Catholics.

It is important to follow your conscience and pray that God show you the way.

Pray that your children love God and follow His will no matter what situation they find themselves in.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I would like to convert to Catholicism but I have several complicated situations going on. I have never been baptized, never been confirmed and never received communion. My fiance was raised Catholic but has since strayed from the Church. We are currently living together and have a two and half year old son that we want to raise Catholic. I don't know where to start since so many things in our life are against the Church. I know I must take the RCIA classes and become baptized before we can get married in the Catholic Church. Do we have to be married before our son can get baptized?

Can we attend a local parish, get our son baptized, I would start the RCIA, get baptized then get married? I know this will be a long process, will we be accepted as a family living together while we take the necessary time for me to become Catholic and to normalize our union? Will the congregation celebrate our decision to come to God, even though we are a bit late?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Amanda,

Yes, your decision to normalize your union would be celebrated by the Church.

As a non Catholic you could be married to at Catholic partner before your conversion. That the Catholic return to the faith would be required.

You could have a private wedding (yourselves, the pastor and two witnesses), even before you take part in the RCIA and enter fully into the Catholic Church.

With prayers for you and the family,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello, Fathers.

My husband and I have been married for close to twenty years. We married in a Christian church even though we were both raised Catholic and have been baptised, confirmed and celebrated first Holy Communion as children. Neither one of us were married before. At the time neither of us practiced Catholicism. I'd been struggling with the absence of my religion and recently joined my local parish. My husband has no interest in returning to church at this time, but has no problem with my return. Is our union considered valid in the eyes of the church?

It is my hope that my coming back to church is an answer to someone's prayer, somewhere.

CF.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Christina,

Your marriage is not considered valid in the Catholic Church, since as baptized Catholics you would be bound to church laws.

It can easily be rectified by a simple ceremony (Pastor, yourselves and two witnesses)

Speak to your local Catholic pastor and he can help you.

As long as your husband agrees to the union, you can be helped.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello. My fiance is in the US Navy and we are engaged. He gets out of bootcamp in April, and we were wondering if we can have a courthouse wedding so that the government recognizes we are married and we can get put on the housing registers, and then have a Catholic ceremony in January. I am Catholic and attend church regularly, but my fiance is not baptized Catholic. Is it even a possibility to have a courthouse wedding first?

Thank you so much,

Jessica

Fr. Malloy responds:

Jessica,

It is possible, but speak to your parish priest. One condition would be that you have no sexual relations before your Catholic wedding.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I am a practicing Catholic and widowed. I was married in the Catholic church. My fiance is also Catholic and divorced. I realize that we cannot have a church ceremony unless he receives an anullment which is really not practical in terms of time. Is it possible for us to be married by a priest in a location other than the church? I understand that the marriage would not be recognized by the church. or is our only alternative a justice of the peace? thank you for your time.

Margaret

Fr. Malloy answers:

Margaret,

I’m sorry to say that it is not possible for you to contract a valid Catholic marriage unless your fiancé gets an annulment or his former wife dies.

My prayers for your perseverance in the faith.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 15, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

I was unable to find a situation on line to answer my annulment question.

My friend is a baptized Christian and after years of attending Mass, would like to convert and marry a baptized, practicing Catholic. The man who has asked her to marry him is a widower. My friend is divorced from a man that was abusive to her and there is documentation and witnesses to prove this situation. My friend's ex spouse is Jewish so my friend married him in a Jewish ceremony with a Rabi. Prior to marrying my friend, the ex-spouse was married to a Jewish woman in a Jewish ceremony with a Rabi and then legally divorced.

Does my friend need an annulment from the Catholic church to be able to marry in the Catholic Church?

She is too embarrassed to speak with many about the circumstances of her abuse and has heard the annulment process can be very intense. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. She is a Maryland resident and he is a Virginia resident.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dear Friend,

I am not sure if I understand all the circumstances of this case.

Your friend’s marriage was legal, and, since she was not a Catholic, the union needs an annulment.

You can arrange for your friend to visit the local Bishop’s office. Ask for the marriage tribunal. Explain the situation and ask for help.

If Your friend becomes Catholic, there are ways in which the marriage can be nullified. Ask about the Pauline /Petrine privilege.

With prayers,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello!

I am hoping you could help answer some questions for me. My fiance is catholic and I am a non-practicing Methodist. I was baptized by a non-denominational reverend. The Catholic church requires a Baptism record but I am not sure where to find this. Also, it was done in a home because several other members of our family were Baptized at the same time.

Where would I find a Baptism record?

I have my certificate of Baptism, does this count even though it was a non-denominational ceremony?

Thank you in advance for any help with my questions.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Stacy,

You state that you have a Baptism certificate. That generally would be sufficient even though the Church does ask for a newly-issued one. Most Christian communities maintain Baptism records. So perhaps someone from your family would know if and where a permanent record is kept.

In the process of getting married in the Catholic Church there is a witness or sometimes two witnesses for both the bride and the groom. This witness testifies regarding any previous marriages and the fact of Baptism in any Christian community.

You should be fine.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I got married while pregnant and later got a divorce. Now my ex is going to get remarried in the catholic church does he need to get our marriage annulled first? Thank you

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Allison,

I am sorry about your experience. I and my brother are proof that a divorced mother can raise her children well. So many good wishes!

To respond to your question a few facts have to be known. I shall take that into account in these remarks. When you got married, were either of you Catholic? And did you get married in a Catholic Church?

If one of you is Catholic, and you were not married in the Church, then the essentials for a true and valid marriage in the Sacrament of the Church were not present. So civil law would take its course, and later the dissolution. The Church would also state its declaration of invalidity and thus issue a Freedom to Marry decree.

If neither of you were Catholic, then the Church would consider your marriage valid, unless it is proven not to be. That is a process directed by the local diocesan Tribunal. Both persons would be contacted according to the procedures of church law.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

My husband and I were married in the Catholic church and are curious about infant baptism. We have selected Godparents who are Catholic (and had attended our church until they moved) but their new church home is Christian- not specifically Catholic so we have been told they cannot be the Godparents. If we were to baptize our baby in a Christian faith vs. our church- what would that mean for him moving forward as far as Confirmation etc.

Thank you for your help!

Tiffany=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Tiffany,

According to Church Law, official godparents are to be Confirmed and living in harmony with the Faith. Thus, if married, it must be in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Technically only one godparent is needed. Most times it is a godmother and a godfather. A baptized person, not of the Catholic faith would be a “Christian witness,” while the other one would be the godparent.

Baptizing a child in a Christian community other than a Catholic Church, would be somewhat lacking loyalty, but the actual baptism could be valid if the authentic form is used. [I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.]

Later on, if you are indeed practicing Catholics, in preparing for Holy Communion and the other Sacraments, you would approach your parish priest with Baptism document in hand. The parish priest will advise you on how to make the official profession of Catholic faith of your child and how that would be entered into the Sacrament register.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Father,

I was born and raised Catholic but fell away from the Church in my twenties. My wife was raised Baptist and we were married in her Baptist church 15 years ago. Now she is expressing an interest in the Catholic Church.

My question is this: Can my wife and I be "remarried" into the Catholic Church and also can I then receive Communion again. I am sadly thinking that I have been excommunicated for life because I married in a church of a different denomination when I was too spiritually immature to realize what I was giving up.

Regards,

Richard

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Richard,

First of all, you are not excommunicated! Yes, you are out of sync with the Sacraments, but that can be taken care of fairly simply, especially as your wife is showing an interest in the Church.

Now in beginning to come into harmony with the Church, there a few things to take care of. Were either of you previously married before you married each other? If not, it is much easier. If either of you had been married before, then you need to consult your own parish priest and through him the diocesan tribunal to see if any previous marriage had been valid, or not.

If neither of you had been married before, then you would approach your own parish priest saying you want to have your marriage “blessed” in the Church. [Technical term in church law is: convalidation.] You can go ahead with this even if your wife decides not to enter the Church, though it would be wonderful if she did.

The very first wedding that I officiated at more than forty years ago was like that. About ten years later, as the eldest child was preparing for First Communion, her mother entered the Church. They have been wonderful Catholics ever since. I did the funeral of the groom last year – 42 years of marriage!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

A friend of mine, a former Catholic, is getting married outside the Church. She sent me a wedding invitation. As a practicing Catholic do I need permission to attend her wedding if I choose to go?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Sr. Dominic,

You do not need permissions, but take no personal part in the service

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On February 10, we received these questions:

I am Catholic, but the man I am dating is not. He was previously married, but they were not married in a church - it was a civil ceremony. If he and I wanted to be married in the Catholic Church, would he need an annulment?

Thank you for your time!

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Andrea,

The short answer is “Yes.” But let me put it into context.

The Church has a deep regard for marriage. It recognizes marriages done according to law and custom as true and valid – with a permanent bond. The Church, however, has certain regulations for its own members; namely, the couple, two witnesses, and the officiating deacon or priest. Civil marriages or ceremonies done in other churches or venues do not have a deacon or priest. Thus that marriage is not valid for the Sacrament.

So if your fiancé’s wife happened to be Catholic, then it would be declared not valid for the above reason. If both of them were not Catholic, then circumstances of that marriage would have to be investigated to determine if there was something missing or incorrect which would have rendered that marriage not valid. This involves a formal application and process with the Diocesan Tribunal [church court].

See your local parish priest for help in how to go about this.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

My fiancée and I are catholic and we are planning on getting married on a catholic church in NY. We are not citizens but are residents, now the priest was telling us that he wasn't sure if he could married us because our legal status??? Now does God made the rules if You can get married or not based on your legal status?

Now, I am not too concern about that because we are getting the license through the town and not from the church but this priest is asking us to provide a certificate of baptismal, which we both have and a first communion. Now we both made our first communion back in our countries many years ago and we can't get a certificate of this to prove him that. Is this a really requisition in order to get married? I am going crazy because my wedding is in April and with such a less time to continue with our pre-Cana preparation... I don't know what to do?

It almost makes me feel that there is some sort of racism in this case because me and my fiancée are Latinos.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated. God bless=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Evelyn,

Yes, for a Church Sacramental marriage there is required a Baptism certificate, if at all possible a newly-issued one. Technically Canon [Church] Law does not require a First Communion certificate, or a Confirmation certificate, though the Church would hope that in a Catholic’s life one would frequently go to Communion and also be confirmed. But this is not demanded by law.

Immigrants with or without documents are not barred from getting married either in the State or in the Church. The current action by your parish priest seems a bit awkward. So in wondering about that, I am led to think he does not know you. If you have not been participating at Sunday Eucharist and said hello to him after Mass each Sunday, then you are just two people off the street, and the priest is inquiring about you.

I may be totally interpreting wrongly, but the solution of stopping to greet the priest after Sunday Mass will certainly bridge many difficulties.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 22-28, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I intend on wedding my fiance of 2 yrs in the spring/summer of next year, but am very confused as to what steps I need to take in order to do so. I was not raised with any particular religion, growing up I attended various religious services with different family members. However, my fiance was raised Catholic. In 2005 I was baptized in a Baptist church, and in 2006 married the woman I was with at the time. I was unable to have the marriage annulled when we decided to divorce. My current fiance and her family are practicing Catholics, and would like for us to be eventually married in a Catholic Church. I love my fiance very much and considering I never experience a strong religious upbringing I made the decision to learn more about and eventually join her in the Catholic faith. We have a child together and also live together. which from what I have read thus far during my search is a big no-no. I have been scouring the internet to find out if we even can be married in a catholic church, or even if I am able to convert to Catholicism. we attended church in our local parish before recently moving to another state where we have recently begun attending service at the closest church to us St. Patrick's Church in Waterbury, CT. I've not had much luck in finding answers pertaining to our current situation and have all but given up hope of a big church wedding for us. I then stumbled up you're website and was hoping you could provide an answer to my dilemma.

sincerely yours

Sean

Fr. Malloy answers:

Sean,

Join St. Patrick’s RCIA program. It is a course open for Catholics and non-Catholics who would like to know more about the Catholic faith.

Without obligation, your questions can all be answered there.

One can always convert to Catholicism, no matter the background.

A big church wedding can be celebrated, if you settle the first marriage situation.

Your first marriage will present some problems:

Was your first wife Catholic? Were you married in the Church?

The local priest would be happy to discuss this with you

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father -

My wife and I are Catholic and we are married civilly.

My mother-in-law recently passed away and my wife wanted to take communion at her mass - emotionally distressed we took communion.

I believe we did something wrong but I do not know to what degree. I have a couple of questions: is what we did a mortal sin or can civilly married couples take communion? ...and if we cannot participate in communion, what are the ramifications of our actions?

Father, I believe we are good people and our intentions were not to hurt anyone especially our God Jesus Christ. We pray for guidance.

Respectfully,

John

Fr. Malloy responds:

John,

The important thing for you is good intentions. But they must be line with the Catholic Church’s doctrine.

Catholics civilly married cannot receive the Eucharist. To do so knowing is illegal for them and is seriously sinful.

If you and your spouse are free to marry, why not settle the matter and receive the Sacraments lawfully?

You can have a very simple exchange of vows which would rectify your marriage status. It can be very private ceremony, with just two witnesses and the priest. Then you could go toe Confession and receive Communion legally.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I was married in a courthouse and divorced in a courthouse, I grew up very religious baptized and did my first communion,I regularly go to mass,however, I have not received the sacrament of communion since I met my ex husband and had a daughter before we Where married by a judge. I have now met a man who I wish to marry and I would like to know how and if it is possible to have a catholic marriage, and If I could ever receive communion again.

-Gema

Fr. Malloy answers:

Gema,

Yes, you could have a Catholic marriage and receive Holy Communion.

As a Catholic your marriages were not valid, though legal.

Fulfilling the marriage course, with the submission of your divorcee papers, would be necessary to receive permission to marry in the Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers-

My husband and I were not married in the Catholic church even though we are both practicing Catholics.

My children were both baptised in the Catholic church, and my oldest child participated in her First Reconciliation last year. This year she studying to receive First Communion and Confirmation. I have been told that she may not be eligible for these sacraments, as our marriage did not occur within the church.

Is this true? If it is, what do we need to do to resolve this issue?

Best Regards-

Dianne

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dianne,

If you and your partner are practising Catholics, you should get your marriage blest in the Church. It could be a simple, private ceremony of exchange of vows before two witnesses with the priest officiating.

Your children are eligible for the sacraments, if they are old enough to understand the implications.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I am protestant and married at the age of 18 in my church to a man who does not believe in God. At the time I was not following my faith and got pregnant for my oldest son out of wedlock. We have since divorced. During the marriage he went to college I had the understanding that he would attend for four years and get a job, he started school in 2003 and is still attending. Every time he is ready to graduate he changes majors. During the married he neglected my needs as well as our three children. One of our son's was born with a host of heath problems, we almost lost his precious life more then once. On several occasions I needed to call an ambulance and was told I couldn't because he had to go to class and could not take care of the other two children. When I would disobey and take our son to the hospital I wouldn't be spoken to sometimes for weeks. When I found out that I was pregnant with our twins born in 2007, he tried to make me have an abortion but I refused. I have fallen in love with a man of Catholic faith, he and his family would like us to get married in the catholic church. I am not opposed to that, I would also have no problems converting. He has never been married. My question is do I need to get an annulment from the catholic church to marry him. If so does my ex-husband have to be involved in the investigation? If so I don't think he would be willing, he is an active participant in an atheist group called "secular student alliance" (I've included the link for more information) http://www.secularstudents.org/ the group as well as my ex-husband hold no respect for Christians or the sanctity of human life. The activities my children's father participate in, frightens me for their spiritual well being. Because of these reasons, and the fact that he couldn't bother to show up for a court date, or fill out the paper work to appear by phone, because he had a student council meeting(the court date was for medical insurance for our children, both of our boys have chronic health problems, one of them needs surgery and they can not be without health insurance) . I fear that he would not participate at all in the proceedings of the annulment. My fiancee and I would really like to get married in the catholic church, have more children, celebrate our love and sanctity of our marriage, with the blessings of the church.

Thank you Father for taking the time to help us,

Kristina

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kristina,

You certainly have grounds for divorce. You do not need an annulment.

Attending the marriage instruction of the local priest, and with your divorce papers, you can Obtain permission to marry in the Catholic Church.

There is no obligation for you to convert, but with a Catholic husband it would strengthen your bond and your children could share in the benefits of religion.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello, I was wondering me and my husband want to get married by the catholic church. As though I am catholic. He was previously married in a baptized church and is a baptized his ex wife committed adultery and well she did not want to be with him anymore and so they divorced. Does he need to get his marrige annulled first before marrying in a catholic church? Please help!

Thank you, juanita

Fr. Malloy answers:

Juanita,

Is your fiancé Catholic?. If so his marriage was not valid in the eyes of the Church. He was, however legally married and needs to produce divorce papers.

You both need to take marriage instructions in the Catholic parish.

Your local Catholic priest can help you in the process.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

Many years ago I was married through the justice of the peace. After my daughter was born we (my ex wife and I) decided to have her baptized. Her mother was never baptized nor did she lay claim to any religion at the time. We attended RCIA classes in Fort Bliss, Texas (El Paso, Texas) as directed by the Father on Fort Bliss. The stipulation that was given to us was that my ex wife had to be baptized and receive her sacraments by attending RCIA. After she received the sacraments and our daughter was baptized we were asked if we get our marriage blessed through the Catholic Church and agreed to it. The Military Chaplain performed a ceremony and prayed over us, but there wasn't an exchange of rings or vows if I remember correctly. That marriage came to am end for several reasons and I jumped into marriage#2 seeking companionship, but never took many things into consideration as she was six years younger, enjoyed drinking, going out to party, and left the person she was with for me. I am not proud of what I mentioned last nor any of the rest. It was a troubled relationship for almost two years and she got pregnant because we weren't being careful at the end of two years so I felt the right thing to do was marry her and I did. We were married through the embassy in Korea(justice of the peace). Seeking to get married through the church I started to inquire on annulments for the blessing that was given to us by the Chaplain in my 1st marriage. The search didn't go too far a that marriage fell apart before it really started for many serious issues. After we separated, but before I was divorced, I was asked to baptized my niece. The church asked to go to the church I was baptized to get my baptism certificate listing all the sacraments that I had received. As I looked at it they were listed in order, but has no annotation for the marriage sacrament. After my niece was baptized I looked into why the marriage from previous was not listed. I researched with the Military Catholic Dioceses, the civilian Catholic Diocese, and the Chapel on Fort Bliss. Nothing was registered or recorded anywhere as if it didn't happen. I finally met a beautiful woman who captured my heart entirely and whom I truly love. I messed this up at first worth several mistakes I made with lying to her as I had not yet started the divorce process with my 2nd, which was over by many different situations that occurred in it. I deployed for ten months and after I returned, she deployed a few weeks later for 12 months. I met the beautiful woman I love at the end of my ex wife's deployment. I messed up as I mentioned by telling her that I was divorced and it became the source of many issues. Almost two years later I came completely clean and honest with her about bantu things that I never disclosed to her. I felt and continue to feel lower than dirt for doing so and almost at the point where I feel ashamed when I am around her at times even though I try to hide my feelings. Despite the issues that continued to haunt us we married back on the 2nd of December last year. I had told my wife Caroline that I had never been married through the church based on the research I had done and documentation that I had in possession. We had my daughter over for the holidays and invited her mother to spend new years with us since she would be picking her up from where we live. She started talking to my wife and mentioned that we had been married through the church and signed paper work. That caused huge issues between my wife and I as we had one day planned to make this marriage right through the eyes of God as this is my third marriage and Caroline's second marriage. I based what I had told her about us never bring married through the church on what I found not to be registered. How can I overcome this and where do I fall into if there is nothing annotated in my listings of sacraments received? I know I need to continue to be honest and let my Caroline know everything. I am and feel like a fool for everything I did to this beautiful wife of mine. I honestly feel awful inside and almost to the point that I'm feeling incomplete in many ways. I love her and know she is the one for me. I really need help and sound advice. I have started to see a counselor to help me with clearing up things inside me and helping me focus on what is twirly important. My heart belongs to her and I just want to be the husband she loves, fell in love, and deserves to have. What can I do father? Please advise.

Respectfully,

Raul

Fr. Malloy responds:

Raul,

If you were a baptized Catholic at your first marriage, and was married out of the Church, that wedding was invalid for you.

Was the military chaplain that married you, at Fort Bliss, a Catholic priest? Can you get papers to prove you were married there?

If you exchanged no vows, the wedding was invalid.

Your second marriage was null civilly because you had not received a divorce from your first wife.

Take any papers you can obtain to your local Catholic priest and tell him you would like to regularize your present union. He can show you the process.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 22-28, we received these questions:

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me? My boyfriend and I planned on getting married in about a year or so, but recently we found out that I am pregnant. We would like to speed up the process, but due to scheduling conflicts and the short time frame, we won't be able to do the usual 4 month counseling before we get married. We talked about getting married at the court house, but my concern is that I would like our baby to be baptized in my church. I am a practicing Catholic, he is Methodist (nonpracticing). Will where I get married affect whether the baby can be baptized in the Catholic church? Also, if I do get married at the court house, is there any way of getting it recognized by my church? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Ann Marie

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Ann Marie,

A number of things come to my mind while reading your letter. Let us see how to put a context about it and your relationship to the father of your child. And so on.

First off, in respect to getting married in the Church, if I were your pastor, I would recommend that you think about that six months to a year after the child has been born. This will give time to figure out if you really want to be parents together for your child. You could enter marriage with a truly free heart.

Sometimes a couple enters a civil union that is then “convalidated” or “blessed” in the Church afterward. Not the ordinary way, nevertheless civil responsibility is established.

Regarding Baptism: You state that you are a practicing Catholic. I assume at least you are participating at Sunday Mass, praying every day, etc. If you stop to say hello to the priest each Sunday, he will rejoice with you on the progress of your pregnancy and look forward to baptizing the new person upon arrival.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

My fiancé was previously married by a justice of the peace and has since been divorced. Do we need to do anything before getting married in the church?

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Emily,

If your fiancé is himself Catholic, or his first wife, then the formalities for you are quite simple. But whichever way it is, you always need his or her Baptism certificate, the marriage certificate, and the final divorce decree. These, when presented to the local Diocesan Tribunal, will result in a “Freedom to Marry” decree, because the previous marriage did not follow the regulations for a baptized Catholic.

If, however, neither of them is Catholic, then at first sight the Church has to consider the marriage valid. It would then have to be looked into to see if there was something before or at the beginning of the marriage which caused it to be not valid.

That is a process that the Diocesan Tribunal will guide him through.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a practicing Catholic although I am not registered with any particular parish. I am a part of a moving catholic choir who sings at different parishes and I have found it difficult to consider any one of these my parish. I had a civil marriage last year with the intention of Blessing my marriage this year in my Catholic Faith. My husband is not Catholic but is open to learning about my faith and willing to have us get married in the Catholic faith. He has been married and divorced twice to non-Catholics in civil ceremonies. We want to re-marry or marry for the first time in the Catholic Church on the anniversary of our civil marriage but I realize that there is so much involved in having our marriage Blessed in the Catholic Church. Not belonging to a particular parish makes it difficult for me to find the necessary information as to what is needed to have a Catholic Marriage in our situation. Since he never was married as a Catholic or to a Catholic or in a Catholic ceremony are his first marriages valid and need annullment or in our case, will we be marrying for the first time in the Catholic Church? And what do I need to do to proceed with the planning for a Catholic Marriage sometime this year?

Thank you for your help.

Christianna

Fr. Malloy answers:

Christiana,

Your first effort should be to go the pastor of the parish you live in. You could be registered there even if you go to various other Catholic churches to sing.

The marriages of your fiancé would require annulment. If he becomes a Catholic annulment could be simplified.

At any rate, you have to contact your parish of residence, where the pastor can guide you..

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

Am Josemaria by name and from Nigeria. Am undergoing marriage course and catechism class presently. I want to get married but i have not Baptism in the catholic and also my wife has not Baptism too, she is not a member of roman catholic, Father i understood that do ask question before one can be Baptism. Can you please help me with the topic so that i can be studying at my own spear time.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,

Josemaria

Fr. Malloy responds:

Josemaria,

If you are preparing to become a Catholic, studying the catechism and taking a marriage course you will find the answers to any questions you may have regarding baptism and marriage. Ask your priest for help.

To become a Catholic you must be baptized and as an adult profess the Catholic faith. Further questions will be no problem.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I am not a Catholic, but, I am a Christian. I plan on marrying someone in the Philippines. They told me they would like me to get married in their Catholic church. They said if I got Baptized in their Catholic church, I could get married in the church. Is this true?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Bruce,

You don’t have to be baptized Catholic to marry in the Catholic Church. The local priest can give you permission.

Don’t become a Catholic until you are ready and know the faith.

Fr. John Malloy, DDB


On January 25, we reecived these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am a life-long practicing Catholic (received all sacraments of initiation, attend mass weekly, cantor, help with CCD classes, etc), and my boyfriend and I have been discussing getting married. He is a non-practicing methodist, but he was baptized and confirmed at his family parish in NJ. He is very open to us being married in my church where 3 generations of women have been married, and he has also been very open to our children being raised Catholic (to be honest, his mother has converted to Catholicism within the past 3 years). It would not be an issue for him to get his baptismal certificate from the church where he was baptized, but my qustion is this: is it an issue that he is no longer registered at this church or any other church in the area? I have made it clear that once we were married, I really want to attend church TOGETHER, and he has often mentioned that he would consider RCIA classes (which I would be thrilled about, but I want him to decide that rather than force the issue) after we married. Is it necessary for him to be registered at a church as well as provide his baptismal certificate? If that's true, I would encourage him to do so before we become engaged. Any guidance on this would be most appreciated. Thank you!

Pace e Bene,

Ashley

Fr. Malloy answers:

Ashley,

You are on the right track and so is your boyfriend.

His baptism is probably valid and the document would have to be provided if he converts.

It would be great if he would take the RCIA, although it is not required for that to happen for you to be married in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

I have been previously married but my first marriage was simple in a court house. However, I am catholic and If i remarry I want a catholic wedding in my attending church. Is this possible due to my previous marriage? Does this fall under free to marry?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mimi,

It is possible for you to marry in the Catholic Church, since your first marriage was invalid.

You would need to present your divorce decree and fulfil the conditions of the local parish to obtain the permission for that to take place.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I am a cradle Catholic but married in a Methodist church because my husband had been married before (brief, six months, young kind of thing) and had not yet received annulment or conversion. He has since chosen annulment, conversion, and very active Catholic life. He is even Grand Knight this year at our council. We have been married 19 years. For some reason, probably as I go deeper into my faith, it recently occurred to me that we never had our marriage blessed in the Catholic church. It has never bothered me in that we had a religious ceremony and I know our marriage is blessed by God. But recently I started thinking in terms of rules and communion. I could easily ask my Priests because I know them all fairly well, but I'm afraid they will say I should not be receiving communion..and I don't want to stop receiving communion. I look forward to that gift every week. Anyway, one of my resolutions this year is to resolve this. My husband and I can easily renew our vows or whatever in the Catholic church, but would the Priest say we should not have been receiving communion all this time??

Thank you,

Karen

Fr. Malloy responds:

Karen,

Good resolution; Resolve this!!

Sorry, Karen, but both you and your husband should not receive the Eucharist before your marriage is blest by the Church.

Let go of the past and face your present need now.

Explain to your priest that you would like a simple ceremony of validating your union. It can be done very privately with just two witnesses. (Make a good confession). The sooner it is done, the sooner you can return to reception of Holy Communion.

You are in my prayers.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father-

My sons and I are going through the RCIA program. I had been divorced and I remarried my Catholic husband in a civil ceremony about 3 years ago. I have applied for an annulment. My new husband and I would like to add to our family. Is it inadvisable to become pregnant during this process? I am receiving conflicting advice. We are older, and my heart sinks when I think that if the annulment process takes years, we may not be able to receive this blessing.

Thank you for your time and God Bless.

 

Fr. Malloy answers:

Keene,

If you, or he, were first married in the Catholic Church, you do need an annulment. An annulment is not need if neither you nor he, were not married in the Catholic Church.

Trust in God’s love and strengthen your faith.

Completing the RCIA will be a blessing for the whole family.

Your local pastor can explain the time it might take to secure an annulment.

Meantime, even if you are together, you should not live as husband and wife until the case is resolved..

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My family and I are practicing Catholics, I am a convert. Recently I was approached by a fellow Catholic convert friend who had not spoken to me since deciding to marry a non-Catholic outside of the church.

The more I began to talk with the friend again I realized the marriage was full of abuse which started short after the wedding. Thus far not physical, but the spouse has done things like isolate, sold entertainment devices, vehicles, squandered money, destroyed communication devices, rosaries and other sacramentals, hacked accounts, been unfaithful, and threaten my friend with retribution and or manipulation of the system if he tried to leave.

Obviously my friend is afraid not only of making the potentially lifesaving choice to leave, but of the social stigma associated with the male appearing week in such circumstances.

My friend told me that he had sought guidance from a mission priest in their small town one Sunday when he was permitted to attend Mass. He told me that he didn't tell the priest of the abuse just of his wife being unfaithful and that he is Catholic but not his wife and they had only a civil ceremony.

The priest told him that he did have grounds for a divorce and annulment but that a marriage tribunal would not even review the circumstances because there was no Sacrament. The priest stated that IF my friend got a civil divorce he would not be permitted to marry again in the church. In my friend's damaged state of mind he is afraid that he will not be able to move on in the future, and have the chance for a prosperous union with the woman God truly meant for him, and thus has convinced himself there is no hope, and he must stay in this terrible situation.

I have told my friend that his safety is the most pressing concern but that I was sure that there was something that could be done. My friend is checking in with me regularly now and I am continuing to encourage him to hope as well as to leave this situation. I have offered tips from articles concerning battered men, a helpline number, and my family has also offered their assistance. We know he has to make the choice, and we are praying but perhaps the father's might be able to give some advise that would help my friend to hope more.

Thank you,

A Concerned Friend

Fr. Malloy answers:

The priest you spoke to gave you good advice.

No one can be expected to live the life you describe. Your friend should stand up, like a man, and take action.

I don’t believe anyone would think your friend weak. But it wouldn’t change the need even if they did.

Incidentally, I observed the same circumstances in the marriage of a nephew, who secured a divorce and decree of nullity of his marriage and no social stigma resulted.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hi Fathers,

My fiancee and I are getting married and June, we are wondering is it possible to get married by civil and by church at the same ceremony? We want to get married by civil and by church but we want to do everything at the same ceremony and same time. Is it possible to sign both of the papers and get everything done at once?

Thank you

Cynthia

Fr. Malloy responds:

Cynthia,

Your church marriage is also recognized civilly. There is no reason to have two ceremonies.

If your are Catholic, a civil marriage is invalid for you as it would be for him as a Catholic.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My name is Alice, I just recently whet back to Church after 30 years and as of last week I just started to attend RCIA. I was baptise in a Catholic Church and did my communion. I am not to sure whether or not I did my confirmation as I was told that back in the 60's this was done the same time of the baptism. I am still researching this but I am having problems as the churches I have called do not have my baptismal papers. My problem is this I have been married 3 times all by the Justice of the Peace, all of them were Catholics as well but neither of them attended mass. Each of them were abusers and cheated on me as well. Two of them remarried, one of them was recently released from prison for molesting a 5 year old boy. I was only 15 when I married my first huband. Since I was young I really did not know what it meant to be Catholic as it was not instilled into me growing up, we only attended Sunday Mass but that is all I remember. I married my 4th husband, he is not Catholic and I believe he was baptised in a Baptist Church. His father was a baptist ministor and my husband knows the bible very well. My question is do I have to get an annulment to all three marriages before I can receive the Eucharist.

Thank you...

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Alice,

What rejoicing when someone re-enters the community of Church!

Yes, your previous marriages will have to be sorted out, for which you need the marriage certificates and divorce decrees. But the main thing is your own Baptism certificate. Do you have any relatives still living who might remember first that you were baptized and second where.

Do you remember the church where you received First Communion? There the parish should have looked at a Baptism certificate and put it in the record. In our country when I was young, Confirmation was administered in the 7th or 8th grade. In some places that is still the practice, though some places have Confirmation later during high school. If you do not remember that, then it is possible you were not confirmed. Again it is possible that some family member could remember that. If it is ascertained that you were not Confirmed, your presence at the RCIA will lead to that.

In the meantime, with the documentation above being presented to the Diocesan Tribunal [Church court], it should end up with a Decree of Freedom to Marry. Armed with that, you can have a Church wedding with your current spouse.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 23-25, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I first have to say thank you, for reaching out to us online, it really makes me feel more connected with the Church, by moving along with technology.

I just recently became engaged to my fiance, my best friend. We have been dating for about five years and have only grown closer since. My fiance was not brought up with much of a religion. I was raised Catholic, but have not been the best Catholic over the past few years. My father became very sick a few years ago, and I guess instead of reaching for God, I pushed him away. I do however, believe, and would like to become a more involved member of the Church.

Since being less active in the Church, and moving on with my relationship with my fiance (Peter), I have a few concerns.

I would eventually like to be married in the Catholic Church and raise our children Catholic, but I am concerned for Peter. I know many practicing Catholics have said that unless you are baptized and a member of the Church, you cannot be saved. This terrifies me, for Peter. He is the most kind hearted, honest, and admirable person I have ever met, and I look to him for guidance a lot of the time. He has his differences with Catholicism, but I just cannot believe that he cannot be saved.

Could you please explain this more to me, or help me as to what I should do? I have tried to get him to understand my views and he did give an honest try in Church, but I do not think he will convert.

Thank you for your time,

Kelly=

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kelly,

No one can say that a person cannot be saved.

You do your best to be a good example of Catholic practice and pray that Peter be brought to the true faith. Conversion is a gift of God. Pray for that gift.

One who strives to know and love God and practices the Ten Commandments (as far as possible) will have baptism of desire.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I am Catholic and never before married. My boyfriend is not Catholic and has been married previously and divorced. We would like some clarification regarding the validity of his previous marriage in the Catholic Church. His ex-wife is Catholic. They were not married in the Catholic church, but in a civil ceremony. I understand that since their marriage was not performed in the Catholic Church and she is Catholic, the marriage is invalid for her.

Is this correct? Does that make the marriage invalid for him?

Thank you for your time.

Sara

Fr. Malloy answers:

Sara,

Validation is not needed. Your local pastor can handle this case.

You need to present the civil divorce papers and go through the marriage preparation course

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Oh Father

Please give me some clarity on this issue:-

I have been divorced and have met a gentlemen who is much younger than I am - we have met with this parents and mine and everyone has accepted our love, he is a christian and I was not - I have accepted the Lord and we now want to do what is right and get married - he has never been married (we have been living together as a couple for the last four months now) - Father please let me know if what I am about to do is right in the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ - he wants to get baptized and I would like to do it as well - I come from a hindu family - if I go ahead and get baptized does this mean that I cannot join my family in the occasional prayer in the hindu faith? - I have committed to Jesus - however I have children and a grandchild that follow the hindu faith - that I am a part of - please advise

Thank you Lord for this opportunity and thank you father that you will respond

Molly

Fr. Malloy responds:

Molly,

Approach your local Catholic Church and ask to join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). The course is open to Catholic and non-Catholics and will explain the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. No obligation.

If you become a Catholic, you can still attend some of your former practices, as long as they don’t take the place of Mass on Sunday .

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Good morning Father,

I found your link earlier this morning, and was hoping to get some clarification on a few questions.

I have recently become engaged, and my fiancé and I have been discussing the possibility of being married in the church. There are a few things that may be obstacles: first, my fiancé is baptized Catholic but not confirmed. Second, we are both divorced. Third, I am not a Catholic. I know about having marriages annulled through the church before we could marry, but do both have to be annulled or just one? Also, can you please explain the question of "form of marriage"? We were both married in court, but not in the church. Does this change the process of nullification? And finally, if either of us annulled our previous marriage, would that change the legitimacy of baptism for either of our children?

I apologize for the rather sporadic nature of this email, but these have been stressful questions to have in my mind. I look forward to any response you can give me, and thank you in advance for your time.

Blessings, Father.

Sincerely,

Rachel

Fr. Malloy answers:

Rachel,

Presuming the marriages were both out of the Catholic Church, it would not be necessary (or possible) to annul them through the Church.

The legitimacy of baptism does not depend on the condition of the parents, per se. The parents would have to promise to raise the children as Catholic.

The form of marriage would follow the requirements of the Church: proper instruction and promise of raising the children in the Catholic faith. The civil divorce papers would have to presented to obtain permission to marry in the Church.

Any local Catholic priest can help you.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was married to my second husband Sept 2007 in a civil marriage. My formal anullment from my first marriage was granted around Jan 2010. My second husband has refused to have our marriage convalidated, despite numerous promises and dates set up to do it. I'm in a womans shelter now due to domestic

Violence and working on my divorce and custody papers of our 3 yr old son. He even told me "you're not a catholic" and "i don't deserve to take the Eucharist."

My question is when am i allowed to take the Eucharist? Do i have to be divorced and get another anullment before partaking of the eucharist? Or may i partake now while going through the divorce process? Thank you and God Bless.

Jamaille

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jamaille,

You don’t have to get a divorce to receive the Eucharist. You have to be in the state of grace.

Your second marriage was civil. As a Catholic that marriage is invalid and an annulment is not needed (or possible).

You do have to go to Confession if you have serious sins to confess.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father my wife is a Methodist and previously divorced in a situation that was not good for her. We married outside of the Church because of her previous marriage. W were told that was the only way to get married.

We have been married for 14 years and have two wonderful children baptized Catholic and attending Catholic school.

My wife has been drawn to the Catholic faith and would like to convert to Catholicism.

We were told that she would need to nullify her first marriage with the Catholic Church before she can become Catholic. The petition is painful and I will not allow her to go through the pain of contacting someone that she divorced because of abuse in 1991. I would like to remarry my wife in the Catholic Church.

She is a very loving person and a great partner and mother to our children. I do not see the benefit of cutting open deep wounds and jeopardizing her well being by having a Priest reach out to an abuser she was married too as a very young woman in 1991

Please Advise. Can she become Catholic without the nullification of her 1991 marriage?

Any issues with the sacraments?

Jim

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jim,

Don’t deny the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith works miracles.

If your wife’s first marriage was in a Catholic Church, she needs to file papers to annul that union.

If her first husband is not willing to cooperate, she has other opportunities to receive the annulment.

Speak to your pastor.

Any pain she encounters will be more than offset with as peaceful conscience and the grace of God.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hi father,

We need some help here

Me and my fiance would love to get married which we will very soon.

He is not an orthodox christian he believes in Hinduism which i respect just as much as he respects my religion.

Now i would love to get married in an Romanian Orthodox church but i not sure if it is aloud within the church as my fiance is not a orthodox christian?

My fiance is happy to get married in a church is just a case of if we are aloud to do this.

Please help us

Thanks in advance

Fr. Malloy answers:

If you are Catholic, your marriage would have to be in the Catholic Church to be valid. If you are a member of an Orthodox Church, you would have to check with the local priest to obtain permission.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 20, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am a catholic and I was never confirmed. Do I need to have my first marriage annulled in order to be confirmed?

Thank you,

Emily

Fr. Harold Danielson Answers:

Dear Emily,

Depending on the circumstances, there could be more than one response to your query. First of all, the Church is desirous that all its members receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. That will mean harmony with all the Sacraments. If you have been married, then divorced and you currently are not married again, then nothing would prevent you from being confirmed.

If, instead, you are married again, you should begin the investigation through the Church Tribunal, to discover whether the first marriage was indeed valid. If not, then you could celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage and then prepare for Confirmation.

To return to the first paragraph above, whatever the current circumstances you should begin the process with the Tribunal, so that should the situation change you would know if you could get married in Church.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi,

My boyfriend & I recently got engaged. We want to get married in the Church I grew up in. I have made all my sacraments. He was baptized Catholic but didn't make any of the other sacraments. We will raise our children Catholic. Will any of this cause an issue when we make an appointment with the parish priest?

Thanks,

Katie

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Katie,

It’s wonderful that you want to get married in the Church. That is fulfilling Jesus’ saying, “You are light in the world.”

It will be another wonderful thing for your fiancé to complete his initiations Sacraments: Confirmation and Eucharist. But technically this does not have to be done before getting married. It can be a project afterward.

The whole thing about getting married in the Churchy is that it arises from practice of the Faith. It is realy an invitation to the full practice of the Faith. Besides many things of a truly Christian life, this begins with Sunday Mass, frequent Communion, Reconciliation [confession] ever so often, then follow up with so many things for one’s own good and the benefit of others. Without these, one would have to go back to ask oneself: why get married in the Church if I do not plan to do the basics?

On the other hand the Church wants to be so encouraging with persons on their way to that very revered and sacred Sacrament of Marriage. No time like the present to take action and decisions.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

I was baptised Catholic and attended parochial school. I married 47 years ago to a non-Catholic in the Catholic church. She took Catholic classes and agreed to raise our children Catholic. She remained a non-Catholic during the course of the entire marriage. Starting in 1984 she left me(separated) three different times during the course of the marriage but came back to the marriage with me each time. Finally, with her fourth separation from me in January 2002 she divorced me in December 2005.

Was I ex-communicated from the Catholic church because of her divorce from me after four separations from me? I am now divorced(she filed for the divorce and divorced me) and remain single. If I'm not ex-communicated from the Catholic church by her divorce from me, can I still receive all the sacraments of the Catholic church? Thank you, Father.

Tom

Fr. Malloy answers:

Tom.

You are guilty of no sin in this matter. You may go to confession and receive the Eucharist freely.

Ex-communications are not imposed in this and similar cases.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB.


Dear Father

I pray I write this coherently and esay to understand. I am a practising Catholic who loves mass and dreams of having children and bring them up Catholic. I am now engaged to Ryan and planning our wedding. There are a few obstacles. The First is Ryan is not Catholic and has not been baptised before. Obviously he respects my faith and supports my wishes, that if we do bare children that they are raised as Catholics. He understands how important it is to go to the pre-marrige courses and speak to my Priest about the sacrment of marriage and of the Catholic Faith. The Second obstacle is that I now live in Portugal (I am half Portuguese half English), Father William lives in Epsom in England and I wish for him to marry us in Epsom. The Priest of my home town in Portugal (Father Rosa) does not speak English so I'm panicing because how can Ryan go to the pre-marriage course if he does not speak Portuguese. The Thrid obstacle is that because I have two nationalities Portuguese and British I've been told I have to get married twice, So I've been trying to find out if you can marry the same person twice in two different countries in a Roman Cathoic Church??? Sorry for all the questions. Thank you for your time, I pray you have a lovely week.

God Bless

Sophie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sophie,

Ask Fr. Rosa to advise you,

That Ryan is not Catholic would not of itself hinder marriage in the Church.

You can’t get married twice, but you can have a church ceremony and then a civil ceremony, if the second country demand its.

Is it possible for you to go to Epsom with Ryan, (living as “brother-sister”), and have Fr. William prepare you?

Fr. Rosa can probably help you.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

My fiancé has been divorced for 25 years and is currently seeking an annulment in the catholic church. I am widowed and a devout Protestant. The annulment process started about 12 months ago, he has been told it will be at least another 6 - 12 months. We are in our early 70's and want to get married now. If we do that can we be remarried later in the catholic church?

Judy

Fr. Malloy answers:

Judy,

It is better wait for the annulment to be finalized. Marriage before that would be sinful for your fiancé.

However, it would not be impossible for marriage in the Catholic Church, after a civil marriage.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello father

I am writing with question of marrying the love of my life. so far every holy sacrament i have received has been in a catholic church. only problem is that my fiance was raised Lutheran and wishes to do the ceremony at the church she grew up at. I was wondering what the requirements are for a catholic to marry a Lutheran in a Lutheran church. Another problem we have father is i am currently deployed to afghanistan and i am not able to be home for meetings with the church or meet requirments. please help me father i can not stand to see her on 4 weeks a year. I greatly appreciate the response and your time.

God bless , Jordan

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jordan,

Instructions are necessary. See your Catholic Chaplain for help.

You can marry a Lutheran in a Lutheran church, if you receive permission from the Bishop,

If permission where granted, you would still need a Catholic priest present.

To do so without permission would invalidate the marriage for the Catholic partner.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was married to a non-Catholic in a Catholic ceremony as I am a lifelong baptized Catholic.

However after 8 months of marriage to a Brazilian born woman (here illegally before the marriage and subsequently granted U.S. residency after our marriage) it became unmistaklably apparent that the major reason for her decision to marry me was to attain her U.S. residency and she demonstrated great evidence of questionable marriage intentions and committment to the marriage openly mocking and denying the Catholic Church. I brought civil lawsuit for annulment and this was granted in civil court with strong language by the judge to my former "wife" concerning what she had done - calling what she had done clearly a case of fraud upon which he ordered the "marriage" to be annuled. It was done so over 3 years ago.

My question is - what must I do to obtain a Roman Catholic annulment? To what degree or to what extent is the civil ruling that the marriage is annuled of significance or value to the Roman Catholic Church? Could it possibly be that the civil annulment I have been granted automatically annuls my Roman Catholic marriage without the process of Roman Catholic annulment necessary for church recognition of my annuled marriage status? There is no apparent literature available that I could locate dealing with those like myself who have been granted a civil annulment concerning that annulment's impact upon one's marriage status as viewed by the Catholic Church. Please clarify.......................

Sincerely,

Dennis

Fr. Malloy responds:

Dennis,

Since you were married in the Catholic Church, you will need a Catholic annulment.

The case is fairly simple. Check your diocesan chancery office and ask to speak to the Marriage Tribunal.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 15-20, we received these questions:

Hi Father,

My name is Lucy and I actually had a question about my wedding. First let me explain my situation, well my husband is in the army and is currently over seas and we got married by the justice of the peace and havnt told anyone about our marriage, we had to go through counciling to see if we should be married which was provided by the army due to so many divorces. We both agree we dont want to tell anyone we hot married by justice of peace, because of feelings getting hurt. Also my husband isnt catholic and wants to convert from being a christian, but I am catholic. We planned on him taking the classes when he returns in april, and we were wondering how would we be able to get married through the eyes of God and if its possible since we are married by justice of peace? Another question is how would the ceramony take place a would it be a normal catholic wedding or something different? He is stationed in Texas and I live in Ohio, would he be able to take those classes in texas that has a catholic church? We are having the wedding in columbus, ohio. I have gotten so many different answers thought you might help me in answering my questions. Thank you and God bless,

Lucy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lucy,

It could be a normal Catholic wedding. You are not bound tell anyone, other than the priest, of your civil marriage. Present to him your marriage license and he can obtain necessary forms to document a Catholic wedding.

Your fiancé’ would not have to be a convert, but it would be much better if he could pursue his conversion, wherever he is.

The local Catholic chaplain could help him. Taking the classes in April would be advisable.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Our son is getting married to a girl in the Catholic church. During their first meeting with the priest he wanted record of my sons baptism. We are Methodist . It has been 28 years ago and I cannot find record of that event. I did find his confirmation record. Would that be okay?

Thank you,

Teresa

Fr. Malloy answers:

Teresa,

If there are living witnesses to his baptism they can testify to the fact.

Confirmation papers would be helpful.

However, one who is not baptized may also be married in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello, i am catholic and was married in the catholic church. i have been divorced ofr 1 year now and I am currently engaged, however my question is, Do I need to get my first marriage annulled if we want to get married in the lutheran church. My fiancee is lutheran. Thanks!

Becky

Fr. Malloy answers:

Becky,

Accepting your divorce. the Lutheran Church would not need an annulment.

Regretfully however, you would no longer be a practicing Catholic and may not receive the sacraments,

Fr. John Malloy


Dear Father,

My fiancé and I have been planning to get married on August 11 in a Catholic church. However, I am pregnant and due to have our child in May. What is the church's stance on us getting married legally under a justice of the peace before the birth of our son? And how would that change the wedding ceremony (if at all) in May? We want to do the right thing for our baby and have him come into this world with married parents, but it is especially important to me to have a real Catholic wedding. I really need some advice and guidance! Thank you for your time.

Dani

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dani,

Don 't make the mistake of a civil marriage.

It is more important that your child enter the world with parents in good grace with God than married by a Justice of the Peace.

It won't make it right for your child to be brought into the world with a marriage not blest by God.

In due time your child will understand the situation and be the stronger Catholic, if he is well instructed.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I have read extensively Q & A on your website and find no case quite like my own. Therefore I seek your prayerful guidance.

I was married to a man 43 years ago. I was 18 unbaptized and he was 23 years old (likely unbaptized) and he was seeking a deferred way out of an A-1 status in the draft to avoid the Vietnam war.

He was raised 7tth Day Adventist while I was raised Presbyterian. He courted me and after several months told me that he loved me but within 2 months after our wedding he told me that he had lied to me about his reasons for marrying me. He only wanted out of the draft.

I believed that our vows were for life and decided to stay with him. Long story, but he was mentally unstable, suffering from schizophrenia, was unfaithful with numerous women, and proved to have pathological tendencies.

At the time I was young and naive and stayed for 6 years, 2 children, and almost died from the physical abuse that I received from his bare hands. I have no record of the violence because at the time of the incidents (1974) the police did not take domestic violence seriously as they do today. I found a safe way to leave him and save myself and our children from a man who was arrested in 1979 for pedophilia.

I believed with all of my soul that I was baptized as an infant but most recently learned that I am not. The Holy Spirit has led me to seeking our Lord in the Catholic Church. I wish to receive the sacraments. I have attended Mass weekly with my current husband, previously baptized from another denomination, for over one year.

I am in RCIA at this time. I have filed paperwork with the Diocese for my annulment. My current husband has also filed for an annulment from his marriage over 40 years ago. My current husband and I had a civil ceremony 29 years ago and seek to have our marriage blessed in the Church if our annulments should be granted. I did not meet my current husband until 3 years after my civil divorce and 8 years after his civil divorce.

My concern regarding my annulment process is that I have learned through my children that as of 4 years ago that my former husband illegally left the US to parts unknown due to a variety of crimes that he has committed.. I have no way of contacting him regarding the annulment process.

Due to his seemingly clinical paranoia and not knowing where he resides, I suspect that I may never be able to locate him. If his location were discovered, his paranoia would not allow contact with the church due to his unfounded fears of being discovered by the US government for the illegal crimes that he has committed in the past. And due to our past history, he has no trust in me, nor any desire to help me in any way.

Would you be able to shed some light on what is my recourse with the Church regarding their and my inability to not be able to locate my former husband? I understand that not only my children do not know or want to know where my former husband lives, for the protection of my grandchildren from a documented pedophile, and that my children have told me that my former husband has severed all communication, trust, and ties with his immediate family.

Please understand that personally I have not had contact with my former husband's immediate family for 40 years. I fear the thought of establishing any communication with his immediate family due to the mental illness that they also seem to suffer.

Your insight and your guidance and your prayers are most welcome. I feel at a great loss of hope that I will never be baptized nor granted an annullment in the Church which I find the only true Church of our Lord.

God bless you,

I thank for your help and wisdom,

June

Fr. Malloy answers:

June,

You do find yourself in a difficult situation. You have my prayers for a successful outcome.

Since you are in RCIA, your local priest is in the best position to advise you and direct your appeal to the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal.

You certainly have baptism of desire, but my prayer is that the case be resolved by the Marriage Tribunal.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a baptized non catholic and my boyfriend is a catholic. My boyfriend has never been married but I was. I have started the annulment process but have an unfortunate situation. I got divorced 22 years ago and have no idea where my ex- spouse lives or his phone number. I could probably search the internet to find information to present to the tribunal but I am certain he will not be cooperative and will not contribute any information about our marriage or divorce. So, my first question is does he have to be notified? If so, can he choose not to participate? I understand that it can take a very long time for an annulment to be granted but my boyfriend and I wish to get married in a non catholic church and hope to have our marriage blessed in the catholic church when the annulment has been granted. Will there be another process to have the marriage blessed if we get married in a non catholic church? Also I do not have any documentation that I was baptized just my word and witnesses, will I have to have a proof of baptism?

Thank you so much for you help and advice

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Veronica,

A civil marriage, or marriage in a con-Catholic church, will be null for your Catholic spouse. It’s better to wait to be married until your case is resolved.

Making the efforts to reach your first spouse is important, but lack of cooperation my not hurt the annulment process, provided you have other documentations, or witnesses, to testify on your behalf.

The local Catholic priest can help you.

You can still be married in a Catholic church even if you are not baptized (but free to marry).

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


I have spoken with my Chruch and the wheels are in motion to have my baby baptized. They asked that I meet with them this Sunday after Mass. Should I bring my record of baptisim? Will the priest ask for that? I don't know if I have any record of my confirmation or first Communion but I did complete both. Should I try to locate that paper work? What sort of paper work will the Godparents be required to show that they are Catholic? Lastly, my husband and I were not married in the Catholic church, will that be a problem?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dana,

Yes, it will be a problem if you are not married in the Catholic Church.

It would be good to straighten out your marriage status.

If documentation is in order, you can have a very private ceremony with two witness?

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


My ex catholic wife was married to a nonpracticing Jewish fellow in an outdoor nondenominationsl ceremony many years ago. It was not officiated by a rabbi nor do I think it was Christian per se.

She purportedly never filed the “paperwork” after getting the marriage license and believed that the civil portion was never completed and therefore “technically” didn’t need a divorce.

We met many years later and she became pregnant, I felt the need to be married although neither of us had any plans along those line otherwise.

She said that we didn’t have to get married.

We had a civil marriage but later after our daughter was born we wanted her to get her baptized and we wanted to get the marriage in the church.

The local priest who was wonderful, and he agreed and we had a small ceremony in the church. He understood that her first marriage was not completed in a civil sense, but I wonder now after further reading why he didn’t require her to get an annulment from a Catholic point of view???????

17 years later we were divorced.

I have remarried a Methodist and have an 8 year old.

We married in the Episcopal church.

My presumption was I am going to hell and could never receive sacraments again due to the divorce.

I always wanted to continue in the church.

Was the blessing of the first marriage valid?????

Do I need an annulment since in hind sight it would seem that she was still married to her Jewish spouse by virtue of natural law regardless of the failure to complete the civil paperwork?

If my new wife becomes Catholic can we be a Catholic family and all of us receive all the sacraments?

Is there any hope?? Help!

Ken

Fr. Malloy answers:

Ken,

"Was the blessing of the first marriage valid???" Yes, it was.

The first marriage to a Catholic is valid and needs an annulment.

If your new wife becomes Catholic, and after an annulment), the whole family can join the Church (with proper instruction) and receive all the Sacraments.

Meantime, go to Mass, even if you cannot receive Communion and seek the advice of the local priest..

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers,

I have a question I am hoping you can answer. I was raised with no specific religion and was never baptized. I am an adult now (30)and over many years have thought about becoming Catholic. It became more important to me as I have gotten older and decided to sign up for the RCIA program in September of 2011. When I signed up I was living with my boyfriend who is a fully Confirmed Catholic, although I had already wanted to become Catholic before ever meeting him. He has actually been attending the RCIA classes with me and we both enjoy them. We have also been attending Mass regularly. We recently got engaged (happened after signing up for RCIA) and have decided to be married in October of 2012. The plan was that I will have been Baptized, received my First Communion and Confirmation at Easter Vigil this year so by the time of the wedding we would both be Confirmed Catholics. It is very important for both of us to be married in the Catholic Church. This is the first marriage for both of us. There has now been some discussion that because I am living with my boyfriend, I may not be able to receive Confirmation, unless we are willing to marry before the Easter Vigil ceremony. Essentially we will need to be married now and then I will be Baptized, receive first Communion and Confirmation. The problem we have with this, is that we have already planned our wedding for October and want the full ceremony with all our family. We don't want to feel rushed and I want to be able to receive Communion on my wedding day. My question is...is there anything we can do? Can we live separately now and go forward with the Sacraments as planned. I get Baptized and Confirmed and not live together until our wedding in October? Do I postpone all my Sacraments and continue with the wedding and take RCIA again next year after we are already married? Do we have any options? It is very important for us to start the marriage right and we really don't want to be married now and then have another "ceremony" in October for the rest of the family. If we were to do that, can the Church even marry us twice?

Thank you so much for your guidance.

- E

Fr. Malloy responds:

E.D.,

You have the solution:

Avoid any sexual relations and live apart until your wedding. Meantime complete the RCIA and receive the Sacraments.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 15-17, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am Catholic and at this time in the anullment process. I have met a jewish man that is so dear and the love of my life. He was married in the Catholic Church, but didn't agree to raise his kids Catholic. His ex wife had gone away from the church and is in a non-dominational church now. My question is...Does he need a anullment in the Catholic Church when we get married? I would appreciate a quick response. Thank you so much and God bless you.

Lisa

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Your pastor can help you.

Your fiancé’ should present his wedding papers to the priest, together with the civil divorce. . The Diocesan Office should be appraised of the situation and will guide you.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I have a very important question about my son. He was baptized in the Catholic Church in 1978 as an infant. He was never confirmed and is not a practicing Catholic now. He is planning to marry later this year. His fiance is not Catholic and they are not planning on a Catholic wedding. They don't know who they will have perform the ceremony.

I am a traditional practicing Catholic. Am I even allowed to attend this wedding??? I really need an answer to this question. Also, is it a sin if we do attend??? My son knows that we do not condone his choice. He just wants us to be there.

I have given you all the information I have at this point. Hopefully, it'senough.

Thank you in advance for any help in this matter.

Linda

Fr. Malloy answers:

Linda,

I grieve with you. It’s so sad to have a Catholic withdraw from the Church.

Meantime it is not wrong for you attend his wedding. Being there does not mean you approve of it.

You are a good mother who loves her son and wishes him happiness in spite of his mistakes.

I will pray for you and your son.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I have a bit of a theological conundrum with respect to marriage. My wife and I are both practicing Catholics now. My wife was baptized in a diocesan parish while I was baptized by a Jesuit friend of the family while he was back from his missionary work in South America. I have been unable to locate the certificate and tend to think he never filed it as he was a bit of a "liberation theologist." I never went to church and only started going in my 20's. However, I attended the same "independent" chapel my wife did which had priests that were ordained by the Society of Saint Pope Pius X. We were married by an SSPX priest and had our children baptized, until very recently, in this chapel. Within the last few years we realized that the SSPX were illicit and we are now prisoners at a diocesan church in full union with Rome. We also had one of our children baptized in our new parish. I think you see the issue(s) here. The first is the validity of our marriage in the eyes of the church (something we did not think was an issue until recently as we were aware that an SSPX Mass was "valid" so we had assumed that the fact that an SSPX priest can call Christ to the alter meant that he could perform all the sacraments? In the eyes of the "state" it is valid, hence we do not have some issues, but my understanding now is that SSPX priest do not have "faculties" (something we had no idea of at the time) and are illicit. Can the Church validate the marriage as it may have been defective in "form"? Can the Church, through its mercy, provide the faculties in an instance of mistake? My second questions is that it seems like our 4th child slipped through the cracks on the baptism but how about, God willing, the 5th? Would the Church prevent the baptism? Of note also is will the fact that a baptismal certificate for myself be difficult (if not impossible) to find be an impediment? I would note also that we cannot track down the Jesuit in question. Needless to say, all of our children are raised in the Church in accordance with its teachings.

Does Can. 1116 §1 on "grave inconvenience" help?

Does Can. 144 §1 ("In common error, whether of fact or of law, and in positive and probable doubt, whether of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and the internal forum.") help?

Respectfully,

Mark

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mark,

To answer the last question first: The Church will not prevent the baptism of your fourth child.

For peace of mind and to clarify any possible issues in your case. present these statements to the Diocesan Tribunal (Bishop’s office). The case can be cleared quite easily.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hi Father,

I was married for eleven years and most of them were happy. Unfortunately, I am now in the middle of a bad divorce. I am beginning to seek an annulment, but we were married by a friend from high school who became a Catholic priest and is now deceased. I have gone to retrieve a copy of the certificate, but the parish where it was to have been registered has no record. They are contacting the last two parishes he was stationed to see if it is regestered elsewhere. I am curious to know if there is no record found, does it mean my marriage was not technically legal or valid and thus null? I hope you have an answer as I am waiting to see what my local parish comes up with.

Thanks

j

Fr. Malloy answers:

J,

If you were married by a Catholic priest in a Catholic church, your marriage was valid. An annulment will be needed for a second marriage.

Witnesses to your marriage may be called to ascertain the validly of your Catholic wedding.

The local Marriage Tribunal of the diocese would be the office to decide the case.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Blessings to you Fathers!......Here goes.......My husband and I got married in 1986. We had a son together before that..After years of his alcoholism we got divorced in 1993 Our first marriage to each other was in a Baptist church.I was married at the age of 17 to another man and we got divorced in 1979..it was in a small nondenominational church. My husband that I married in 1986 and I got remarried in 1999 after he got help and went into rehab. I am so happy for him that he is now sober FOR 13 years!!I am so ashamed of myself for leaving him at a time he needed me but I couldn't take the stress anymore. When I was 17 I did not realize how sacred marriage was and I did not have GOD in my life at the time. My husband is a cradle Catholic and went to all Catholic schools and colleges. I went to RCIA classes 2 years ago and am now a full Catholic. It was the best thing I ever did in my life besides having my children.I want to make my marriage right in the eyes of GOD and the church. When I remarried my husband it was an outside ceremony with a minister.We had a meeting with my Priest before I became Catholic and he is and was aware of my other marriage and didn't seem concerened. Is there a way for me to make my marriage right in the eyes of GOD and the church? My faith is very important to me and I attend mass regularly and always receive communion. I am worried that me and my husband are committing adultery because of my one other marriage at 17 and because we got divorced and remarried in a civil ceremony. Can we get remarried in the Catholic church to make it valid? I wish I would have known years ago what I know now. I am trying hard to do whats right with GOD.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Tocorenti,

Your marriage should have been rectified at the time you completed RCIA and received the Sacraments.

You need your divorce paper from your first marriage, and a ruling regarding your freedom to marry. The Diocesan Marriage Tribunal should be contacted to straighten this out.

Then, in accord with Church law, a simple exchange of vows before a priest and two witnesses can satisfy your present status..

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

We have a somewhat complicated situation and would like some guidance please.

I am not catholic. I was baptized in water in a Pentecostal church when I was young. I have been married 2 times, the first when I was a minor, at the JP. The second was years later, the day before I went into labor with our baby. It was also at the JP.

My question to you, is now that I have found the one god intended me for, who isn't abusive and loves me and my daughter, can we marry in the catholic church? He is catholic and has done first communion and confirmation.

Thank you,

Amanda

Fr. Malloy answers:

Amanda,

You can marry in the Catholic Church. If your fiancé is free to marry.

You would need to supply a civil divorce document.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 12-15, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am a Catholic married a non-catholic wife at a civil court for 32 years without any ceremony. Since then I still kept attending Sunday Mass and Obligation Holiday Mass but did not dare to take Holy Communion. My wife didn't want to convert to Catholic at all. I really really really want to receive Holy Communion any time attending Mass without involving any issue with my wife. I am not registered with any local parish and don't want anybody know me. What should I do?

Respectfully Yours,

Erick

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Erick,

Your partner does not have to convert to Catholicism for you to receive the Eucharist.

However, you would need a private ceremony with a Catholic priest or Deacon to rectify your wedding status. You should approach your local priest. Be assured he has heard it all before and can direct you to a solution, provided your partner is willing to cooperate.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father...

My son and his fiancée...both catholic raised want her uncle who was once a priest and is now a married layman to marry them in a Protestant church....Will this be considered valid in the eyes of the church?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lucile,

The marriage would not be considered valid in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers, my husband and I were married 33 years ago in the Catholic Church. He is Lutheran. We agreed before hand that we would not have children, although we didn’t make a big deal of it and took our vows as directed by the priest. I am sure he did not want any at the time, but I was pretty sure he would change his mind after realizing we had a good sound marriage. I didn’t care one way or the other, and I really did not give it a lot of thought. I just didn’t care…at the time. I took birth control pills until I was no longer fertile to ensure I did not get pregnant. I know this was the wrong way to avoid becoming pregnant and have confessed this.

Now I have truly come to regret that decision. For many reasons. I’m fearful now that my marriage may not be “valid”. What do I do???

I am actively attending mass and receiving sacraments of Eucharist and Penance regularly.

We are still married.

Help.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Not to have children would be reason to invalidate a marriage in the Church. Your hope that this would change lessens your guilt, although it does not remove it completely.

You have received absolution in good faith. Thank God for that.

Accept the validity of your marriage as long as the confessor has absolved you,

At this time I would suggest that you strengthen your Catholic practice and as penance make more effort to support anti abortion movements

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My friend is greek orthodox and was married civilly and later divorced. He talked to his priest who said that since they weren't married in the church, he does not need an anullment. I am Roman Catholic and have never been married. He wants to date, however, I view the purpose of dating as a period of discerning marriage. In talking to a friend she said that he would still have to get an anullment from his first marriage before being free to marry again. Is this the case, and if so how is it handled, since the greek orthodox church handles divorces differently than the Roman Catholic Church.

Thank you,

Suzanne

Fr. Malloy answers:

Suzanne,

Your friend should speak to an orthodox priest for advice in this matter.

This Church will probably determine that an annulment in the Orthodox Church is not relevant since the ceremony was not performed n the Church.

Presenting a civil divorce record to a Catholic priest would clear the way for instruction in the Catholic parish.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My daughter had planned to get married in the Catholic church but she is living with her fiancé and the priest says they are not serious about being catholic. Also, they are being required an additional weekend in natural family planning. If she decides not to go through with a catholic wedding, should I support her in another faith?

Kathleen

Fr. Malloy answers:

You should not support her in another faith.

You will still love your daughter, but should grieve over her sin if she does indeed marry out of the church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello. Me and my boyfriend are both Christians, we are not married and do not go to church other than for weddings, christenings an funerals this is not to say we don't believe. We have a 4month old baby boy and would really like to get him christened. Is the reverend at our local church likely to frown upon us being unmarried? I want Lewie to be christened into the same faith as us but don't really have any other reasons for wanting him christened. Is this acceptable?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Hayley,

The welfare of the child and your own spiritual life would be best served by a marriage in the Church.

Just to get a child baptized for the name of Catholic, is not acceptable.

For your sake and your child's sake and your eternal salvation, you need to right the wrongs you have committed.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 10, we received these questions:

 

Hi fathers my name is Sabino I was born into the catholic faith and my fiancee is not catholic she is converting. She was told that we have to be married in the catholic church before she converts is that true????

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Sabino,

There is no need for your fiancée to become Catholic before getting married in the Catholic Church. My grandmother married my grandfather, a non-Catholic [probably not even baptized] - in the Church. My mother married my father who was not a Catholic – in the Church.

If she wants to enter the Church, she may do so before or after being married.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father

My wife and I (both cradle catholics and previously married in the church then divorced, she in 92 and I in 83) were married in a civil ceremony in 1993 and were blessed with 3 children

We have assembled all documents and had extensive counsel on our situation. We have been told that we will certainly would appear to qualify for annulment of our marriages individually after disclosure of circumstances.

We have no money however and are told we need close to $500 a piece to proceed.

We have been hit hard by the economic downturn, I lost my job as a radio station general manager in 2008 and have never fully recovered. We lost our house, and have been unable to do little more than stay above water. We have been helped by family and friends,,,We struggle to put food on the table and it would be near impossible to come up with money for this. We are struggling to keep our vehicle and just are filled with fear over losing our rental house too. We have children to feed and medical bills to pay. We would be open to any investigation of our lives as to the legitimacy of our difficulty

We attend Mass regularly, pray the rosary daily, raise our children in the faith diligently and are so disappointed we have been halted in our process because the church wants money to grant our annullment. Is there any path for us? Since our confession of invalid marriage in 2009 we have both been without Holy Communion and have grave concerns about it.

We go to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Clovis, CA and have considered appealing to the bishop.. We have a new bishop. Bishop Ochoa. Our parish priest does not seem to sense the level of poverty we have fallen to and how desparately we need to be married in the Church to rebuild our lives. We need to come back to Jesus in Holy Communion

Can you suggest anything? Is it possible for the poor to get annulments? Is there help through Gods church for us?

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Tim,

Yes, the Tribunal has costs. But usually they are very accommodating when difficulties are presented. Your letter is very well done. If there is still a wall, your idea of contacting the Bishop directly is right on target.

I had the occasion a couple of months ago to meet Bishop Ochoa again after many years. He is a wonderful shepherd! Make an appointment and go in to see him. It will be a joyful experience.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I am Roman Catholic and was married in the Church had no children. the marriage ended in divorce and I immediately received an annulment., Years later I have fallen in love with a Catholic man who was married to a non Catholic in an Episcopalian ceremony, had two children and is now divorced. he has been divorced for 8 years. He returned to the Catholic Church and we attend mass together and are discussing marriage. Before the relationship goes any further I want to see if and what would be necessary to marry in the Church. Thank you.

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Patty,

From the circumstances you described in your short note, it seems to me that there should be no big deal for you to get married in the Church. You will have to gather some documents but it should be easy.

For you: you need the “Decree of Freedom to marry”, the result of your own annulment process.

For him: A Catholic married in the Episcopal Church without the permission of the Bishop is null. Documents needed: his Baptism certificate (newly issued), the marriage certificate, the final divorce decree. With these three documents presented to the Tribunal, the result will be a Decree of Nullity and thus freedom to marry.

Then go to your parish priest and begin the process.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

 


Father, I have question about annulments.

I have been married twice the first one - In a non denominational church - I was not baptized at the time of the marriage - She was 19 at the time of marriage I was 26 - She was unfaithful (13 times that she admitted to) - We are divorced and she is remarried - She is willing to participate in the process - it has not been annulled - Marriage was 4 years.

My second marriage was in Beirut Lebanon two years after my first divorce. There are two children from this marriage - It was in a Greek Orthodox church - I was not practicing any type of religion at the time - I knew at the time when I was in the country for the first time to meet face to face, that it did not seem right but I ignored that feeling. Kind of swept up in the romance of it all.

I was being seen for depression at the time from the first divorce - The entire ceremony was in Arabic (I did not understand anything)- my family disagreed and none were present

We paid many officials off to get the paperwork through the country (not uncommon) She eventually was unfaithful twice. She lied to her family about how we met (on the internet) and said we met in France before I even met her face to face. So I was already living a lie I knew nothing about.

I tried to get her to go to marriage counseling but, was told she would not go. - it has not been annulled - Marriage was eight years

I am now going through RCIA and have found great personal strength in the Church. I attend mass every week and I am growing in my personalrelationship with God. I can't wait for Easter.

I want to get married in the Catholic Church and my question; is the second marriage valid because the first one has not been annulled andfor the reasons listed above? If so, what backs this up in the Church or do I have to have both annulled? I just want to be right with God.

Shawn

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Shawn,

What complexities we human beings can get ourselves in!

Some basics: The Catholic Church recognizes marriage done according to law and custom, while making some simple rules for its own members. These are: bride & groom, two witnesses and official representative of the Church, the deacon or priest, usually in the parish church of the bride or groom.

So unless your first wife was herself a Catholic, that marriage would have been considered at first sight as lawful and valid – unless it is proven not to be. The process of a Church Tribunal [court] is to look into a situation [marriage] to see if there was anything before or at the time of the marriage ceremony which by itself would make the marriage not valid. There is an application form, documents and a full blown questionnaire, testimony of witnesses, etc. for this.

Check with your Tribunal, but probably the same as above for your second marriage. Besides the untruths described, there will be family witnesses.

You are in the RCIA now. Technically you could enter the Church without reference of getting married again. But once you begin to think of another marriage, the above kicks in.

There is one other thing, which might clear things, or on the other hand keep them complicated. Have you ever been baptized in any Christian Church? Perhaps the path of “privilege of the Faith” could apply here. Check with the Tribunal regarding this.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 8, we received these questions:

Hi my name is Tamia and I'm converting to catholic. I'm currently in RCIA classes. My husband is catholic. We want to get remarried in the catholic church. We were married by courthouse been married for 7 years. I need to get an annulment. My ex husband refuses to fill out form. I was able to speak with his ex wife. She was born catholic. She married ex husband first in a non catholic church. She wasn't practicing at the time of their marriage.they had 1 child. As well I had 1 child with my ex husband. I'm wondering is there anyting else that I need to do. I. Filled and turn in paperwork.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Tamia,

You are on the right road, but it will take some time to get an annulment from your first marriage>

You will need papers to show your ex-husband’s unwillingness to sign any papers.

Hopefully you will have a good priest to guide you.

With a special prayer for you and your family,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 7, we received these questions:

Hi, My fiance divorced his wife in 1998 do to abandonment and adultery. They were married thru church and she remarried then divorced again. My fiance and I plan to marry but now the ex wife is saying they are still married thru church. My fiance married her thru the church because he thought it was the right thing to do. He did not know and neither did I the meaning or reason people got married thru church. After research I now know the meaning and would like to marry in a Catholic Church for the right reasons. My question is Does he have to get the marriage nulled after she committed adultary and abandoned him and her children?. She did remarried after he divorced and this was never a problem until the ex found out we will be getting married.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dear friend,

If the marriage was in the Catholic Church, it would have to be annulled.

You have a case that should be easy to resolve, even if the other party will not cooperate.

Unfortunately it will take some time.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 5, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I was married before via a justice of the peace. I am catholic (baptized and received my first communion and confirmation). My husband is the same but he was married by a catholic priest in his first marriage. However his first wife did not disclose an earlier marriage at the time they were married. Subsequently, he disclosed to the priest that married them that she did not disclose an earlier marriage. This marriage was not in the catholic church just a civil marriage I believe.

The priest that married my husband in his first marriage told him that his marriage was null because he did not know this information about her first marriage.

Would he have grounds for an annulment because of this??

I really want to get married in the catholic church.

What should I do?

Colleen

Fr. Malloy answers:

Colleen,

Your fiancé does not need an annulment, because his first marriage was null.

Your previous marriage by a justice of the peace must be reviewed by the priest, who can easily arrange for your freedom to marry in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hi,

I am attending RCIA classes to become Catholic. My husband has to go through the anullment process before I can become Catholic. As I am told this might take a couple years. We have a 5 month old daughter do we have to wait to have her batism? My husbans is not Catholic either.

Thank you,

Stacy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Stacy,

Civil marriages are recognized by the Church if both are non Catholic Annulment must take place before a marriage in the Church could be performed.

If you complete your RCIA, the time could be shortened in favour of the faith.

Pray for patience and leave the rest in God’s hands.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I have a question about getting married in a Catholic Church. I am a practicing Catholic and engaged to a non-Catholic. He is currently attending Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults classes because he did not practice any type of religion before and wishes to become part of the Catholic faith. He is from Europe and was unfortunately forced into an arranged marriage. He was very unhappy and divorced her. He was obviously never married in a Catholic church since neither of them practiced the religion. So my question is, once he finishes the Rite of Christian Initiation classes, will we be able to marry into the Catholic Church? Will he need an annulment first?

Thank you.

Amanda

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amanda,

When your fiancé becomes a Catholic he may seek a special privilege which allows converts to be released from previous marriages. A declaration one way or the other must be had before he can remarry in the Church. Your pastor can help you clarify the situation

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I have what seems to me to be a complex situation. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years and have recently decided to get married. We were both raised Catholic and we have both been married before. His was in the Catholic Church. Mine was in a Methodist Church. I know that he must get an annulment if we want to have a Church wedding. Where it gets tricky for me is that after my divorce, my ex spouse died. Would I also need to get an annulment?

Thank you so much for any light you could shed on the subject!

Brandi

Fr. Malloy answers:

Brandi,

If your spouse died, you are free to marry again; no annulment is needed.

Your spouse to be must obtain an annulment from his previous marriage (as you know).

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On December 31, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My name is Erin and I just recently got engaged,we are in a long distance relationship because he is air force, we are both catholic never been married before and have made first holy communion and conformation and we both would like to be married in the catholic church and start our marriage off right in the eyes of god, I was wondering since he lives in Mississippi and I live in Utah would it be possible for us to get married in one of our churches? Or even be married in the church at all since at the moment we live in different states? Or should we just legally get married then get married in his church? Please help me because no one seems to know the answer and we really want our marriage to be recognized my the church. Thank you and god bless

-Erin

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Erin,

Yes, preparation for marriage when the bride and groom live in different States is a challenge. My brother and now sister-in-law did it. So it is not impossible.

You state that your fiancé is in the Air Force. Does he have a Catholic chaplain at his base, or is there a priest that goes there for Sunday Mass, or is there a nearby parish? [3 questions!]

My suggestion: you do travel to see each other sometimes, do you not? Pick which place you will do the technicalities for marriage preparation [his place or yours]. Then make appointments on those occasions when you are together. This is what my brother did. He lived in So. California and his bride-to-be was in Connecticut. He went there and the wedding was there.

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

If a Catholic couple get married by a Justice of the Peace and later divorce, does their marriage have to be annulled by the Catholic Church?

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

The marriage of Catholics by a justice of the peace is not valid, so an annulment in not needed.

The local parish can handle this case if the couple, or either of them, want reconciliation with the Church and/or a second marriage..

Fr. John Malloy, SDB

Father,

I have been with my boyfriend for about 9 years. I do love him very much and am now engaged to him at the age of 28 years old. We are supposed to be getting married in a couple of days, but I feel in my heart I am not ready to get married.

I do love him very much and I don't doubt him as a person, but as a catholic who will be married in a catholic church I feel it would be wrong to do so. I am afraid though on how to get out of this situation when his family is so pushy and opinionated. I don't want people to think I don't love him enough to commit to him. I lost my mother when I was about five years old to colon cancer and during that time my brother had cancer as well. He is now well and happily married, which I am very thankful for, but because of my own insecurities and fears of life I just don't feel it's the right time for me. I just fear on what is family is going to say to me and hurting people that put so much love and effort to prepare everything. I just feel in my heart it would be wrong to continue to do so when it is such a huge sacrament to make.

Father is there any way I can get the priest to do a blessing instead of officially getting us married that day. I am willing to go through the day the event and so on, but I just feel I cannot sign legal papers and sign a contract under God when I am not ready at this point. I know that if I speak to my fiance he will be very hurt but may want to still help and understand me but I am afraid of how hurt and what his family will tell him that will cause him to change his mind about us and leave me. If I can do a ceremony in which we aren't legally married under the catholic church I would, just so his family will leave us alone and believe we did get married, of course I would not go and live with him since I know that is wrong to do under God. My family is aware of the situation and supports whatever decision I make, which is why I know that I could just go and live with my family until I feel ready to commit fully. My fear in telling his family is that I don't want them to take my relationship with my fiance as a joke or hate me for waiting until now to say something. They are so intimidating to talk to and I feel I don't know how to get out of this situation without hurting anyone. I have prayed so much to God to help me find a way to get out of this without hurting people because I know he would want me to marry when my heart tells me to and not just because. I pray you have some guidance for me and something of an advice to help me with this situation that has me very sad and unhappy. Anything at all would help. Father I wonder if the witnesses in the church don't sign the papers for any reason does the marriage become validated? I am just trying to find any open window to my situation that will appease everyone and myself.

I look forward to your answer and Thank you.

God bless you

C

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear C,

You remind me a little of my uncle. He went with his girl friend on and off for almost ten years. They split three or four times in that time, but always got back together. They finally got married and are still at it after 51 years!

I am not sure that you simply have the jitters before entering into marriage. At the same time if your heart tells you that you are not ready, you must take that into account. You were hardly the age of majority when you began your friendship with your proposed spouse. In getting married one also marries into a family. You seem aware of this; and are uncomfortable. That is not going to change.

Have you spoken to your brother?

One phrase in your note mentions that you will be married in the Church. Have you done all the preparatory things for marriage? How has your practice of the Faith been in the last 9 years? If you have been going to Mass and Communion regularly and confession every so often you will have the fortitude inside yourself to make authentic decisions whether or not someone or another may be dismayed. Maybe there will be a huge sigh of relief on the part of some. Ask your brother about this.

In fact, ask your fiancé.

Putting on a fake ceremony is not the answer. There are too many marriages in the Church by non-practicing Catholics. Their actions after the wedding makes the community of Church wonder how real it was.

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

I question many rules/protocols/procedures of the Catholic Church and if those rules/edicts/commands are truly and incredibly what Jesus meant and if the current rules do not in fact condemn people and actually put them further away from Jesus, God and living a Holy life.

I was a cradle Catholic, married to a nominal cradle Catholic who was extremely abusive, physically, emotionally, financially and a catholic in name only. I was FORCED to get divorced to survive. So in the Catholic church, especially many years ago, you are a pariah. One is hardly in the position trying to survive and work and heal from abuse to feel like to receive the Eucharist, when one needs it the most as sustenance, one must get an annulment first.

Basically, as I understand it, there is no other sin considered by the Catholic Church, be it murder, rape, torture that cannot be confessed and forgiven, other than divorce, which the Church apparently considers worse than those................even mass murder. A murderer, rapist, torturer, pedophile, who was/is Catholic could sincerely repent, go to confession and then immediately receive communion.

I, on the other hand, devoted wife and mother, abused, forced to get divorced to survive, am considered in a separate category and must get annulment to receive communion? I do not believe this is what Christ meant.

Further, does the Catholic Church really believe that EVERY other human being on the face of this planet that ever lived and does now live that is Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu or other religion is going to become Catholic by going to RCIA, and if married by choice or forced marriage, they will, not having their marriages recognized by the Catholic Church, get married in a Catholic church to THEN AND ONLY THEN, receive the Eucharist, body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus, (which I believe is the real presence. This is untenable that Christ came to save humanity, died for our sins to redeem us, all of us, not just people fortunate enough to be born Catholic or exposed to Catholicism, ALL of us. So do you mean to tell the world and all of teaming humanity, that even if missionaries, Protestant or Catholic tell them about Jesus and they convert to Christianity that they could not receive communion?

I believe the Catholic Church is the church handed down by Christ from the early fathers...............however Jesus could not have meant that MOST of humanity is excluded from his "do this in remembrance of me" and that conversion by other non-Catholic humanity is basically impossible.

So, I am remarried, canceled my annulment, I painfully and painstakingly wrote up years ago after paying my money and talking with a tribunal lawyer, who told me that rather than eliciting my abusive, attorney/judge ex-husbands version and then comparing them and asking us questions..................the tribunal lawyer told me they would mail my ex a copy of everything I wrote. Imagine sending it to him so the abusive liar could have it to go over and make up appropriate lies in reply. He said well, that's the way it is done. I canceled it.

In summation, I do not believe I am worse than a Catholic repentant serial killer etc. who sincerely confesses and then can take communion and will not abide the catholic Church assigning me to that category. I take communion and do not believe Jesus would disqualify me. I am sincere, have become a therapist and have helped many people and deeply religious and take my Christian faith VERY seriously, am pro-life, lived celibate at a great cost to myself for years in between marriages. I am a voracious reader, Hans Kung, Scott Hahn, church history etc., etc., etc.

I would like your comments.

Thank you,

Denise

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Denise,

My computer crashed at Christmas. I have since acquired a new one, but have not been able yet to retrieve the files from the hard disc. What a loss if I cannot get it at the end!

We human beings sometimes are caught in complex, uncomfortable situations. Sometimes we call out to God how unjust things seem to be. Read some of the Psalms in the Bible, you will see some very common human reactions to multiple things. Yet in the end giving everything to God and allowing Him to be our salvation.

Let me attempt to approach some of the things you put into your letter, pouring yourself out with a certain amount of emotion for situations in the past and some enduring till now.

First off, I couldn’t catch whether, after your divorce, you continued to go to Sunday Mass and receive the Sacraments of Communion and Reconciliation. I find that sometimes people have misinterpreted the practice of the Church. My mother divorced my father when I was only two years old and my brother even younger. We always went to Mass. She went to Confession and Communion as often as that was customary in the 1940’s. It makes me sad to think that some people have not had these Sacraments available to them through not knowing or understanding the practice of the Church. But that is for you a thing of the past right now.

It distresses me a lot how your experience with the Tribunal ended up so negatively. The ordinary experience is that the whole process is a very healing one. I checked with our Tribunal in San Francisco for certain procedures. Just giving the Petitioner’s personal narrative to the Respondent is simply out of order. Certainly the respondent has to be notified that the Tribunal is looking into the marriage, but in the most general of terms. Only if the respondent has been actively involved with the on-going process may he, at the end, request copies of the complete file. My experience is that most of the time they do not participate, and only very rarely does one appeal to the higher court. I am so sorry that your experience was so distressing.

Your commentary about all the other people on the earth does not take into account the clear statements of the Second Vatican Council in its statements about non-Catholic Christians, and members of other religions and of no religion. Three of the Decrees of the Council approach the topics you present. They are: Unitatis Redintegration on relations to other Christians; Nostra Aetate relationship to non-Christians; Dignitatis Humanae on religious freedom. Unfortunately, I am sure, that many, many people have neither read nor been in any way acquainted with these and so many other things about the Second Vatican Council. But a summary of these three documents would certainly respond to your critique of what you think the Church says.

Jesus proposes: “You [disciples] are the light of the world.” Essentially then disciples are to be observed and all peoples should see such goodness and virtue in them as to give glory and praise to God. Thus, too, the visible Church (all of us) has to hold on to its principles. We can’t just throw something out because some of us want to.

Now and again distinctions are made between the “external forum” [observable things] and the “internal forum” [not observable things]. You may well be acting in the “internal forum” which is between you and God. Somewhere along the way you may feel the invitation to be integrated into the “external forum.” That might mean contacting the Tribunal once more.

What a joy to know that someone does extensive reading! Try those documents of the Council. On the spiritual life side get one of the books by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, or Peter Van Breemen. There is so much out there. Do you have a Catholic Bookstore in your area? It is always wonderful just to see some of the things available to us.

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 22, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I completed paperwork for an annulment just recently. I have begun RCIA classes and was so enthusiastic. I was christened in the United Methodist Church as a baby. I was Baptized by immersion in a Christian megachurch in 1992. I am not so concerned about receiving an annulment for my first marriage. It will probably be annulled. However, I remarried in the year 2004 to my current husband. He was "dunked" as a Baptist as a teenager. However, he has renounced anything other than he believes Jesus died for our sins. He has certainly lived the life of a pagan so much so, I do not consider him a believer. I have chosen to stay with him, but I have made it clear that if he wishes to leave, he may. I, however want desperately to become Catholic.

My husband was married to a pentecostal lady when he was 20 or so. When they chose to divorce around 1990, his lawyer informed him that his first wife was married and never got a divorce before marrying him. However, there is still a divorce decree in the courts, due to their children. My husband will let me become Catholic but refuses to be involved. He will not provide any documentation for his past marriage and divorce. He will not put in for annulment. Yet, he has not left me, even though he has had a couple of affairs.

The Archdiocese called me and said that I was living in sin, even though he and I were married in a Baptist Church in 2004. These were the words of one of the secretaries putting together my file for the annulment. She was saying that I could not become part of the Catholic church unless I can come up with documentation for my husband's past marriage. She also said, that, if I divorced my husband, then i could take part in the sacraments.

So, how am I to take this? Am I doomed to hell if I honor my marriage according the apostle Paul? (Stay with an unbeliever if he/she wants to stay married, or let them go if they wish to leave?)

I am forlorn.

My RCIA friend is going to talk with the Father and Deacon of the parish, but I feel so downtrodden. I am so ready to go to confession but my lifetime of sins...but cannot because I am not Catholic.

Sandy

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Sandy,

Praise the Holy Spirit for your determination to enter the Church!

Let me take the last line from your letter first. In the Lord’s Prayer, which we recite frequently, Jesus tells us to say ”forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” [various words: debts, sins, ..]. God is readily accessible to everyone according to the dispositions of our hearts. Yes, we Catholics rejoice in the affirmation of the Sacrament Reconciliation and the human and divine assurance for our state of soul and unity in the community. And we share in the common prayers, for example at the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Eucharist: “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.”

Now regarding marriages and attitudes. Marriages and divorces are public acts and have public documents. Even if someone doesn’t want to personally participate, anybody can obtain the documents with due diligence.

From what you state in your letter, your husband’s first wife had previously been married. Technically that would make his marriage invalid, which would leave him “free” to marry you. Tracking down that document will require some investigation.

Given certain circumstances the Tribunal may act on its own. So provide the documents. Then perhaps they can exercise a “sanation at the root” i.e. a healing at the root, given invalidity of previous marriages and thus actual freedom for the current reality.

Jesus proclaims that his disciples are Light in the World. We are observable to all. Thus it is that the community of believers, the Church, must uphold principles of doctrine. Along with that Jesus again states, “Do not judge and you shall not be judged.” So we must be circumscript in our statements. In the meantime do the best we can under the circumstances.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father:

If we believe that God is everywhere why does the church not want to perform marriages outside of the church itself say in a park setting?

My daughter is Catholic and has had all the sacraments however her fiancé and his family do not belong to a church nor do they really believe in God.

She loves him and would like to have a priest perform a ceremony at a nice outside venue but was told by our parish priest this is not possible.

Thank you for your help.

Concerned Mother

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Concerned Mother,

Jesus proclaims that disciples are Light in the World. So we are observable to all to give praise to God.

The ordinary desire of the Church is to celebrate the Sacraments in one’s local parish church, including the Sacrament of Marriage. The Bishop of the place has authority to allow a different venue than the parish church. This is very rarely done, but appeal to the Bishop is always possible. The regular pastor cannot do it by himself.

You are very correct: God is everywhere. However, in this world the observable unity of the Church under the pastoral authority of the Bishop is very important for authentic witness to the society around us. Bishops are very aware of this and so very rarely make exceptions to the ordinary public celebrations of Sacraments.

Whatever the final venue may end up to be, there is a whole process to be completed in preparation to be married. Your daughter and her fiancé need to begin this right away. Marriage is so important and sacred for the upbuilding of the community of Church that it must be carefully and attentively prepared.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Good afternoon,

I am a divorced catholic now living with my boyfriend who is also catholic and divorced.

I married in 2000 in a civil ceremony as my ex-husband was to have his civil marriage annulled in order for us to marry in the church. In 2002 we married in the catholic church, however in 2010 we were divorced civilly.

I understand that should I remarry without having my first marriage annulled I am not able to receive communion. Am I also ineligible to receive communion at this time since I am currently living with my boyfriend?

I have a hard time seeing the need to annul my first marriage as even though it ended, I was always willing to make it work as I value the sacrament of matrimony and teachings of the church. It’s hard for me to accept that I need to have the church find a reason to “invalidate” it so that I can remarry in the church and have the right to receive communion.

Thank you for your insight.

Natalie

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Natalie,

Jesus proclaims that his disciples are Light in the World. Disciples are to be observed, and as people see good in them they can give glory and praise to God.

So the Church does everything it can to uphold its principles. We do not change our principles to accede to human whims. Thus it is, that the Church, following Jesus, sees that authentic marriage is a Sacrament of God’s presence among us for the lifetime of the couple.

The Church holds marriage most sacred. And faith filled people show the world that this is possible in this life – with God’s help. Without God’s help many don’t make it – about 50% nowadays.

Thus it is that at first sight the Church acknowledges the validity of marriages. Should a marriage end before death, the Church would look to see if anything made that relationship basically incomplete or wrong from the beginning. Otherwise it would hold it to be valid and the persons are not free to marry anyone else.

This is why the Church has Tribunals [courts] which look at marriages to see if everything was there so that it was the real thing, or not.

If the discovery is that everything was present, then the marriage was valid, and new relationships are flawed, outside the realm of the community of Church and so not able to participate in the Sacraments. The Church, especially through Pope John Paul II, always encourages people in these situations to participate as much as possible, but without Reconciliation and Communion.

This last is your current situation. The Church does not “invalidate or annul” anything. These words imply that the original state was authentic and the Church by decree disintegrates it. NO! What the Tribunal does is find out if there was something at the beginning which was present [or missing], that by itself caused there not to be a true marriage from the start.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 18, we received these questions:

Blessed Father..

I am thrilled to inform you that I have recently been committed to marrying the love of my life. My fiancee and I have also found a venue we would love to get married in! Since it is an outdoor venue we understand that the Catholic Church would unfortunately not marry us. Although, our spirituality is important to both of us and we would certainly like the catholic church to recognize our marriage. Would it be possible to hold a private wedding in our Catholic Church a week or so after we are married by a justice of the peace? The church ceremony would be a small event with our immediate family and friends. The other ceremony (at our outdoor venue) would be in front of our whole wedding party.

We appreciate you taking the time to help us.

May the lord bless you in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.

Peace be with you.

Heather

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Heather,

Are both of you Catholic? One of the informational statements on the pre-nuptial inquiry form to prepare for a wedding in the Church is this question: How would describe your practice of the Faith? And it puts into parentheses “attendance at Mass, Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist.”

Starting from this will determine what steps you take to help you in sealing your relationship in marriage. If you start out by circumventing the ordinary expectations of the Church, what does that say about the status of your communion with the Church in front of your friends in a wedding celebration away from the Church?

Be that as it may, when you arrange to have a wedding in the parish church, no matter how small, you will have to do all the documentation, forms, marriage prep program, etc. for any wedding in the Church. Whether this Sacramental wedding precedes the outdoor venue or happens afterward is up to you. This has happened to me a few times. When a couple, before the Sacrament celebration, brings me the marriage license, I find out it is actually a marriage certificate. I simply state, “O all the civil stuff has been done already!” And we continue the preparation for the Church ceremony.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Fathers. I have a very confusing situation. I am of the catholic faith. I am married to a man who is not catholic and whom was married prior to me and divorced. His ex wife was married once prior to him. We were not married in a church. This is my first marrage. My husband would like to convert to the catholic church and we would like to re marry in the catholic church. What needs to be done for us to accomplish this? Does his marrage have to be annulled if his ex wife was married prior to him? Thank you for your help. I am very confused at where to start.

Carrie

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

Dear Carrie,

You should begin a conversation with your own parish priest. He may put you into contact with your local diocesan Tribunal. You described your situation as “confusing.” So probably you will need someone who is well versed in church law.

I can give you a simple context here. First of all, the Church upholds marriage and holds it very sacred in the community of disciples of Jesus Christ. The Church then sees marriages done according to law and custom as true and valid, unless it is proved not to be. The Church does make rules for its own members, because it wants to lay a foundation for valid Sacramental marriage. That is, marriage between baptized persons is a Sacrament; so much so that if it is not a Sacrament, it is not yet a true marriage.

You wrote a couple of things describing your circumstances which an official from the Tribunal will ask about and ask you for documents. At first sight, there does not seem to be much difficulty. When everything is clarified, you should be able to get married in the Sacrament, whether or not your husband joins the Church. Being initiated into the Catholic Church, of course, enhances your situation by leaps and bounds.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

I have been in a 10 yr relationship and have 3 children. I was never baptized (for some reason baptism stopped at my siblings and I, I am not sure why) . I only went to church with my grandmother sometimes when I was growing up. All I know is is my family and his including him have been baptized catholics. I would like to get married by church and baptise my children. But don't know how this effects us. Any information would be appreciative.

Thank You,

Jessica

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jessica,

It’s a simple process, but does take a commitment.

Check with the Catholic Church nearest to you and ask if they have an RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) ) or how you can take baptism classes . You would be directed to one who can pave the way for you and will be delighted to meet you. A Church wedding could follow.

My blessing and prayers for a successful search.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On October 02, we received these questions:

 Fathers:

My son is a practicing Catholic Attended Catholic grammar school, high school, and college. He has been dating a girl who is Greek Orthodox. They have been together for seven years. I believe that marriage is being spoken about. I would like to know if my son should marry in the Greek church will he have to convert? Can they be married in the eyes of both religions? What will happen once children arrive? Any information will be helpful. The girl has told him they could marry in the Greek church but they would raise children Catholic. Does not make sense to me.

Debi

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Debi,

How fortunate you are! Your son a practicing Catholic – keep on giving praise to God!

He should be in communication with his parish priest. Together they can see what the best thing to do might be. Here I can only give you a few comments to give a context surrounding such a situation.

The bishop of the place can give permission for a couple to be married in a different church, if that enhances peace and harmony. Most times in a mixed marriage, the Bishop first gives permission to marry a non-Catholic person. Usually that would happen in the Catholic church. But circumstances may be such that [for a variety of reasons] the marriage ceremony could happen in the other church. I usually state some things from my own family: my grandmother married my grandfather, who was not Catholic, in the Catholic church. That was about 1910. My mother married my father who was not Catholic, in the Catholic church. That was 1937. So it is common enough in our country.

Another thing is possible [again depending on many things]. The Catholic pastor may invite the Orthodox priest to participate in the wedding in the Catholic church; or the Catholic pastor might participate at the wedding in the Orthodox church. And still record the marriage in the Catholic marriage register.

One of the things is that the Catholic person makes a commitment to practice the Catholic Faith and to rear children in the practice of the Catholic Faith. My very first wedding [over 42 years ago] the bride was not Catholic. Much later she became Catholic herself, especially since her children were baptized in the Catholic Church. But that is a totally free choice.

All of these things are part of the conversation of your son with his parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am writing this question in hopes of getting some information on baptisms. In May of this year, my ex-husband and his wife welcomed a baby girl. At that point, my son decided to run away to his father's house to live. Now that the baby is 4 months old, my son announced that I should not attend my home church on the weekend of October 15, 16 because the new baby was being baptized.

This troubles me because my home church where my children are members and have been baptized, confirmed, and taken communion is a Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. My ex and his wife are non-practicing Catholics and don't attend any church. They were not married in a Catholic church either. They claim that my church is the only church they know where they can baptize their child. There is a Catholic church in our city as well as two other Lutheran churches. My ex-husband has been to my church at best 5 times in the last 10 years. His wife has never attended my church.

I feel that this is just another in a long list of things that they have done to me to flaunt their relationship that started as an affair while my ex-husband and I were still together. I do not begrudge anyone who wants to have their child baptized, but I just feel that they are only doing this to me to continue their assault on me.

Any help, suggestions, or contact people that you can provide me with would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karen,

When and where you go to church is your business not your son’s.

Your ex husband and his wife have not entered a valid marriage.

Their baby would not be allowed baptism in the Catholic Church since they are considered not married. How could they promise to raise the child as Catholic? The Lutheran baptism would be valid.

Ignore the slights of your ex and wife. Keep giving fidelity to your religious beliefs and practices. Example is more powerful than words.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My first marriage was in the Catholic church as I am and always have been a practicing Catholic. I was married to a non practicing Mormon. After 7 yrs of mental anguish and dealing with his alcohol abuse, I divorced him. We had two children, both baptized in the church. I remarried 5 years later in a civil ceremony and had another child who is baptized in the Church. My second husband is Catholic and we are registered participating parishioners in our Catholic church although I do not receive communion. I very much want my first marriage annulled and second marriage blessed in church, however, I have not pursued it because first husband is very hostile and manipulative. He has never supported his children, financially or otherwise, and is very confrontational. My second husband had raised and supported them like they were his own. What is your suggestion on the best way to approach annulment as to avoid a confrontation.

Thank you. Denise

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Denise,

Pursue your request for an annulment. When one party is hostile there are ways to circumvent the uncooperative party and find support elsewhere to continue the process.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I have just started RCIA classes and have been told I may need an annulment. Here is my background.

My ex was married once before we were together. They were divorced but there was not an annulment because they were not Catholic.

We were together for 12 years and had two children but we were never married. When we split, my attorney stated that our marriage was considered common law and if I wanted to receive child support we had to have a divorce. The civil divorce was granted.

I am also not baptized.

While I be required to get an annulment?

Thanks

Michelle

Wondering

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

I see no reason why you need an annulment, since you were never married.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On September 30, we received these questions:

Hello,

I am currently engaged to be married, I wish to marry in a catholic church but have not yet been baptized, my fiancé was baptized as a child but not in the roman catholic church. My fathers family are all roman Catholics. I have 2 sons with my fiancé who I wish to also be baptized along with myself, is this possible? And would this then allow for us to marry in the catholic church?

Thanks for your help.

Kirsty

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kristy,

No reason you cannot marry in the Catholic Church, if you fulfil the conditions: Be baptised Catholic, straighten out your marital situation: You could be married in the Catholic Church. You and your fiancée must promise to raise the children as Catholic.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On September 26, we received these questions:

 Dear Fathers,

I am a practicing Catholic and very involved in the Church. My fiance and I just got engaged but he is unbaptized and does not have a religion. His family is originally Lutheran but his mom converted to a Jehovah witness. He does not believe in her faith or does he agree with it. He has always said that he wants the children to be involved in the church with me because he believes that having a a structured religion will lead the children to be moral individuals. If you didn't know better, you would think he was Catholic. I believe that he doesn't want to get baptized because he doesn't want to cause problems with his mom. But he has told her that he wanted to get married in the Church with me and that all of the children will be baptized Catholic. We actually established this in the beginning of our relationship and it still stands. My question is, will my wedding be valid in the eyes of the church even though he's not baptized?

God Bless,

Renee

Fr. Malloy answers:

Renee,

Since you have not been married before, and neither has he, you are free to marry in the Church.

One does not have to be Catholic to b married in the Church as long as the partner is a practicing Catholic and promises to raise the children as Catholic, without opposition from the non Catholic..

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hi Fathers,

I am looking to get married in a Catholic Church. My fiance is Catholic and I was baptized in an Eastern Orthodox church BUT had my communion and confirmation in a Catholic church. When we went to meet the priest about getting married he said that I couldn't get married in catholic church if I was baptized in an Orthodox church... Is this true? Or is that probably just specific to this Catholic church?

Thanks!

Emily

Fr. Malloy answers:

Emily,

If your fiancée promises to be a practicing Catholic and raise children as Catholic, and as long as you are in agreement there is no reason you cannot be marred in the Church.

Your baptism was valid but you should make a profession Catholic faith to validate your position in the Roman Catholic.

Rev. John Malloy SDB


Hello,

I have a question about marriage. I am CathoIic. I was married in a wedding chapel by a minister in Las Vegas, Nevada. We eloped. Ten years later, we divorced. We had no children from this marriage. I am currently seeing someone new now, and we have been discussing marriage. My new boyfriend has never been married, and does not have any children. He is Luthern.

If we were to marry, can I get married in a Cathlic Church? or can I get married in his Luthern Church instead?

Will I need to get my first marriage annulled before I can marry in either church?

Thank you for your help!

Blessings and Peace to you,

Tina

Fr. Malloy answers:

Tina,

As a Catholic your marriage was never valid. It would be easy to regularize your status.

As a Catholic you may validly marry only in the Catholic Church.

Your spouse would have to promise to allow you to raise the children as Catholic.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB

On September 20, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers,

I am just starting my RCIA classes. I was raised in a Catholic family but my parents never made me do my first communion or my confirmation, so now that I am older I am making the decision to come back to my Catholic faith and do it the right way, I guess you can say. I have a 16 mth old son and I would love to get him baptized in the Catholic church, but his dad is, however, not Catholic. We are not married but we have a very strong, loving relationship. His dad is very supportive of the baptism but with his dad not being Catholic would this pose a problem for his baptism? or would he have to convert? I had also heard that since we are not married the church would not allow it. We have discussed marriage but neither one of us is really excited about the idea quite yet. He has been divorced twice but never was married in the Cathoic church, so if marriage was to pop up again, would it be possible to be married in the Catholic church? I have never been married so of course I can't be divorced. Any light you can shed on these issues would be wonderful.

Thank you,

Monica

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Monica,

Your boy friend would need an annulment from his previous marriages, before you can marry him in the Church.

If the father is not catholic. It would not prohibit the baptism of the baby, provided that he accepts the Catholic upbringing of the child.

However, it would be difficult to get permission for the baby’s baptism because of your living condition.

The fact that you are living together with a twice divorced man, does not bode well of the success of a third marriage.

Rev. John Malloy SDB.


Dear Father,

My fiance and I are getting married in less than a month and have trouble finding a church (since it is a destination wedding). I am Catholic and would like to marry in a church. I know that most churches require six month reservations before the wedding date. Do you think it would be possible for us to have a church wedding? Any advice?

Thank you Father and have a great day!

Best Regards,

Maria

Fr. Malloy answers:

Maria,

It's not so much a six month's reservation as it is a six month's marriage preparation.

The only way to get a church wedding would be to convince the priest that you are properly prepared for a Catholic Sacrament.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On September 5, we received these questions:

 Father,

10 years ago I was Greek Orthodox and my girlfriend was Jewish. In order for us to get married in a Greek Orthodox Church she had to get baptized. She did and so we got married. 5 years later I converted to Catholicism. I am still a practicing Catholic. My wife considers herself Jewish not Greek Orthodox. Is my marriage valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church

Fr. Malloy answers:

Spyros,

If the Orthodox Church is accepted by the Catholic Church, the marriage is valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

If not, you should seek a validation.

Consult your pastor for details.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

I’m 38yrs old and have been married twice. The first marriage was performed by a judge in 1993 and we were divorced a year later. The second was performed by a pasture but the denomination I’m not sure of. We were married for 14yrs and it didn’t work. Now I’m dating a woman who is amazing and Catholic. It’s been brought up that if we were to ever get married that I may have to get one or both of my previous marriages annulled. She doesn’t wish to keep dating if the end result can’t be marriage and I completely understand and agree with that wholeheartedly. Is it even possible for me to get an annulment or do I even require one? I want this to work badly and will do whatever it takes. Thank you.

Brian

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Brian,

What a wonderful attitude! Understanding the position of the loved one!

The Church upholds marriage wherever it happens according to law and custom. But it does make rules for its own members. So, at first sight, your first marriage would be considered true and valid, unless it is proved not to be. This is the work of the Church Tribunal – it looks into marriages to see if there was some component before or at the time of marriage which by itself made the marriage invalid. If this is proven, then the Tribunal would issue a “Freedom to Marry” decree.

If you yourself have never been baptized and if you desired to enter the Church, then under the direction of the Tribunal, you would approach it differently.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Good Afternoon,

My Fiance and I are getting married in a Garden setting next summer. I am a Catholic, I was baptized and had my confirmation at a Catholic Church here in Michigan. My Fiance was baptized Presbyterian. We were wondering if we could get our marriage blessed by a Catholic Priest after we get married in the Garden. I want to raise out children to be Catholic and so I would love if our marriage would be recognized in the church, even if we don't get married in one.

Any advice?

Thank you,

Angela

Fr. Malloy answers:

Angela,

For your marriage to be valid you will have to be marred in a Catholic church, unless the Bishop’s allows otherwise.

I have seen this exception: the ceremony took place very privately in the Church and there followed a blessing in the garden with the music, bridesmaids and grooms taking part.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

A close friend of mine is planning to get married next month. He is Protestant, as is his fiancé. They are planning to get married in a Protestant church. He was married before, to a different Protestant girl, in a Protestant church. He and his first wife obtained a civil divorce, but not an annulment (since neither is Catholic). They were very immature when they married, and spent a considerable portion of their marriage living apart (he was in the military, and she grew lonely and homesick away from her family). My friend's current fiancé has never been married.

My question is, is it morally permissible for me as a Catholic to attend the wedding and/or reception? I care deeply for my friend, and I want to be a part of his life.

Thank you and God bless,

Louise

Fr. Malloy answers:

Louise,

It IS morally permissible for you as a Catholic to attend the wedding and reception of your friend. You are not accepting his faith. Civilly he has a right be married again.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

Can 2 nonCatholics be married in the church's hall, but not in the church itself? I know that the church does not permit 2 nonCatholics to marry in the church, but nonCatholics events can take place in the church's hall.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Pat,

Some parishes rent out their hall and may be available for such a union.

But it would be up to the pastor rather or not to allow a non-Catholic ceremony.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB On August 28, we received these questions:

Hello fathers,

I just had a son and am not married. I am in a loving relationship with the father and it is as is we are married , and we plan to marry, but are not yet. My question is , can i still baptize my son ? And when the time comes can we marry in a church? If yes, we always dreamed to marry outside ... Would that type of ceremony be recognized by the church ?

Thank you.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jia,

You can marry in the church but cannot have your son baptized there until you do.

Why delay the wedding? If it is because of money, know that a simple ceremony costs very little.

Most churches do not allow garden weddings, as the bishops ordinarily refuse to give approval.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I was so pleased to find this website! I have been prayerfully considering conversion to the Catholic Church. I was raised Southern Baptist and Baptized at 7 yrs old in the Baptist Church. My ex husband had been married before in a Missionary Baptist church and also in an outdoor ceremony by a pastor of the Missionary Baptist church. Both ceremonies were to the same woman which he later had a son with. He was baptized in the same church prior to his marriage. They divorced.

Then we married in a Nondenominational Church that was also a wedding chapel. My ex became extremely abusive, physically and mentally. I never physically caught him in the act of an affair but I believe there were a few due the phone calls and etc. I fled the home with our 1 yr old daughter and went to a domestic violence shelter. I filed for divorce. But during the proceedings I requested Christian Marriage Counseling. Then I returned to live with him 7 months more. The abuse started again. I moved out and continued the divorce. Then my daughter told me at the age of 3 about something her dad did to her (sexual abuse) Which I reported to Child Protective Services. He was never brought up on criminal charges even though he quickly obtained a Criminal Law Attorney. However according to the supervisor of Child Protective services, they filed against him with The Department of Justice.

He has since remarried. I don't know if they married in a church or not because he would not tell me. I do know based on court records that the woman he married had been married prior and had a child. She had divorced her former spouse for domestic violence also. My ex and his current spouse currently are getting a divorce from one another.

I told you all this in order to ask if my marriage is valid in the Catholic Church especially since he had been married prior. What would I need to do if I ever wanted to marry again...in the Catholic Church to a member of the Roman Catholic Church? also ask that you do not publish my email because of the issues regarding my daughter and her dad's violence against me.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my email.

Lynn

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Lynn,

So the Holy Spirit is nudging you toward the Catholic Church! The important word in your letter is “prayerfully.” Keep on doing that and the Holy Spirit will truly be with you.

Most parishes have a Christian Initiation process with the community of the parish to introduce people to the knowledge of and practice of the Faith.

Schedule a talk with the pastor, present your situation to him. Perhaps he might refer you directly to the Diocesan Tribunal.

The Catholic Church does its best to uphold certain principles regarding marriage. The Church holds marriages as true and valid which are done according to law and custom. It holds fast to regulations for its own members.

So, for example, the marriage of your husband, if neither bride nor groom was Catholic, the Church regards that as true and valid unless it is proved not to be. On the face of it, without proof otherwise, his first marriage would be valid. Thus his marriage to you did not exist because of a previous bond. That frees you to be married if that is what the Spirit is leading you to.

The Tribunal will need a certain amount of documentation before they issue a “Decree of Freedom to Marry.” But it should not be difficult.

In the meantime introduce your daughter to Jesus. Teach her what the community of Church is. Enroll her in catechism class and you give good example with your life.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 24, we received this question:

Hello, I am from Colorado and I have a marriage/conversion question. My husband and myself were married in a non-denominational church over a year and a half ago, neither of us are Catholic, but I am currently considering converting to the Catholic faith. Does my husband have to convert with me? And if we both did would we have to get remarried in the Catholic church? Any help is appreciated!

Ryann

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ryann,

Your husband would not have to convert for you get your marriage blest in i the Catholic Church, after your baptism.

A simple ceremony could take place at the same time.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On August 22, we received these questions:

Good morning from Pennsylvania. I have a question about marriage. I was married 10 years ago in a courthouse. A year and half later i filed for divorce because he was mentally abusive, physcially and was possibly cheating on me. Im now engaged to another Catholic and we are getting married in October of 2013. I would like to get married in a catholic church. What do i have to do to make that happen. I also have a child and would like to have him christened the same time. It's very important to me to be married in the Catholic church.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kim,

If you were a Catholic at the time of your first civil marriage, the Church does not recognize it as valid.

With the proper dispositions you could be married validly in the Church.

You need to approach your pastor and go through the local instructions for marriage.

Presuming you are returning to your Catholic religious practices, you should get your child baptized as soon as possible.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 21, we received these questions:

Hello,

I am Catholic, but married in Greek Orthodox Church. My husband is Greek Orthodox and this is his second marriage. He had his first marriage annulled through Greek Orthodox Church. My question is whether or not that is acceptable to Catholic faith and my status as a practicing Catholic.

I was married before, but have an annulment from Catholic Church.

Thanks for your help.

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary,

Since you, as a Catholic, was married in the Greek Orthodox Church, the union is not valid.

The only way for you to be a practicing Catholic would be to renew your vows before a Catholic priest or deacon.

It could be a very private and simple ceremony.

Meanwhile, you can still go to Mass, but may not receive the Eucharist.

Rev. John Malloy SDB


My husband's previous marriage that took place 22 years ago was performed in a Baptist church. He was Catholic and his former wife was Baptist. A priest and minister both performed the ceremony. In the eyes of the church, was he married through the Catholic Church, whereby needing an annulment??

Allyson

Fr. Malloy answers:

Allyson,

If the priest and the minister both performed the ceremony, we would need to determine if the priest had permission of his bishop to perform the ceremony. The marriage for the Catholic would be invalid if permission was lacking.

I suggest you check the marriage certificate, from the civil register or from the parish in which the ceremony took place, for data to present to your local parish.

With those documents the priest could determine whether or not an annulment is needed.

Rev. John Malloy, S.D.B


Dear Father,

I am Catholic and am currently engaged. My fiance is not Catholic and is in the process of an annulment but we have found out that it will take a very long time.

If we were to get married in his church, the Lutheran Church, before the annulment was complete, would we be able to have it blessed in a Catholic Church after the annulment was done, and would our marriage be recognized by the Catholic Church?

Thank you,

Monica

Fr. Harold Danielson answers answers:

Dear Monica,

Yes, the process of a formal Tribunal case may take some time. This is not the fault of the Tribunal, but the process demands some response either positive or negative from some people. If they do not respond after a first inquiry, the Tribunal must send a second and even a third. Only after that can they go ahead to next steps. This is what takes most of the time.

A date for marriage in the Catholic Church can only be reserved after the decree from the Tribunal is received. And, of course, once can not assume that every request to a Tribunal automatically results in a Decree of Nullity.

This being understood, one of the pastoral ministries of parishes is “convalidating” marriages which happened outside of the Church – whether in civil court, some wedding chapel, or a Christian church. The whole process of preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage is done – documents, forms, witnesses, etc.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Father,

My fiance and I are getting married next year, but we come from two different religions. I practice Catholicism and my fiance comes from a Christian family (Presbyterian - mother; Baptist - father). My fiance hasn't attended a Christian mass in recent years, instead he occasionally attends Catholic mass. My fiance and I are thinking about having two ceremonies, a Catholic in a Catholic church and a Christian at the reception. We decided to do ceremonies to please my fiance's mom because she is devout Christian. Will having two ceremonies be an issue?

Best,

Rose

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Rose,

I suppose if the second ceremony is billed as a “renewal of vows,”there would not be anything wrong.

However, there are other options. Let me present a couple.

In preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage [wedding], why not invite future mother-in-law’s minister to participate in the wedding in the Catholic church. There are a variety of things the minister could do in the ceremony. In this way there is just one wedding ceremony. And what a witness for the Church when there are many guests from other Christian communities!

Or, if there are misgivings on the part of your future mother-in-law’s minister or community, you could ask the Catholic bishop to allow you to celebrate the wedding in the non-Catholic church, with, or even without, the presence of the priest. The Bishop gives his OK, the ceremony is done, and a record is kept in the Catholic parish marriage register.

If, perchance in the previous paragraph [with the Bishop’s OK,etc.], the other church community feels awkward with the presence of the priest, you could invite your pastor to give a blessing over you at the reception. The solemn blessing at the end of a wedding Mass is a wonderful example of Catholic prayers to the praise and glory of God and upbuilding the community.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

I have met a lady online on a Catholic website who interests me. She and I are Catholic and she indicated that she has had a previous civil wedding and then a civil anullment (which I am not exactly sure what that means). She told me that she and her former "husband" were Catholic at the time. She indicated that her Parish Priest and a Catholic lawyer, both told her that since it was a civil marriage and civil anullment, that she does NOT have to seek a Catholic anullment in order to be married in the Catholic Church. My understanding is that the Catholic Church does "recognize" a civil marriage, and that she would have to seek a Catholic anullment in order to be married in the Catholic Church. She and I want to do the right thing, but we are confused based upon seemingly opposite answers. Please advise. Thanks for your time.

Don

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Donald,

Very often the term “annulment” is not used properly, nor is its meaning very clear.

Sometimes, civilly, a divorce is termed an annulment. This seems to be the case of your lady friend.

The Church has regulations for its own members, essentially that there be the couple, two witnesses and the deacon or priest. Without the official representative of the Church [deacon or priest] there is no true marriage.

To get married in the Church after an “attempted” marriage [term in Church law], one must present Baptism certificate, marriage certificate and final divorce decree to the local diocesan Tribunal. The Tribunal examines the documents, and evaluates the situation in front of the Canon [Church] law. Then a “Freedom to Marry” decree is issued.

It is really just a simple thing. So keep praying. Participate at Mass. Go to Reconciliation regularly. As you grow in relationship with God, so grow in relationship with your proposed spouse. Be sure that the Holy Spirit is in the mix as you grow together.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


My wife & I are both Catholics. I was a widower. She was divorced and has two grown kids from that marriage. Her cousin, a Catholic priest, married us & he had my two minor children from my deceased wife & me sign the county marriage certificate as witnesses. The priest insisted that no one else be present. She never got an annulment because she told him that her ex might be abusive to her older kids if he had to go through the paperwork. We have been together fir 8 yrs. She now wants a divorce. I certainly don't want that, but she is a free spirit and may go through with it. First of all, is our marriage valid. Second, if she does leave, how can u ever remarry?

cordovac1

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear cordovac1,

You describe a fairly complex situation. One should seek clarification from the officials of your local diocesan Tribunal.

However, let me put some context around it. Was your wife’s first marriage in the Church? If not, just a presentation to the Tribunal with Baptism certificate, marriage certificate and final divorce decree would be sufficient for a declaration of invalidity of that marriage and a “Freedom to Marry” decree. In this case the former spouse would not even have to be notified.

If yes, besides presenting the same documents, one would have to petition and follow through a more complete process to determine if there was something missing before and at the moment of marriage which itself invalidated the marriage. In Church law this is a “formal” case.

Your letter states that this was not done. [The children are grown now, so nothing would prevent this at this time.] I presume that the very private ceremony with the priest without anyone else present would be a solution in the “internal forum” [Church law term]. Was this marriage filed in the county clerk’s office?

If your wife does go through with divorce proceedings, your own recourse is to go to the Tribunal with all this background to see if they can unravel it. Who knows that a decree of “Freedom to Marry” may be issued to you.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 16, we received these questions:

My previous marriage was in a non-denominational chapel, got divorce, my new fiancee is Catholic like I am. First, was my previous marriage consider for an annulment and second how long will it take to my fiancee to get an annulment (he was married in Catholic church.)

Thanks for your help and answer.

Melanie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Melanie,

Your first marriage was not recognized by the Church, since you are Catholic. However, it is easy to obtain a marriage in the church by getting the proper dispensation. Your pastor can easily obtain that for you as you enter a valid Catholic marriage.

Your fiancée must obtain an annulment from his first marriage. That could take a year or so, depending on the cause of the break up.

Check with your local pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

My Fiance and I have been a couple for almost 4 years. He is enlisted in the army and will be stationed in Germany for the next 3 years. We want to get married and move together to Germany, but will not have the time to do the 6 month classes. We are both confirmed catholics and our question is, do you think it will be possible for us to be married in a catholic church within 1 months time? Thank You

-Alyssa-=

Fr. Malloy answers:

Alyssa,

It would be difficult to obtain clearance for Catholic marriage in just one month. But you can speak to your local pastor. who has the authority.

An alternative would be to approach the Catholic Chaplain at the German base. He has authority to perform the wedding. (You should not be living sexually together, if not married.)

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Alyssa followed up:

Thank You Father. We will look into that. Is it okay to be married and do a catholic wedding later or is that a bad thing?

Fr. Malloy responded:

Alyssa,

You would enter an invalid marriage, if you married civilly. Not a good thing.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 14, we received these questions:

I was born and raised as Catholic same with my fiance. I was married before in Reno, Nevada. The marriage did not work therefore I filed for divorce. I was nevern been married in the catholic church. My fiance's first marriage was in Reno, Nevada too and then followed by a catholic wedding in Germany. His marriage did not work as well so he did file for divorce here in California. My question is since he was married in catholic church in Germany, how he can proceed with the annulment so that we can both get married in the catholic church?

Sincerely,

Lynn

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Lynn,

From your short paragraph it seems that your personal case could be cleared up fairly easily. With the help of your local diocesan Tribunal you need to present a few documents for a decree of “Freedom to Marry.” These documents: your Baptism certificate, your civil marriage certificate, and the final divorce decree.

For your proposed spouse, it becomes a bit more complicated. Again with the help of your local diocesan Tribunal, he would have to present a formal case. The objective of that would be to determine if that marriage in the Catholic Church was indeed a valid marriage, or not. The Tribunal would be looking for some element before or at the beginning of that marriage which fact rendered that marriage invalid to start with.

The Church has such a high regard for the Sacrament of Marriage that it does not dismiss it easily. So there is a specific process to follow. The persons at the Tribunal will help at every step.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

I hope you can help me out. God willing I'll be getting married soon but I'll be getting married in Egypt. The problem is they say the the Egyptian court requires a notarized certificate of religion. I was Baptized in Ecuador South American where I was born and have no way of getting a birth certificate. I don't have ID which is required and to top it all off years ago they sent all marriages, births, deaths etc to Quito and many where lost. It seems mine was one of them because I don't exist now in my country. All my recorders where in Ecuador and I have no way to retrieve them. What can I do to get a certificate of religion as they call it? I hope you can help me out I'm at a total loss.

Thank you in advance, respectfully,

Silvia

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Silvia,

It sounds like you need a person on the ground over there to accompany you through a complex situation. Do you live in Cairo? Or at least if you are not too far away from Cairo, I know a good friend who finds ways to do things. She is a Salesian Sister (contact information attacehd).

Do you have any relatives still in Ecuador? Were any of them present for your Baptism? Two of them could testify of their presence at any parish [or at the diocesan Tribunal]. Then a document could be issued attesting your Baptism. This would fulfill the requirements for a Catholic Church marriage.

The Catholic Church certainly has a Bishop’s office and Tribunal over there in Egypt. Contact with them is advised.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

I have a few questions. First I want to know what the requirements are to get married in a catholic church. I and not catholic but plan on converting. I have never been baptized but was raised Christian. However when I met my fiancé 5 years ago I started going to a catholic church because him and his family are catholic. I would really enjoy getting married in a catholic church but am not sure if I can?

Thank you

Ashley

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Ashley,

First off, you do not have to join the Church in order to get married in the Church. I usually give examples from my own family. My Catholic grandmother married my non-Catholic grandfather in the Church in the early 1900’s. My Catholic mother married my non-Catholic father in the Church.

Now if the Holy Spirit is calling you to enter the Catholic Church and you are responding, that is great! Most parishes have an adult Christian Initiation program. Ask questions and join that group, remembering that you are totally free to go ahead or not. Either way, you may go ahead with wedding plans.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I was married almost 5 years ago. I was pregnant at the time and it was important to us to be married before the baby was born. I was raised Catholic but had stopped regularly going to church at that time. My husband was baptized Baptist. We were married in an Episcopal church.

Since then I have come back to the Catholic church and had our daughter baptized. My mother asked if I had thought about getting my marriage validated in the Catholic church. I wanted to know if the church recognizes my marriage or not and what I would need to do if it does not.

Thank you

Jennifer

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Jennifer,

Your mother is right on line. Yes, your marriage is invalid in the Church.

You should not receive the Eucharist until your status is corrected..You can get the marriage validated by going to your pastor, who can lead you through the simple process.

As long as your husband agrees you can have a very simple, private ceremony with two witnesses.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I need some advice. My girlfriend (who is a Presbyterian) and I (a practicing Catholic) have been dating for over 3 years now. I believe marriage is on the way, but there is one speed bump- religion. After reading some of your answers, I realize that Catholics and non-Catholics may be married in the Church with proper classes, a dispensation, and her consent to the children's Catholic upbringing. She doesn't mind being married in a mass, but the part where we tend to butt heads, though, is her reasonable insistence on compromise and given canon law, there really is no room for compromise in the case of the children. Thus, my question is can children be raised Catholic, yet still attend her church and Sunday school, essentially allowing full exposure to both which would allow for a more informed confirmation (should the child choose to be Catholic)? Or is there some other way of approaching this? I've looked around for an answer and have heard horror stories and success stories, alike, but would like your opinion on what to do. Thank you.

-David

Fr. Malloy responds:

David,

Sorry, David, compromise is not possible. The partner does not have to be Catholic, but must agree to having the children raised Catholic.

The children may not attend her church and Sunday school. It would not be wrong for them to occasionally attend the other church (Provided they went to Mass).

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 12, we received these questions:

My nephew quite recently was married by a Greek Orthodox priest. He did not get a dispensation. What then is the state of his marriage if, in fact, he is married?

Many thanks,

Dick

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dick,

If he was married in a faith not accepted by the Catholic Church, the union was invalid. He is, of course, civilly married.

If the Greek Orthodox church is accepted as valid by the Catholic Church, the union is valid.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Dick followed up:

Fr. Malloy -

Many thanks for your answer. Since the Orthodox Church is in schism, then it is invalid in some regard, hence the marriage is invalid. Am I correct?

Dick

Fr. Malloy responded:

Dick,

Yes. Since the Orthodox Church is in schism, the marriage is invalid.

He should check with the local Catholic pastor, if he wants to validate the marriage.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi,

I had a question regarding wether or not I can marry my boyfriend in a cathloic or Christian church. I am a catholic and so is he. He was in a previous marriage for 8 years in which took place in a catholic church and later got a divorce due to his wifes infidelity. I have never been married and I come from a very religious family who would accept nothing else then being married in a Christian/ cathloic church. Is there anyway this could be a possibility if my boyfriends first marriage was never annulled?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Fr. Malloy responds:

Your boy friend's first marriage would have to be invalidated before you can marry in the Catholic Church.

A dispensation can be sought through your local pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Good Day,

My 25 year old consertive jewish daughter, (of 2 jewish parents), has asked what we think about her being baptised in a Catholic Church. The young man she is dating is a practicing Catholic of 2 Catholic parents. My major concern, of many, is the result to her "jewish religion".

What doe's this mean to the future of her Jewish religion?

I believe she is contimplating this to please her boyfriend and his parents.With that said, I believe she may be being pressured, as they are talking marriage lately, and I know his parents, (and most likely him too), wanta Catholic marriage ceremony. Followed, most likey, by raising their children Catholic.

As a jewish mother and father, with NO interfaith first marriages in either of our families. We are concerned.

Doe's a catholic baptism negate her being a jew?

Will she have to accept Jesus?

I am not very happy about this, but, I DO understand. If we had raised her in a Reformed or Orthodox jewish life, she would probably not even be contimplating this. However, raised as a Consertive Jew, the line's have been a little "grey" in her upbringing, due to our notkeeping our Jewish faith ever constant in our home.

She has always called herself a jew, and still doe's, but she has asked our opinion on a "late in life baptism." I'm trying to be open minded but, with my Consertive Jewish upbringing, this is a bit of a blow. A little Catholic wisdom and information would be of great help to us parents, as we are not educated in situations like this.

My real "question's" are the one's itlicized. However, my greatest question is:the question that has me up at 4am today is:

Will my daughter no longer be a Jew, once baptised in the Catholic church?

With greatest respect for all religions,

Martie

Fr. Malloy responds:

Martie,

Will my daughter no longer be a Jew, once baptized in the Catholic church?

She will always be a Jew. Jesus was always a Jew.

Catholic baptism will make her a Catholic Jew.

A Catholic Church marriage would make for greater unity of the marriage. For the Catholic partner this would be required.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 8, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I have been married to my husband civily for a year now. We have a beautiful son whom we baptized at St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Church in NY. We are regular church goers.

My question is can we be "Married" in the Catholic Church? I have heard different opinions on the subject. My concern is that we can't since I have been married before, but also civily, never in the church. (I helped out a friend of my family recieve citizenship). Or can our marriage be only blessed by the church?

Thank you for your time,

Marta & David

Fr. Danielson responds:

Dear Marta and David,

To be fully integrated in the Catholic Church one must be in harmony with all the Sacraments. Currently you are out of “synch” because you have not been married in the Church. The Catholic community has such a reverence for marriage that between baptized persons it is a Sacrament, that is, a sign of God’s presence in your own lives and in the whole life of all the disciples of Jesus, the Church.

Jesus proclaims that his disciples are to be “light for the world.” See Chapter 5 in the Gospel of Matthew. This means that disciples are observable to all. So the Church has some regulations for its own members to be able to say that, at least externally, all the elements are present for there to be the Sacrament for a couple.

These regulations are essentially that there be present the couple, two witnesses and the deacon or priest who officiates. Most of the time marriages are celebrated in the parish church of the bride or the groom. The Bishop may give permission for a celebration not in the parish church on an individual basis for good cause.

For your situation, Marta, you need to have your Baptism certificate, a copy of your first marriage certificate, and the final dissolution decree. These are presented to your diocesan Tribunal. A declaration would be made that it was invalid, and thus a “Free to Marry” decree would follow.

Then following the diocesan policy in your parish, you can prepare for the Sacrament. The celebration could be as small or as big as you want.

So speak to your parish priest. He will be most happy to help you to become fully “practicing” Catholics in harmony with all the Sacraments, particularly Reconciliation and Eucharist.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 2, we received these questions:

Fathers,

I am hoping to get some clarification about my marriage and its validity in the church. I was married last year outside of the church by an ex-military chaplain who worked within the Catholic and Lutheran Faith. My husband was married twice before. Neither marriage was in the Catholic Church (one was Methodist and the other a civil service). I have heard conflicting stories about the validity of my marriage. I have heard that because my husband was not married in the Catholic Church prior that his previous marriages are not considered valid in the Catholic Church so we are able to go ahead and get our marriage blessed by the church without the annulment process. Then I was told that because we were married by a previous Catholic Chaplain that are marriage would be considered blessed already by the church. I want to make sure that we considered valid in the Catholic Church. I also understand that because we were not married in a church we are not permitted to receive communion. Is that correct as well? Any guidance you can give me in this situation is greatly appreciated. Our marriage occurred very quickly due to military orders and the Priest at the church I had attend for 20+ years refused to talk to any couple trying to get married shorter than six months due to military orders.

Thank you and God Bless

Julie

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Julie,

Let’s see of I can pick out the important details of the situation you have presented. Our very existence as human beings is quite complex as also the situations we are in.

First, I must make the assumption that your husband is Catholic. This is not clear from your letter. On that assumption neither of the first two marriages were done following the Catholic regulations for a Sacramental marriage. This would be officially recognized by the Church Tribunal upon presentation of the relevant documents which would result in a “Freedom to Marry” decree.

These things would have to have been completed before a Catholic priest or deacon could officiate at a marriage. I do not know if the Military Archbishop’s Office will delegate any chaplain to officiate at the wedding where one spouse is Catholic [or both]. But that would have to be clear before any ceremony. The Military Archbishop’s Office keeps these Sacramental records for all Sacraments done within its [worldwide] jurisdiction.

From your description, I am not sure if that happened or not. You know that all Catholic disciples of Jesus are called to be in harmony with all the Sacraments. If somehow we are out of “sync” in one area, we need to strive to get into harmony with all.

Yes, that could technically put an obstacle in the way for full participation in the Eucharist.

It is unfortunate that the Clergy you talked to couldn’t take into account special circumstances in your case. Of course, my input in the paragraphs above would have to be dealt with first. But any other time you could seek help further up, directly from the Bishop. This is quite within the realm of possibility and reality.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 28, we received this questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am a practicing catholic who is engaged to a non-catholic who was never baptized in any church. I have completed the annulment process and am cleared by the church to remarry. My Fiancé on the other hand did not have her annulment granted. We started the process over a year and a half ago and have two different parish priests working on my fiancés case. We have completed the extra paperwork that the arch diocese has sent and returned.

Our wedding date we have picked is 9 months away and we still are not allowed to reserve the date of March 17th, 2012 as it’s an important date for me due to my Irish ancestry. I am involved in the Knights of Columbus and I have two daughters that will be making their First Communion and Conformation respectively next year. My fiancé has expressed that she would like to be baptized in the church and would later convert once we get married, we have even expressed this to the tribunal board in the arch diocese.

The question I would like to know is even without an annulment of my fiancés previous marriage, can we still have the planned marriage in the church for my sake or do I have to give up my involvement in the church for myself and my children. Is there another options?

Thank You and God Bless.

Jonathan

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jonathan,

Certainly an either/or is premature.

Blessed Pope John Paul II on various occasions encouraged people who were not fully in harmony with all the Sacraments to nonetheless participate as far as possible in the Church community.

I wonder if in your relations with your diocesan Tribunal it was considered that your fiancée wished to enter the Church. When this happens before you have some wedding ceremony, then it is possible that a “Privilege of the Faith” decree could be issued and thus a “Freedom to Marry” statement. The Church Baptism would precede the Marriage Sacrament. Perhaps approaching it this way would clear things somewhat.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 24, we received this question:

Fathers,

In the year 1991 we got married through a christian church and we were told that we were living outside of the Catholic Church we did not know this and we immediately asked for help. Three months before we got married my husband had his first marriage annulled, and In the year 2007 my husband and I were married through the Catholic Church. The priest who married us told us that we did not need a new marriage certificate as we were married already before and they have our marriage certificate in city hall. He never gave us any papers of marriage just that we got married through the Catholic Church. Reason for me writing you, is that this same priest was taken out on being a priest this year for being unlawful to the church. what should I do? I feel that it is wrong and that we should have a valid marriage certificate that shows that we were married through the catholic church. Am I wrong? Please help clear this matter up. I really need to know so that I can start to fix what this priest did, that is if he did anything wrong.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lydia,

If you and present husband had your civil marriage certificate, you should have been asked to produce it at the time of your Catholic ceremony. Your marriage is certainly valid, but I suggest you contact the church and ask them check the records.

It was up to the priest to enter the information in the Church register.

Ask for a Catholic marriage certificate.

Your present pastor should be able to clear up the situation if the church record is missing.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 19, we received these questions:

Dear, Father,

We have just returned from Japan where our son married a sweet young Japanese woman who is Shinto/Buddhist. They went strictly by the rules of the Roman Catholic Church and attended precana classes. Our son is deeply religious and met all the requirements needed so that he could be married in the Catholic cathedral by a Japanese and Austrian (english speaking) priests. My family and I fully expected a Mass but there was just the vows and ring exchange after the english speaking priest said a few words to the newlyweds. My question is: Was it not permitted to have a Mass since she has yet to be introduced to Our Lord? I have not yet spoken about this to our son . He and his bride are honeymooning and will return to the states in a week where he is in grad school. I don't plan on being troublesome about this; not my life and I don't intend to cause dissension between our son and us---he is a wonderful young man and we are very proud of him. Please, for our information, I would appreciate a reply.

Thank you, Connie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Connie,

It would have been possible to have a Mass, but It is not uncommon to omit the Mass from the marriage ceremony when the partners are of different faiths, especially in non Christian countries. That does not change the sacramental grace.

"Let not your heart be troubled." Thank God for a Catholic marriage for your son. It was done by the book and is certainly blessed.

It is required that he raise the children (God willing) in the Catholic faith and his bride has surely agreed to this in the marriage instructions.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My fiancé and I have plans to get married in a non-denominational chapel. During our engagement we have found a local Catholic Church that we would like to become members of and convert to Catholicism.

We are just entering the RCIA process and I would like to know if it is required that our previous marriages be annulled before we can convert. We are not necessarily interested in having our marriage recognized by the church, however I don’t know if that is necessary for part of the conversion.

Thank you for your help,

Annette

Fr. Danielson answers:

Dear Annette,

The question that you ask me over the internet is exactly what you should be asking your RCIA director and your pastor. The Church holds to its principles while knowing our weaknesses as human beings. It is expected that, on entering the Church, a person should be in harmony with all the Sacraments. So marriage is very important.

So do have a conversation with your pastor, and know that in all circumstances Jesus loves you absolutely and always. Keep following Him.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 10, we received these questions:

Fathers:

First, thank you for taking the time to read and answer my question.

I have a question that has been weighing on my mind, is my marriage valid in the eyes of the Church, and if not, what to do to make it valid.

My husband and I have been married for 19 yrs come October of this year. We have never been married before. We have two beautiful teenagers. We were both Protestants, he baptized, I was not. We were married by the Justice of the Peace in Ct, my husband was a submariner in the Navy at the time. In 2008, I participated in the RCIA program, was baptised Catholic, Easter of 2009, I'm finally Home !! But my husband and children did not convert and does not show any interest in converting...at least right now, this is fine, I'm sure with a lot of prayer, things will change, I just have to be patient, as my daughter goes to Mass with me sometimes, and she is questioning about baptism, and my son is dating a Catholic girl and goes to Mass with her and her family at times. My husband, well, I have him reminding me, yes me, to say Grace at dinner. :) Baby steps, I'll take them. I've talked to my husband about our marriage, that it may not be valid in the eyes of the Church, if he would do this for me and he is willing to take the necessary step, as long as it does not involve converting, or taking long classes or such.

But is my marriage valid in the eyes of the Church? If not, what do I...we ...need to do ? I've called my Parish to talk to someone about it, but my call has not been returned, I'm thinking now,I should directly call our Parish Priest and set an appointment to talk with him. I would just like your opinion, Thank you.

 

Tracey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Tracey,

Your marriage is certainly valid, but it should have been blest at the time of your baptism.

Ask your pastor if you can renew your vows privately. You just need two witnesses. Your marriage would then be entered in the parish register.

Continue supporting your family with your prayers and good example and the Lord will bless you and them.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father, long story short. Back in late 1964 I married a non-catholic lady outside of the church. If I recall it was a civil wedding. We were later divorced. I again was married outside of the church in 1988, that ended in divorce in 2006. I have not been to church on any regular basis since this started in 1964 and have not been to confession since my 1st marriage. I have been told by people that as far as the Church is concerned - I do not exist. No confessions and needless to say no communion at a Mass.

At this time in my life I don't drive anymore but I would still like to be able to go to church and if possible attend confession and receive communion.

What is my next step? Can I go to confession???

Thank you,

Emmett

Fr. Malloy answers:

Emmett,

Welcome home!

Certainly you can go to confession and ask for forgiveness from your two invalid marriages and all your past serious sins (as far as you can remember them).

You can receive Communion, after a good confession, and should regularly go to Mass (as far as possible) on Sunday (or Saturday evening).

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 3, we received this question:

Fathers:

I would like to know if it is possible to not notify my girlfriend's ex-husband relating to dissolution or annulment of a previous marriage in a non-catholic church.

I am Catholic and she is not nor has she ever been baptized.

Her concern involves a possible life threatening situation by her ex-husband's accusations and previous actions (being arrested, etc).

Is it possible to do this (Not notify him for personal safety reasons) during the process conducted by the Catholic Church so that we can be married in the Catholic Church?

PM

Fr. Malloy answers:

PM:

If your girlfriend and her husband were validly married, a dissolution of that marriage would have to be determined by the Bishop's tribunal.and ordinary requires statement from her husband.

Check with the Marriage Tribunal of your diocese.

If your girlfriend wishes to become Catholic a special privilege could be evocated for the dissolution that first marriage.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 15, we received these questions:

I wish to be more involved with my church. I am a widower and would like to become a Eucharistic minister, I talked to my priest about it, he told me that the church needs lay people and would have someone contact me. That was months ago. I visit many elderly people and would like to give them communion. How should I proceed to do this. Should I try another Catholic Church?

Charlie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Charlie,

Do not give up. The Church can use you!

I suggest you go back to the priest and tell the him you are still waiting for the contact promised.,

Repeat your desire to bring Communion to the sick. It would be a wonderful service to the parish and much needed.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


I was wondering my fiancee is in the military and we wanted to get married as soon as he gets back. Is it possible for the priest to make an exception and let us get married right away instead of getting the church in advance, and waiting?

Thank you,

Tamra

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Tamra,

If you can have the marriage classes ahead of time (you and your fiancée, either privately or together), it would be possible.

But that would depend on the priest doing the ceremony. Find a friendly priest and explain the circumstances.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 13, we received these questions:

I am engaged to a divorced non-Catholic who doesn't want to get married in the Catholic church. With (if granted) an annulment of her past marriage is it possible for our marriage to be recognized by the Catholic church even if we aren't married inside an actual church. Also, she is hoping to have a particular person officiate the wedding, which is neither a priest or deacon. Would this be a barrier in recognition?

Thank you for your time.

John

Fr. John Malloy answers:

John,

If her first marriage is annulled, you can be married in the Catholic Church.

However the marriage would not be recognized by the Catholic Church if you were civilly married, or married out of the Church.

Fr. John I. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years now and want to get married. However he is joining the Navy and will be leaving for boot camp soon and right after that he will have to go to his training school, possibly up to two years. Would it be okay if we got married in court so I could live with him instead of not being able to see him for possibly two years. But when he is done with school and when we have the chance, we would love to have our wedding in my Catholic church. Would this be acceptable?

Thank you. - Jessica

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jessica,

It might be possible to have a quiet ceremony in the Catholic Church, but it would not be acceptable to have a civil marriage before that.

Speak to your local priest.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I am a mother of a one year old boy who just recently moved to the states weeks ago, I am still looking for the right church to attend. I would like to have my baby boy baptized, however, I have no way to prove that I am baptized myself cuz i did it 33 years ago in my home country and my mother (now very old) don't remember which church it was and we cannot find any record of it anywhere. Can I still have my baby baptized ??? Please help !!!

Thank you for your help

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

Find a Catholic Church and speak to the pastor.

Select two practicing Catholics as Godparents to assure the priest that the child will be raised Catholic.

Attend the baptism classes.

You should have no problem to have the child baptized.

Have your mother write a letter stating that you were baptized Catholic, if the priest requires it.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

My husband is Catholic and I’m not, nor have I ever been Baptized. I would like to be baptized and joint the church. My question is this.. I was married before, does the church recognize that marriage even though I was never baptized or married in a religious ceremony?

Trista

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Trista,

Your first marriage was valid in the eyes of Church and State.

Being baptized would make it easier for you to marry in the Church, but your first marriage would have to be examined as to grounds for annulment.

A local priest can help you with this.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 6, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers:

Two of our fallen away Catholic grandchildren are getting married in the Fall. My granddaughter Sarah no longer believes in what the CC teaches and has no religion, is marrying a non-practicing Jew who was raised Methodist. They will be married in an Episcopal Church because they are both music majors and this church has a pipe organ. Another reason for marrying in this church is that Sarah’s boyfriend works in this church as a singer.

My grandson Ryan no longer believes in what the CC teaches and is marrying a girl who no longer practices her former Protestant religion. They will be married in a garden wedding with a package deal that consists of someone hired to marry them, (not a priest).

My husband and I are both practicing Catholics and have been invited to both weddings. According to what the CC teaches, are we allowed to attend these weddings? By being there will that in itself be giving consent to their actions?

Thank you.

Gloria

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Gloria,

You may attend the wedding ceremonies. Presence does not imply consent.

Do let them know of your unhappiness of the unions.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 30, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband and I are practicing catholic and would like to get married in the catholic church however we were both previously married.

My husband first marriage was performed in the catholic church and my first marriage was performed in the Lutheran church.

Do I need to have my first marriage annulled by the Catholic church?

Our marriage was performed 20 years ago by a Presbyterian minster at a private club.

As a cancer survivor I feel that receiving the sacrament of communion is very important and that is why we are hoping to get married in the Catholic church.

Sincerely,

Mary

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Mary,

I presume that both of you were validly baptized in the Catholic Church.

As a Catholic married out of the Church, your union was not accepted as valid by the Church.

Your local priest can help you set the matter right.

Your partner needs an annulment as you know.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 26, we received these questions:

Good Morning!

I am wondering...

I was married in 2004 in a Catholic Church, the marriage legally ended November, 2010. I am now planning on getting married again. We are both Catholic and would like to be married in a Catholic church. I know when I was married previously, my ex was not Catholic and that did not matter because I was. So... I was wondering, since my fiance is Catholic will I still need the annullment?

Thank you so much for your time!

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Stephanie,

You were married in the Catholic Church. This is considered a valid, true marriage, unless it is proven otherwise. So while seeking to get married in the Church, you need to look to see if there is some reason for it to be declared invalid. If this takes place through application to your local Diocesan Tribunal, then you would receive a “Freedom to Marry” decree.

Thus you should consult with your parish priest to fill out an application asking the Tribunal to start the process.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

I am a cradle Catholic. I've been dating my boyfriend for about 4 and a half years now. We are talking about getting engaged. I would like to get married in the Catholic Church and raise our children Catholic. He's never been baptized in any faith. Can we still get married in the Catholic Church without him being baptized? I've tried researching the answer, but it's all so confusing. Help!

Thank you!

God Bless,

Lindsey

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Lindsey,

You can get married in the Catholic Church, after you have taken the instructions and your boyfriend promises no objections to your raising the children Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 14, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am 37 and divorced with an annulment from my first husband. I am a cradle Catholic who has had some things in life that have brought me devoutly back to my faith. My current husband just made 40 we have a blended family. He too is a cradle Catholic and baptized. His first marriage was to an Episcopalian woman. She said he turned Episcopalian to marry her.

We are currently seeking an annulment on lack of form, but now I wonder if him "turning" Episcopalian means his marriage was then valid to her in the eyes of the Catholic church? He also received no permission or anything from the Catholic church to marry this woman. Please respond. I so deeply want my current marriage blessed in the Sacrament of the Church.

May the peace of the Lord be with you

Thank you

Nicole

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nicole.

Your fiancée's previous marriage, after he changed his faith to Episcopalian, does need thebishop's office to grant the freedom to marry in the Catholic Church.

Initiate the process through your local pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers

I am Roman Catholic and my fiance is Assyrian and a member of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. He is also a deacon in his church.

We wish to have two ceremonies. Is it possible to have a Roman Catholic ceremony in a Roman Catholic church, followed immediately by the Assyrian ceremony , but also in the Roman Catholic church? Would the Roman Catholic church allow this? Our faiths are extremely similar. I have researched things a bit and found out that members of the Holy Apostolic Catholice Assyrian Church of the East are one of the few that are permitted to accept communion in the Roman Catholic Church. I'm hopeful that this may extend to the marriage ceremonies!

Sincerely,

Dagmara

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Dagmara,

My first response is to wonder why you think that two wedding ceremonies would be needed for your circumstances.

Your fiancé is a deacon in the Assyrian Church. His marriage in his church is paramount. You can easily contact the Bishop of your diocese for permission to get married in this Christian church community. This upholds the essential unity of Christian marriage. Thus there is just one wedding celebration. All your own catholic relatives and friends are to be invited to the one celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage; the same for his family and friends.

Often Catholic priests collaborate in the one ceremony. But this is not necessary, the Assyrian priest may be the only one. This is totally acceptable.

So contact your Bishop’s office without delay. And prepare for the wonderful event of entering the Sacrament of Marriage following the invitation of Jesus.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers:

I have a question concerning marriage in the Cathloic Church. My fiancee is Catholic and I am not cathloic at this time. A short history of our circumstances follows:

I have been married twice before and divorced. The first marriage was in a church but not by either of us being baptized as adults. I was as a child but have no idea if she was or not. The marriage was performed in a Christian church by an ordained minister. My then spouse has left the area and I have no idea were or if she is alive as this was 30 years ago. Considering our age it is highly possible that she (71) is not.

My second marriage was not in church but a civil service by a magistrate of the court. I have no idea if my second wife was baptized prior to our marriage but was some years after. The divorce was due to un-reconcilable differences (loss of love and/or respect for each other).

I am a Christian with no particular denomination at this time. I have been baptized both as a child and as an adult.

My fiancee is Cathloic. She is widowed from her one and only marriage. Also, the marriage may have not been valid either in the eyes of the law or the church since her "husband" was still married to his previous wife who is still alive also.

She has been baptized in the Cathloic Church.

We are 63 and 64 and very much in love. We both feel that our coming together is a gift of God and desire to be seen by God and all as this gift. Also, it is very important that my fiancee be able to participate in the Eucharist.

Two questions:

Can our marriage be recognized by the church with or without my conversion to Catholicism?

Can we be married in the Cathloic Church?

Can my soon to be wife then take the

Thank you for your response.

Gregory

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Gregory,

Your Two questions (which are three):

Can our marriage be recognized by the church with or without my conversion to Catholicism?

Your conversion to Catholicism may make the annulments easier. Speak to your priest.

Can we be married in the Catholic Church?

Only if and when the Church rules on your first marriages. You do need annulments.

Can my soon to be wife then take the (sacraments)?

Yes. Her marriage was dissolved by the death of her husband, and so she is free to marry again. However she may not partake of the Eucharist until her new marriage status is clarified by the Church Tribunal.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 12, we received these question:

Hi Fathers,

I live here in San Francisco, I am catholic but my husband was never baptized as a child.. I tried to talk to my my parish (St. Philips),but they will only baptize him if he enrolls in a 7month program once a week and completes confirmation and first holy communion. He would rather not complete all that because of his own reasons. He wants to be baptized. Can I go to another parish and just have him baptized. I feel the church is making it to difficult. Can’t he just be baptized. He believes in the father, the son and the holy spirit, We are having a son in July and I would love to have them both baptized together. Is this at all possible? Thank you for your time

Lynda

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lydia,

Babies are baptized, with the presumption that they will be raised as Catholics and learn the tenets of faith as they grow up. When one is in danger of death, baptism may be immediate for he/she who desires it.

Adult non Catholics do not have this preparation and it is expected that they know the faith before they receive baptism.

The Second Vatican Council recommended that the Church renew its way of receiving Adult Candidates. A revised rite called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1972 and has become the norm for the Church. RCIA stresses formation in doctrine, liturgy, Church life, and service and involves the larger Church community in welcoming, instructing, helping and praying for Candidates.

If an RCIA schedule is too difficult, because of time restrictions, arrangements can be made for private instruction.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


I was baptized as an infant and raised in the Catholic Church. At the time I was married, I was not a practicing Catholic (nor my spouse) and were not married in the church. Having now returned to the church, am I required to obtain an annulment before I could marry?

Nicole

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nicole,

Since you were a Catholic at your first marriage, and the marriage was out of the Church, it is an invalid marriage and will be declared as such as you prepare for a new union.

The priest you call on for marriage preparation can easily help you get things straightened out.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers:

I'm very grateful for this page. I've read a lot of your responses and I feel that I can come here and find guidance for my own situation.

First, I was baptized and raised Catholic, but I've never been confirmed. My husband and I got married at City Hall last June in a civil ceremony, and now we are planning our second ceremony for next June. My husband is...eh, he claimed he believed in Shinto Buddhism when we met 6 years ago, and as far as I know, he was never baptized. Well, this time around, I want to have Catholic ceremony. My husband and I have talked about this, and he's all for it, though he said that he wouldn't convert to Catholicism. I explained to him my desire to have our children (when we get around to having them) baptized and raised in the Catholic faith, and he said that he had no problem with that. Even with his agnostic-like attitude, I have hope for my man; before his deployment to Iraq last September, he told me he'd pop into church service once in awhile. And at an airport on the way to Iraq, he spoke with a chaplain who told him that God would find him where ever he was. This, I believe wholeheartedly.

I've started to attend Mass at a nearby church in my neighborhood where I hope we can have a wedding ceremony, but honestly I don't know where to begin. As I mentioned before, I've yet to be confirmed. And my husband is currently deployed to Iraq. He may also be going to Officer Candidate School a month after he returns. I could really use your guidance on this one. Getting married in a Catholic ceremony is important to me, and I want for us to do this properly.

Thank you so much and God bless.

Miggs

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Miggs,

May God bless your good intentions!

However, you do have to do some work to do to straighten the difficult situation you are in.

It is not necessary that your fiancée become a Catholic to make your union acceptable to the Church.

But your present union is not acceptable to the Church, though it can be rectified.

You should speak to your local priest who can show you the way. Your fiancée could get help and instruction from the Catholic chaplain.

The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program of the local parish is an ideal and easy way get you on the right path.

Bite the bullet and take the time and you can enter a happy sacramental marriage.

With God's blessing.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 30, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I'm Catholic married to a Jewish man, Civil Marriage...My former husband has passed away and we were married in Catholic Church. Now I'd like to have my marriage blessed. I feel at this time I would not have to go through the annulment process since the death of my former husband, but what about my Jewish husband whose ex-wife is still alive??? Thank you for your answer.

EO

Fr. John Malloy answers:

EO,

You would have to check your husband's former marriage to see if an annulment is possible.

Approach your parish priest and ask for his help. He can guide you in the necessary procedure.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I am a Catholic and my fiancé is a Lutheran. We are getting married at her church by her pastor next year. We are going to pre-marriage preparation with her pastor since he will be marrying us. My question is why the Catholic Church does not recognize the preparation we will be attending at the Lutheran church? My priest said we have to do Catholic preparation too. Seems like it's going to get very repetitive and become counter productive because of the amount of time spent answering the same questions. I was wondering if we could receive the blessing of the Church after the wedding?

Thanks

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Brian,

Since you will be marrying out of the Catholic Church, a Catholic preparation course would not change the situation. You will have given up your faith and accepted to be married out of the Catholic Church.

You could not receive the blessing of the Catholic Church, after a Protestant marriage, unless you wanted to make your marriage sacramental by following the law of the Catholic Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 15, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

I was married for fifteen years and had four children. I was baptized Methodist. My boyfriend of eight years asked me to marry him and he is Greek Orthodox. Does my marraige need to be annulled before we can marry in the Greek church?

Thank you,

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

You would have to speak to the priest of the Greek Orthodox Church to find out their requirements.

This church is not in agreement with Rome.

If the church was in agreement with the Roman Catholic faith an annulment would be necessary.

I believe it would also be required by the Greek Orthodox.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello! I went through the RCIA process 12 years ago while married to my first husband who was Catholic. I received the rites of Baptism, Communion, & Confirmation. During that process our marriage was blessed by the church. One year later my husband and I divorced following the death of our infant child. My husband did not want to have more children after this loss, but I did. I continued as a practicing Catholic until I met my current husband who is not Catholic. We have been married 9 years and have a five year old daughter. We have been attending a Methodist church. We recently decided to send our daughter to Catholic school in the fall because of the quality religious & academic education it would provide. I would like my daughter to be baptised Catholic and receive the sacraments with her classmates as they learn about the faith. (she is not baptised) I am feeling a strong call to return to the church. My husband does not have an issue with raising our daughter Catholic. I know I would need an annulment. Do I start with the Diocese tribunal office or go to the priest at the parish of the school? We haven't been going to any Catholic Church at all, but I am feeling a call to return.

Thank you for any information and/or thoughts.

Cara

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Cara,

Welcome home! I'm happy to hear of your desire to return to the Catholic Church. Yes, you need an annulment. That your husband wanted no more children should be a help in the process,

I suggest you go to your local Catholic pastor and explain your problem. The school enrollment should be helpful

You have my prayers for a happy solution.

With God's blessing,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am new to the cathloic faith, and i was married before. My ex husband was also married ut for only one week would that be a problem for me to get married in the cathloic church.

Sabrina

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sabrina,

Marriage in the Catholic Church would be a problem, but apparently easily solved.

Your first marriage would have to be annulled.Your ex-husband's marriage would also have to be annulled.

Your conversion to the Catholic faith has some implications that will make it easier to marry in the Church.

Take your marriage licenses to a local priest and ask for his help.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

My husband and I are both Catholic (we have both received the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation). This past July we were married in a civil ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco. Next year we plan to have a church wedding. Is it a problem that we are already legally married? Are there any obstacles that might prevent us from being married in the Catholic church? Please let me know.

Thank you,

Erin

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Erin,

I am happy that you are having a Catholic wedding.

Know that you cannot receive the sacraments until this straightened out.

I am presuming that neither of you were previously married. As Catholics married civilly, you must present your license to your priest who can obtain a dispensation and give you proper instruction.

May God bless you both.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 29, we received this question:

Hello Father, I will receive the sacraments during Easter services. My girlfriend is Catholic and wants a sacramental marriage in Church. I was married for 26 years and have been divorced for 5. I left because my wife was having mental health problems and endangering my then 12 year old daughter. She filed for divorce for support and custody of my daughter. At first we had joint custody then after a couple of calls to the police about my daughter accusing her of abuse the court gave me full custody and order her to couseling. My marriage was in my ex-wife's parents house and a pastor who was a friend of mine did the ceremony. I did not attend his church just knew him because we were both on the board of directors of a non profit organization.

 

Finally to the question, once I am baptized can we have a sacramental marriage. Is my marriage null as it was not a religious ceremony? Neither my ex-wife or I were baptized. How do I get clearance from the church?

Glenn

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Glenn,

You can have a sacramental marriage, but must first be freed from your first marriage,

Take your divorce papers to the priest and ask him to obtain a dispensaton.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 24, we received this questions:

Fathers:

my fiance and i are going to be married in september and is being performed by a nondenominational officiant, my fiance who is catholic has concerns that maybe it is not considered or will be recongnized by the catholic faith. also the ceremnoy will be taking place outside. and i know that is not traditionally done. i am christian but i do go to catholic church with them so i'm not sure where i stand i also have been baptized. so if you could please write me back that would be great thank you for your time and concideration

Melconley

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Melconley,

While your proposed marriage is civil, it is in no way Catholic. It will not be recognized by the Church as valid, since your fiancée is a Catholic and therefore bound by the marriage laws of the Catholic Church.

You personally are not responsible for the situation, unless you insisted on the wedding taking place outside the Church and its marriage laws.

Do remember that you are always welcome to attend Catholic services.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 9, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

Both my husband & I were raised Roman Catholic and received all of the Sacraments of the Church. We both were previously married in the Catholic Church, but each were divorced (due to alcoholism as well as adultery of our prior spouses). Years ago, we married in a Nuptial Mass performed by a former Roman Catholic Priest who is currently a Bishop in the “Old Catholic Church”. During our Pre Cana preparation, the Bishop stated that both of our prior marriages were annulled due to the aforementioned reasons. Our Nuptial Mass was performed exactly in the manner of our previous marriages. Our question to you is are we still in good standing in the Church? This is very important to us. Thank you.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kimberly,

I am sorry tell you that "Old Catholic Church" is not in union with our Roman Catholic Church. Your current marriage would not be recognized and you are not free to receive Communion in the Catholic Church. Your previous marriages would have to annulled first.

Your local Catholic priest can help you pursue the possibilities of being put in "good standing."

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

My boyfriend and I are going to be engaged soon and I would like to be married in the Catholic Church. My boyfriend was married before but was married in a United Church of Christ church. He was not given permission to be married there by the Catholic Church and did not go through the Catholic Church's process. Will he need to attain an annulment with the Catholic church? Is his marriage recognized by the Catholic Church? He has talked to my priest and he told him to get some paperwork together (baptismal records, marriage license, civil annulment papers) and then come in and see him. I'm just starting to get anxious and was hoping you could answer this question because he won't be able to get in to talk to my priest until next week.

Thank you so much!!!

Barb

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Barbara,

The priest gave all information necessary. Have your boyfriend get the requested papers together and call for an interview. You need this so the priest can get the approval of the bishop. No problem.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My question is concerning on my fiance was previously married in a Catholic Church. Was never baptized or converted over to Catholic. He id divorced. I am Greek Orthodox and looking to be married in a Greek Orthodox Church, He is going to get baptized and convert over to Greek Orthodox before we decide to marry. Does he need to get an annulment to be married or baptized in the Greek Orthodox church?

Thank-you

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dear Angelika...

He may well need an annulment, but the Orthodox priest would need to advise you.

Greek Orthodox conditions for a valid marriage are not the same as the Catholic Church.

He should get his divorce papers together and speak to the Greek Orthodox priest who can handle your marriage preparation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB.


On February 20, we received this question:

Hi father.

I have a question. I was married in 2002 in las vegas.after 8 yrs the marriage broke down.i got a divorce.can i get married in a catholic church with another woman.will it be recognized by god.my new fiancee is a catholic and we would like to get married in a catholic church.do i need any proof to give the church ?

thanks

regards steve

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Steve,

If you are Catholic, your marriage in Las Vegas is not valid, so you can marry in the Catholic Church.

You need to speak to the local Catholic pastor. Bring your original wedding certificate to the priest and explain your situation and your desire to marry in the Catholic Church. The priest will explain what you must do to complete the wedding course requirements.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 7, we received this question:

Dear Fr.

I wrote you some time ago concerning my situation in regards to annulment. Now, however, I have a new problem. I am being told by the diocese in Sacramento Ca. that I cannot be initiated into the church without annulment-period.

I am very distressed as I am being continually told different things, depending on who I speak to. I am worried that I may never be initiated into the church or may never know what is actually correct. I am starting to wonder if it just something to do with ME as a person that is making everyone I talk to back pedal on whether or not I can be initiated into the church. This has been an almost 5 year journey for me going from place to place seeking a straight answer only to have the rules change at every turn.

Meanwhile I have had numerous interviews with various members of clergy and sisters, all wanting to hear every detail of my life, every graphic detail-some which are very painful and after all that I'm always told- "no we've considered it but no we cannot admit you into the church." I am starting to wonder if after meeting me, does the church feel that I am not "good enough". I don't know what to do now. I don't know who I can appeal to. I have been through the chain of command up to the bishop and it seems to just be one dead end after another.

Any advice would be very appreciated at this point. I need to know honestly, if I should just give up on the idea of conversion and walk away or if I should keep fighting for my conversion and how I should go about doing this.

Thank You and God Bless,

Stacey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Stacey,

Don't concern yourself with what any one says except the Bishop.

An annulment is necessary. Ask the Bishop (or those who speak for him) how you can pursue an annulment.

There are special privileges granted for conversions to the Church.

At any rate, don't give up your quest. God loves you no matter what.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 30, 2011, we received these questions:

Is it true that a Catholic priest may leave the church, marry and then return to the church as a (married) priest with the same status, responsibilities, etc.??

MJ

Fr. John Malloy answers:

MJ,

It is NOT true that a Catholic priest may leave the Church, marry, and then return to the Church with the same status...

There are examples of non-Catholic "ministers who have been married--enter the Church with their wives, and can be ordained as Catholic priests, after proper instruction and ordination. The present situation of the Anglican Church 'priests" is an example.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I have a question regarding marriage. My fiance and I are wanting to get married but I want to get married thru the church do to the fact that it is sacrate and very special. Well in do so my fiance is baptized thru the catholic church, she also completed her comfirmation, and her first communion. As for me I was only baptized thru the catholic church but in Mexico. I have never done my first communion nor my confirmation. Also we currently have a new born son that was born in december. My questions are do I have to do my first communion and confirmation before we consider getting married thru the church? And also what else would we have to do in order to get married thru the catholic church? Thank you for your time and god bless.

Sincerely,

Francisco Padilla

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Francisco,

Since neither of you were married before it is easy for you to be married in the Catholic Church and the sooner the better.

Present your baptism certificates to your local pastor and prepare for the initial interviews as he suggests.

In the meantime arrange for your personal instruction so that you might receive fist communion and confirmation.

God bless your good intentions.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My ex-wife and I were both Baptized and Confirmed in the Catholic Church. My civil divorce was finalized 10 years ago and I am in the process of annulment in the Catholic Church. I have since remarried, and once again, my current wife and I were both Baptized and Confirmed in the Catholic Church. As stated previously, I am in the process of annulment as my wife and I want our marriage to be blessed by the Catholic Church. My current wife and I are practicing Catholics. She has been asked to be the godmother for her nephew. With my annulment proceeding, is there anything preventing her from being recognized as the godmother for her nephew? I believe this falls under a similar questions asked previously, but would appreciate your response. I have attached the previous question/response:

Hello Father,

I have a question about Baptism and Being a Godparent: My question is I was recently asked to be Godmother to my cousins little boy I am a practicing Catholic who was Baptized and Confirmed. Five years ago I got married thru the courthouse by a judge and court witnesses and 10 months later got divorced. My question is can I still be the Godmother in the Catholic Church?

Peace and Love

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

You are now a practicing Catholic with conditions fulfilled for being a Godparent.

Yes, you may be Godmother.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Thanks,

Joseph

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Joseph,

Until your wife is married in the Catholic Church she may not be godmother.

Your intentions are good and you are on your way to get married in the Catholic Church, but the condition for being a godparent in this case requires the sacrament of matrimony.

The example you cited concerns a woman no longer married. As a Catholic, the marriage was invalid from the start even though civilly recognized. she has now given up an invalid union.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 26, 2010, we received these questions:

Dear Father:

My Fiance and I recently got engaged, I am catholic and he is not, though I do believe he was baptized in another christian religion but never practiced it. We are both single and have never been married before. It has always been a life long dream of mine to get married in the catholic church but he is not sure if it is something he wants to do. Is it possible to get in married in the church without my fiance converting to Catholicism? Is is possible to get married by a priest not in a church, such as outside in a garden? If my fiance was to convert, what actions would he need to perform and how long would it take? Also, I understand that we would need to complete the formal preparation for the Sacramental Marriage, we are planning to get married in Oct/Nov of 2011, when would be a good time to begin the classes? Finally, we live in the Bay Area but would like to get married in St Helena at St Helena Catholic Church, is it possible to take the Sacramental Marriage classes here and get married in another church?

Thank you for your time and help.

Sincerely,

Alexandra & Ryan

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Alexandra,

My first response in answer to your query is: my grandmother married my grandfather, who was not a Catholic [not baptized]; my mother married my father, who was not Catholic. Both were married in the Church.

If, after some time, the non-Catholic wants to enter the Church, that person may do so, only on his own free choice in response to the Holy Spirit in his life.

The ordinary place for the marriage of a Catholic person is in a parish church. Sometimes, for extraordinary reasons, the local Bishop may allow a Catholic to marry in a different venue. My experience is that permission is routinely not given.

You should begin the marriage preparation as soon as possible. Contact your local Catholic parish right away. Yes, the preparation could all be made there and the parish would send the necessary documentation and permissions to the parish in St. Helena when they indicate it would be all right with them.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

I was told that you could get married in a courthouse and it is still considered a marriage. My fiance is Catholic and I am not. I have been looking at RCIA but am still unsure about it all. My family are devout Mormons and would not attend if we had a catholic wedding or married by a Catholic priest. I know his parents got married by a judge then married in the church years later. I heard you can get married by a judge and if you have your marriage blessed then it is recognized. Is this true?

Ashley

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ashley,

Marriage in a courthouse is civilly recognized, but a Catholic who does so enters a union not accepted by the Church. Such a union can be dissolved by the Bishop's tribunal.

A marriage may be blessed by the Church if the proper dispensations are obtained though the Bishop's office.

RCIA could help you understand the position of the Church. It is an inquiry course and participants are not required to receive baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers

I was previously married to a baptized man (he is a Baptist) but was unbaptized myself. I got divorced but was baptized before the divorce was final (I was not baptized in the Catholic faith). Now I am in RCIA and will receive first communion and confirmation. Does this mean that I will have to get an annulment if I ever wish to remarry. Did my later baptism make my marriage a sacramental even if I was awaiting a civil divorce? Was the fact that my husband was baptized make our marriage valid at the time? I am not planning on marrying, however, I may want to consider a vocation in the future.

This is confusing, I have been given different answers to my questions from different people in the church.

Another issue I have surrounding annulment is, what happens if my ex-does not want to participate? What happens if I can’t find witnesses? I am cut off from all the people that I knew and now no one is willing to communicate with me. I know that without witnesses an annulment can’t take place. What recourse do I have if I come up empty in terms of my ex’s cooperation and the lack of witnesses?

Thank you in advance!

Stacey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Stacey,

As a convert Catholic you may seek a special dispensation from the previous bond. (In favor of the Faith-Petrine Privilege), Let me answer your questions:

Now I am in RCIA and will receive first communion and confirmation. Does this mean that I will have to get an annulment if I ever wish to remarry?

Yes. An annulment is required because the marriage was valid even if not sacramental.

Did my later baptism make my marriage a sacramental even if I was awaiting a civil divorce?

Probably not because you broke up (filed for divorce) before your baptism.

Was the fact that my husband was baptized making our marriage valid at the time?

Baptized or not the marriage would be civilly valid.

What recourse do I have if I come up empty in terms of my ex’s cooperation and the lack of witnesses?

Have the local ecclesiastic court (Bishop’s office) seek the Petrine Privilege. (At least one of the parties was not baptized at the time of marriage).

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 12, 2010, we received these questions:

Dear Father;

I have found my best-friend and soul made after all these years and we are ready to get married; I am a Catholic from Iran (attending St. Mary's Assyrian Chaldean Church in Campbell) and would love to marry in a Catholic church (Saints Peter and Paul Church in specific). He became a nondenominational christian in his adult hood. Does he need to become a Catholic in order for us to be wed in a Catholic church? If so, what is the process?

Furthermore, I would like him to become Catholic in order for us to raise our children Catholic. Thank you for your time in advance.

Sincerely,

Rashel

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Rashel,

Thanks and praise to God! It is wonderful to meet a person and quickly understand one another to the point of wishing to celebrate love and life together for our earthly journey!

Here are some practical things in response to your inquiry. It happens frequently enough in our country that persons of different religious backgrounds wish to get married. Acknowledging the authority of the Bishop as Shepherd, permission to marry a non-Catholic has to be asked for and granted. The non-Catholic spouse does not have to enter the Church. That remains a personal free choice in response to the gift of the Holy Spirit. This also means that the Catholic spouse fully lives the practice of Faith as an example. If later the non-Catholic enters the Church, then: “Praise to God!”

I am assuming from your letter that you yourself are single, never been married. Is your intended spouse also single, never been married, and thus free to marry? Then you should approach your parish priest together to begin the formal preparation for Sacramental Marriage.

You live in the South Bay Area, you can do all the preparation in your home parish then come to SS. Peter & Paul to celebrate the wedding. The parish priest will send a letter of jurisdiction and the full documentation for this. You should at least once come to San Francisco to set a date, make a deposit and meet the priest. Perhaps, your own priest would come to officiate.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


In late November 2010, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I recently got engaged and am hoping to me married in the Catholic Church next year. My fiance and I attend mass every Sunday together since we've been together. Unfortunately, I was married once when I was 24 years old and was quickly divorced. I never had an annulment however, I was not married Catholic the first time. Would it matter now if I never had the annulment done. And if so, is there any way around it if you do not want to contact the ex-husband?

Thank you so much for your time and your advice.

Sincerely,

Katie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Katie,

Visit your parish. You need a copy of your divorce paper. If you were Catholic at the time of your first marriage, the Church will consider it null and you will not need a formal annulment. If you were not a Catholic, you would need an annulment.

Your second marriage can go through the requirements of any Catholic marriage preparation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi,

My question is concerning my upcoming marriage to my fiancé, who is currently a soldier serving in Afghanistan. We had planned to marry next July after his deployment is over. He is normally stationed in Germany, which is where I will be moving after we marry. I recently found out that the housing wait there could be up to 8 months. This disturbed me because I did not want to be away from my soon to be husband for last long after we had just been married. My fiancé comes home for a two week leave in March and I have been considering moving the wedding up to then so we could apply for housing and hopefully have a house by the time he returns from deployment or soon after. We plan to marry in the Catholic Church, but have only met with my pastor once. My fiancé has never been baptized any religion, but since dating me, has shown interest into the Catholic Faith. My question is, is there any way we could be married in March, even though we have not gone through the proper marriage prep?

Thank You,

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary,

I see not reason why you could not be married in March. Five months should give you ample preparation time. Your fiancé could speak to the Catholic military chaplain.

If your parish will not a allow a different preparation time, phone the Bishop's office and explain the situation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


I am trying to find the exact place to help my daughter..

She and her husband were married in a civil ceremony 7 years ago. They were Episcopalians at the time.

This past Easter Vigil they were received into the Catholic church and received the Sacraments of Eucharist/Reconcilation/Confirmation. At that time their marriage was not convalidated. I asked my daughter ( as I too converted to Catholicism 2 years ago and am a Catechist) what was going on about their marriage being Sacramentally blessed. She told me they asked 3 separate times during their RCIA and each time they were told: "We'll get back to you"

Fast forward to now, 7 months later. The younger priest in the parish discovers they aren't married by a priest and tells them they are in mortal sin - have to stop taking communion and start marriage preparation and to 'stop having sex'. He tells her this in the middle of her Confession - which she had previously set up not connected in anyway to this bombshell being dropped on her in the Confessional.

Needless to say my poor girl and son-in-law are confused, hurt and angry about being told this.

My understanding is that according to Canon Law they ARE married in the eyes of the church and they ARE entitled to receive Communion. Now that this process has finally come to the priest's attention they have begun the marriage preparation process but my heart is breaking that for my daughter's first Advent and Christmas as a Catholic she is being told: "submit to the humility of not taking communion" until they have their Sacramental marriage??

This seems totally crazy to me.

One thing another priest friend mentioned is that perhaps the parish priest does NOT understand that neither party was Catholic when they married - and he is treating them as it they were Catholics married in a civil ceremony.

Can you please advise me as to the best course to help my daughter navigate this problem with her pastor and young priest???

thank you very much

Diane

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Diane,

I sympathize with your daughter and husband.

They are certainly married. The RCIA should have resolved this with a simple ceremony .

Call the Bishop's office and explain the situation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 15, we received this question:

Hello,

I am trying to go through the steps to become a catholic through the R.C.I.A. program. My parents divorced when I was a child and I had always thought I was baptized-however my mother does not recall and she has just taken a trip to Puerto Rico and went to the church and they do not have a record. So to the best of my knowledge I was not baptized.

The problem is I was married from 1985 to 1991-it was not to a catholic and we were not married in a catholic church- I was married in Las Vegas and divorced in CA. My current husband since 1998 is a confirmed Catholic and was originally married in the catholic faith and has not had an annulment. He is my sponsor. The church is telling me that I need my 1st marriage annulled and since I wasn't married in the catholic church or baptized- why is this necessary- My priest says it is because I wasn't baptized- I don't understand- they also said it was going to cost $650- I also have no idea where my 1st husband is- I have not spoken to him since 1991. Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

Luz

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Luz,

Legal weddings between two non-Catholics are recognized by the Church.

Annulment is necessary if one of the party wants to marry in the Catholic Church.

If you were baptized and your partner a non-Catholic, annulment is not required since the Church does not recognize the marriage.

Your present husband apparently has not obtained an annulment and should not be your sponsor until he clears the problem.

As for the fee: there are hearings to hold and research and paper work. Imagine what lawyers would charge, if made civilly? However in case of needs, fees can always be modified.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear fathers,

I am 28 years old. I'm engaged and have never been married. My fiance and I are both Catholic. I love him but I am worried about his past marriage. He was married briefly when he was young, in a civil ceremony. His parents did not approve and they were too young to make things work. After they filed for an annulment they conceived a son. My fiance was 18 and moved back home and does not have much contact with the woman. His mother was ashamed of the woman and hid the child from friends and family. She had remarried and had another child and she is now widowed. She lives in another state and does not tell the child who his real father is.

I love my fiance but he does not seem to make an effort to see his son. He feels he can't handle his ex-wife.

The woman is very difficult and came from a bad life/unfortunate childhood. I have met the woman once and I know she can be very unreasonable.

My problem is that I worry about his child not having a father and not being cared for properly (financially he is ok). My fiance had to obtain a document stating he is not responsible for the child in order for us to marry.

I worry that my husband will not show interest in our children if we have them. He has often expressed interest in having children after we are married but I worry about his son and feel an emptiness and guilt. Sometimes I pray and ask god to tell me what I should do but I often feel lost.

Sincerely,

Annick

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Annick,

Put it in God's hand!

You can do little to change a long centered feeling of responsibility, or lack thereof.

His first wife seems to have erected a barrier that includes his son. Your fiancé has separated himself from both of them. He has long ago agreed to sign a document relieving himself of responsibility. It may change if the boy at. some time wants to look up his father. I pray that the father will accept his son with open arms. Meanwhile suggest he send a birthday and Christmas card, but leave it there.

If your fiancé wants children from your marriage, I wouldn't consider his neglecting them, If he really loves you he must love your children. Make clear your feelings or don't marry him.

Fr John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 24, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My Fiance' has agreed to become a Catholic for my parents and for myself. I am worried that he will do it to make my parents happy, because to him, it will be an easy process (even though it will take months), so I am afraid that he won't do it sincerely-However, I do pray to God that he will see the Truth and do it with Passion. He loves how strong I am in my faith, and how I tell him that I could never be happy as I am now without being a Catholic Woman. He says he admires my love for Jesus Christ through Catholicism. I love him dearly, and we both understood that this would be a trial for us, him being Non-Denominational Christian and me being Catholic. I have warned him I will always go to a Catholic Church every sunday, and that I will raise my kids Catholic. However, I told him too that I would follow him and love him as Catholic wives should, even if he does not convert.

He is a Passionate Christian, and his Love for God is truly admirable to me as well, so I know he would make a good husband, even though we will have many many arguments about religion if he cannot convert-I pray for our future marriage every day.

However, because he is wiling to do it, my question is, would a Priest allow him to convert, knowing his true intentions? My parents have given us an ultimatum, that if David does not convert, they will not attend my wedding because it will not be Sacramental. I told them, in the heat of my argument, that if a Priest does not let him, I won't mind if they did not attend (it was a foolish thing to say, and I regret it because I love my parents dearly! And of course, I want them there). I am just afraid I would be made to choose between my parents and the man I love.

I praise the Lord though that we have 3 years to think about this. David is training to become a Marine Corps Officer, a long and arduous process (prayers for our soldiers and those that want to be soldiers please!), that is why the postponement. It also allows us to save money and to prepare better for marriage (He is 23 and I am 22)-classes, engagement encounters discussing religious issues and preparing ourselves for the huge Sacrifice and Beauty that Marriage is. I am sacrificing the sacrament of marriage if he does not convert, and that pains me too, but I trust God to Lead us and pray for His Will be done. This is a huge issue for me (the sincerity of his conversion), and it will be for us when we have time to discuss it, but I have many fears because of the ultimatum :( I love David for who is, and of course I want him to convert, but I don't agree with my parents when it comes to conversion for love a woman, and not for God. I guess my second question is, What do I do? Also, to be completely honest, we have struggled greatly with sexual impurity as well... right now we are long distance for the 1st time in our relationship, and I feel that this is God's way of helping us to grow past our sins and learn to Love each other more dearly.

Sorry for the long email! I wanted to give the appropriate details.

Sincerely,

Jill

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jill,

It would be wrong to force a conversion for the sake of marriage.

It is not wrong to marry one of different faith.

One who is Catholic is truly married (before God and man) when the marriage is performed by one in union with the Catholic Church (a priest for deacon).

Consenting to the raising of children in the Catholic faith would be a requirement for Catholic marriage (even when one partner is not Catholic.)

It is not fair for your parents to give an ultimatum: your husband has to convert, or they will not attend the ceremony. No one should ever be forced to convert.

As for previous indiscretions, thank God for your willingness to accept their sinfulness, which God has forgiven. Pray for strength to avoid such encounters until you are married. Continue be faithful in the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Speak to a priest whom you feel can help you, perhaps your confessor.

You do have time to work out a satisfactory agreement. Pray and prepare by keeping your faith and giving good example to your future husband (whoever he may be.)

With promise of prayers,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 17, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers:

I was baptized and raised a Catholic. Unfortunately I fell in love with and married a non-catholic man who was baptized as an infant in the United Church of Christ and was married and divorced twice. I continue to attend Sunday Mass and pray daily even though I cannot receive Holy Communion. His first wife would not grant him an annulment 31 years ago before we married. It is my understanding that the Catholic Church recognizes his first marriage but not his second marriage and after 31 years of marriage I find myself wondering two things:

1) If I outlive my husband, am I able to go to confession and receive communion once again?

2) If his first wife dies before my husband, would we then be free to marry in the Catholic Church or would there still be a problem because of his second wife?

Thanks for your assistance.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sheila,

(1) If you outlive your husband, you may go to confession and back to the reception of the Eucharist.

(2) If his first wife dies before him, you would need to seek the church dispensation to determine the possible validity of the second marriage. This could be arranged. Speak to the local priest, if such a thing happened. He could shepherd you through the necessary process.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 7, we received these questions:

First Question

My wife was raised Baptist and I was raised Catholic. We were married in a Presbyterian church by a Baptist minister (who happened to be my wife's step father). When our daughter was born, we decided to have her baptized as a Catholic and raise her in the Catholic tradition. At that time, we were told by my mother that we needed to be re-married in a Catholic church in order to have our child baptized as a Catholic. We went through the process of getting re-married in the Catholic church (which did not go over well with my mother-in-law and her second husband the minister) and attended a baptism class before the actual baptism ceremony. Recently, my wife's friend (who works in the administrative office of our local church and attends church more religiously then us) told my wife that we were duped and that we didn't need to get re-married in order to baptize our children as Catholics? Did my Mom trick us into getting re-married for no reason at all, or can the child of a Catholic and a Baptist who were not married in a Catholic ceremony get baptized as a Catholic?

Second Question

I know a Catholic man who got married and divorced, but never got the marriage annulled.

Several year later, he got married to a Catholic woman (his second marriage, her first marriage) in a civil service ceremony at a courthouse? Does the church recognize their marriage as valid?Can their children be baptized as Catholics with obtaining an annulment of his first marriage and being re-married in a Catholic ceremony?

I look forward to your answers

Brian

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Brian,

First Question:

Your first wedding, though civilly legal, was not acknowledged by the CatholicChurch as valid, since you were a Catholic.

With such a union, most Catholic parishes would not allow baptism of the offspring. After all what example could a Catholic give to a child when he/she cannot receive the sacraments? Legally you might find it admissible to baptize a child in the circumstances you have given, but certainly it is not advisable. Your obligation is to uphold and practice Catholic teaching and witness to your child.

Second Question:

The Church does not recognize the first or second marriage. A valid Catholic ceremony would remedy the situation of the child's baptism.

Baptism and annulment do not go hand in hand. Eventual baptism would depend on the will of the child.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello,

My daughter is 17 and is due to have a baby boy any day. We are practising Roman Catholics and she very much wants the baby baptized in our church. Her boyfriend is Russian Orthodox. He wants the baby baptized in the Russian Orthodox church. We live in Vancouver BC Canada...not sure if that makes a difference.

Anyway I am wondering if they baby can be baptized in both. He is going to be raised Catholic, I am thinking her boyfriend and family want the Russian baptism as more of a tradition than anything else. What is the churches view in this matter?

Thanks so much for you time,

Michelle

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Michelle,

God loves little babies! Notwithstanding less than ideal circumstances, nevertheless God loves little babies! And so must we.

The important thing for the Church [that is, all of us disciples of Jesus] is that a baptized child have the opportunity to grow in the practice of the Faith. Without that hope, it is not licit [though valid] to baptize.

Regarding Catholic doctrine, there is only ONE Baptism. The Church recognizes valid Baptism in most Christian churches. Regarding the relationship between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, you must consult with your own parish priest in your own diocese. Perhaps permission to Baptize in an Orthodox Church could be given. I do not know. What I do know is this: there are not to be two Baptisms, only one.

Go step by step in faith. Time will tell under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whether the parents are to be one family or not.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 3, we received this question:

Fathers:

My partner is catholic Iam not we are hoping to get married in a catholic church but have a few problems:

1. I have been married before in the church of england but am divorced .

2. I have never been baptised or christened. could you please give me some advise on these issues.

Many thanks

Martin

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Martin,

You will probably need an annulment from your first marriage.

There are certain issues that may make your marriage possible in the Church,

Your best bet is to speak to a local priest and he will explain the possibilities.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 23, we received this questions:

Dear Father,

My fiance and I are planning on marrying July next year. He was born and raised catholic. I on the other hand have no idea since I unfortuanately didnt grow up in the church. I was under the impression that I had been baptized, but it was brought to my attention that I wasn't. We have recently signed up and belong to a parish, have booked the church, started out marriage classes and we are both starting RCIA this weekend. My concern is when we signed up for everything I told our Deacon that I had been baptized since I was under the impression that I was. So my question is will this prevent us from marrying? I haven't told our Deacon yet...since I'm very upset about this and don't know what to do. Please help

God Bless

Jenny

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jenny,

Completion of your RCIA program will prepare you for baptism and conformation.

Let the deacon know that you were not baptized previously. At any rate a baptism certificate would be required before a church wedding, or lacking that, permission for a mixed marriage.

No problem and no reason to be embarrassed.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 20, we received this questions:

Fathers,

I am Catholic and my fiancee is Lutheran. His first wedding was performed in a Lutheran Church. I would like to know if a Catholic Priest would perside over dual ceremony in Colorado, USA Lutheran Church? He does not want to convert but I will raise our children as Catholics and attend Catholic schools or cathecisms.

Nadia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nadia,

With the bishop's permission it is possible to have a Catholic priest preside over a wedding in a Lutheran church.

If your fiancé was previously married, however, that marriage would require an annulment.The bishop's office would have to be consulted.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 20, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My daughter and her fiance are both Catholics. They live in NYC but are planning to wed at the San Francisco Presidio in May 2011. Can they have a Catholic wedding at the Interfaith Chapel? The history of this beautiful mission church is rooted in Catholicism.

Thanks

Kelly

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kelly,

They would need permission from the Archbishop of San Fancisco. You can call the S.F. marriage tirbunal for informaton.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 15, we received these questions:

Father :

My fiancee and I are getting married next fall. He is Catholic and I am baptized Methodist. We want to get married in a Catholic church by his priest. Is this going to be a problem? What steps do we need to take in order to be married in his church?

What if we just want the vows and not the entire mass? Is that possible?

Thank you!

Dana

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dana,

Not a problem.

You can get married without the mass. Speak to the local pastor for what papers need to be completed and what course taken.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 25, we received these questions:

Dear Father.

My first marriage has ended and I am now divorced. The man I wish to marry is much older than me, but we have been together for thirty years. Now I want to be his wife, to take care of him, and when the times comes, to be buried together.

He has a divorce, annulment and same wife has died, so he is a widower.

I have applied for an annulment but the Deacon seems to be procrasting or busy with his other church obligations. I would love to be married in the Catholic Church before Jack may get very sick.

I hate, hate the thought of not be able to receive Holy Communion, the reason I want the Annulment. For other legal reasons, it would be now important to perhaps have a Civil Wedding, then have the Church wedding. All that time, though, I could not receive Communion. Again, my heart would be crushed.

He is 80 year and in semi bad health. I am near 65 years. His adult children don't know our plans but now want him with him. He is staying with me for four years, and I care for him with my whole heart and soul. I thin they are threatened what will happen to his asset and want to separate us.

What advise can you give?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Maryanne,

I do sympathize with you and support your dedication. However your spiritual life is more important than the health of either of you.

Don't endanger your spiritual life. A civil union would settle nothing that could not be settled with a legal agreement..

Depending on the strength of your case, you might seek another priest or minister to help you get the annulment, if it seems possible to obtain.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

My fiancé and I live in Arizona, have been engaged for one year and are starting to plan our wedding. I am non-catholic raised in the bay area and he is Roman Catholic. We would like to get married in the Catholic church in San Francisco but are worried about how to complete the marriage preparation process since we live out of state. Can this process be fulfilled through another dioceses (Arizona) or does it have to happen at your location? How would we go about this process?

Thank You

Jennifer

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Jennifer,

Certainly you can prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage in your fiancé’s parish where you live. There they would help you with all the necessary documents, forms, formal marriage prep sessions, and dispensation. Then the parish would forward everything to the Bishop’s office for authentication. It would then be sent to me. Arriving in San Francisco you would have to go to City Hall for the marriage license.

On our end you need to call to set a date. Then we would need the deposit to hold it. Please give me your address so that I can send you our wedding guidelines – mostly a couple of practical things [like parking] beyond the ordinary things done everywhere.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


My boyfriend and I are both catholic, but he got marry in Mexico on the beach. Can he get married in a catholic church. He was divorced.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Patricia,

There should be no great difficulty in preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Church. You do need to do a little research, however.

To establish freedom to marry on the part of your proposed spouse a few things are necessary: his Baptism certificate, newly-issued; the marriage certificate of his civil marriage in Mexico; the final divorce decree. Presenting these three documents to your diocesan Tribunal will bring forth a “Freedom to marry” decree.

Of course, all this you should go over with your local parish priest as he guides you on the things to do for the practical and spiritual preparation for your marriage.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 3, we received this question:

Father,

My boyfriend and I have seriously talked and discussed marriage. We are not engaged yet, but are planning on mid to late summer to set that into motion. I was raised Catholic and am currently looking for a parish to call my own; He does not claim any religious background and has never been baptized. Do we have any options for getting married in the catholic church? Please help!

Ellen

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Ellen,

By all means find a parish "to call your own." We need all the help we can get to do God's will, increase our love of God and share the grace of a good marriage.

You can get married in a Catholic Church, but there are some steps to take. As long as your boyfriend has no objections he must be instructed on the requirements, which the local priest can explain to him (and you).

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 20, we received these questions:

hello Father,

I have been married to my husband for 15 years. The situation is as follows: we have five children together. I was baptized Catholic at age 21 when our first daughter was baptized (we had her together prior to getting married). My husband was baptized Catholic as an infant in Mexico, where he is from. He had one previous marriage, also to a cradle Catholic (neither practicing in their adult lives) and they had a civil marriage outside the church. I had a marriage (very brief) to my high school sweetheart when I was 19 and I divorced him when I was 20 - I had emotional problems including depression, and quickly figured out I wasn't ready for marriage. He was not Catholic (actually I would say he was agnostic) and I wasn't Catholic at the time.

What do we need to do so that we can have our 15 year marriage blessed in the church? We are both now practicing Catholics and are having our 3 children baptized in May whom we didn't have baptized as infants. We've had a lot of problems throughout our young lives (he alchoholism and both of us survivors of sexual & physical abuse as children) -so we made impulsive, not well thought out decisions in our late teens and now regret them but we need to figure out what steps to take to make it all right. The person with whom we spoke at our local parish said my 1st marriage was valid (because it was between two non-Catholics). I was previously told by another parish that neither one of our prior marriages were valid. In the case that my first (very brief, impulsive) marriage was valid, what can be done? Does that mean my husband of 15 years and the father of our five children can never be my husband in the church's eyes?

Please advise me. Thank you.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kellie,

It' s true that your first marriage was valid as you were both non-Catholics at the time. However this is a case where the Pauline Privilege might be invocked.

Conditions: The Catholic Church can dissolve a marriage bond, allowing the Catholic party to re-marry, if: Both persons were not baptized at the time of their wedding. The unbaptized person departs physically by divorce or desertion, or morally by making married life unbearable for the baptized person. The unbaptized person refuses to be baptized or to live peacefully with the baptized person.

Civil divorce has been granted by the state.

I suggest you approach the second priest and ask him to help you.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 5, we received this question:

dear father,

i have been brought up in a catholic home, my first love is a non-denominational christian. we met at 16 and being so young we went our seperate ways. i had a son with a man who was verbally and emotionally abusive, we never married and shortly after the birth of our son we broke it off. when my son turned one, my first love and i reunited. he is a very loving, honest, noble, giving, kind hearted man.. he took in my son as his own. we got married through the court but now i want to marry through the catholic church. i am active in my church and my husband respects my religion and i do his as well. can we get married? if so what does the ceremony consist of? and will i be able to get married in his church as well?

Jessica

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Jessica,

With proper dispensations you could get married in the Catholic Church.

No, you would not be able to marry in his church as well.

If you are active in your church, speak to the pastor, or another priest, to help you produce the papers you would need. He would give you the proper instructions, set up a ceremony (even a private one) and arrange for the dispensations necessary.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers,

My question is, if we get married (my fiance and me) like say...in the Anglican Church, is it still possible that I will be able to convert to the Roman Catholic Faith without my fiance being "forced" or pressured in converting? He was Baptised as a small child in the Anglican Church.

I came to the lord a year after our daughter was born, and I just want to make things right...

Thank you.

Michelle

Fr. Malloy answers:

Michelle,

No one can be forced or pressured to become Catholic. A convert can join the Church without the partner doing the same.

With your spouse's approval, you can engage in a simple, private, ceremony to have your marriage accepted by the Church.

I suggest you talk to a Catholic priest, who would be glad to guide you.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received this question:

dear fathers! hope all is great, and happy easter!

i recently got engaged 2 weeks ago, and am thrilled. i currently reside in New York City, but i am a native bay area resident. My fiance is a practicing roman catholic here in new york. We are planning a san francisco, california wedding next year!

Ideally we would like to get married in a church. However, I am not catholic. But it is important to my fiance to be married in a church, and i would like to get married in a church as well. Is this possible? And, would it be possible to get married at saints peter and paul church?

Many thanks,

caroline

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Caroline,

You should have no trouble being married at Sts. Peter & Paul. I suggest you speak to Fr. Harold Danielson (415) 421 0809. I am sure he will be happy to help you.

With prayers,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 22, we received this question:

Fathers,

Even if I am married, pregnant with our third and live according to what the church teaches, I am often depressed and we have disagreements etc with my spouse. Some times I feel that I really hate him and this our third child and wouldn't want to keep it.

Outwardly we have a nice home and kids etc.

When I was pregnant with our second I had same kind of feelings. It seems that having children is not for me.

What to do?

We pray and go to mass on sundays etc but nowadays I've started to think it is of no use and God doesn't really care. I have no one to speak to, since my friends look up to me for help.

Thanks for insights, Laura

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Laura,

What you describe in your letter is not uncommon. Frequently mothers, during pregnancy, after birth, and through the first years of children, become emotionally bewildered which then brings on cross words with spouses. Human psychology and group therapy can help a lot when these things are available.

However, a lot of it can be worked through with a renewed effort in faith. A Christian spirituality I am well acquainted with emphasizes becoming one with Jesus crucified and forsaken as we confront so many difficulties and bewildering circumstances in our life. The exhortation of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, “If you wish to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross each day, and come in my steps,” is the key to inner peace notwithstanding all of the awkward, confusing, trying situations in our every day life.

Emotional ups and downs, demanding infants, toddlers and older children, misunderstandings between spouses – all these are occasions to renew our unity with Jesus Crucified and Forsaken bringing us salvation and peace, and giving us strength to be patient with ourselves, and forbearing, forgiving and loving to others in our lives.

This is truly a key to be able to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength; and to love each other as Jesus loves us.” These are the greatest commandments [or rather invitations and expectations] for faith filled persons. Let us take the opportunity of this journey of Lent toward the experience of the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus in our midst to implore the Holy Spirit for this gift of unity with Jesus loving us to the end.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 1, we received these questions:

Dear Father.

I had my marriage annulled 9 years ago. I have recently met another Catholic that was married and more recently divorced for reasons that would not warrant an annulment in the eyes of the church.

I realize that if we were to marry, it would have to be a civil ceremony due to his status. (Not something I had planned on, but an unfortunate reality of the situation).

Does not being married in church remove me from the church? (I attend mass every Sunday, teach CCD and am an active part of the Church community). Also, if we were to have children, could they still be baptized and raised Catholic without an issue?

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Nicole

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nicole,

If you were to marry this man you would commit a mortal sin It would not excommunicate you, but it would prohibit your reception of the Eucharist.

Your example would make your CCD instruction suspect. I would not advise it.

You are still encouraged to attend Mass and, if you have children, to raise them Catholic.

May the Lord guide you!

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi father!!! is there any catholic priest can officiate marriage outside church? or is it true a retired priest can officiate marrieage outside church?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Archie,

A retired priest has the same privileges and prohibitions as a parish priest.

The practice in most of this country is for Catholics to be married in churches and usually need the Bishop's permission for the ceremony to be performed elsewhere.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 17, we received these questions:

procedure for ukrainian catholic who wishes to marry a protestant or non baptized person in the latin catholic church?

please can give me an explanation

Janko

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Janko,

Your local Ukrainian Church has jurisdiction over marriage of its members.

To marry in the Latin rite locate the church you are considering and ask for permission (from your pastor) to receive the sacrament there. If you receive that permission speak to the Catholic priest and he would have to secure the permission of the bishop for you to marry a non- Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

I hope that you are able to give me an answer....

I have been married twice and unfortunatley I have divorced twice.

I am currently dating a man who is a non prcticing Catholic. I am a Nazarene who doesn't get to Church like I should, but I believe and love the Lord with all my heart.

I believe that marriage to this man is a strong possibility. If we were to marry could iz then convert to Catholicism? Would the marriage be recognized by the Church. If I were to convert prior to the marriage, what part do my divorces play.

Thank you very much for your help.

Judy

Fr. Malloy answers:

Judy

There is no reason why you could not convert to Catholicism..

However, before you could marry in the Catholic Church both of your marriages would have to be reviewed for possible declarations of nullity. You could not marry in the Catholic Church without a favorable acceptance of nullity.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 13, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers

My fiance and I are to be married in September. Despite my mother being Christian, I was baptized when I was little because my father was Catholic but was raised going to the Christian church. My fiance is a Catholic and we would like to be married in the Catholic church. Will the Catholic church marry us even though I haven't haven't had my first communion and confirmation?

Thank you

Jessica

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jessica,

No reason why you could not be married in the Catholic Church. You might consider preparing for first communion and confirmation, which would straighten your union.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 8, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I came into the church 3 years ago through RCIA , My husband and children did the same 2 years ago. He was unbaptised and I was baptised in a non denominational church. The minister had never performed a marriage ceremony before and we were the only one he ever performed. He only did a basic ceremony. Not one mention of the Lord. Would this be the same as if we got married by a justice of the peace? The words were the same.

Thanks,

Carolyn

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Carolyn,

Assuming that neither of you had been married before [This was certainly looked into during the RCIA for you and your spouse], your marriage was acknowledged as true and valid from the beginning when neither of you were connected to the Catholic Church. At the Baptism of your spouse at his entry into the Church, your marriage became a Sacrament once it was consummated anew.

I think your further question about your ceremony at the beginning can be ascertained at the County Clerk’s office where you were married. It wouldn’t matter if that had been a one and only marriage, just that it had been sent in and recorded at the County Clerk’s office. You might have a certificate of marriage from that time. That could help them to locate your records.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 2, we received these questions:

Fathers,

Does the Catholic Church allow marriage between cousins, specifically first cousins once removed and if there is a general rule are exceptions made under circumstances? Thank you.

Mike

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Mick,

Church law does state that marriages can not take place between persons related in the third degree [uncle-niece, aunt-nephew] and generally also not in the fourth degree [first cousins].

However, the local Bishop may dispense the impediment between first cousins when petitioned with a good reason. Of course, the Church follows the civil law in these things. Some of the States in the USA do allow the marriage of first cousins. If a couple does not live in one of those States, the Bishop would not contravene State law.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 28, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I would appreciate your thoughts on the situation in my marriage.

Before my wife and I got married as part of our preparation we discussed sex and what was acceptable. This was in conjunction a with a book by Fr Tony Baggot sj, which set out the limits of foreplay etc. As a result, my wife to be said she would do anything I wanted after we were married.

After the wedding she refused to give me oral stimulation but was always happy to receive. I tried to get to tell me why but she wouldn't discuss it. After a long time and many broken promises, she told me she didn't have a reason not to, she just wouldn't do it. You can imagine what effect that has had on our marriage. Now she won't do anything at all except passively cooperate infrequently.

Her behavior seems dishonest and selfish to me. She says she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to and that I should be satisfied with what she is willing to do.

Am I being unreasonable by asking my wife to please me in the same way I have always tried my best to please her? Should a spouse always fulfill the wishes of their partner, as long as the requests are not immoral or excessive?

Thanks

Henry

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Henry,

I suggest you and your wife review what is acceptable as foreplay before intimate sexual relations. Sexual differences between male and female should be discussed and acceptable.

A good marriage counselor would help. Foreplay may be acceptable, but it must always be acceptable by both parties. What may be pleasing to the man may be unpleasant to the woman, such as oral foreplay or sodomy etc. and such actions could be sinful. Sexual foreplay should result in intercourse that is acceptable.

I realize that it takes two to tango, but the partners must learn to follow leads or stumble in the process.

Also: prayer can be a big help. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

me and my fiance would like to get married in a church but he would like his parents to be here they are in mexico! so we was thinking about geting married at the justice of the peace and then later get married in church in mexico! can we do that or is that against the rules?

Marcela

Fr. Malloy answers:

Marcela,

I do not understand why you would want to be married by a Justice of the Peace prior to a Church wedding, unless there is a legal question to be resolved.

Civil ceremonies are sometimes allowed for legal reasons, but marriage rights are not granted before the Church ceremony.

Speak to your pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 21, we received these questions:

Dear Father

I was married in the catholic church and then divorced. My second marriage was a civil ceremony by a justice of the peace. I am since divorced and single.

If I ever want to get married in the church again I know I need an annulment for the

Catholic first marriage , but what about the second marriage , or was it not considered

valid by the catholic church.

God bless you for your help

Wilfred

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Wilfred,

Yes, you need an annulment for your first marriage, but not for the second. A statement of its invalidity can easily be arranged by the local pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a devout Catholic currently going through the annulment process from my first husband (also a Catholic). I am engaged to be married to a Lutheran who has been married two previous times to non-Catholics. Even after reading much on the Catholic Church's position on the need for annulment, he is resistant and does not agree with going through the process as the marriages weren't to Catholics or in any way affiliated with the Catholic Church. To my disappointment, my marriage to him will ever be recognized by the Catholic Church without him going through the process. (Correct?) However, I would still like to raise any children we have as Catholics. So my question is, if we get married in the Lutheran Church and have children, will I be able to have them baptized Catholic provided our marriage would not be recognized by the Catholic Church.

Thanks.

Laura

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Laura,

Non-Catholic marriages are recognized as true marriages by the Church and annulments are necessary before the Church would allow a second marriage .

Are you sure your marriage to a Lutheran would be peaceful--considering two failed marriages, and a union which would put you out of the Catholic Church ?

It would be very difficult to have children baptized as Catholics if the parents are non practicing. Some arrangement might be made if there are relatives who could see to the religious development of the children.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers:

I am a practicing Catholic, pray rosary, and attend Sunday mass. I have a 15 month old daughter with fiance and live together. We intend to get married in the catholic church in a year. Is it okay to receive Holy Communion even though we are not married yet? What would my penance be for confessing this action?

Eileen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Eileen,

I suggest you join the RCIA in your parish. It would be the best preparation for your marriage in the church,

Until your marriage is rectified you may not receive Holy Communion.

The penance given in confession depends on the priest and would be certainly bearable.

Your praying the rosary and attending Mass are commendable but they do not make up for marriage out of the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I was baptized but never received confirmation. Can I still marry in the church?

Francine

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Francine,

You may still marry in the Catholic Church, but you should ask about receiving the Sacrament in the near future.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 28 we received this question:

Fathers:

1) Can a person get the paperwork started for an annulment (i know i need 2 of them) before the RCIA process starts? I want to start the annulment process then go to the RCIA next aug/sept.

(2) Who pays for the annulment process?

(3) If baptism cleans one from all his/her sins, why do annulments take place? The sins of divorcing and re - marrying should be washed away. The sins from Baptism day forward should be the sins you should worry about (after confession of course).

Lori

Fr. John Malloy answers:

1. The answer is YES.

2. The petitioner pays for the annulment. Arrangements can always be worked out according to the need.

3. Contracts have effects independent of sins committed. While the personal fault may be removed by baptism, the legal contract sill persists and has to be resolved independent of the confessional.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 20, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am currently living in Warsaw, Poland. Few years ago, I came to SF and that is where I met my boyfriend. After living and working for almost two years in SF, I had to go back to Poland, still keeping a long distance relationship with him. Last month, when I visited him in the US, we got engaged. My fiance, originally from India has not been baptized. Nevertheless, since he know how important catholic faith is for me, we decided to get married in church in Poland. I went to the local priest in my parish and the priest asked me for a document from my fiance’s parish (since he lives at Stockton and Bay I suppose it will be Saints Peter and Paul Church). This affidavit is a document informing that my fiance confirms and pledges has never been married in catholic church and needs to be signed in the presence of his parish priest. A similar document will also need to be signed by two witnesses. Without this affidavit, we will not be able to proceed with the catholic wedding preparations.

My question to you is, are you familiar with this procedure and if yes, could my fiance and his two witnesses schedule an appointment with you?

I would also like to ask you whether your parish organizes a preparatory weekend class (engaged encounters), that would be part of my pre-marriage preparations, in which we could both participate?

Kind regards,

Zofia

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Zophia,

The Church all over the world has similar forms to ascertain if a person is free to marry in the Church.

You need to have your fiancé contact me to make an appointment. He should come by himself at first. Then after I have explained the procedures, he may have the suitable witnesses come in for the formal signing of the form.

I look forward to meet him. He lives only about 5 blocks from here. Sts. Peter & Paul Church is at 666 Filbert St. between Stockton and Powell. Our phone is (415) 421-0809.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 7, we received this question:

i have been married twice outside the church. i have never been baptized. i divorced twice and then married for the 3rd time also outside the church. i am now thinking about joining the catholic church but i do not want to have to annull or divorce this man. Is there a way i can just re-marry in the church? if i confess to God in my own home, will that be good enough? if the first 2 marriages are out of state, how will they know? do they check every state? i just want to keep my husband and still be able to go to communion

Lori

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Lori,

The faith of the Catholic Church regarding true marriage is the understanding that marriage is a lifetime spousal relationship (no divorce with re-marriage). The Church recognizes as true and valid marriages done according to law and custom, and it makes laws regarding its own members. The main thing is that there be the two spouses, two witnesses, and the official representative of the Church, the priest or deacon. The Church also makes decisions upon where a marriage is to take place and the jurisdiction of the officiant priest or deacon. It requires preparation of engaged couples for this commitment to each other.

Thus when persons wish to be married by the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Church, an investigation is conducted about the freedom to marry. The question is asked: had either person been married before? If the answer is “Yes”, then that circumstance has to be looked into. It becomes fairly simple if one of the spouses in a marriage was a baptized Catholic but the marriage was not before a priest or deacon. If both persons had no Baptismal connection to the Catholic Church, then a full inquiry is made into that previous marriage to see if, indeed, it was true and valid.

If the determination is that the marriage had not been true and valid, then a document of “Freedom to marry” would be issued. If not, technically, that marriage still would be in existence.

To find your way in all of this, you need to be in conversation with your own parish priest, even if you are not baptized. The inspiration by God of your interest in the Catholic Church is surely a wonderful thing. Responding to the Lord’s call, despite bewildering situations, will lead to peace of heart.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 28, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband and I have been married by civil court only. We are both baptised catholic and we want to have our marriage validated by the catholic chuch so I recent joined RCIA classes. My husband has had two prior marriages, both have been only civil marriages as well. After his first divorce he joined and completed RCIA classes. He believes, but is not sure that he had to get his first marriage annulled to complete the program. My question is, would he have needed to get the first marriage annulled to complete the RCIA program and if so would we need only to get his second annulled to have our marriage validated?

Thank You,

Cynthia

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Cynthia,

Since your husband was a baptized Catholic, his first two civil marriages are invalid.

He needs no annulments to validate your marriage, but you should validate your marriage before you complete your RCIA course.

Speak to your pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My wife was previously married in a non-Catholic, outdoor Civil Ceremony. She does have one child, my step-son, from that marriage.

We were married in a non-Catholic service performed by a Nazarene Pastor friend of ours outdoors. Two years + later, we have a beautiful little girl and another child on the way. The reason we did not get married in a Catholic church was the annulment aspect and how it was presented by a Deacon at our church. He made my wife (then fiancée) feel like she was going to burn as a sinner along side of Judas.

I have been Baptized, received First Communion and have been Confirmed. I would like to have my children baptized in our church (which we go to regularly) but it would appear that my wife will have to go through that annulment process. On top of how the Deacon made her feel, she already went through enough in a civil divorce and I really don’t want to put her through that again. For my wife’s part, she has not been baptized and was not raised in a stable religious-based home but is willing to become a Catholic through RCIA…she is just not feeling very ‘welcomed’ by our Catholic Community…well this church anyway.

Some background info; they divorced due to his drug and alcohol addiction that he – finally – received help for (AA) but only after the marriage dissolved. Candidly, I would not want to put him through it all again either as I would not like to see him get off the wagon by rehashing all of the bad things that he knows he did. Plus, things are finally amicable with everyone.

I find it quite difficult to swallow as well that, according to what I have been told, the only ‘legitimate’ way for a marriage to end without a drawn out annulment process is if either spouse is infertile. However, if someone who abuses drugs and alcohol such that needles were left around so that your child could potentially step on them, or the person was getting close to being physically abusive…you should have ‘stuck it out’. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

I had heard of Catholic churches that would not require the annulment. They would just Baptize our little girl knowing we’d raise her Catholic…our church has even stated that it is just a bit more ‘structured’ so I am quite confused and frustrated.

Please help if you can.

Best,

Ray

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ray,

Your wife could become a Catholic without an annulment from her first marriage.

However, you would need to validate your present marriage.

As a Catholic, your wife would need an annulment from her first marriage or seek a Pauline Privilege.

Note that the exercise of the Petrine or Pauline Privileges is not a declaration of nullity (an "annulment"). A declaration of nullity is the finding that a marriage was merely putative and never existed. The Pauline privilege is given to converts (by the Bishop) to dissolve a marriage with an unbaptized spouse if either obstructs the religious practices of the other.

I suggest you seek further help from a neighboring parish or approach the marriage tribunal of the diocese directly. Call the Chancery Office and request an interview.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 20, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

In the process of my annulment, (just slightly over a year ago)I have recently learned that no paperwork was received by the Tribunal Office. The necessary paperwork had been completed and handed into out Parish Priest. We actually met with him twice! We paid no fees or tended classes understanding that we would be notified.

At the 6 month period, we had asked for the status of the Annulment and were told “It will take about a year.” We waited.

Fast forward another 6 months…I am currently in RCIA, and have never been baptized. My former spouse wasn’t baptized and we were married in a courthouse. I am told that my annulment is an easy one and our Parish office has set up another appointment with our new Parish Priest.

My question….do I still have to wait another year to get my annulment? Do I have to fill out all the paperwork again?

My fiancée who is Catholic, is livid. He wants to get married by a friend’s non-Catholic Minister in their church. I am the one who is saying “No.” because I want our marriage to be valid in God and the church’s eyes.

Thank you,

Deborah

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Deborah,

It is certainly distressing when some papers have been misplaced. It happened to me one when working with a couple. Their file was ultimately found in a briefcase, not where it was supposed to be. Ah, such are the trials of our life journey here on earth!

I think your resolution is most praiseworthy – not to go ahead to do something which has to be “fixed” later. It shows a true active faith in remaining united to Jesus through the community of the “specially called disciples of Jesus” [i.e. the Church].

What I encourage you to do is to contact your local Diocesan Tribunal either directly or through your parish priest to get the application form for a “Privilege of the Faith” case. This comes from both the Apostles Peter and Paul in slightly different form for the situation when a person is initiated into the Christian Faith through the Sacraments and a spouse refuses to stay married to that person. Then in “favor” of the Faith a marriage bond is broken and one may seek marriage to a baptized person.

From your letter I think this is the position you are in. All the communication and dialog on this should be clarified with your parish priest and Tribunal. When I presented one of these situations a couple of years ago, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly it was resolved. A lot depends on the clarity of the circumstance and its presentation.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Good Afternoon,

If you have a few minutes to clarify some misconceptions I may have regarding the Matrimonial Sacrament, I would greatly appreciate it.

First of all let me give you a bit of background on myself, I’m 28 and not a typical “cradle catholic.” I had received my baptism and first communion but we as a family failed to complete my confirmation. Which comes to this- right after I received my first communion my oldest sister had a child out of wedlock and the focus became on her and her child and the rest of us suffered to the extent that religion became a punishment. If she would commit a sin we all would have to get on our knees and pray rosary after rosary. I remember at the age of ten there were many of times that I and my other two sisters would stay up until 2 or so hearing “lectures” and having to read scriptures out of the bible for the mistakes my oldest sister made. At this point we were going to church irregularly and it began to have a negative context.

Nonetheless, at the age when confirmation is usually completed I wanted to complete my confirmation classes so that in the future if I wanted to get married in the Catholic Church then I would not have any problems. Well two classes into it, it was decided that there wasn’t any time to take me to these classes for want to work and keep food on the table since we were also caring for my oldest sister’s now two illegitimate children. After this I gave up… we no longer went to church and at that point I had distrust in God that he would let this happen. As I grew older I figured that it was not God’s fault but my parents, yet I was still in discord with the catholic religion because I could not distinguish between my mother’s religion and the true catholic faith. I never stopped believing in God or the basis of my foundation in religion, I just could not get myself to go to church for all of the negative feelings I had toward the religion and my mother- so I considered myself a believer in Christ but not in the religion.

When I became 21 I had a child out of wedlock and since then I have baptized this child and have tried to complete my duties by going to church (maybe not regularly but somewhat consistently) and enrollment into the CCE program. I did not wed for two reasons, the father was not catholic and I knew it wouldn’t last- and even though I had a child I was not going to get married just to get married. Marriage is a sacrament and shouldn’t be held lightly. So now that I have decided to get married with an old high school close friend I’ve entered in the RCIA classes to complete my confirmation. I want to be a good example in that I need to do this the “right way.” I’m not doing this just for me, but for the child I have and the family we want to begin. It is very hard to re-learn your own religion especially if someone that has taught you this same religion placed their slant on it. Even going to the RCIA classes has helped but almost every time I come home from these classes I cry because it’s hurtful to think of past times; I struggle but I deal with it and place my faith in God. He, after high school, got married through the Catholic Church for all the wrong reasons. He is currently going through the annulment process. We currently live together but each of us has our own home, own finances, and are not married legally.

I recently found out that more than likely our ceremony will be a convalidation, which is not what I wanted. I had these visions of a grandiose wedding since I have not been married. I just want to know what the guidelines are for convalidation and if my situation fits this profile? The only two things I could think of is his previous marriage, in which case I should not suffer again for someone else’s shortcomings. Or the fact that I have had a child out of wedlock, which in that case is arguable because I have suffered for that decision in that I died three times on the operating table and was in a coma for three days in which a priest came and gave me my last rites and absolution. The only other instance is that we are living together but some couples do that, go to confession and are forgiven for it, yet they still are able to have a traditional wedding?

Please advise.

Thank you for your time,

BC

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear BC,

From your letter you are responding splendidly to God’s nudges in your life.

Yes, you had some less than excellent experiences in knowledge and practice of the Caholic Faith, but that is not your whole life. In your current classes in preparation for Confirmation you are getting a wider context for living your Faith. True, it is sad about the judgment of evil in your oldest sister. We are all weak human beings. But we can each one turn back to Jesus any time and every time. The important thing is to love one another.

It is wonderful that you have held on to the Lord through it all. A sign of our oneness with Him is also our unity with the “called-together disciples of Jesus” [that is, the Church]. You are working on that right now.

I think your own reasoning for not getting married when you had your baby is right on. Now you are looking forward to getting married in the Sacrament of Matrimony. You state that your fiancé got married “for all the wrong reasons.” These are the special things that the Tribunal looks into in determining whether that marriage had been truly valid or if, in fact, it was not valid. If that is resolved, then you will be free to marry in the Church with the Sacrament.

That celebration can be as big or as small as you wish. The technical term of “convalidation” only means that if people are already married civilly [you do not say this in your letter], then it becomes “convalidated” in the church ceremony. It has nothing to do with the wedding itself. You can wear a wonderful wedding dress. Your son/daughter can participate in the wedding ceremony [ring bearer or flower girl]. Have oodles of friends and relatives with a grand reception of punch and cake with music and dancing in the back yard or in a large hall or a park. Make it a memorable occasion for the beginning of an authentic Catholic family. Remember that the Eucharist is the source and the goal of everything in our life of Faith.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father, I am a catholic and widowed now for 24 years. I am seeing a nonbaptisted, divorced man. His wife wanted the divorce after 28 years. He believes in God but never had any religious upbringing.

He is a very caring, nice man.

Could I marry him being he is ivorced?

Georginia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Georgiana,

His first marriage would have to annulled. Depending on the grounds presented that might be difficult.

Should he bcome Catholic he might avail himself of the Petrine Priviege.

Petrine Privilege or a decree in favor of the faith is a provision in the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church granting a previously married person the right to marry under certain specific circumstances. The implementation of this procedure is reserved to the Pope. It involves the circumstance where one of the parties in the marriage is unbaptized and the other is baptized.

Speak to your pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 22, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers......My sister is catholic and divorced from her first marriage. She has received her annulment.. She remarried in a civil ceremony, because the man she was to marry was told he would have to get an annulment from the Catholic Church also... Why should he have to do this , because his first marriage was in the Lutheran church and they do not consider marriage a sacrament..He has twice tried to get an annulment but was turned down both times..This makes no sense... Is the Catholic Church the true church...If so how can we consider his first marriage to be valid if it was not a sacrament.. It seems to me that the Catholic Church is talking out of both sides of its mouth...Also as a result my sister is not allowed to go to communion.. If a woman aborts a baby and is sorry for her sin, goes to confession she is allowed to go to communion..If she marries the wrong person and does not have an annulment to remarry she is not allowed to go to communion..I have been a faithful to the church all my life but this has really made me mad...What can they do in this situation.. thanks for your help...

John

Fr. John Malloy responds:

John,

That your sister, Catholic, remarried in a civil ceremony, invalidates this marriage. Though she should be encouraged to go to Mass she cannot receive Communion.

Her situation would be simple enough to obtain freedom to marry.

Her second marriage would have to be annulled as was her first.

But the situation of her new husband, who was previously married, has to be investigated.

The reason her new husband requires an annulment from his first marriage is because the Church recognizes marriages between non Catholics even if non-sacramental.

Why the groom's first marriage failed may be further investigated. Is his first wife willing to testify? How clear has been the request for annulment? Are he grounds clear enough for a determination?

Another avenue to explore would be the man's willingness to join the Catholic Church. Special dispensations are granted in such cases.

"If a woman aborts a baby and is sorry for her sin, goes to confession she is allowed to go to communion." That's true, because the Church has granted this, but only one adult was involved, unlike marriage.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 17, we received this question:

Hi Father-

I have a very complicated situation. I am 45 years old, but am the youngest child in the family. My father is Baptist and my mother is Catholic (although neither are practicing). My older sister and older brother were baptised, but I never was. I am now married (civil) to a man that has been married before (his marriage was blessed in the church after they were married in a civil ceremony). We have a child together, who has been baptised Catholic and she and myself are attending mass and she attends catachism. I would like to be baptised in the church, but I have been denied. I don't understand why the church doesn't hold the sins of the parents against the child, but they won't baptise me. I wasn't baptised due my parents; it's not my fault. I want to be a Catholic and learn everything I can, it is so frustrating, and my 9 yr old daughter doesn't understand why Mommy can't be Catholic like her. Is there anything I can do. My husband refuses to have the first marriage annulled. I feel like the sins of his failed marriage is being held against me. I am so confused. Please help me.

Valerie

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Valerie,

I shall attempt to simplify the "complicated situation." The Sacraments in the "called together community of disciples of Jesus" [definition of Church] are external signs of the mystery of God's loving presence among those disciples. We are called to be of "one mind and heart" [see Acts of the Apostles] together as members of the very Body of Jesus. All of this means that we should be in harmony, at least externally, with all the Sacraments of this Body, the Church.

This is where your current situation incurs some observable discordances. Disciples are to be "light of the world, salt of the earth, leaven for the society" Jesus proclaimed. We all are to be observed so that others may see goodness, virtue, etc., and thus give praise and glory to God.

The Church, while making external rules for its own members, upholds the sacredness of marriage in profound respect with great loving care wherever it occurs according to law and custom. For baptized persons the Church realizes marriage is also a true Sacrament of God's very life in us, so much so a marriage simply is not valid unless it is also a Sacrament. Thus the very few requirements surrounding marriage as a Sacrament are that there be present the bride and groom, two witnesses and the formal representative of the Church, the priest or deacon: five persons total. Everything else is extra. This is why Catholics who try to get married civilly or in a different church community without prior permission of the Bishop, are considered simply not married.

This is the situation you are in now because of the religion of your husband, baptized even though not practicing.

Sometimes it seems there is no way out of it. Thus the Church says in so many words: "Do the best you can!" Participate as much as possible, keep learning, encourage your children, seek counsel.

What to do now? Underlying my next comments is a question: why would someone want to be married to a person who does not practice his faith? If there is authentic love underneath, then why not take the necessary steps for my loved one?

Beyond that, or rather aside from that, you could approach the Tribunal yourself. Your husband does not seem interested despite his love for you. Perhaps his first wife might be interested. If she becomes the "petitioner" it could proceed even without your husband's participation. But even if a "Decree of nullity" might be forthcoming, you would still have to renew your marriage vows to be validly married, in which case the Sacraments of Initiation will be open to you. Now suppose all the Tribunal things are completed and the Decree too. If he still does not want to do this for the sake of his own and your practice of Faith, then you have to decide how important it is for you to actually be a formal member of the Catholic Church. This needs a lot of dialog with your own parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 11, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am now a senior at a university, and will graduate in May of 2010. I have been a lifelong Catholic, and am very much in love with the faith. At my university, I have assumed a leadership position for our student pro-life club. Through it, I have met one of the most remarkable young women that has ever come into my life. She is intelligent, determined, loyal, dedicated, has noble ambitions and is a faithful Catholic. Her mind works in such a way that she has a capacity to understand Catholicism at a level that most people can't. She's familiar with the Catechism, papal encyclicals, etc. Finding a woman like this, especially at my age and at your typical, large-scale public university is a difficult task!

This is not "love at first sight," an notion that I soundly reject. I have come to grow fond of this woman after observing her at work for our pro-life group for some time. Her passion and zeal speak volumes, and I know that she strives to be virtuous. Like a good Catholic, she makes this the main goal in her life. For these reasons, I've let her know on a few occasions how much I admire and respect her. We get along well, though I regret that it often feels like we operate on a "business"-like level with respect to our group. (We take our work for this group very seriously, and to realize some of the projects that we do, it requires significant time and effort.) The work that we have done together has transformed this group for the better, and I think that the work of God has been realized as a result of our joint efforts.

My question boils down to this: I am certain that my vocation in life is to marriage. I am determined to witness to my Catholic faith in any stage of life faithfully, though I believe that this will be fully realized for me within the context of marriage. I would never consider courting a woman who I could not picture as my wife nor as the mother of my children. I believe that this young woman is very virtuous and holy, and that she would be an excellent wife and mother. That said, she is two years younger than me (I'm 21, she's 19), and she wants to go on to law school, whereas I have plans to move away after graduation to work for about a year, and then pursue my own graduate studies. I wouldn't say that either of us are ready for marriage at this point in life, but we are both very faithful and mature Catholics who can understand the purpose and dynamics of Catholic courtship. With this in mind, and considering how I may very well be moving away after graduation, do you think it would be worthwhile for me to pursue courtship with her, with the intention of remaining in this exclusive relationship until the time for marriage arrives? Seeing how I have never before managed to find someone quite like her, I can't be certain that I could ever find another that would make for a better wife. Also, we are not strangers; we've known each other for a year; this courtship, then, would not have anything to do with "breaking the ice;" it's about getting to know each other on a much deeper level.

I feel that if God is calling us to marriage, time and distance would not be an obstacle to us. I have known many good Catholics who have maintained exclusive relationships with their significant other, awaiting the proper time at which they can finally marry. I also look back on the work we've done to build up the Culture of Life on our campus, and I see the work of Divine Providence within it. I can only imagine how fruitful and blessed we could be as a family; to think of how much more we could do for God.

Taking all these things into consideration, do you think it would be moral of me to pursue a relationship with this devout woman, who is truly a rare find? Or, knowing that I may be leaving soon (in about 7 months), and that we each have our respective academic plans which could potentially keep us physically separate for a good number of years (recall: two years age/education level difference), should I forgo the possibility? Again, I think if God wills it, distance and time are not a problem. But, if indeed God wills our unity, then I must act now! Time is short.

Thank you.

Alumnus 2010

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Alumnus 2010,

Yours is very thoughtful letter. Would that more of our young people were as open to God's will as you two seem to be.

Q: "Taking all these things into consideration, do you think it would be moral of me to pursue a relationship with this devout woman, who is truly a rare find? "

A: There is certainly nothing wrong in pursuing such a relationship.

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." This may or may not be true in your situation, Time will tell. Meanwhile pursue your dream and pray that hers be in sync with yours.

The years apart can be a bridge of love. Let God be master of the bridge.

Meantime you certainly can act now realizing that "it takes two to tangle."

Continue to pray that if your dream does not come true, it is His will in your life. If one door closes another will open.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 28, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am actually all the way on the other side of the country, but while searching for an answer to my question a link to your site popped up, and I was hoping you could help me. I started RCIA classes last night and I was informed by one of the sisters that I would have to be remarried in the Catholic church before I could receive any of the sacrements, I have tried to look in the Catechism book, but I am still very new to the faith, and was unable to find info on this subject. My husband is baptized in the catholic church, but not confirmed. I am baptized also, but another religion.

Thank you for taking your time to read this,

Heather

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Heather,

When someone tells you about getting married with the Sacrament, explain the underlying principles should be explained very carefully. I shall attempt to do this as simply as possible.

First of all, the Church [that is, the called-together community of disciples of Jesus Christ] has a great respect and reverence for marriage wherever it happens according to law and custom. However, it does make a few rules for its own members.

The Church believes that marriage between baptized persons is itself a Sacrament, a sign and mystery of God's presence among us. To be certain that the Sacrament happens it requires a few things: the bride and groom, two witnesses and the official representative of the Church - a priest or deacon. The local Bishop has the authority to allow for some important reason, that someone other than a priest or deacon officiate. But this would have to be requested, and permission granted, in a very formal, official way.

So if a Catholic person "tries" to get married by a justice of the peace in a garden or at city hall, or in other than a Catholic church, or a wedding chapel in Las Vegas, etc. - that marriage is considered not true, not valid. I must infer from your short letter that something of this sort is how you are married to your Catholic husband. Thus in the process of you yourself joining the Catholic Church, one of the things to do as you receive the other Sacraments is also to make your wedding promises before the Catholic priest. I am sure that your RCIA team will help you to plan for a wonderful celebration!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. As you are preparing for completing the Initiation Sacraments in the Catholic Church, your husband should himself be preparing for Confirmation. I trust he is attending the whole program along with you.


On September 1, we received these questions:

Fathers,

I was raised in a small town in Minnesota in the 30's in a predominately Czech Catholic community. I am a Christian who worships in a Lutheran Church. Today is August 26th, 2009. Edward Kennedy died yesterday. In my hometown a dentist and his wife were divorced.

They were Roman Catholics. He remarried and was ex-communicated, No longer in the church and of course no communion!

If Kennedy has a mass service in a Catholic Church ---WHY?? He was divorced from Joan Bennet and then married a divorcee. Why hasn't he been ex-communicated? How can he have a Catholic funeral service?

Frank Sumatra was married four times and two of those were with divorced women, and he was divorced three times.YET, he had a Catholic funeral mass Why wasn't he ex-communicated when he married the second, third or fourth wife? Gregory Peck is entombed in Our Lady of the Angels in L.A. He was divorced and remarried.

OK, fathers. Is there now a new set of rules since the thirties for all Roman Catholics? Or for just the privileged?I am really curious and this is not written in malice as I am a Christian. It is to have the answer to a puzzling enigma.

Thank you very much,

Jean

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Jean,

No one who has married outside the Church, or has re-married outside the Church has ever been excommunicated by that fact. They are not objectively in good status for receiving Eucharist. However, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing are available when one repents and makes the appropriate adjustments in their life.

The work and mission of the Church Tribunal are common knowledge. The inner documents for a particular marriage are private. The Tribunal never makes details public, though the persons involved might or might not. And persons may appeal a ruling to a higher Church court, ultimately to the Vatican.

The practices of the Church regarding Christian burial have evolved over the centuries. What the Church does is NOT to judge a person's conscience at death. The Church always prays for the living and the dead. The Mass of Christian Burial is precisely that - to pray for the dead person, without judgment. Judgment is left totally to God. The Funeral Mass then is a privileged occasion when we are reminded of our littleness as human beings before God our Creator, what our own attitudes are to be modeled on, what the ideals of Christian life are, and so on. What better opportunity is there to make these reflections for many people at once?

In this regard we think about with whom Jesus had dinner. He accepted invitations from hypocrites, from tax collectors and sinners - so that sick people would be attended to by the Divine Physician.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello, Father, and thank you for your time.

My question is long and complex.

I was raised Episcopalian. My mother is Irish Catholic, but for many reasons her entire family left the Catholic Church and became Episcopalians. I married a non practicing Catholic. We were married in the Episcopal Church. Eight years later I embraced the Catholic Church and was received into the Church. I raised our three children in the Church. I became a Catholic as an adult, Father. A choice that I have never regretted.

During this marriage, my husband never embraced the faith, however, he did attend with me from time to time. We divorced after 24 years due to his addictive behavior (alcohol) and adultery. After my divorce I sought counsel with two different priests and was told by both that since my first marriage was never blessed by the Catholic Church and since I became a Catholic after the marriage, that I would not have to get an annulment.

I have since remarried a man raised in the Church of Christ. My father, a retired district judge, married us in a civil ceremony. I could not ask this man who has never been involved with the Catholic Church to go through an annulment (his first wife committed adultery and they were divorced 16 years prior to our meeting).

My question is this....I am asking if I may take Communion, Father. My husband goes with me to mass and is a wonderful Christian. I believe our marriage is blessed by God. I miss the sacrament of the Eucharist and feel so let down by the Church in this aspect. There are many, many of us out there, Father, who want to come home fully to our Church, but are not allowed. It breaks my heart that my sweet husband is not allowed to take communion either. Is the answer that we leave the Church and find a place that will accept us both?

Once again, I thank you for your time.

Linda

Fr. Malloy answers:

Linda,

You need to approach your Diocesan Tribunal to resolve your questions regarding annulment, divorce and Eucharist.

Your present marriage could be resolved by having your husband join the Church. If he really wants to receive the Eucharist that would be a condition. However, your marriage could by validated even without that.

In your present situation you may not receive the Eucharist. You were not married in the Church, but that could be cleared up with the agreement of your husband (even if he chooses not to join the Church) and the blessing of your priest.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 15, we received this question:

Fathers,

Background information: I am a 40-yr old practicing Catholic, raised through Catholic school with all the sacraments. I share my age for a frame of reference. On Nov 1st, 2008 I met a 38-yr old man from England in a bar in the city where I live. We talked for an hour and exchanged information. Over the next 7 months we built a very strong relationship that began as a friendship and later love developed. During the latter part of the 7 months we discussed love, family, finances, where we would live, etc. Neither of us have been married before and he was baptized as a Christian and while spirtual, he does not attend any kind of mass. He finally came to visit and during his 10-day stay, we spent 9 days together. He met my family and many friends. I met some of his friends. Before he left, he asked me to marry him and I said yes - no doubt in either of our minds that this was the right thing. A week later over the computer he spoke with my father and asked for my hand. My father gave his blessing.

We are planning to get married on May 1, 2010. My fiance is back in England. I will see him at the end of this month, then he will return in October and I will be there for Christmas. He will not enter the US again until April because of immigration. Trying to find a Catholic church has proved difficult for 2 reasons 1) many are having Communion that day 2) if they don't have Communion, most of them require that you are a member. In addition, it is a mixed marriage, our situation of how we met and where we both live is a bit different, and not sure when he is entering the country. We are waiting to hear from one church where I was baptized and they understand the situation and what needs to be done in order for us to get married in the church (letter to the Bishop, pre-cana, etc).

Whew, okay. So on to the questions: If the Catholic church doesn't work out and we get married in a chapel with a reverend (still want to have a spiritual wedding), is there anything we can do to get our marriage recognized in the Catholic faith? I have already asked my fiance to raise our children Catholic (God willing), he agrees. If we get married in the chapel, may we still raise our children Catholic and therefore they can take part in the Sacraments.

Thank you and I apologize for this lengthy email.

Take care.

Victoria

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Victoria,

First of all, give praise to God that you have met someone with whom to share your life so wholly and completely!

I hope that everything will work out so that you can celebrate your marriage as a Sacrament right away. If that doesn't happen, then as soon as you get settled together, first choose a parish and talk to the parish priest about getting your marriage convalidated [that is, "blessed] in the Church. This is one of the things that happens in Catholic parishes quite frequently throughout the world. Essentially this means doing all the things that might have been done before the wedding, now done afterward.

If you do the above, your last query disappears. However, just so that you know and can share, when there is a founded basis that children will be raised in the practice of the Faith, they can certainly be baptized and receive the Sacraments.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 1, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

Although I was baptized and raised in the Lutheran Church, as an adult, I really haven’t practiced any religion. Many years ago I married my first wife in her non-denominational Christian Church. Sadly, we divorced after eight years (we had no children). Fast forward 25 years, I met, fell in love with, and married a Catholic woman. Due to the fact that she is from another country and was immigrating to the U.S. based upon her relationship with a U.S. Citizen (me), we had to get married within 90 days of her arrival in the U.S. Consequently, we had a small civil ceremony with the intention of having our marriage regularized by the Catholic Church in the near future. As a non-Catholic, I was completely ignorant of Catholic rules regarding marriage and never gave a thought to my marriage from the distant past. My wife, although a lifelong Catholic, was also unaware that my previous marriage would be an impediment to having our marriage regularized by the Church. We met with the priest at the church where we attend mass every week and he was very helpful in outlining the annulment process for us. However, as helpful as this priest was, I find that I am “stuck” on a couple of points.

First of all, when I got married all those years ago, there wasn't a Catholic in sight. I guess I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that the Catholic Church should have anything to say about the validity of this marriage, which was between two non-Catholics. I am, however, resigned to the fact that in order to be married in the Church, I will have to subject my previous marriage to examination by the Tribunal. Although I will certainly be respectful and cooperative during the process, in all honesty, I regard this as nothing more than an inconvenient exercise that I must go through for the sake of my wife.

Secondly, although I attend mass with my wife every week, we are active in parish activities, and I enjoy being a member of that community, there are a few Catholic teachings that I simply don't believe. Consequently, I seriously doubt that I will ever desire to become Catholic myself.

Finally...my question: Will the fact that I have no intention of becoming Catholic myself, and the fact that I don't really share the belief that the Tribunal cannot legitimately rule on the validity of my first marriage have any impact on the success of my annulment petition?

Thank you for your thoughts.

David

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear David,

You present an interesting line of inquiry. The underlying principle, which the Church upholds, is that a true and valid marriage is exactly "until death" wherever it occurs according to law and custom. So the Church in regard to civil society throughout the globe, holds sacred and dear all true marriages, holding on to the promises "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, all the days of my life."

In revering this basic principle, as an observer of a particular marriage, a Tribunal will evaluate the circumstances, the persons, the situation to uncover if there was anything at the beginning which could invalidate the marriage at the start. For example, if a family sells off a 12-year old bride to an older man to be married, the Church [along with a variety of secular organizations] would defend the child from any obligation, no matter the background, religion, culture, etc.

The Church does make certain regulations for its own members to be validly married. The spouses must be "free" to marry and have two witnesses. A priest or deacon is to officiate as the designated witness for the community of disciples.

If both spouses are not "free" but enter into a civil [or other church] marriage, the Catholic Church encourages the Catholic spouse[s] to continue to belong to the community of the Church as much as possible though not sharing in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. All of us remain God's children notwithstanding our incomplete unity with the community. Certainly God's help is forthcoming to those who pray and live good lives.

The visible, human Church needs to be consistent with fundamental principles.

Having stated the vision of the Church, I approach your particular questions. Anyone entering the Church must do so with full freedom without any outward compulsion. Examples: my grandmother married my grandfather who was not Catholic and never did entertain any thought of joining. My aunt [my godmother] married a non-Catholic man. He took her to Mass every Sunday, never went in himself. They were married 55 years and died 6 weeks from each other, he first.

Your personal thoughts regarding the Tribunal should have no effect upon the objective inquiry into your first union. If in the end there is no justified ground for a declaration of an invalid marriage, you situation remains as it now is. If instead, there are proper grounds, and a declaration is made, then you could then enter into a Sacramental marriage in the Church - quite a gift to your wife, for whom you are doing this: out of love for her.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 7, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I have someone close to me who was baptized in the Catholic Church and received no other sacraments. Went she turned 16 years old her mother took custody of her step-brother (who was 15 at the time) and then took the two children before a judge and got the two of them married, due to their sexual relationship prior to marriage. Shortly thereafter she became pregant and had a venerial disease to go with it. Her young husband was cheating on her. The marriage eneded with one child born between them.

The next marriage came as the result of breaking up a marriage between a Mormon couple with 4 children. She had a son by him, and this couple divorced, and they got married. Non-Denominational Christian Marriage. He was Excommunicated from the Mormon Church as a result of this relationship.

This marriage ended with alcoholism on his side, and cheating on both sides, one son from this union.

The next Marriage was to a Catholic, Divorced man who also cheated on her and was using drugs. Now here's where it gets interesting, because now she turns to his Catholic brother. They ran away together and lived together for years hiding from his family, and then decided to stop living in sin, and got married. They've also, come out to the family and it's been made clear that if they don't accept her then they won't see their son.

They know they can't be Catholic, so they've been Southern Baptist, Baptist, Non-Denominational Christians, and now Lutheran. Often leaving due to dissention with others in the churchs.

Now here are my questions: Is this a mess that can ever be set right?

Her first marriage was to her brother, civilly, legally and morally as per Leviticus.

The second marriage was before God and not a civil ceremony, although not Catholic.

The third marriage was also a Christian ceremony, but not Catholic.

The fourth marriage is to her last husband's brother, (who are both still living) and that was also a Christian ceremony, not Catholic.

As her marriage stands at this point in time will she ever be able to go to R.C.I.A. and come into full union with the Catholic Church or does she have to give up this last marriage? I'm very confused as to how this can be cleared up. As I understand it at this time she is living in adultry. Is this Right?

Please help clear this up for me. She wants to go into a ministry but, I don't see how that will happen with the way her life is at this time, and I don't know what to say to her when she tells me she trys and it doesn't work out.

Thank you in advance for your help. Needs your help.

SC

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear SC,

First: As her marriage stands at this point in time will she ever be able to go to R.C.I.A. and come into full union with the Catholic Church? The answer is "yes." But the marriages would have to be studied to determine the validity of the present situation.

Second: Does she have to give up this last marriage? No. It can be validated by declaration of invalidity of the first three marriages.

Third: Could she go into some form of ministry? Yes. it is possible. "God writes straight with crooked lines!"

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 11, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers;

When a Catholic marries a non-baptized person in a civil ceremony and later has the marriage blessed, the marriage is still not a sacrament, correct?

If the un-baptized person enters the Church, does the marriage them become sacramental?

Thank you.

Ila

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ila,

When an illicit marriage is rectified in the Church it becomes a sacrament for the Catholic partner. Likewise when an unbaptized person is later admitted into the Church that marriage also becomes sacramental, provide there are on other circumstances which would render the marriage invalid.

For Catholics and Orthodox Christians marriage is a sacrament, but not for Protestants or non-Christians,.

It is generally agreed that sacraments originate in the Bible, and in particular in the words and deeds of Jesus.

During the Protestant Reformation there was an effort to "purify" the Church of practices, doctrines, and rituals that were thought to be departures from the clear teachings and traditions of the Bible. Christians universally agree that Baptism and the Eucharist were specifically initiated by Christ. Baptism and Communion were central and distinguishing marks of the Christian church from the time of Jesus forward.

The seven sacraments were not clearly enumerated by the Church until the Council of Trent, when marriage was declared a sacrament. Protestants continued to recognize only two sacrament Baptism and Eucharist.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

My fiance is divorced, they were married in the United methodist Church, his ex-wife was married and divorced, before. Would his marriage be considered invalid, since his ex was married before? Can you help get us an annulment?

Ann

Fr. Harold Danielson tresponds:

Dear Ann,

The Catholic Church makes rules for its own members only. The Church [that is we all: the community of the specially called disciples of Jesus] respects, honors, holds sacred, valid and true all marriages of not-Catholic persons done according to law and custom, unless it is proven that their marriages were not valid.

The specific rules are set only so that the community of Church, observing the external circumstances, can see the Sacrament of Matrimony happen. Of course, no one can look into the mind and heart of those celebrating. The Church only knows what their real intentions were by observing what happens afterward.

The few regulations are just three: man and woman spouses, two witnesses, and the official representative of the people of the Church, a deacon or priest.

So to reply to your questions a few things need to be clarified for your situation. Is your fiancé a Catholic? If he is, then a marriage in another Church community is simply not a true marriage, no matter what the previous background of the spouse. If he is not a Catholic, then one would have to find out if the other spouse was Catholic. If so, the same thing applies. If he is not Catholic and the spouse is not Catholic, then these questions would go back to the first spouse. All of these things will be sorted out when you approach your parish priest, and he guides you in obtaining the pertinent documents to present to the local diocesan church Tribunal.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 5, we received this question:

Hello,

I just got into a relationship with a guy and we are both 19, I teach Sunday School at my church and my students just completed their first reconciliation, this had me think a lot about the sacraments and I find myself with a few questions. This guy is not Catholic and I know he would not convert, I am not sure if he will be the one I marry but one day I hope to be married in a Catholic church and complete the sacrament of marriage, if he's not Catholic does that mean I can't get married in the Catholic church? I used to think that my religion could never make things complicated but now it is, I want my children to be baptized too but that's a whole other story.

Thanks,

Isabel

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Isabel,

It is always better for Catholics to marry Catholics to preserve the faith and instruct the children properly. However, there are many cases of good marriages which are of mixed faith. But pray for a partner who will share your values, since greater peace and harmony will result.

You can get married in the Catholic Church with a non-Catholic provided he accept your position and allows marriage in the Catholic Church by a priest or deacon. He also must allow the children to be baptized.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 1, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am not Catholic. However, I am a strong believer in Christ and the resurrection but never found a church that fit. I was raised in a non-denominational Christian faith and was baptized as an adult at a protestant non-denominational church. I was married to a Catholic in a protestant church. We divorced, but neither us remarried. 12 years later after our divorce, I took care of my ex when he was dying of cancer for the last year of his life. He died 3 years ago.

I met another man who is Roman Catholic shortly after my ex's death. His background is that he was previously married to a Catholic woman for 10 years. They were married at a college chapel by a priest. She was 21 and he was 27. They had a child in year 5 of their marriage. She started having an affair with a married man in year 8 of their marriage. His ex continued the secret affair until they divorced just short of their 10 year anniversary. The ex admitted and flaunted the 2-year affair after the divorce was final. The ex-wife married her lover in a civil marriage within 6 months of her lover obtaining his divorce. They are still married today about 5 years later.

Here's the issue, after 3 years of being with my boyfriend/fiance, we would like to get married. We are patient people who can wait to actually legally get married but we are very human and are living in sin.

My concerns are for his parents and for him. His parents are very Catholic and getting up there in years. (I recently learned that they take their Easter meal to mass to be blessed.) They like me very much and would like to see us married and I am sure that living in sin saddens them. I am concerned about him because if we get married without a document declaring his first marriage invalid, then it basically harms him by separating him from taking some important sacraments, most notably last rites. This would also trouble his parents greatly. (I understand this to be a really big deal because essentially, he would have no way to be absolved of his sins from the moment of remarriage to when he dies.)

To hope or wish for his ex's death no matter how self-centered and difficult she has been, seems like a sin in itself. I do not wish it for the child's sake and well frankly my conscience sake as well.

There was no drug or alcohol abuse. No affair or previous marriage was in affect at the time when their first marriage occurred. A priest married them and I must assume that the church gave permission to marry in a chapel.

The only thing which I can think of that was present at the time of their marriage and frankly still present that his family talks about is that the ex-wife was and is very self-centered and immature. She certainly had no intentions of raising their son Catholic since the father had to insist on getting him baptized and since the divorce the child has not been to mass unless his father takes him which is rare. They live over 300 miles apart. However, determining whether someone was mature enough to understand the full permanence and responsibilities of marriage is highly subjective.

I feel that we are caught between a rock and a hard place. Is there any hope of obtaining a document declaring the marriage null? I know the ex-wife will fight having the first marriage nullified because she doesn't value having a marriage blessed by the church and because she would not benefit since her current husband is divorced without nullification documents.

Secondly, is it true that I have been released spiritually from my first marriage to marry a Catholic?

If we are denied nullification of his first marriage, what are our best options given the realism of human weaknesses of the flesh. On some level, I could remain living in sin but as strange as this sounds, I have been getting a strong urge or internal push to get married after all these years. FYI-physically there is no chance of pregnancy so it is not a biological timeclock going off.

Finally, as a general question, is there a way for a non-catholic to wed a Catholic and have their marriage sanctified by the Catholic Church? If so, what must occur for that to happen? I want his parents to be at peace with regards to their son.

Please advise.

Thanks,

Teresa

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Teresa,

You seem to have all the facts, clearly stated.

"Secondly, is it true that I have been released spiritually from my first marriage to marry a Catholic?"

Your question is simple to answer. Since your first husband was Catholic, but married out of the Church, his marriage was considered invalid,and ifhe is deceased, that itself releases you.

Other parts of the case are not so simple to resolve.

Your proposed.marriage would require an annulment.You would have to speak to an informed priest,or the diocesan tribunal to present the case.

Theoretically an annulment can be given notwithstanding objections of one of the partners.

My prayers are with you,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 28, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I was an agnostic for fourteen years, even though I was baptized in the Presbyterian church. After falling away from belief in God and Christ, I was married and divorced three times. During the third, I was converted to Catholicism, BUT, the priest failed to do anything about my two previous marriages, telling me to forget them and not mention them to the Church. This marriage also ended in divorce, even though I wanted us to go to counseling. My still agnostic husband had commited adultery and refused to continue the marriage, as he said he would always be sleeping with other women.

Now, I find out that technically, I was never a Catholic, as my two previous marriages had been ignored.

Now, I so completely want to rejoing the Catholic Church. I now know a lot about the Church that I was never told in my original teaching about the Catholic church. Also I am remarried, by a Baptist minister to a baptized Christian, but not Catholic, and I thought I was a Catholic at the time.

Now, the deacon in the church I have been attending, but not taking communion, has basically said that my case is next to hopeless. I had no information about the three previous husbands. I have been on the internet, have found two of them, one being deceased. I am having trouble finding the third, even though my daughter is his child and received a Christmas card from him, but threw the envelope away. I only know that he is now a Canadian citizen living in Vancouver.

I do not understand why the three marriages, having been performed when I and my husbands were agnostics, require annulment and not just the sacrament of reconciliation. My current husband and I are quite happy and commited to each other, ever though we are beyond the physical expression of our love, due to health and age.

IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR ME? I have been feeling Jesus's call back to Catholicism, and of course the Eucharist, and I cried for two days when the deacon said that my situation was next to hopeless.

Thank you,

Linda

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Linda,

What situations we human beings find ourselves in!

I disagree with your second sentence about technically not being a Catholic. I think technically you did become a Catholic when you made your Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church. You were outside the other Sacraments because of previous marriages. You were not outside of the Church. In that situation we are just invited to straighten things out in order to be in full unity with the community of disciples of Jesus [the Church].

This community [the Church], as a people of faith, believes in the teachings of the Bible. Thus it believes that marriage is a natural relationship between male and female persons which is a one-on-one life time project. And what God has united, no one on earth can divide. This is the underlying principle. We human beings being limited creatures sometimes do things without much thought or for incorrect reasons or without sufficient knowledge, or because we are forced into something, and so on. So, the Church with its Divine Founder, considers itself competent to evaluate unions to see if all the relevant foundations were present to make a marriage not valid. This is the point. If something essential to make a marriage true is missing, then the Church can declare that it was not real at the beginning. This would be a Decree of Nullity.

Coming back to your situation, the main thing will be to investigate your first marriage particularly. So, from your letter, was one of the two ex-spouses you were able to locate the first one? This is what a Diocesan Tribunal would look at first.

At first sight, what your parish Deacon told you is a summary statement - but without all the circumstances at hand. And even if so, there is still a centuries-old solution, which by your own phrasing seems already to be in practice. If under the advice of your spiritual director or confessor, you promise to live "as brother and sister" refraining from consummating your union with full sexual intercourse, then you can meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be consumed by Him in His Body and Blood in Communion.

All of this, of course, you should share with your confessor and follow his directives.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 14, we received this questions:

My Catholic son married a non-Catholic in a Catholic ceremony. They moved to a city where her mother lived and she started taking instructions with some Nuns there. I will add here that her father called her from Florida every night without fail. She soon stopped taking the instructions and they later moved back to our town.

She had a baby boy and he was baptized using Catholic sponsors who divorced soon after and no one knows where they are. My son and his family moved to Florida to work for the daughter's father when the little boy was about 5 at the insistence of her father. They were there 6 months when my son's wife went home at lunch,leaving my son at work, called the Deputy Sherrif and had my son served with divorce papers.She made sure that she had extablished residency there.

It nearly killed my son, first of all, because he did not know why in the world she was doing it, and 2nd, because she was taking his light of the world, his son, away from him. She had him kicked out of the house that afternoon. She married soon after the divorce and moved away to north Florida with her son and her new husband. Since my son had been working for his wife's father, he had to find a new job and a new place to live. He managed somehow with the help of some of his friends and later met a nice lady friend that understood him and she invited him into her bed. Very soon they talked of getting married. So they married in the "Heart to Heart Chapel in what my son says was a civil ceremony. Are those places usually civil ceremonies?

I thought in viewing the video that at the end, at the very last the vow administrator said something about the Methodist Church offhand. I am concerned that, if my son does apply for and gets an annulment, what would he have to do to be able to begin practicing his Catholic faith again. Could this civil marriage simply be blessed by our minister or would more have to be done? He already is against even an annulment because he says that he would consider his son a bastard. I thought that if I could help relieve his mind about not actually having to go thru another marriage ceremony, he would agree to file for an annulment.

If there is some way that I could get him to let me watch the video again, but I feel sure he would suspect something and it would ruin everything.

Could you give a scenerio both ways? With a possible mention of the Methodist and also with out the mentionof the Methodist, in case I could have misunderstood. I would be ever so grateful.

a concerned mom.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Concerned Mom:

Your son, as a Catholic, was married twice out of the Church, so both marriages though civic, are invalid. His son would not be considered a bastard.

Civil or Methodist, the marriage would be easily invalidated, without the process of annulment.

Your son should take his papers to the local priest to obtain freedom for Catholic marriage (even if his bride is not Catholic,) so as to be free to receive the sacraments.

Also, any reason why your son could not sue his first wife for visiting rights to his son?

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My wife and I were married in a civil ceremony. My wife and I were both raised Catholic. My wife had been previously married to a Christian, non-Catholic in a civil ceremony. My wife’s first marriage produced two children, who I am now helping to raise.

It is my hope to return to the church, attend mass receive the sacraments and either have our marriage recognized or receive the sacrament of marriage in the church, and introduce my step children the catholic teachings and have them receive the sacraments.

Is it possible to have this marriage recognized by the church or marry in the church?

Thank you,

Bill

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Bill,

It is fairly easy to repair the damage!

Her first marriage would be invalid. (Catholic married out of the Church)

See your local parish priest about convalidating your present union. then the rest of the sacraments would open to you.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 30-31, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am turning to you so that some light and relief may be shed upon me. I have recently met a wonderful man who lives an hour away from me. Both of us are Catholic. As all couples do we got into the topic of "family" his family members names he was mentioning sounded very familiar to me. I found it odd that we might know the same people. So we called his Grandfather and drew put a family tree on both of our sides and came to the conclusion that we are fourth cousins. My family is very religous and has very strong values. My question is this: is it morally correct to date a 4th cousin in the Catholic Church's eyes? Is this a sin? Please give me some advice.

Sincerly,

G

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear G,

Give praise to God that you have connected to such a wonderful person in your life! The Church [i.e. the called-together community of disciples of Jesus] has learned over centuries what human beings learned over millennia: that marriage unions of close relatives sometimes are not good for the transmissions of the best genes and human heritage.

So our community of Church has also a set of "laws" governing this situation. Thus normally marriage of first cousins is not recommended, though for particular serious reasons the Church through the Bishops may dispense of this "impediment." Fourth cousins are way out of this dimension. Therefore you may pursue this relationship with openness to the call of the Lord in your life. Remember that in this "people of the Way" [term in the Acts of the Apostles], the call to marriage in the Sacrament of the Church is truly a vocation in the fullest sense responding to God's love by loving one another and walking with Jesus to the final goal.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers:

Bless you for your interesting and instructive ministry! I hope you can help me sort out my life!

I was born and raised a Catholic. Throughout college in the 60's, I had a Catholic boyfriend--but our seven year relationship simply didn't lead to marriage. I fell in love with a divorced man who offered love, stability, and who wanted a family. We have been married now for 35 years and have good, beautiful children.

I have not been "in communion" with the Catholic Church for many years--and now that I am in my 60s, in touch with my mortality, I would like to have reconciliation with the Church.

My husband was baptized as an Episcopalian--and not until after we married (my fault for not asking),learned HE had been married IN the Catholic Church to a Catholic in 1965. At the time, I must say, I was comfortable marrying a divorced man.

What now are my options? Will I ever be able to have my marriage blessed? Will I ever be able to receive the sacraments? We have had no contact with the ex-wife for 35 years--don't know where she lives, remarried, name, alive, etc. My husband is 66 years old.

I want to "come home." Can you put me on a path to find my way?

Thank you.

Ramona

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Ramona,

The nudging of the Holy Spirit in our lives is indeed extraordinary! The desire to "come home" is now your response to that movement of the Spirit in your life.

What to do?! First of all is simply to begin to participate at Sunday Eucharist on a regular basis. Yes, technically you shouldn't receive Communion yet. But you should begin a conversation with the priest about your situation. Please do not do this the first time you see him. Go the Sunday Mass, or even daily Masses; say hello to him; introduce yourself; register in the parish; then make an appointment to set your situation clear for help to come fully into communion with the Church.

Probably there will be some research to do. If perhaps your husband's ex-wife may be deceased, then he is free and so are you to enter the Sacrament of Marriage. If she is still living, and you have found her, the Diocesan Tribunal may start an enquiry about that long ago marriage. If, instead, despite the commercials first for Viagra and now for Cialis hammered at us all the time, you are not that drawn into sexual union so much, you could decide to live "as brother and sister" as many have done through the centuries.

All of this you can clarify in discussions with your parish priest and local Tribunal.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 26-28, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I was baptized as a baby in a Lutheran church and raised as a non-denominational Christian. I got married at 19 at our mutual non-denominational church and less than three years later my husband was sleeping with a co-worker; I have always been taught that committing adultery was the only acceptable reason I could file for a divorce and I did. My boyfriend has been raised Catholic and cannot imagine having anything other than a Catholic wedding. His family doesn't know I've been married before and would be beside themselves if we weren't wed in a Catholic ceremony. My questions are as follows: Will the Catholic Church allow me to marry a second time? Will I need to become a practicing Catholic in order to be married in the Catholic Church?

Thanks,

H

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear H,

You don't need to be a practicing Catholic to be married in the Catholic Church.

But you will need, in addition to your divorce papers, a declaration of nullity of your first marriage from the Catholic Tribunal.

Speak to a local Catholic priest who can guide you through the process.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

First of all I want to say thank you for having this helpful feature on your website. The more it makes me want to get married at your church as you seem to really want to help/support your community. I am engaged but my fiance and I decided to have the wedding in two years to give us time to save up for a nice wedding and for our future of course. If money wasn't an issue we'd get married right now, too bad that's not possible. My fiance and I have been together for almost five years and we are both ready to spend the rest of our lives together and of course receive God's blessing even though we are both kind of young still (I'm 24 and my fiance will turn 22 this April) Anyway, here are my questions: I read on your website that weddings are held on Saturdays, however, we were really hoping to get married on Oct. 14, 2011 which is a Friday because Oct. 14 is our anniversary and it would make our wedding extra special if it took place on that day (also, we hate to change our anniversary date). Is it possible to have our wedding at your church on a Friday, or weddings are strictly held on Saturdays only? I would really love to get married at your church even though we're not parishioners. Actually, we're not registered to any parish even though we go to church regularly. If we can't have the wedding at your church on that day we might have to look for a different church where a wedding on a Friday is allowed and that would make me so sad... My second question is, in case we do decide to have our wedding there, and you mentioned that slots fill up quickly and that we have to contact your church early, is one year enough time? Or is that too early? I'm just planning ahead, so when the time comes, I know what to do. And lastly, both me and my fiance are practicing Catholics and are in fact, members of a Catholic community/group, but I was never confirmed. Would that keep me from getting married, do I have to get confirmed before the wedding or can I get married even if I haven't had my confirmation yet?

Thank you so much,

Janina

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Janina,

For a variety of reasons, couples come to Sts. Peter & Paul to get married. You must schedule very far ahead of time. So putting an October 2011 wedding in the calendar is quite possible. And the marriage preparation can begin soon.

Most weddings occur on Saturdays, mostly because of custom - work days, and so on. However, marriages may occur on any day of the week [except Sunday because of the crowded schedule]. Friday, early afternoon is OK.

You are practicing Catholics. You should seek out a parish where you attend regularly and register. Sunday Eucharist is the most observable sign of living our Faith sincerely. With a wedding scheduled for fall of 2011, you still have lots of time to join a Confirmation preparation program. Speak to those heading up that ministry in your parish. Being confirmed is not essential to getting married, but it is important for persons practicing their Faith.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Father,

I am currently engaged to a wonderful and supportive man that is of the lutheran religion.

My first husband died suddenly a little over a year ago and my fiance has been my safety net and My children's lifeline since the day My late husband was rushed to the hospital.

To make a long story short, My Fiance was previously married at the young age of 18 , basically because he thought he loved this woman and by the time he realized that he didn't want to be marry her, they were at the justice of the peace being married. He remianed married to her for about 14 years before he left Kansas and her to start a new life in Pennsylvania.

He is currently getting a divorce and we would like to remarry in the Catholic Church. He would also like to become a Full Catholic by going through the RCIA process. I have been told by My pastor that even though his marriage took place in a civil union and not a Christian ceremony, that the Catholic Church still recognizes their union and therefore must seek an annullment.

We would like to get married in a little over a year, and I am willing to get married in a civil ceremony if the annulment process doesn't allow for the preparation time neccessary to have a Catholic Wedding at that time. I would like to have it blessed in the church as soon as is possible after Our Orginal Wedding.

Please help. are there any loopholes, that may help this process, and I might be able to get married in the Church next year at this time?

Thank you

Yvonne

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Yvonne,

In the Providence of God, the Lord brings good things out of devastating situations. You are going through this now.

Some questions have arisen in my mind and some things to recommend too. First off, perchance is the ex-wife of your fiancé a Catholic? Then the declaration of invalidity is simple. Also you said your fiancé is Lutheran. Was he baptized? Sometimes if the family is not greatly practicing a child is not baptized. This leads me to the recommendation. Have you been in contact with a priest helping you to prepare for the Tribunal process? You can begin the preparation and some of the things you need to collect even before the decree of final dissolution comes. Of course, this can be presented only after the divorce decree is in hand, but you can be ready.

The question I have for this prior readiness is simply: did he express to anyone his misgivings about marrying his girl friend before actually going to the justice of the peace? If he has witnesses to this effect, it makes it more clear for the Tribunal officials.

Friends of mine years ago had this. The groom had told a couple of friends of his that he really did not want to marry the bride, but that since everything was prepared he went through with it. The bride told me after he left her that she had thought they were married; but she knew that if he did not want to do that, then it really was not a marriage. Her case went through the Tribunal process in reasonable time.

The source of our strength as Catholic Christians is the Eucharist. So Sunday Eucharist is really the most obvious way we become light in the world as Jesus expects us to be. Even if certain situations keep us technically away from Communion, nevertheless being part of the worshiping community is most helpful for our daily life. It is wonderful that your fiancé is thinking of seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. What graces are upon you and your children as you accompany him on that journey!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi,

I was so thankful to find your website. I have some questions and have not yet found a friendly place to ask them. My local church is large and well... somewhat unfriendly.

The situation is a bit complicated- my boyfriend and I would like to get married in the Catholic church, but we fear there may be more than a few things standing in our way. Alternatively, we are considering a civil ceremony, but there are of course spiritual reasons as well as family ones for not making that my first choice. Neither of us have been married before.

My boyfriend is Catholic and from a strong Catholic family, however I am in a somewhat interesting situation. My father was from Ireland and Catholic, my mother is American and Protestant. It was a second wedding (both were divorced) for both of them and they had a civil ceremony in the USA. They were married for over 40 years until my father's death two years ago. My mother lives back in Ireland now and is older and cannot travel easily. She would be very happy to see me married in the church because my relatives are all Catholic and she knows it would make the family happy. They are very kind to her even though it is a border area and there are not a lot of Protestents around and the whole history with that is a bit rough there. She never converted to Catholicism but she worships in a Catholic church and is made very welcome. My father was buried with a Catholic ceremony.

I never had first communion nor confirmation, although I was taken to Church regularly. My parents because of their differing faiths wanted me to make my own choice as I got older. It will me take a year or more to get through the classes in our parish and to be able to fully "convert" to Catholicism depending on whether or not my baptism is recognized... here is where things start to get sticky-- I do not know if my baptism was "legal" or not. It was a lay baptism, done in good faith by the grandmother of my mother's good friend, performed because I was a 7 month old unbaptized infant about to undertake a long journey, and the woman feared that if I got sick I would die unbaptized. There was reason to worry as I had been born prematurely. She was from Poland and had been through WWII, seeing a lot of children die- I think her heart was in the right place. Clearly there is no record of this, nor do I know if the Church recoginzes lay baptisms even in case of "emergency".

I have considered myself a Catholic all my life even though I guess have not been formally part of the Church since I cannot take communion. I'm 34 years old and delaying the marriage for nearly two years so I can get through conversion is not a very tempting option at the moment especially if we are to be blessed with healthy children... but if my Catholic baptism is recognized, I have to do that. If it is not recognized, then I STILL cannot be married in the church because I will be considered unbaptized.

All these complications are starting to pressure us toward looking at a civil ceremony...We do not want to get married in the USA because our relatives who we would like to attend are either in Ireland (my family) or Spain (his family)and they do not have the finances to come all the way here to California, and/or thier children are too small to travel, and/or they are too old and sick to travel so far. We looked into getting married (in church) in Ireland (assuming I can meet the conditions outlined in my problems above) but the marriage license restrictions there would require us to be there longer than we can leave our jobs for.

The simplest thing for us would be to have a small civil ceremony in the USA and have the actual celebration of it (hopefully with a blessing by a priest) in Ireland. I am not sure how I feel about this. Would such a marriage be valid in the eyes of the Church?

Perplexedly yours,

Catherine

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Catherine,

Our human stories are wonderful, sometimes a bit complicated, at the same time showing how answering the Lord's call brings us to Himself in the community of the disciples of Jesus [Church].

First off, you were baptized by an elderly friend out of loving concern for your own safety as an infant. A Baptism in such a situation is fully recognized by the Church. Your mother is still living and can testify to this circumstance. Technically, an infant baptized in such an emergency would have the rest of the Baptism ceremonies done at a suitable time. Ordinarily a parent would have notified the parish priest who would do this and also record the Baptism in the proper register. These things weren't done, but the Baptism remains valid and true. So, a good thing for you to do is join a parish program of Sacraments preparation for Communion and Confirmation.

Separate from the above is entering into marriage and celebrating this in the Catholic Church. It is possible to have a Catholic wedding even though one of the spouses may not be a Catholic or even not-baptized. My grandmother married my grandfather who was not a Catholic. My mother married my father who was not a Catholic. Thus you can do your marriage preparation aside from (or along with) your preparation for the other Sacraments.

You are traveling to Ireland so that your mother can be at your wedding. That is beautiful! Residence requirements vary in different places. So a practical manner of approaching this is precisely what you have proposed: a civil ceremony here, the religious ceremony there [technically a convalidation]. One thing to keep in mind when you are living you Faith to the fullest: a civil ceremony does not make you truly married; only the religious one does. So hold off on marriage privileges until you consummate your Sacrament.

Depending on how many days you can get off from work, why not do the official religious Catholic ceremony in Ireland, then go to Spain and have a big celebration of renewal of your vows. Both families get to be involved.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. Your mother goes to the Catholic Church among friends. There is nothing preventing her also from entering the Church officially. A few years ago when I was pastor of a parish in Watsonville, California, we had a Christian initiation class in which three of the participants were over 80 years old at the time. They were a wonderful, excited group full of childlike joy!


On March 24-25, we received these questions:

dear father,

i have a problem.i was married 5 years ago in civil but seperated very soon after. im a filipina and his a chinese, his family decided to get back and stay for good in china. but i don't want to come with him, after that no communacation until now. i can't understand what happen to that marriage.. coz the one who processing, that we can get married is there atty.. 3 years ago i meet the atty. and ask her if our wedding is legal she said yes.. sometimes im thinking that is fake., some of my friends said that civil wedding is valid only for 2 years.. is that true??

because now i have a boyfriend and we planning to get married soon... but i didn't tell him that i was marriage in civil before...you think that a legal? i have a record in registry? what im going to do..? i'll waiting for reply advise...thank you..

Nizha

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nizha,

A civil marriage is leally valid until a decree of divorce is issued.

You have an obligation to let your boyfriend know of the situation. Entering a second marriage could lead you to being charged with bigamy.

You probably have a chance to have the first marriage annulled. If you were not married in the Catholic Church, your first marriage could also be declared invalid.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I was raised Catholic and continue to attend church services and hold to the Catholic tradition. In June of 2005 I married my ex wife who was also Catholic in a Catholic Church. A year later, I relocated with her to Texas for my employer and things didn't turn out well for our marriage. I tried to make things work for one full year including counseling but she simply did not want to remain with me and had found a new partner. We divorced in 2008.

While in Texas, I met a girl who is Baptist and who was raising a 1 year old little boy by herself. We fell in love and have been together for about a year and a half now. About a year or so ago the father of the boy started coming back into his life (once a month visitation basis). He resides in Texas as well.

One month ago, my corporate headquarters relocated me once again back to my hometown of Chicago. My girlfriend and I and her son were ready to move and we were going to move and once we moved to Chicago we were going to start looking into how we could get married in a Catholic ceremony. Our plan was to find out if my previous marriage could be annuled and if we could get married ina Catholic ceremony a year from now or so. She is willing to accept the Catholic faith and we wanted to raise her little boy and any children that we may have in the future according to the Catholic tradition.

As it turns out, the biological father has taken a greater interest in his son lately, I believe it is for all the wrong reasons (out of jealousy and for the sake of his family - grandparents) but be that as it may, he has filed a child custody suit asking for our little boy to stay in Texas if his mother moves to Chicago. She has remained in Texas while I am now working in Chicago until this situation is resolved.

Our attorney has made it very clear that if she moves to Chicago with me as a "girlfriend" or "fiance" she may lose custody, however she is guaranteed to win the case if she is my wife. We are not looking to allienate the biological father's ability to see or know his son and will make every attempt to make visitation easy. However, my family life is now going to progress and grow in Chicago, therefore we are getting married by a judge at the end of this month in order to allow my future wife and her son to move and join me in Chicago.

My questions include: Can my previous marriage be annuled and can we still get married in a Catholic ceremony after the annulement, say one year from now even though we are getting married by a judge at the end of this month. Regardless of the answers to the two previous questions, can her son and our future children ever be raised according to the Catholic tradition?

Thank you so much for your time.

Bart

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Bart,

Her son and your future children could always be raised in the Catholic faith. Make sure they have good mentors.

There is also possibility of an annulment for your first marriage.

A civil union could then be regularized by the Church, after the required process is complete.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 20-23, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I was raised Catholic and was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, although I have not attended church regularly in some time. My fiance was raised Baptist, but no longer affiliates himself with the Baptist Church and currently attends a nondenominational church. Because he is not Catholic and I have not been attending church regularly, would we be allowed to marry in the Catholic Church? If we have to marry outside the Catholic Church, would our marriage be recognized? Also, when we have children we plan on raising them Catholic. Would they be allowed to be baptized in the Catholic Church (especially if we end up not being married in one) and if they can be, is there anything special we would have to do since the father would not be Catholic? Thank you for your time.

Jennifer

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jennifer,

Approaching major steps in one's life offers the opportunity to also make very important decisions, particularly in regard to one's faith and its practice as a member of the community of disciples of Jesus [Church]. Thus in taking up the practice of the Faith by first opening yourself again to Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation [Confession] and unity with the community in Sunday Eucharist, you can certainly prepare yourself for the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church.

If you choose not to do these things, and get married in a civil or non-denominational ceremony, why would you think it good to baptize your children Catholic when you would not be practicing the Faith yourself? It only makes sense to baptize [as a Catholic] when the child would have a chance to grow up in the practice of the Faith.

These are the things you could be thinking and making decisions about in preparing for marriage. At the same time, getting re-acquainted with your Catholic Faith as an adult, this could be an invitation for your fiancé to investigate the Catholic Church, at the minimum to understand your faith heritage and your efforts to keep connected to it.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

Me and my wife were married by the justice of the peace --spur of the moment --we love each other more than life --she's of the Catholic faith, I am not, although I am thinking of converting. We also have a daughter. As soon as I get back home from my tour of duty in Iraq, she will be baptized. What are the rules of me being present if not Catholic?

Thank you,

Corey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Corey,

Your marriage is not accepted as valid by the Catholic Church, since your wife is a baptized Catholic. That can be taken care of by your local parish (or another Catholic Church, if you prefer) when you return from your tour.

Even if you don't convert, your marriage can be validated, provided it is done by a Catholic minister.

No reason why you could not be present for your daughter's baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 15, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers:

I am engaged and the date set for the wedding is May 2, 2009. My fiancé and I have been practicing abstinence in preparation for the wedding…but we have not been perfect. I also stopped taking birth control for the last 9 months, preparing for marriage in the Catholic Church. I recently found out that I am pregnant, about 5 weeks, with 7 weeks left to the wedding.

Can I tell my parents and priest or would this put our ceremony on hold or make it so that we would have to wait to get married? We already have everything in place and would not be able to get refunds on a lot of items purchased already….not to mention the honeymoon reservations.

I appreciate you help,

Robin

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Robin,

No reason to postpone the wedding. But do make a good confession.

And study the Natiural Family Planning method. Seek advice of a competent counsellor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 11, we received these questions:

Hello,

I have an issue that I need help with. I am 30, never married, and was baptized Catholic. My fiancé is 27, Presbyterian, and we will be married in May in her church. My mother and father have said that they cannot attend because it will be a mortal sin. Is this true, and how can I still be married in my fiancé’s church with my parents attending?

Please respond, and this is a dire situation with my family.

Sincerely,

Marc

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Marc,

Your parents would show their disapproval of your marriage by not attending the service, but would not be committing a mortal sin by attending your wedding in a Protestant church.

However, you as a baptized Catholic, are committing a sin by marrying out of the church. The marriage will be civil but would not be recognized by the Catholic Church.

You might consider having a priest and minister together officiate at the service. You would have to speak to your pastor about this.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I am a Baptist and fell inlove with a man who is a closed catholic and we are getting married on the 15th of April here in Philippines. My parents doesnt want me to be baptized as a Catholic, but permitted us to get married at the Roman Catholic Church. The problem is the Parish Priest wants us to secure permission from the Archbishop for the mixed marriage, where the process takes a month or more I guess.. the wedding is only month away.

Then we have this friend who send us to his Priest friend in the City for guidance and to ask also for assistance of course.

The City Priest actually told us that it is not necessary to secure permit from the archbishop, we just have to follow some rules w/c includes I will not be taking the communion, doing the Holy Cross sign and many more. It also includes that if ever we bear childrens they will be raised as Catholics since its one of the rules.

After the talk with the City Priest my fiance immidietly went to our Town Priest and related to him about the discussions made with the City Priest. But Still he wanted us to secure the said permission. Please help us we are already bothered.

thank you

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Queenzel,

I believe your own parish priest is following the technical procedure of Church law for you to marry a Catholic person in the Catholic Church. You should obtain the permission of the Bishop of the Diocese. It is a mystery to me that this should take more than 3 or 4 days. The parish priest could FAX the request; the diocesan official could authenticate it and FAX it back while putting the original into the mail.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 23, we received this question:

Fathers:

As a young girl, I have always dreamed about getting married in the same Catholic church my parents were married in. I finally met a man who swept me off of my feet. My husband and I decided to get married in Las Vegas in a quickie marriage because he received orders to deploy to Iraq. The problem that I'm having is that my husband was married once before, for close to 10 years. He and his first wife became pregnant in high school, had a child, and their parents felt that the "right" thing to do was have them get married. Their parents made the arrangements and they were married in a Catholic church. Years went by and after serving 1 tour in Iraq, he came home to find that she had been unfaithful. Both decided to try and work things out, only to find out that she continued with the affair for 2 more years, and another tour in Iraq. When he returned home, he divorced her. My question is, does he have grounds for an annullment? I have read that the process can take a while. Can he start the process while deployed or does the correspondence need to be face to face? Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Angel

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Amber,

What situations we human beings find ourselves in!

The Church [community of disciples of Jesus] wishes to uphold the sanctity and permanence of marriage as desired by God in creating us male and female. When situations arise, the Church seeks to discover if something was missing before the wedding the lack of which actually made the marriage that was supposed to begin invalid. That is the work of the Diocesan Tribunal.

The formal process may be started essentially by anyone getting in contact first with your local Catholic parish priest, and then the Tribunal. Most of it is done through the mail, only later may there be personal contact.

So get started so that you will know if it is possible that you may have a Sacramental marriage with this person. It is important that both persons be truly "free to marry" for a true marriage to begin.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

I am joining the church after my husband's first marriage (he is divorced from his first wife) is annulled. Do I have to dig up our original marriage certificate and produce this for the convalidation proceeding? We were married in a civil ceremony many years ago. I'm not sure where the certificate is...I guess I could get a copy if I had to, but don't know if I need to go to the trouble. What is the church law on this?

Thanks,

Susan

Fr. Malloy answers:

Susan,

Yes, you would need poof of your civil marriage in order to proceed with the convalidation. It should not be too difficult to obtain a copy from the state in which you were married.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 15, we received these questions:

Can an ex-Catholic priest (rcvd a dispensation) perform a wedding ceremony? Will it be recognized by the state? Catholic church?

Thank you so much for your assistance with this.

Sincerely,

Judi

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Judi,

A laicized priest may become a marriage commissioner to preside at a civil marriage.

For him to participate at a Catholic Sacramental wedding ceremony, he would need the blessing of the Bishop of the Diocese. He might do a reading while the Deacon or Priest witnesses the wedding promises and gives the nuptial blessing.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

Here are all the questions I have. I was baptized luthern took communion at a catholic church but was never confirmed. My parents are catholic and attend chruch everyday. I am engaged to be married. My fiance was baptized baptist but has no paperwork to verfiy. My mom wants us to marry at her catholic church, but neither of us are catholic. If we are married in a civil cermony do we need to go through the classes that both the catholic and luthern churches require? Can we get married at a luthern church, if so what are the requirments.

Thank you in advance for all your help!

Nannette

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Nannette,

What a set of questions you propose! It shows that you are sincerely looking for the way the Lord is leading you in your life.

Let me see how to lead you through the twisty way of your queries. If you have not ever made your Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church, then it would not be possible to have your wedding in a Catholic parish at this time. Further down the road when you and/or your fiancé formally enters the Church, then you could celebrate your Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic parish.

So you would have to not only look up the First Communion records of the parish where that happened to ascertain if [at that time] there was an understanding at the parish and with your parents that First Communion also involved profession of faith in the Church. If this is what happened, then you certainly can get married in the Catholic parish. Your fiancé does not have to become Catholic. If he should some years from now, he can freely do so. Technically you do not have to be confirmed in order to get married. Of course, all Catholics are wholeheartedly encouraged to prepare for and receive Confirmation. This can be done after the marriage, or before.

Speak to your local parish priest about all this.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

I have questions regarding annullments. I was married for almost 26 years. He is a Catholic and so am I, and we were married in the Catholic Church. We have three children, all grown.

When we decided to marry, I knew that it would be rocky at best, we didn't have the best 'courtship'. I was the product of two alcoholic parents, both were in their 40's when I was born, so there was somewhat of an 'absentee-parent' syndrome in the home I grew up in. He was an 'only' child for 16 years before his brother was born. I knew when I agreed to marry him, that my parents didn't have long to live, and I was terrified of being alone in the world. My one goal in life at that time in my life (I was only 19), was to have children so that I would have my own 'family', because I was so scared of being alone.

On my wedding night, my husband and I consumated our marriage, and then within a few minutes, he kicked me out of the bed with his feet, saying that I was making him 'hot', and he was sick. (In his defense, he was running fever), but that incident was only the first of many abusive situations throughout our marriage. I became pregnant our first week of marriage. I was hit on and cursed out on a regular basis. I was a people pleaser, and tried so hard to do exactly what he wanted, say exactly what he wanted in order to keep the peace, but he was a very angry person. This type of behavior went on for the first 10 years of our marriage, and we had three children in the first five years of the marriage. Finally, after 10 years, I found my 'backbone' and left him and filed a restraining order. There were several attempts made by both of us to go through marriage counseling, but it always seemed to fail, we would quit going, etc. Always our relationship reverted back to being abusive. After a three month seperation, we went back together. We did seperate probably 5 or 6 times in the first 10 years, for short periods of time.

After the long seperation and the restraining order, he never hit me again, but the verbal abuse never stopped and it was at this point that I began to 'fight' back with verbal abuse, too. I am very ashamed that I acted in this manner, but somehow, it helped me survive emotionally to fight back instead of cowering down. After our youngest child graduated from high school, I divorced my husband. He tried to stop me, begged me to try counseling again, but there had been a couple of years in which he seriously verbally abused our middle daughter which culminated in a rampage on his part, me fighting back and the law being called. He chased me up and down the stairs in our home for about 4 times, yelling and screaming at me the whole time, and I turned and tried to push him out of the door of the bedroom I had walked into trying to escape his verbal abuse, when I did that, the tip of my finger hit his nose and his nose started to bleed. It was not bruised or hurt, other than that I must have hit it just right and it started to bleed inside. With this, he felt justified in calling the law. He told them that I had punched him, which I had not, although I did try to push him out of the room and away from me to escape the yelling, cursing and screaming.

I decided this night that there was nothing more I could do, and I could not live my life this way anymore, the children were grown and I really do just want peace in my life.

I am not looking to remarry at this time and am not seeing anyone, although I did for a brief period of time. He, however, has been seeing the same woman since a month after we seperated. I did receive a civil divorce and we've been apart for 4 years.

Would this situation constitute an annullment? An annullment is really important to me, I have been trying to forgive myself for my part in the failure of the marriage, but in my heart, I know it was doomed before it began, and if not before it began, then definitely from the wedding night on. I felt betrayed, I did not feel cherished and loved, even though he always claimed to 'love' me, he hurt me so much, physically, yes, but the verbal and mental abuse was much worse and much more detrimental to my mental health. I stayed depressed for our entire marriage, and since the day he moved out, I have not had one day of depression. I have had regrets, however, because I don't feel like I'm accepted by my church, and that is very important to me. I took the children to church and raised them in church, he rarely came to mass with us, it was usually just me and the children. And now, I go alone, but I want to really Celebrate the Mass and belong, and I don't feel as though I do.

Is it possible to get a marriage like this annulled?

Lori:

Fr Harold answers:

Dear Lori,

I have let your letter be mulled over by my sub-conscious for a few days already. I shall try to give you some things to think about.

First of all, regarding a "Declaration of Nullity" [the technical term used by the Church, to not give the impression of the word "annulment" implying an action upon an existing marriage], this declaration is a statement that the marriage did not exist in the first place. You would have to present your situation to your Diocesan Tribunal. At first glance it seems to me you might have "grounds" [fundamental reasons], but that is the task of the Tribunal to evaluate. See your parish priest to begin this process. It is good to do this now before you enter a relationship with anyone so that you know for yourself that you are a "free" person.

Your last few sentences really distressed me. What a misunderstanding you are living under if you have the impression that the Church is not accepting you! There are certainly some things for which a formal excommunication or an automatic excommunication might happen. Getting divorced is NOT one of them. Getting re-married after a divorce makes the spouses outside the practice of the Sacraments, but they are in no way excommunicated. In fact the Church bends over backwards [so to say] to get them back into the Sacraments by getting things worked out, and even if that becomes not possible to have an open invitation to celebrate Sunday Eucharist with the parish community even if they should not go to Communion.

Being divorced and not re-married, is not a hindrance to the Sacraments nor to full participation at Mass and Communion. I am totally surprised and distressed that anyone might think this about the Church community. I have personal experience in this. My mother divorced my father when I was two years old with a younger brother. The parish priest paid her rent for a few months till she got on her feet [at age 22]. She always knew she was part of the community of practicing Catholics. We always went to Sunday Mass and parochial school. Confession and Communion were part of our lives. Conclusion: there is nothing at all preventing you from going to Confession [Sacrament of Reconciliation], then going to Mass and Communion every Sunday, or even more often. Join some parish group: altar society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Legion of Mary, or whatever is available.

If, perhaps, after all the technical investigation, the Tribunal sends you a "Declaration of Nullity", then you can even be open to the possibility of getting married - even in the Church. You are mid-40's which is still comparatively young, it is not uncommon that such a man may be there, open to the Lord's call, and you could answer that call together.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 5, we received this question:

Father Malloy,

On Jan 8th, you answered a question from Judy in Dallas regarding her son and his wife getting their kids baptized in the Catholic Church.

As part of the answer, you wrote if the wife was not Catholic, her previous marriage must be annuled. My question is, why?

If the initial marriage was not Catholic, and the second marriage that produced the child to be baptized was not Catholic, why must the first marriage be annuled?

My ex-husband married a Catholic woman in a non-Catholic service. They are expecting their first child, and they wish to have their child baptized in the Catholic Church. Why does his previous marriage to me, which was done through the UCC, have to be annuled for their child to be baptized in the Catholic Church? I've been asked to write a letter to assist in this process. Why do I need to write a letter, and what do you suggest that I share about our divorce?

Thank you,

Leslie

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Leslie,

Civil marriages (Catholic or non-Catholic) are held to be valid, unless there are grounds for annulment.

Two non-Catholics have their marriage validated by their civil union. The Church recognizes that marriage and it can annul the union if one of the parties is incompetent or decides to join the Church.

Your ex-husband married a Catholic woman in a non-Catholic service. Since the woman was Catholic, the marriage is invalid. (no annulment is needed)

If the wife's first marriage was between herself and a non-Catholic, and the marriage was recognized as valid by the Catholic Church, she needs the annulment of that first marriage for her to marry a Catholic.

If I understand your case: Your ex-husband had a valid first marriage (in which case an annulment is needed).Then he married a Catholic in an invalid ceremony. Since both parents are non-practicing Catholics, a baby would not be baptized in the Catholic Church unless there was some security that the child would be raised Catholic.

The letter I suggest is one assuring the priest that the child will be raised Catholic and: how that will take place. If the grandparents are Catholic and can take some responisibly, that would help...

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 17, 2009, we received this question:

Dear Sir,

I am a Catholic married civilly only to a Catholic woman for ten years. We have three children. About two years ago, I was away and she became pregnant but I was not the father of the baby she bore. She initially told me that it was mine because she could visit me once in a while. However, since I am a nurse, I noticed that the numbers don't add up when I compute for the expected date of delivery. Meaning, she lied to me about the specifics of the dates of conception. After a while, many gossips began to arrive and to make the story short, I found out through my relatives, as well as my wifes admission that I was not the father. So, we got separated. I have forgiven her already but I do not believe that we cannot live together anymore as a family because of the voluminous deceptions that she has done to me and my extended family. I have physical custody of the children because my wife has no means to provide for them.

Then, i fell in love with a single Baptist woman. I disclosed everything to her from day one. I intend to file for legal action to maintain custody of the children as well as to file for annulment for me to be free from committing any wrongdoing should I decide to ask for the Baptist woman to marry me. However, she disclosed to me crudely about a dilemma with regards to her beliefs about marrying an annulled man. What will I do since its not easy to find a single woman who can accept my marriage proposal in spite of my having extra baggage (having children). I do love her so much already and i will do anything and everything to convince her that there is a way for us to marry.

Please help me find a way to resolve this issue. I'm having a very hard time finding ways and means to resolve this issue. Also, I'm running out of time because, I'm in my late forties already.

I hope and pray for your sound advise that would help me solve the dilemma that I am into right now. I am very thankful that there exists a website that helps people like me who have concerns like these. It not easy to find people like you who have time and desire to help with utmost sincerity.

Thank You.

Sincerely,

Jon

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jon,

You need a legal divorce and an annulment . A Baptist has no religious prohibition from a second legal marriage but you have to respect her feelings, of course, and pray for a change of heart.

Your prime concern, however, should be your children. Would a second "mother" help or confuse them? You may have to wait until the children are old enough to care for themselves.

May God give you wisdom and peace of heart.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 12, 2009, we received these questions:

My husband and I are both catholics though we moved about 5 years ago and we have strayed a bit from the church our beliefs are still the same. We were married 18 years ago by a civil cerromony and we have always wanted to have our marriage blessed through the church though I have not recieved my confirmation I always thought that this sacrament was mandatory to recieve the the sacrament of marriage. Is this true?

Kathy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kathy,

To have your marriage blessed in the Church it is important that you be confirmed, but not essential.

You should enroll in an RCIA program in your local parish to prepare to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

By promising to return to the practice of your faith: going to Sunday mass and promising to go to confession, your local priest should have no problem in having your marriage blessed.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My son and his fiancee are getting married in an outdoor ceremony at the same place that the reception is being held. The venue gave them a list of officiants to contact, including Catholic priests.

Does the church recognize the marriage if it is held outdoors, or do they need to have a ceremony held in a church in order for it to be recognized. They aready went to the parish priest to setup for the Pre Cana and plan to have a small ceremony in the church the day before the outdoor ceremony, if need be.

Is this necessary? They would rather not do that if they could avoid it.

Thank you,

Nancy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nancy,

This is a matter for the local bishop's office to answer, since the permission requested would have to come from there.

See that the Catholic priest has faculties to bless a marriage in the outdoor ceremony you described.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My husband is a “cradle Catholic” and I am baptized as a Baptist but have faithfully attended church with my husband for the nearly 18 years we’ve been legally married by a Baptist pastor, as this was a promise I made prior to getting married. We were both previously divorced and brought two children each to the marriage. Together we have a 12 year old son. All five children have been raised as Catholics, either from birth or following attendance of RCIA classes. Recently, the time was right to have our previous marriages annulled and our annulments were recently granted. Thus, on Monday, January 26, our 18th anniversary, we will have our marriage blessed in the Church. Our four oldest children will serve as witnesses and our youngest will do a reading. We will dress in coordinating street attire and only a few friends and family will be in attendance. The service will be short and will not be a Mass (though I don’t understand why not). Members of the choir will perform a medley of our favorite “Catholic Top 40” songs J that have significance to us pertaining to the various life events we’ve experienced in 18 years, as well as a medley of traditional religious songs for our non-Catholic guests and the contemporary “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High, “ for our contemporary kids. What suggestions do you have for a reading or a ritual that is customary for a marriage blessing? Our priest has been very helpful but I would like some additional input. Thank you so much.

Sincerely,

Cindy

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Cindy,

Congratulations to you and your family!

The process for a “convalidation” or blessing in the Church in entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony can be as grand or as small as you want. Some of the expectations of the Church for engaged couples may be overlooked for a couple in your circumstances. The general ritual or ceremony is given in the liturgical books, again with a variety of selections, extended or shortened according to your wishes with the deacon or priest who is the official Church witness to the marriage. I think the medley of music you are preparing is very special. Also the participation of your children: they must be very excited.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 3, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am interested in your interpretation of the following translation:

"Marriage Francois Savard & Angelique Trembley. On August 1, 1803 after the publication of three bans of marriage done from the pulpit at our parish masses for three consecutive Sundays between Francois Savard, widower of Rosalie Bouchard, resident farmer of this parish of one part; and Angelique Tremblay, daughter of age of Joseph-Marie Trembley and Magdeleine Trudel also resident farmer of this parish of the other part.

The parties having obtain dispensation of fourth degree of consanguinity from Msgr [Monseigneur]. of Conathe Coadjuctor of Quebec ____________ between our hands, I, undersigned pastor of Eboulements, obtained their mutual consent to marry and performed the nuptial blessing as prescribed by the holy mother the church in the presence of Charles Savard, father; Louis Trembley, uncle; Jean Bouchard, friend of the groom; Joseph-Marie Trembley, father; Joseph and Laurent Trembley, brother; Joseph Bouchard, friend of the groom, all as well as the bride and groom declared they could not sign. Reading done.

Marcheteau, Priest"

This translation was received on 5 November 2008 via mail from Constance Bernier-Hebert, Research Coordinator, of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 6478, Manchester, N.H. 03108-6478. A photocopy of the original parish record in French is on file.

Specifically..."publication of three bans of marriage", and "The parties having obtain dispensation of fourth degree of consanguinity from Msgr [Monseigneur]. of Conathe Coadjuctor of Quebec..."

Francois Savard is one of my ancestors.

Thank you,

Robert

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Robert,

What a fine gift to you from the Research Coordinator of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society in New Hampshire! The translation from the French appears to be quite adequate.

The "banns of marriage" was a custom of pastoral practice [and in law too, I believe] for some centuries. It is not mentioned in the Code of Canon Law of 1983. Thus, it is not practiced any longer in many places. This means that in some places they still do publish the "banns" three Sundays in succession. The "banns" are simply a public announcement in the parish of the bride [and often, of the groom] of the upcoming marriage between the two. Before parish printed bulletins, there were parish bulletin boards or even the doors of the church where public notices were posted. The intent was that if anyone had knowledge which should be known of an impropriety or an impediment to the marriage, they should make it known to the pastor.

For example, in the time of great plagues where parents died of the disease leaving living children behind, relatives or friends took the children in, who then became part of different families. On occasion a boy and a girl from different villages were set to get married, when an old-timer might go to the parish priest and point out that they were really blood brother and sister. An extraordinary example, surely, however…

As in the case of your ancestor [I presume] the laws of the Church and cultural custom forbade the marriage of first cousins. This could be dispensed by the local Bishop for a variety of pastoral reasons. This is the "fourth [4th] degree of consanguinity." Degrees are counted by each person in line excluding the common ancestor. Example: a groom (1), his father (2), his grandfather [common], daughter of common grandfather [groom's aunt] (3), aunt's daughter [groom's cousin; wife to be] (4).

So your ancestor married his cousin. She became your ancestor too. They received the dispensation to get married. If one of the parishioners was on the ball, having seen the notice ["bann"] on the bulletin board, he might have asked the parish priest, "What gives? They are cousins." The priest could reply, "They have the dispensation [permission] from the Bishop."

What wonderful things we learn from researching our family trees!

Blessings and peace in the Christmas season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. Today the testimony of personal witnesses for bride and groom generally takes the place of publishing the "banns."


On December 12, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I recently got engaged and plan to get married on March 14, 2009. My fiance and I are both Catholic. He is from Italy and is here on a visa, so he travels back and forth regularly. The lawyer said to speed up the green card paperwork he suggested to get married at city hall first if possible then get married as planned in a church. will this be an issue for the church? So if I do that in February (one month prior) is it still ok to get married by the priest in the church with the ceremony like I had planned? Will it be considered a second marriage because I'm technically married a month prior already? Does my witness at city hall have to be the same as my maid of honor and best man for church or visa versa I have a best man and maid of honor picked do I have to ask one of them to sign for me at city hall? Of course the Catholic marraige is the date I will go by, but in essence will I have 2 marriage dates? I will use the Catholic one since noone will know about the city hall one. Will the priest marry me knowing that city hall just married me one month prior? My fiance and I have never been married this will be our 1st and only marriage. Are there any rules by the catholic church that say you have to get married at church not city hall legally first then the church? Also is their a number of days that if you get married at city hall you have to get married within a certain amount of time at a church? City hall issues a license and says it's valid 24 hours to 60 days. so we will get married within 60 days at city hall, but then have to wait 5 weeks to get married in church. Is that too far apart?

Thanks

Patty

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Patty,

Quite a list of questions you have presented!

Most of these are to be answered by your own parish priest. Actually you should have been in contact with him already three months ago if you plan to have a Church wedding in March. Parish bulletins throughout our country publish diocesan regulations that couples should initiate contact with their parish priest at a minimum of six months before the wedding. Anybody coming to our parish of Sts. Peter & Paul must be much, much further ahead than that in order to get a wedding time. Most parishes do not have as many marriages as we do, so it is easier and six months may be just fine.

Some countries, France and Mexico for instance, simply require everyone to get married in city hall before any religious ceremony. In the U.S.A. a religious ceremony is in itself also the civil ceremony. The license is obtained; then the officiant at the wedding signs it; finally it is returned to the county clerk where it is recorded. A church would also record it in its records. Sometimes people even here get married civilly ahead of a church wedding at which time it is "blessed" or convalidated. If a couple wants to fully live out the Christian ideal, they would refrain from consummating their union till after the Sacrament has been celebrated.

The witnesses to the civil marriage would not have to be those at the church. I think probably for immigration purposes one would have to use the date of the civil ceremony. In California a couple must get married within 90 days of obtaining the marriage license, whether at city hall, a chapel, before a marriage commissioner or justice of the peace, anywhere, or in a church. If it is a two step process, as described above, there is no time frame for step two.

Blessings and peace at Advent and Christmas,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 10, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My Fiance and I have both been baptized as Roman Catholics, but we are planning our wedding in an Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church because of the hall we chose happens to be owned by the church and is very convenient. The father at the Assyrian Church has asked us for our baptismal papers and a free of marriage certificate. 2 questions....1. Is our marriage in this particular Catholic Church still recognized in a Roman Catholic Church?? and 2. What exactly is this "free of marriage" certificate??

Thank you,

Shamie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Shamie,

The Chaldean Catholic Church is Eastern Rite, and in union with the Church of Rome. Marriages would be recognized by both churches.

Freedom of marriage is a statement to the effect that both are free of other unions.

Our parish forms request statements from persons, who have known you for many years, to attest to your freedom to marry.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 8, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

Thank you for this service! My question is, can my fiance's brother serve as our witness if he is excommunicated (for helping a minor procure an abortion)? Do I need to tell our priest of his situation?

Thank you and God bless,

CD

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear CD,

The short answer to your question is: Church law only says the witnesses at a marriage need to be older than the "age of reason." There is no other requirement. Thus persons of some other faith or religion or no faith or unbaptized are eligible since they only must witness a fact.

However, in virtue of the Baptism of you and your fiancé where you are to be light in the world, an example for all to see, through which you are called to share your faith in the world, it would be truly fulfilling your Baptismal call to invite your future brother-in-law to get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation [Confession] before your wedding. What an opportunity that would be! Your wedding the occasion of someone returning to the community of Church! Bishops usually give the "faculty" of lifting excommunication to parish priests. The incident is now over and done with. Perhaps there are internal spiritual repercussions in one or both persons involved. Now is the time to start again in the community of disciples of Jesus [Church].

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 13, we received this question:

Hello Fathers,

I am a US Citizen and my husband is also a US Citizen. He was civilly married in the Philippines and got a divorce here in 2002. The marriage did not last very long. Now we are planning to get married here in the USA and the priest said we need to have the marriage from the Philippines annulled or get a lack of form certificate from the Tribunal for the previous marriage. The problem is we could not obtain a copy of his previous marriage certificate. We could not get a hold of the family to give us the marriage certificate. We live here in the US and his previous marriage took place in the Philippines, so it is physically hard for us to do the legwork. What should we do? Do we really need to file the lack of form certificate?They were not married in Church but only through a judge in the Philippines. Please help.

We have done all the catholic preparations and have already scheduled everything for the wedding like the church, reception place, flowers etc....

Sincerely,

Len

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Len,

He should have a copy of his first marriage.

"He was civilly married and got a divorce here." If he got a divorce here the papers could be obtained through the court here.

If here means in the Philippines, you should be able to contact the marriage tribunal there to get a copy of the civil marriage.

If the above is not feasible, contact the diocesan marriage tribunal and ask to speak to an official of the tribunal and explain the situation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am 28 years old. I was married by the court a few years back but separated very soon after. Just recently my divorce went through. I was raised Catholic, but have not been practicing my religion faithfully until recently. I am now engaged to a man who is a baptized Christian. He too was married through civil law and was divorced very shortly after. We are planning on getting married through the catholic church as long as his annullment gets approved. He has allready started the annullment process and has been told that it could take 12 months to 18 months to get approved. The Deacon whom he spoke with says that because of the circumstances of his first marriage, it is very likely that his annullment will be approved. So basically, we are praying that this will happen and are waiting to get married through the church. The challenge we are currently left facing is the distance between us. We met when we were in the military and stationed together in Greece for several months. Since the day we began a relationship we had not been apart a day from each other. Through a miracle of God we were both flown back from overseas to Virginia on the exact same day to begin separation from the Navy. This took a couple of weeks, but we still got to spend a lot of time together everyday. Once we were done, we both drove together to Texas to visit with his family and then went to California to visit with my family. He then returned to Texas and I remained in California so that I could spend extra time with my family through Thanksgiving. We have been apart for almost two months now and I miss him very much.

I can't imagine having to be apart from him for up to 18 months until the annullment goes through. I am planning on relocating to Texas in December so that I can be near him until the process is completed. We have allready vowed not to be sexually intimate with each other until we are married through the catholic church. My question however is, would it be a sin to live together even though we wouldnt have sex? Would I still be able to receive holy communion? His parents have advised us that we might want to consider marrying through the court for now and live together now and then get married through the church once the anullment goes through. Even if we did this I still would want to wait to have sex. Also, Im hesitant to marry through the court in case the annullment does not go through for some reason and we are unable to really get married.Even though i love him dearly, Its because of this love because of my new found devotion to the Lord, that I don't think I would feel right in my heart being married to him any other way than through the catholic church. Im thinking that the best thing to do would be to relocate to Texas, but to live in an apartment by myself until we can get married through the church. I would very much appreciate any advice you may have for me and thank you also for such a great website.

Sincerely, Yasmin

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Yasmin,

What a beautiful letter! In today's Mass reading from St. Paul's letter to Titus, St. Paul reminds Titus and the community that we have all been sinners in a variety of ways, but God's mercy has sent the Holy Spirit through Jesus upon us for the forgiveness of our sins so that we may lead virtuous lives as we journey together to meet Jesus in heaven. Of course, I have summarized the thought, but that is where we all are. Sometimes we have been away. But now by God's gift we keep turning back to do the best we can.

Thank you and your fiancé for your Navy service. My brother was in the Navy and the Reserves for many years and continues involvement in an association of former officers.

Always when something is presented to a Church Tribunal, one is reminded that nothing can be officially done until a judgment has been passed. In practice, one may do the formal marriage preparation [classes or seminars, documents, forms, etc] without a wedding date.

Actually living in the same house, by itself, is not against Jesus and His Church, as long as people are living "as brother and sister"[as the expression goes]. However, when people are in love and really want to be together, the instinct is to express it more and more, also in a physical way. This is what leads to sin to the extent that at the end "we can't help it!" This is falling into the societal mentality that we human beings [all over the world], though we can exercise tremendous discipline in many ways [witness the training regimens of Olympic athletes!], when it comes to sexual expression we have absolutely no control and thus the need for all kinds of contraceptives to avoid consequential pregnancy! And then follow the commercials and films encouraging all kinds of consensual sex with no regard to self-discipline! Ah, our wonderful paradoxical and contradictory American society!

Living and working from you own apartment will certainly be more expensive to you. However, in the long run, as preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony, that will be a more life-fulfilling decision.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 10, we received this question:

I was born, raised and practice as a Roman Catholic. When I first married in 1973, I was married to a divorced Greek Orhtodox Catholic. We were married 25 years and then Divorce.

I have been remairred by a Minister in Las Vegas. I wanted my current mariage to be blessed in the Caholic Church and I want to be in communion with my church.

I initiated a Petition for Annulment with the Catholic church but the case was returned 'abated' on the grounds that we were not free to marry in the first place, because my ex husband never got permission from his Greek Orthodox Bishop to marry me.

The man practices Roman Caholic and has even become a Knights of Columbus member.

How does this affect his association with the Roman Caholic Church, or doesn't it? Can people who are baptized Greek Orthodox, and raised in that faith, just practice under Roman Caholic traditions, etc, when of if they choose?

I am curious, as it goes along with the mans integrity. Our marriage of 25 years was based on lies and he continues to lie to save face.

Can you advise?

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Ann,

You approached a couple of different things in your letter. I shall try to reply to them in order.

You wish that your current situation be "blessed" or convalidated in the Catholic Church, that is to celebrate your Sacrament of Matrimony. As your petition to the Tribunal was that your first marriage was itself invalid, you yourself would be free to marry in the Church. Of course, that implies that your current husband also is free to marry in the Church. That means that either he was never married before, or that his first marriage would be declared invalid, as yours has.

All of the above has nothing to do with your former spouse. As far as his [your former husband's] actions now, he himself is the one to reflect upon and then act appropriately on his situation. Usually Knights of Columbus members are Catholic to begin with. From your letter I am somewhat doubtful that he may be an Eastern Rite Catholic united to the Pope. If he is actually Orthodox, then I do not know what procedures beyond a new Profession of Faith to change from Orthodox to Catholic. An Eastern Rite Catholic is certainly welcome to the Knights of Columbus.

An Eastern Rite Catholic who does not have a parish of his own rite, may attend a different Catholic Rite, Latin or Eastern, for Divine Liturgy and ordinary Catholic prayers and organizations.

I do not know about anyone living "lies." Jesus proclaimed, "Do not judge, lest you yourselves be judged." Each person is responsible for self before God. That is quite sufficient for integrity and truth!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 27, we received this questions:

Dear Fathers,

I got married about six months ago in a Catholic Church in San Francisco. It was a beautiful wedding, but I can't stop thinking about all the stress my sister-in-law caused me in the days, weeks, and months leading up to our wedding. It was so stressful to me that I don't even think I enjoyed my own wedding day and that fact is so distressing to me. How can I obtain peace and understanding and put all this stress and all these difficult emotions and feelings behind me?

I have not seen or heard from my sister-in-law and her husband since my wedding, and we live in the same city. They treat me like I don't exist. However, in the months leading up to our wedding, my sister-in-law was making all kinds of demands on us in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding. Some of it was justified and had to do with dealing with the mother of my sister-in-law and fiancé who is ill. However, there was a lot that I thought was rude and inappropriate and I don't know how to deal with the anger and hurt I feel.

About a month before the wedding, both she and her husband contacted me and proceeded to tell me about why they had difficulty in dealing with my fiancé and all of his downfalls. Additionally, my sister-in-law and her husband were both supposed to be in the wedding, but decided to pull out at the last minute. She even said at one point that she didn't even want to come to the wedding. We had to drop all of the many things we were doing in planning for the wedding to convince her to attend. She caused a lot of undue stress leading up to our wedding. It was already an extremely hectic time and she just added to the stress. She has a quick temper and seems to always want to be in the limelight and I wonder if this was just her way of getting attention.

Leading up to the wedding, she called and emailed constantly with rude demands and offensive, critical remarks. Now, after the wedding, we don't hear from them at all.

Do you have any advice for me? This is so distressing to me. She just about ruined my one day and is now ruining my life because I can't stop obsessing about it. Thank you in advance.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Sally,

It is a Christian paradox that in times of the most distress that we human beings endure, precisely there is when the Lord is by the disciple, [and now using human words] desiring to be recognized. The Gospels add "with longing" to the wish of Jesus to walk with the disciple. The Saints in conversation with Jesus use some irony telling Him the reason He has few friends [St. Teresa of Avila] is because they must suffer so much.

The way of the disciple is to "love your enemy; do good to those who persecute you." [Gospels] Is this difficult? Of course, and it will probably hurt even deeper at first, because you will be with Jesus. The result will be deeper harmony and peace within you, irrespective of what anyone does.

Because Jesus is with a disciple especially in the most difficult situations, you must take some contemplation time to bring up in your memory each thing that was rude or hurtful and remember Jesus was there. Allow this to grow in your memory. Imagine Jesus with you in those awful moments. Let Him be your strength and comfort. Do this for each thing embedded in your memory. Old Satan hopes that these things will cause continued distress in your life. That is why they come back to you so often. When they do, simply open the door to Jesus who says in the book of Revelation that He is knocking at the door. When one opens the door, He comes in to sit down and have supper with that person, and that person with Him. What a way to foil Old Satan's handiwork!

So that is two exercises for you to do. First, do purposefully take time to bring up as many things as you can. While doing so, acknowledge the active presence of Jesus with you; thank Him; praise Him. Receive His gift of peace. Secondly, whenever one of these things comes into your mind, do the same thing: acknowledge the presence of Jesus, thank Him, praise Him. Receive His peace.

Now this is regarding past things. In the present, be aware of the same things. Know also that you have the special gift of God in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Let the grace and peace of the Sacrament flow through you. When something distressful comes up, do the same actions of praise, glory, thanks to God. Who knows what gifts of the Spirit will be poured upon you, your husband and all your relatives alike.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 20, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I know a guy recently. He is very spiritual and he believe strongly the existence of God as he had encountered God before. I am a Cathollic and I too had encountered God. He believes that our God are the same one. Cos everynight, he prays the Lord's Prayer. But he did not define that his God is Christ. Is it alright for us to date? I do not know if eventually we will end our dating stage with a marriage, but I want to be married in Catholic church. He attends church but he does not beleive in catholic doctrine. Will it be a problem for us?

I understand that as a Catholic, we are not suppose to read and believe in horoscope. But the fact is, we have a great horoscope differences and we are not an ideal couple based on our horoscope profiles and is a total conflict. But due to his strong believe in God, I feel that we have the same spiritual connection. I really do not know if i should invest my time in this relationship. Some of my friends told me to enjoy the dating experiences and do not look too far into marriage. But in Christian dating, the ultimate goal is to reunion right? Can you please advise?

Thank you.

Ct

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Ct,

"He does not believe in Catholic doctrine. Will it be a problem for us?"

From my experience of such unions, "Yes, it will be a problem." Husband and wife for the most part must be on the same wave length to insure a happy marriage.

One important plus for a happy marriage is for the two to share the same faith.

I have seen many mixed marriages. Even when husband and wife seemed a loving couple, in most cases that I know, the children went various ways and into various faith structures and caused much stress in the marriage.

As for the horoscope: it's superstitious to rely on that! Often the reading may prove true. Because of the generalities in most statements, they can affirm or deny in the same instance.

Choose your dates wisely and avoid involvement with anyone more interested in a physical (important as it may be) rather than a spiritual union.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 12, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My son got married at the age of 18 years old and the girl was of the same age (she got pregnant). both are catholics and married in church. after 3 years, got a baby girl (the 1st pregnancy was a miscarriage) and the wife found my son unfaithful last week. my son refused to work on it and now decided and agreed to have a separation. i felt, as a mother, my son was totally immature during the time of their marriage and even to this date, i still think that he is not mature enough. he might felt compelled to marry the girl when she got pregnant not knowing this could lead to another mistake in the future. my husband and i were not in favour of getting them married during that time, but the parents of the girl wanted to have a full wedding ceremony instead. Father, there wasn't any joy at all for me at the wedding, i was feeling so sad and humiliated at the same time. and now, this thing happened, my son not willing to work on it, it was totally devastating for both my husband and me. i feel so sorry for the baby, she will be definitely affected anyhow. i don't know what to do now, please help! Could something good come out from this pain and trial?

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

You certainly have my sympathy and prayers. Unfortunately your story is too often repeated because of the immaturity of young people with their lack of support in our world of freedom from sexual restraints.

It appears your son's marriage could be annulled for obvious reasons. However if and when they are ready for a second marriage and God willing, maintain their Catholic allegiance, they would have to cooperate with the process of annulment.

Meanwhile, being good grandparents will support the baby's growth and give some help in her family formation. In dealing with disagreements remember that a drop of honey is worth more than a barrel of vinegar.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 6, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

Me and my husband were married by civil. And now we wish to get married by church the question is can we get married by church with him being a mormon and me being catholic? What would we need to do. Thanks for your time.And i appreciate any help you can give us.

Wendy

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Wendy,

In our country it happens quite frequently that a Catholic person falls in love and wishes to marry a non-Catholic person. My grandmother did this, and my mother too! You begin by simply going to the parish priest to start marriage preparation. He will guide you from there on.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September19, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I'm involved in a situation that I don't fully understand and hoped you could give some guidance. I was married at a young age to a woman who never loved me, but agreed to marry me (in her Pentacostal Church) because she was pregnant with our child. As you can imagine, the marriage ended terribly and we divorced a short time later. As a Catholic, I knew I needed to get the marriage annulled if I ever wanted to marry again in the Church and so I did that about a year after we were divorced.

Soon I met another woman and we were married in the Catholic Church. We had two children and were in love for some time. However, she decided she wanted to go a different direction with her life and left me after 10 years of marriage. We soon divorced and now have joint custody of our two sons.

About a year ago I met a wonderful woman (not a Catholic) who could not have children and had actually adopted a child with her ex husband (not married in a church). Much to our surprise she became pregnant and now we have a beautiful baby boy who we consider a true miracle from God - especially since two different doctors told us they have no explanation but a miracle for her pregnancy.

We are planning to get married soon in a civil ceremony, as she is not Catholic (but does go to Church with me) and I haven't gotten an annullement from the first marriage because my exwife will not entertain the idea of helping me get one (by answering questions of any sort). Also, I'm not sure I want to go through the process if it has negative effects on my two other son's with my last wife. My questions are:

If I want to baptize our son, is it possible as of right now and will the Church recognize it?

Will I ever be considered a Catholic in good standing if I do not get an annullment (even if I make a sincere act of contrition)?

If I get an annullment what is the penalty on my two boys I have with my ex-wife? Will they be bastards in the eyes of the Church?

Your guidance is much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Chad

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Chad,

I'll begin with the easiest answer to your last question:

(3) If I get an annulment what is the penalty on my two boys I have with my ex-wife? Will they be bastards in the eyes of the Church? No penalty on the boys; they will not be considered bastards.

(1)Will I ever be considered a Catholic in good standing if I do not get an annulment (even if I make a sincere act of contrition)? A sincere act of contrition will not change your marital status. To be in good standing you would need to seek an annulment. It is possible to get an annulment even if one of the parties refuses to cooperate.

Meanwhile you can still go to Mass, but must not receive the Eucharist until your status is straightened out.

(2) If I want to baptize our son, is it possible as of right now and will the Church recognize it? It's possible, but will depend on the priest that you choose to speak to regarding the situation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 15, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers:

I became fully converted to Christ and the Church in 2004 after a pretty disastrous life - mostly of my own making. I had my former marriages (2) which were peformed outside the Church adjudicated by the local Tribunal and declared null due to deficiency of form. I had a female fried who is a Protestant and committed Christian (also a "convert" from the world). We knew each other about a year and a half. Her marriage recently ended due to some really pathological things which I won't go into. For months, without knowledge of certain things, I encouraged her to stay in the marriage based upon scripture and what the Church teaches. She tried and tried but finally dissolved the marriage despite her prayerful reservations. My own opinion, for whatever it is worth, is that no one would encourage someone to stay is what this was (I later learned some of the details).

After the dissolution, our friendship became more than that and we would like to get married. I am free to marry in the Catholic Church; HOWEVER, it is my understanding that her marriage will have to undergo a tribunal adjudication that may take a year or more. My question is this: If I was to marry this wonderful woman outside the Church and then wait for the tribunal decision, what is my standing with the Church as far as the sacraments? She is willing to go through the process and has attended Mass with me.

We have both been in the world and know it disasters prior to our coming to the Lord. I have gone from being a lonely parishioner feeling like he was on the planet Mongo, to a former parish administrator, a Eucharistic Minister and a Lector. Now this lady has come into my life. I have been alone - and I mean alone - for four and a half years because following Christ means not doing certain things. I pray for the Lord's will but I also wanted to get advice from His priests. We both really want to do things right.

I thank you for your time and attention. May God Bless you for what you do.

Stanley

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Stanley,

If you were to marry before your fiancée's first marriage is settled by the church tribunal, you would not be free to receive the Eucharist, which doesn't mean you have to stay away from Mass.

The situation of the marriage being what it was, the annulment process should not be too complicated, but it does take time.

Personal intervention on the part of a local member of the Tribunal may hasten the case.

However, time does move quickly and the blessings of waiting will be more than compensated for in happiness thereafter.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


hi fathers,

thank you for answering questions! god bless you!!

i'm wondering what someone's options and obligations are if they can't convalidate a marriage. would they be obligated to divorce civilly and live apart?

can anyone explain what it means to have be sanctioned by a bishop to live as brother and sister(maintaining a civil bond but not having a sacramental bond)? is there such a thing allowed? if so, does it require some sort of vows to live in complete sexual continence? if one were permanently impotent, would they be unable to take such vows?

thanks for any help on this.

peace and blessings to you,

howie.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Howie,

Quite a list of questions in your letter! Before a specific response to your questions, I should like to give a greater context within which physical expressions of love must be placed.

The Constitution on the Church in the modern world [Gaudium et Spes] of the Second Vatican Council [1962-65] states that marriage is a communion of life and love established by God to uphold and help spouses in their journey of life toward the ultimate goal: eternal life with God. This is my one sentence summary of what the Church understands and tells about regarding life in the Sacrament of Marriage. A wonderful source is the Chapter on the Dignity of Marriage in Gaudium et Spes. You can find it on several websites, for example at the Vatican, or on EWTN. It is paragraph 47 and following. There are also certain paragraphs in other documents of Vatican II and from the Church in general. Then,. of course, there are other articles and books by Catholic Authors and a variety of websites. Be sure of the sources in searching the web. Just now when I searched for The Sacrament of Marriage," the first site up was a Catholic Update from the Franciscans, a wonderful resource.

So marriage is much, much more than the sexual expression of love and union - not to say that this is not important. Thus to see your special questions:

I am wondering, from the context of the second paragraph, if you meant "consummate" rather than convalidate in the beginning statement. The technical meaning of convalidate is for a couple in a civil marriage to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage in the Church [informally stated: getting the marriage "blessed"]. Instead "consummate" means completing the marriage vows by male-female sexual intercourse.

If a couple were physically unable to complete the act, it could mean that one spouse might wish to get the marriage formally declared null in order to enter into a new, true marriage for the sake of possible children. I know a woman who had to have body surgery to make it possible for a prospective husband to have intercourse. She did not bear children, but the couple later adopted two.

Couples who may find themselves in such a situation, could still remain married and truly become saints through their lifetimes. To live without intercourse is a personal choice for the couple. No permission is necessary. Begging the Father for grace to live chastely does not need to be confirmed with vows, unless the Holy Spirit is leading that way. In Church history there are Saints who have done this. Husband and wife enjoying each other's bodies is one of the joys of marriage, even if the attempt to complete intercourse fails.

But remember, the possibilities of growth in love, honor, devotion, relationship, knowledge, virtue, mutual help, and so on, though limited here on earth, will be limitless in union with God in paradise.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 3, we received these questions:

DEAR FATHERS: A MAN & A WOMAN MARRY IN THE METHODIST CHURCH. THE MAN IS BAPTISED METHODIST. THE WOMAN HAS NEVER BEEN BAPTISED, IS THIS A SACREMENTAL MARRIAGE?

Victoria

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Victoria,

Before giving a technical answer to your query, here is a little background context.

The Church [People of God, called together community of disciples of Jesus] holds in great honor and respect marriages which are done according to law and custom wherever they happen except that the Catholic Church does make some simple rules for its own members [not for other people, baptized or not]. For a baptized Catholic, the minimum requirement is the presence of the couple, two witnesses and the priest or deacon who is the official Church witness.

So a baptized non-Catholic of whatever community who follows the law of the land and local custom may validly marry a non-baptized person. The Catholic Church views such a marriage authentic and true, unless it is proven otherwise.

The Sacrament of Matrimony arises when both persons are baptized. I suppose most people don't even know this magnificent gift that God pours into their lives, even without connection to the community of disciples.

And now to conclude the technical answer to your specific query: since one spouse is not baptized, the marriage is true, valid and authentic, but the Sacrament is not yet there because one is not baptized.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father.

I was baptized, had first communion, and confirmed in the Lutheran church. My first marriage was done in the court house and I later divorced. I am now engaged to a man who is catholic and we want to marry in the catholic church. He has never been married. We inquired about the marriage counseling prior to marriage and now need to know what we have to do, if anything, to be able to marry in the church. We live in Florida and marrying in the church is very important to us. I appreciate any help you can give us with this matter.

Amy

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Amy,

I can give you some context and background, but the local parish priest will be the one who can really guide you to the possible marriage in the Catholic Church.

First off, the Catholic Church loves, honors, holds dear and sacred, true, valid and authentic marriages which are done according to law and custom wherever they occur. The Church makes rules for its own members. Anyone marrying a Catholic then actually acts according to the rules of the Catholic Church.

The first statement above has an attached clause to it: unless it is proven otherwise. One of the Catholic conditions for entering into marriage is that both persons are "free to marry." A previous marriage at the first instance, is an obstacle for marriage in the Catholic Church. So such a marriage must be presented to a Church Tribunal in order to discover if all the elements were present at the beginning of that marriage which would make it a [words above] true, valid and authentic. The Church believes that true marriage is a lifelong journey, ending only in death of one spouse. Thus the need to discover if a previous marriage had been indeed "true, valid, authentic."

When having presented everything to the Tribunal, and it is decided that some essential thing had been missing, then a decree of "Freedom to Marry" would be issued and then a wedding could be celebrated in the Catholic Church.

All of this seems quite cold in writing; however, your parish priest will guide you along the way. Most people who have finished this process discover that it has truly been a healing experience also.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 25, we received this question:

Hi,

I would like to ask the step by step procedure on hwo to go about having a catholic church wedding. We were married civilly last year 2007 in las vegas. I am roman catholic and a Filipino while my husband is a protestant, american citizen but attends sunday churches in a catholic church.

Would liek to know the following:

1. requirements needed to be able to be eligible to have a catholic chruch bless our marriage. No fancy big weddings, what is important to us that it is blessed by God our union. Given one is Catholic and the other is protestant. My husband is not willing to convert to being a catholic. we had already our civil mariage last year.

Please advise. thnaks

Best Regards,

Beth

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Beth,

The Church always welcomes couples seeking the Sacramental blessing upon their union. The requirements and procedures are the same as if you had originally went to your parish priest. There are documents to obtain, forms to fill out, inventories to complete, Liturgy to prepare, all of these at the direction and coordination of your parish priest.

The celebration only needs two witnesses, the couple, and the deacon or priest to fulfill the requirements of church law. Everything else is extra. So the Sacramental celebration can be as small or as big as you wish - even full bridal dress, many bridesmaids and sponsors, cultural symbols, etc.

The first step is getting in contact with the parish priest to start. There is no requirement that a non-Catholic spouse enter the Church. If that comes later [even much later - or never], thanks be to God, but it is not a condition for getting married.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 22, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My name is amber and I am 21 years old.. I was brought up as a Catholic but unfortunitely I was never baptized. I have a 2 month old son and would love to have him Baptized in a Catholic Church. Gabriel(my 2 month old), his father is Catholic but we are un-wed parents. Is it going to be possible for me to baptize him in the church with me not being Catholic and also un-wed? Is there a way I can be baptized as well? Please help me? Thank you so much.

Amber

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amber,

Since you were brought up Catholic it should be easy for you and the baby to be baptized, but the condition would be to regularize your marital situation.

You and your husband would also have to promise to raise the child as a Catholic

A question to clear up would be: Have either of you been previously married?

If the answer is "no," then why don't you approach the local Catholic Church and start the process?

If the answer is "yes" then ask the local priest how you might go about clearing the way for marriage in the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

Are there any specific Catholic Church guidelines which govern what prayers or blessing a Lutheran minister make say at a Catholic wedding in which the Eucharist will not be celebrated because it is a mixed marriage?

May he read the gospel or give the homily or offer a blessing at the end of the wedding ceremony?

Thank you

RRF

Fr. Malloy Answers:

RRF,

I suggest you contact the local tribunal.

However, the Lutheran Minister may not read the gospel or give the homily at a Catholic mass.

He may offer a blessing and take part in the questions addressed to bride and groom.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

My question has several parts. First, my fiancee and I are planning our wedding. He is Catholic (baptised and confirmed) though not currently a member of a parish. I have not been baptised in any religion. We have agreed that we would like to raise our children in the Catholic Faith, and in keeping congruent, I would like our marriage to be recognised by the Catholic Church and celebrate the Sacrament of our marriage with God. Do you hold marriage ceremonies in your parish for non-parishioners? Can we be married in a Catholic Church and go through preparations with the Catholic Church if I am not baptised? What are the proper steps to take if my fiancee is not a member of a local parish? Your guidance is very much appreciated.

Sarah

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Sarah,

What wonderful intentions you have! Let me reply to some of your questions and give a context,

First off: Yes, a marriage between a baptized Catholic and a non-baptized person can be celebrated in the Catholic Church. A petition form to the Local Bishop would have to be signed and sent in. The response would be a "Dispensation" for this. Part of the form is that the Catholic person affirm the Catholic Faith and promise to rear any children in the practice of the Faith. And the priest would have to sign that the non-Catholic person understands the promise made.

This brings up an important thing. The promise only makes sense if the person is actually practicing the Faith himself. If he isn't, then the prior question would be: why do you want to get married in the Church? The very presence of a couple in a church for a wedding is a direct proclamation, "God and Church are important to me!" The whole preparation process before a marriage is done to try to make sure that this is a true statement. And people only really find out by what happens afterward. If afterward there is no sign of authentic practice of Faith, then the unavoidable question is why would that couple make the priest and the parish community participate in such a sham! At that point the Church community must just commend them into the loving care of God our Father and continue doing the best they can.

One of the things required of persons who do not belong to the parish where the wedding takes place is a letter of "authorization" from the parish of the bride or the groom in order to transfer "jurisdiction" to celebrate this public Sacrament. Thus if your fiancé wants to be a practicing Catholic, he should begin by registering in a parish of his choosing [usually the closest one. However, given the mobility of persons in our society {getting into a car to go anywhere}, pick a parish he will actually go to].

After that, call the parish where the wedding is to be celebrated and ask for an appointment. From there the parish ministry of preparing for the Sacrament will begin under the direction of a parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 15, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I have a situation and I need some advice. My husband and I were married in a Catholic church. I was Catholic at the time and he was not. A few years ago I changed my faith to Baptist. I was baptized in the Baptist church. We are going through a divorce right now and need to know if I need to get an annullment before I can marry someone else in a different religion, other than Catholic. I am not planning on getting married anytime soon, but was just curious.

Thanks.

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karen,

Even though you are considered a member of the Baptist Church, your baptism in the Baptist Church was invalid, since you can be baptized only once.

Since you renounced your Catholic Faith, the laws of the Catholic Church have also been renounced.

Legally you may marry again after a divorce.

However, an annulment would be required if you wanted to marry a Catholic since the Catholic Church still recognizes the validity of your first marriage.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 12, we received these questions:

Dear Father Harold:

I have 2 questions concerning an impending second marriage -

1) Both my girlfriend and I who are catholic and were baptized and confirmed are divorced from our previous marraiges. Each of our respective marriage was to a non-catholic before a justice of the peace. Do we have to seek an annulment to now be married in the catholic church?

2) Even though we do not reside in California, we would like to be married at your church as it is one of the most beautiful churches we have seen. Would this be permissible?

Thank you.

Anthony

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Anthony,

Let me reply to your letter in reverse. First your section 2: yes, it is possible to arrange for a wedding at Sts. Peter & Paul from out of state. You would have to do all the preparation with gathering of documents, completion of necessary forms and have authorization from your current parish [because you are from a different diocese] - all done in your local parish. Then all this would have to be forwarded to the Bishop's office of where you live. That office would authenticate the documents and the preparation and send everything to us. Of course, when you start the preparation with your own parish priest, at that time we can look at our calendar for a date which would be confirmed with the $500.00 deposit.

Back to part 1: part of the marriage prep at your parish would be presenting the original marriage certificate, final divorce decree, and Baptism certificate to the parish priest who would send it all to the Diocesan Tribunal which would issue a "Freedom to Marry" decree - the reason being that the marriage had not been celebrated in a Catholic church before a deacon or priest. With these in hand the preparation would be on-going and everything could be forwarded to us in good time before the scheduled wedding.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

I was married in the church to a man who was homosexual. I found this out after our marriage. When he came out of the closet 17 years later I was granted an annulment as the marriage was deemed fraudulent. About 5 years later I was considering entering a contemplative religious order and ask a friend and coworker who is a sister how she knew the call was real. She was more interested in my previous marriage and asked if she could share my story and my name with another woman she knew who'd had the same experience. I agreed and met the woman and we started attending a straight spouse support group together.

I met Greg at the group and was very impressed with his very big heart and his commitment to his spouse who wanted to engage in sexual relationships with women. He did everything imaginable to keep his marriage and family together but drew the line at infidelity so the marriage ended. We started spending time together and although he is an unbaptized agnostic, he always attended mass with me. If we were taking a day trip on the weekend, he'd always find a church along the route so that I didn't miss mass. Before long and much to my surprise, I found myself in a sexual relationship with Greg - heterosexual men are MUCH different than homosexual men and what would have stopped before consummation in my previous experience did not with Greg. No excuses here - I was playing with fire. Well we were at mass on Easter Sunday and I was on my way to communion - no, I had not confessed my adulterous relationship but felt that Jesus had died for sinners and that sinners are in the greatest need of the healing power of the eucharist- and I was asking God to give me a sign. I was not comfortable with my role as an adulteress and planned to end my relationship with Greg later that day unless God showed me that Greg was his choice of spouse for me.

This is the honest truth: After mass, Greg, the agnostic, led me to the front of the tabernacle and recited wedding vows! My initial reaction was "NO God! You don't mean it! He's too different than me, it won't work." But the next thought was "Ok, I asked for a sign and said I do Your will if You made it known. I did it my way last time and that didn't work. This time, I'll do it your way." I said "yes" to God and stood in front of that tabernacle promising to love, honor, and cherish until death the man that God had chosen for me.

For years I have moved confidently through life knowing that I was doing God's will by marrying Greg. Early in our marriage, I shared the whole story with my confessor who gave me absolution and sent me on my way. My relationship with God has grown stronger over the years and He has given me so many huge gifts and loving consolations. Marriage to Greg has not been easy, but I didn't expect it to be because we are so very different. He remains the most loving and supportive of husbands. However, during the past few years I have periodically (usually during my annual Holy Week retreats) been engaged in a powerful interior wrestling match over the source of the inspiration Greg and I received on that Easter Sunday morning nine years ago. These wrestling matches usually end in a draw and I ask God to show me clearly the error of my was, if indeed I am out of right relationship with Him. I ask Him to keep me safe from all harm until this is settled since I'd really hate to die and find myself in hell for trying to do what I thought He was asking of me. Lately, I've been wondering how if I was not in a state of grace on that Easter Sunday, the inspiration could have come from God. Does He give such gifts to those who are in a state mortal sin?

I truly love God and have tried to devote my life to Him. I have a simple faith, as you can no doubt tell, but a strong faith and deep love of Jesus. I can't take a chance on losing my relationship with Him. I've been to confession a couple of times and told this story and both times I've been given absolution. The last time I confessed all of this was about a month ago. Father enjoyed the story but asked why I thought there was any mortal sin involved. I said because I'd committed adultry. He told me that he didn't know that there was any mortal sin associated with my actions and told me that I should not be so rigid, that Jesus didn't accuse the woman caught in adultry. I told him I'd started listening to EWTN and it seemed pretty black and white to that group of religious. Father shrugged and said that in this day and age it's more of a battleship grey, blessed me and sent me on my way happy to be absolved but skeptical.

I would love to say the solution is as simple as getting an annulment for Greg but it is not. He does not believe his previous marriage qualifies for a declaration of nullity and neither do the priests and deacons he's spoken with. He says he and Marilyn were married in the Lutheran church and that at the time there was no hint that eventually Marilyn would want to explore homosexual relationships. They were married for 26 years before she had this desire and he considers it part of his vow of marriage for better or worse.

Not ready to give up, I've been doing some research online and came across the Petrine Privilege. It seems to fit the situation as Greg is not baptised and wants to marry a practicing Catholic in the church. Greg has been told by our parish deacon in Washington State (I live and work in Oakland right now) that the Petrine Privilege is something that they do not pursue. They were very sorry not to be able to offer this option but said there was an agreement with the other churches that they would not invoke the Petrine Privilege. They assured Greg that even if we could not be legally married in the church, I could continue to receive communion and take an active role in the mass through being a minister of the cup, a lector, etc., but I don't want to do anything that is not pleasing to God and am unsure about this. Perhaps I'm being scrupulous now, but I don't think so. I have asked Greg to forego marital relations until this is resovled and though he's not happy about this, he's agreeable because he knows how I cannot live happily without the eucharist. I see the Petrine Privilege is listed as an option on the Archdioces of Oakland's Web site and hope that you can tell me that this diocese does indeed pursue this option for people like Greg and me.

Now that I know I'm in a state of grace, I'm praying more fervently than ever and listening more intently for that still, small voice's clear guidance. I'm attempting The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and looking for a spiritual director here in the Bay Area. Any thoughts and guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

God Bless You,

Kate

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kate,

You seem to have done your homework and know right from wrong. Too bad some of the advice you received was misguided.

The advice received in Washington was unfair and false. You seem to have found that out by checking orthodox channels. I am sure God rewards your good will and desire to do the right thing.

Though your present marital state is not right, it can be corrected by appeal:. A Petrine Privilege or Privilege of the Faith is a decree of dissolution of marriage and involves a special petition to the Holy Father. It is decided in Rome.

Your case has the elements required to make the petition. If one of the parties to a previous marriage (Greg) was non-baptized and wants to marry a baptized, practicing Catholic (you), the petitioner, you may present your case, seeking dissolution of his first marriage

I suggest you approach your parish priest and present your case. If you do not find satisfaction call the Oakland Chancery Office and ask to speak to someone in the Marriage Tribunal.

God bless your journey of faith and keep you in His love.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 9, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I have been bothered by these questions for a long time now. For some reason, I never thought of the internet as such a wonderful tool to get information and answers to my questions. It is now my belief that my prayers have been answered by somehow leading me to your website. I do apologize if my letter is quite lengthy, as I do have a lot on my mind and am very confused.

I have a boyfriend, we are both of legal age and I believe we are both mature enough to make our own decisions. We are both baptized, confirmed, and practicing Roman Catholics. Ten years ago he got his ex-girlfriend pregnant (also a baptized, confirmed Roman Catholic), and he was pressured into marrying her by this fact. According to him, they always had a troubled on-again-off-again relationship. In fact, they were on the verge of ending their relationship when she found out she was pregnant by him. By marrying her in civil court (not in Church), he thought he was doing the right thing, as a way to correct the mistakes they had both done in the past, and he took the pregnancy as a "sign" to work things out. Sadly, he was mistaken. The first years of marriage were difficult, filled with misunderstanding and abuse from his wife. He was a long time friend of mine and while we were not yet a couple, I witnessed first-hand the abuse he took from his spouse. She would verbally talk-down on him, and at times hit him with her own hands (or feet) or whatever object she had on hand. I felt very sad for him and was very concerned.

I was also there to witness their separation. She left him, after taking with her their child as well as a lot of his own material possessions. He was so depressed that she would not let him see their child. During tough times, I talked to him about their problems, about the possibility of reconciliation. I do admit though to getting very close to him at this time, but we both did not act on our attraction. We did, however, talk about it both knowing that acting upon the attraction was not the right thing to do at the time. We used our heads and we believe that God helped us be strong despite the temptation. He talked about reconciling with his wife, for the sake of their child. And they did, for a time. But once again, fights ensued, and she walked out on him a final time. This time, he said he believed they could not work things out, unfortunately.

As I said, at the time of their wedding, they were both Roman Catholics, they got married in civil court by a judge, in the presence of 2 witnesses. The wedding was not, however, officiated by a deacon or priest, and they did not at the time obtain a dispensation to marry. They are currently in the process of securing a civil annulment (which is legal, in our country, while divorce is not.). They both agreed that this was the best course of action in their case. They both agreed that they should have been more mature before entering into the marriage in the first place. In fact, now that they are separated, they are surprisingly treating each other better, and this is in a way a good thing for their child, not seeing the parents arguing and squabbling 24/7.

I, on the other hand, have never been married and am single. Unfortunately, my parents and most of my family members (all Roman Catholics) have been adamantly telling me to end this what-they-call-adulterous relationship. They are obviously very much against my relationship with my boyfriend. They tell me that I am being immoral and I am not doing what was taught to me in school and by the Bible. They tell me he is still considered married and as such, we are committing a mortal sin. They also tell me that I am disobeying the commandments (Specifically, "Thou shalt honor your father and your mother." "Thou shalt not commit adultery." and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.") To hear those words hurts me, deeply, especially coming from my own family.

Because of what my parents said to me, I somehow felt ashamed of myself and of my relationship, because they made me feel like I was an adulteress. This made me afraid to go to my parish and ask our parish priest for advice. I would only read the Bible in my quest to find the answer to my worries, but I admit that sometimes Scripture is a little too "coded" to be understood completely. Sometimes it left me still very much confused. I felt I needed a more straightforward answer, and that is why I am seeking your advice.

I have recently researched Canon Law and found out that my boyfriend's previous marriage (since carried out outside the Church, not in the presence of a priest, and without dispensation) is considered to be a defect of form case and is therefore not considered valid by the Catholic Church. Is my understanding correct? If so, is my family wrong in saying I am in an adulterous relationship? Am I and my boyfriend really being immoral, disobeying the commandments, and committing a mortal sin by carrying on this relationship without him securing his annulment yet (and even after the annulment)? Is it possible to eventually marry my boyfriend in the Catholic Church after he obtains the civil annulment?

In my heart and in my head, I sincerely believe that I am doing what I think is best for me despite my family's disapproval. I do not believe that we are being immoral. I believe that God made us meet for a reason, and we both pray that we are carrying out what we think He planned for us. I really love my boyfriend, but I love my family, too. I know my boyfriend loves me, but I know my family loves me as well. We are a very close-knit family and it breaks my heart to know that they are so against my relationship. That they feel that I am choosing him over my family when I am not, it is not really about "choosing" one over the other. Can't I love all of them at the same time? Why does it have to be a choice? I was never taught that "love" should be selective, and this is definitely FAR from my belief. What should I do? Should I leave my boyfriend just to please my family? I can't bear the thought of that, but cannot bear the thought of being estranged from my family either. I am so torn, and sometimes I feel so desperately hopeless.

Please help,

Confused

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Isabel.

I think that now from your experience, you know that pregnancy of itself is not a good reason to get married. If your proposed spouse, felt "pressured" to marry the mother of his child, it should be determined how this pressure was exercised. This should be made known to the civil marriage court as concomitant grounds for declaring an annulment of their contracted marriage.

This is what the Catholic Church Tribunal does. It looks at documents first; then it determines whether all the requirements have been met for entering into marriage [free choice is the first thing]; more simple is another thing, which you have discovered in your research into Church [Canon] Law: without the official Church witness, i.e. deacon or priest, there is no Sacrament and thus no marriage. The Tribunal will give a formal statement of "Freedom to marry," then a couple could enter into Christian Marriage.

Technically speaking you are on the right track. It seems, though, that you need to have some formal mediation to assure harmony and love in your families. Perhaps a Tribunal official could give some significant members of your families a small formal instruction about this in order to give a basis for peace, understanding and reconciliation in your family and his.

The Lord is infinitely capable of drawing out good, wonderful, miraculous things out of bad, hurtful, painful ones. Saying "Yes" to Jesus [each day] means walking with Him "in good times and in bad times" as the promises of marriage state, but more basically, being with Jesus means emptying self and accompanying Him to Calvary.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 5, we received these questions:

Greetings in the Name of the Lord!

I'm doing research for a family ancestry. My goal is to leave an accurate record for my grandchildren, going as far back as possible with all heirs.

Their maternal grandmother was raised by her father. He divorced his wife after only 2 years, before the child was 2. She didn't know her own mother's name. I've been told that she was institutionalized. I've read that documented psychological problems are grounds for annulment. SInce I cannot find any records her in my online research, I'm wondering if he had the marriage annuled, and if he did, would that erradicate any record of her in conjunction with her family, ie, marriage record?

I'm planning to go to the Burearu of vital statistics for the state of MA, where he lived, and do in person research. Hopefully, with his social security number, which I do have, I'll be able to locate a record with her name, and the family research can continue.

I've also read that once an annulment has been granted, that the records concerning that case are permanently closed and that it's impossible to retrieve records regarding the person, the reasons, the rationale for the decision to annul. My concern is that I'd like to have as accurate a record as possible, so that my grandchildren can have such information as would be important to their own families' health records.

I've learned, through the Boston Public Library, that there are ways of researching institutionalizations in this state, but I'm still without her name.

I do know the church that he attended. Would there be a record of the annulment there? Would I at least be able to get a verification that there WAS an annulment? Would the church provide me with the name of the wife or would that be confidential? If I cannot get a record of the annulment at the church he attended, what would be other options for this research?

Somehow, it just does not seem right to me that a person, who lived, loved, had a child and who is now a part of my grandchildren's heritage, can be 'erased' from all view. No matter what, she's still a part of them, and should be recognized for that, if nothing else, no matter what her personal problems may have been. I'd like them to know her name and be thankful for her contribution to their heritage.

Thank you, in advance, for whatever help you may be able to offer.

In His praise,

Cal

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Cal,

I used to do family tree research with my Mormon aunt several times. It is fascinating! Congratulations on your interest.

In tracking down a grandmother, I would first pursue marriage records where she had been married: thus where the grandfather had first been married. If the grandfather had then got divorced, that should show in some county clerk's records where the name of his first wife should appear.

Whether an annulment happened or not does not in anyway affect any children. Internal notes on an annulment are sealed, though the "Decree of Nullity" should be obtainable, though I myself would see no necessity for pursuing even that.

Regarding future health needs as interpreted from family history, perhaps other members of her family might be contacted, from researching information on her parents from the original marriage license/certificate.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello, my name is Roxana, I'm active duty in the Air Force recently stationed at Travis AFB. I'm Catholic and have attended mass at your Parish on multiple occasions when I am in the city (I'm usually in San Francisco on the weekends and the church is easy for me to access, so it's really the main one I've been attending since my big move) and I am looking to plan a wedding within the next year or so. I'd love to have it at Saints Peter and Paul Church and was wondering how far in advance the date must be arranged and the fees/donations. Any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and have a blessed day!

Sincerely, Roxana

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Roxana,

If you would like a wedding in 2009 at a good time slot, you need to call right away. We have wedding times at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM. The 3 o'clock slots fill up first, then the one o'clock. Most of these are already taken through the spring and summer. I rejoice that you come here for Sunday Mass. Introduce yourself to the priest, come into the office and ask for me, if you wish.

Yes, there are things to take care of in preparing for a Sacramental marriage. I always like to talk about these in person. We do make appointments on Saturdays or Sundays.

Thank you for your service in the USAF.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My fiance and I are engaged and want to marry in Mexico. I am a cradle Catholic, but since I have moved to San Francisco, I have not been attending Mass regularly. My fiance is not Catholic nor baptized in a certain religion. If we were able to marry in the Catholic Church, the chapel in Mexico requires written permission from the local parish priest to have a ceremony there. I would like to get permission to have a wedding in a Catholic Church (with or without a Mass). What is the process in doing so? I live up the street from St. Peter Paul. I think I am a parish member. Thank you for your help.

-A

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Arlene,

The Catholic Church believes that the single most important thing it does in the whole world is celebrate Eucharist. The Eucharist then is the very center of our life as disciples of Jesus who are especially called together into a community. This is Church.

This is what we know about ourselves as Catholics. Thus when a Catholic person with an intended spouse, are in a Church setting, ready to enter into Marriage, their very presence proclaims out to the world: "God and Church are important to me!"

So before I reply to your questions, I invite you to think if this is what you are about in your desire to get married in the Catholic Church. If it isn't yet there, what decisions must a person make and carry out so that one could enter a true Sacramental Marriage?

These things must underpin one's discipleship of Jesus and thus membership in His Body, the Church.

With this in mind, to be able to get married in Mexico, for a reasonable motive, one should go through all the preparation for marriage here. Then all the documentation with authorization can be sent to the parish priest where the marriage would take place.

So, if you are interested in a Catholic marriage ceremony, please call me to make an appointment along with your fiancé in order to get this going.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father,

Our daughter is engaged to a young man who is baptized Catholic but has no other sacrament in the church. Our daughter is confirmed Catholic. They both want to get married outside in a rose garden. It is our understanding that the Catholic church will not marry outside? We have been told that the Old Roman Catholic Church (priests who have married) can perform a similar ceremony but without the taking of the Eucharist. If they chose this ceremony, would it be honored in the future of their marriage when they want to baptizetheir children and could our daughter receive communion? Also, my husband and I are torn.......should we still pay for their ceremony if they will not agree to a Catholic church wedding? Thank you so much for any information.

Janet & Tom

Dear Janet & Tom,

Technically speaking both a marriage in a garden or in an Old Catholic Church without the OK of the local Bishop (most rarely given) would be "outside" of the Church. For it later to be "blessed" or convalidated in the Church a couple would go to the parish priest of their parish, do all the necessary preparation, then celebrate their Sacrament in the context of the Catholic Church. Who knows if, by that time, there would be an interest in completing the other Sacraments also.

It seems that you two are trying to be "practicing" Catholics. You know that the central thing of the community of the disciples of Jesus (that is, the Church) is celebrating Eucharist. It is sad that so many people decide to be outside the Sacramental element of Church for a time [sometimes for a long time!], yet that is a reality. The Church seeks out these bewildered members and tries to draw them in, completing their Sacraments, working out difficulties, solving dilemmas, clearing up confusion, etc.

Helping with expenses is an act of love. It carries with it an unconditional love for your daughter. It does not imply approval within the practice of Faith for activities of adults [even children] who bear responsibility for their own actions.

So: help with the expenses and attend. Then be parents to whom they can come for counsel when needed.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 31, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am writing to ask for some advice and reassurance. My fiance and I are preparing for a wedding in the upcoming year, and I would really like it to be in a catholic chruch. we have both been baptized and made our first holy communion but have not been confirmed, theres one more catch we have three beautiful children, who have already been baptized in a catholic chruch. Do you think there will be a problem?

Sonia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sonia,

If you are both free to marry, there is no problem for the ceremony to be in a Catholic Church.

If you were both baptized in the Catholic Church, any previous civil marriages would be consider invalid.

Since you had your children baptized, you have an obligation to give them the good example of Catholic living. Your union can be sanctified and the sacrament of Confirmation can follow, if there is no time for it take place before your nuptials.

It is not clear from your queries what your present marital status is, but clarifications can be had by contacting a local Catholic Church, or ask us, if you have further questions.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 28, we received this question:

Father,

I would like to have my marriage blessed in the Catholic church. My husband and I have both been previously married. My first marriage was performed by a justice of the peace, my ex-husband a Protestant. My husband now, was also married by a justice of the peace, for his first marriage, in a non-religious ceremony and he was raised a Lutheran. My husband and I were married to each other in a little military chapel, but the wedding was performed by a friend who marries people. I was baptized Catholic at the age of 12 yrs old and received my First Communion and Confirmation about 7 yrs ago (I am 42 yrs old). When I took classes for my Confirmation and First Communion, I was told my first marriage was not acknowledged by the Catholic church, therefore, I was able to marry again and have it blessed in the Catholic church. I haven't attended church since I moved back to California from Utah, which was early 2002. (Although, I would like you to know, I pray daily and have strong religious beliefs) I would like to get back into the church, but

I need to do it the right way. How do I go about having our wedding blessed in the Catholic church?

Thank you for your time!

Danenne

Fr. John Malloy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Danenne,

Since your first marriage was entered into out of the Church, the union was invalid and you are free to marry again.

But your husband is not free to be married in the Catholic Church until his first marriage is annulled.

I suggest you speak to a local priest who can advise you as to what process you should initiate.

Don't give up. There is a good possibility that your second union can be blessed in the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB.


On July 25, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My husband and I were married in a Las Vegas chapel two years ago. We were both previously married (each in a civil ceremony) and divorced. I was baptised in the Catholic Church and received my First Holy Communion, but my religious instruction ended at that point. My husband is Catholic and was Confirmed.

Neither of us have been regularly attending Mass, but since the birth of our son, we have felt the need to bring God and the Church back into our lives. We would like to have our son baptized in the Church, but I wonder whether our previous marriages will prevent us from doing so. I understand that we must promise to raise our son according to the teachings of the Church, but will we even be allowed to participate in the Sacraments in our situation? Will we need to have our previous marriages annulled? Will we need to be married in the Church first, and is this even possible?

What do you suggest that we do?

Thank you,

Cheryl

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Cheryl,

Wecome home! You and your husband are being pursued by "The Hound of Heaven."

Your marital status can be rectified and you would be able to reenter into full communion with the Church and have your baby baptized.

Your first marriages are not recogized by the Church, since you were both Catholic at that time.

Present your case to your local pastor, who can walk you through the relatively simple process of a Catholic ceremony, which can be very private.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I recently got engaged, and my fiance and I are both Catholic. We wish to be married in a Catholic Church. However I feel that this will be impossible since he already has a child out of wedlock. His daughter has been baptized Catholic. Does this mean we can not be married in a Catholic Church?

Andrea

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Andrea,

If your fiancée had no previous marriage, there is no obstacle to a Catholic ceremony.

You would have to go through the usual marriage course required by your parish. It is recommended, of course, that you both make a good confession before receiving this sacrament.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 23, we received this question:

I am a 54 yr. old widow. My fiance is a divorced 57 yr old protestant. Baptised . if I marry him in a civil ceremony or another church, can I being catholic still go to mass and receive the sacraments.

D

Fr. John Malloy answers:

D,

You can still go Mass, but you may not receive the Sacrasments unless the remarriage is accepted by the Catholic Church.

You should discuss this with your pastor, or some other priest of your chosing, who can explain the ways in which a remrriage would be lawful in the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 21, we received this question:

Hi Father,

I was borne and raised catholic, and at age 8 had my first holly communion. As I grew older, I become inactive in the church, and when I was 23 years old I joined the Mormon Church. A year later I got married in a Mormon temple. Since then, I realized that I made a mistake.

I have been practicing Catholicism now for almost two years. I told to the priest in my parish about 3 weeks ago that I really wanted to take communion but that I have heard that because I’m not marry in the church I can’t. He then went to explain that because I had officially join another church and later married in that church, that all I have to do is going to confession and make a profession of faith. I have talked to some people who told me that he is wrong, but someone informed me that according to 1983 canon law it is ok for me to take communion because first I become a Mormon, and then I got married. I have been married for 14 years and I have two daughters.

Could you please tell me what is the official canon law in my case?

Thank you,

Maria

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Maria,

You do not mention whether or not you are presently divorced.

Your profession of faith is praiseworty, but the marriage must still be examined before you can receive Communion.

If you are still married to a Mormon, you many not receive Communion. That marriage would first have to be approved by the Church Tribunal, or nullified if you are living apart.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 19, we received this question:

Father:

Our parish priest has told us that we should both seek an annulment of our first marriages. I (husband) was married at the age of 19 and my ex-wife was 17. Both my parents and my confessor advised against it saying that we were too young. I really wanted to marry someone else, but her parents were against it, and I felt in my heart that to marry my ex-wife was not a good idea. However, as the saying goes “too soon old too late smart”, I married her anyway. First in secrete by a justice of the peace and latter in church. We stayed together for 19 years, but I always thought about the one mentioned above. As a result, I admit I was not the best husband or farther, in fact I tried everything to isolate myself form my family. I used work, school, and friends, to keep me away or uninvolved with the family. There were good times but looking back I realize that they were few and not truly for the right reasons. During the marriage I drifted away from the church, and, although I went regularly, it was just something that I was expected to do on Sunday.

My present wife, who I always wanted to marry, was my high school sweetheart. Her parents, as she freely admits, were overly protective of her. In there opinion no one measured up to what the wanted. She married a person from our hometown. They were both 20 years old and she has said many times she always felt that the marriage would fail. Her husband turned out to be an alcoholic and became physically and mentally abusive to her and her children. Finally, her parish priest told her that it would be best for her and the children to divorce.

We both met again at a parish picnic about 15 years ago and it seemed like we had been together forever. My marriage was just in name only and we were already on the verge of either a separation or divorce. At any rate, after the divorce, we got together and we married in a civil ceremony 12 years ago. We have been happy ever since.

I am a Byzantine Catholic, she is Roman Catholic, and we began to attend the local Byzantine church. We both became involved in all of the church functions and both feel closer to or faith than ever. She has embraced to liturgy and has said that it makes you feel that you are in church.

The parish was recently assigned a new priest, and he is an honestly wonderful pastor. Farther Jim takes care of two parishes but he always finds the time to come to the functions and brings both parishes together. He really gets to know everyone on a personal level. Once after liturgy, he asked if he could speak to us. He asked why he never notices us at communion, and of course, we told him the reason. We also took time to outline the reasons.

Later, at another discussion, he brought up the idea of us seeking an annulment, and stated he would help us with the paperwork by phone or in person. Farther took the time to obtain the needed papers from two separate dioceses and explained the process to us in detail.

We both would love to be able to have the blessing of the church. However, we do not want to open any old wounds. Your advice would be very helpful to us both.

George and Barbara

Fr. John Malloy answers:

George and Barbara,

You are fortunate to have found Fr. Jim to help you in this difficult situation. There is no way, I believe, that you can bring an annulment to conclusion without opening old wounds. The price you pay is well worth it, if it will bring you back to the Eucharist.

In the Peace of Christ,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 12, we received this question:

Fathers:

I am very deeply concerned that I will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in my own Catholic Parish if I am married in the Episcopal Church. I am Catholic and have received all of my sacraments except matrimony. My future husband is Episcopal. We tried to have our wedding in the Catholic church but were denied because we hadn't been in town long enough to meet their standards of being parishoners for two years prior to booking a wedding there. Please let me know what to do!

Ryan, the Catholic bride

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ryan,

I suggest you go to another Catholic Church in town or even out of town, and plead your case. Canon Law does not require two year's residency prior to being married.

Or you might call the Bishop's office and ask for the Matrimonial Court.

If it is a problem of no time slot available, permission may even be had from the Bishop to be married in the Episcopal Church, provided you have a Catholic priest or deacon performing the ceremony (together, if necessary with the Episcopal minister).

God bless your marriage!

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 3, we received this question:

Hello. My husband and I have been married for over four years and our wedding was presided over by an American Catholic priest. I was previously married in a civil ceremony and have never been baptized and am not catholic. My husband has been raised catholic and we are trying to start a family. My question is, 'in the eyes of the church' were we married properly? Do I still need to get an annulment to have our marriage recognized? And if I do need an annulment will we still need to have our marriage "blessed"? Also, what will happen if we do have a child? Will they be allowed to be baptized? Thank you for your time and consideration.

Lesley

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Lesley,

A blessed Independence Holiday to you!

You have asked a bunch of technical things in just a few lines. Let me see if I can lead you through the labyrinth. First off is this: the Catholic Church loves and respects true marriage wherever it happens according to law and custom. It makes rules only for its own members to assure itself that a Sacramental marriage has occurred.

Thus from your query there are two marriages involved. [You do not state whether your husband had been married before. If so that would be three.] So, "in the eyes of the Church", as you have phrased it, your first marriage would be considered a valid and true marriage, unless it is proved otherwise. This is presented with documents and testimony for a diocesan Tribunal to examine to see if indeed it were true and valid.

If in the end it has been proved to be invalid [not an authentic marriage], then a "Freedom to Marry" in the Church decree is issued. Then you could marry a Catholic in the Church. Without this "Freedom to Marry" decree your current marriage has not been valid. So you would need to discuss this with your parish priest to see what to do to get it convalidated [i.e. in common language "blessed"] in the Church.

Regarding the Baptism of children: the main issue is whether there is founded hope that the child will be brought up in the "practice of the Faith." Without that hope, what is the point? Sometimes parents not in a good situation, still have the true intention of raising the children in the authentic practice of Faith. That again should be discussed with your parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 29, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am not a Catholic although the man I want to marry is! But I want to be married in a church this time because the last time I was married it was not in a church it was by a justice of the peace and my husband from that marriage passed away! Please help I don't even know where to begin to start the process of becoming catholic to be able to be married in the catholic faith! Please any help would kindly be appreciated.

Thank You

Karrie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karrie,

You don't have to be a Catholic to be married in the Catholic Church, provided your husband is Catholic. But is does make for a more secure union if both are Catholic.

Your husband would have to promise to have the children raised in the Catholic faith.

The process is simple. Go to the priest of the Catholic parish nearest to you (or one that your fiancé is familiar with).

The priest will want to interview you and your fiance. He will walk you through the process.

You will need the death certificate of your first husband, your baptism certificate (if you were baptized in any religion) and the names of two witnesses who can attest to your freedom to marry. The Catholic party would also have to produce his baptism certificate.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 27, we received this questions:

Dear Fathers;

How does one respond to the statement that the Catholic Church is "a work in progress'' to support the assertion that eventually the Church will approve of same sex marriage when it becomes demonstratable that "gays" can have committed loving relationships. To support this the person uses 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. to illustrate the point and advises that "for development of Church doctrine look no further than Paul's change to Jesus' teaching on marriage known as the Pauline privilege." I am familiar with the Pauline privilege. My mother and father were both unbaptized. They divorced and she was baptized Catholic and remarried a Catholic. She always said they had the Pauline privilege. I believe it was actually the Petrine privilege because the matter had to be submitted to Rome (in the late forties.) But as regards same sex marriage I believe that Church teaching on that has been settled and I cannot conceive of any circumstance that could possibly change the Church's position since there will be no new revelation since the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Thank you.

Ila

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ila,

"Committed loving relationships" a marriage does not make!

Marriage, as the Church has always taught, includes openness to procreation. As a matter of fact, if the partners (or one of them) is (1) not open to having children, or (2) obstructs the marriage act, the union is invalid in the first case and sinful in the second. Sexual acts between same-sex persons are always sinful.

You are correct: " But as regards same sex marriage I believe that Church teaching on that has been settled and I cannot conceive of any circumstance that could possibly change the Church's position."

Regarding Pauline and Petrine privilege, your mother was right. Pauline privilege: both parties unbaptized. Petrine privilege: one baptized, the other not.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 20, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband married a Jewish woman in a non-religious ceremony twelve years ago and divorced seven years ago. He and I were married in a non-religious ceremony three years ago. My husband is a catholic that has not been involved in the church since before his first marriage. I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church but never received further instruction. My husband had two children in his previous marriage that are being brought up Jewish.

In the past month, I have been attending mass and have wholeheartedly decided that I want to become a member of the Catholic Church. My husband and I are planning to try conceiving a child in about ten months. I realize that my goal of having a catholic family will require a lot of work but I feel that I am being called to the church.

In the mean time, my husband and I are going to set an appointment up with the pastor of the church I have been attending. I believe that my husband will need to have his previous marriage annulled, we will need to have our marriage blessed and I need to begin the process of the RCIA program.

Would you please give me some insight into what you believe his annulment will entail and can we have our marriage blessed by the church or will we be required to have another ceremony? My husband is from Brazil and my family is all over the country – which would make this very difficult.

I would appreciate any insight you can provide.

Thanks,

Shannon

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Shannon,

Actually your situation turns out to be fairly simple and straight-forward. The Catholic Church recognizes, reveres, cares for, fosters, and holds sacred all marriages celebrated according to law and custom for spouses neither of whom belongs to the Catholic Church. That is, the Church makes rules for its own members only, because it believes that baptized persons are only truly married when it is a Sacramental marriage. The requirements are very simple: spouses [man & woman], two witnesses [2 men, or 2 women, or a man & a woman], and the officiant representing the Church: deacon, priest, or bishop. Everything else is extra.

You do not say in your letter whether you had been married before, just your husband. He, a baptized Catholic, was married in a non-religious ceremony. No priest, thus no marriage. You are free to marry. He must show the documents necessary for a declaration to that effect. Your parish priest has already explained this to you, I am sure.

You are interested in finishing the other Sacraments. What a marvelous response to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in your heart! It is best to do it within a group, which shows the essential element that the Church is the gathered-together community of disciples of Jesus. That is, all of us together. You are already taking steps in that direction.

Gathering the documents for a wedding is quite simple today. Global telephones and the world wide net make communication around the planet very easy. One's family is only a computer or a cell phone away.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My fiance and I are getting married next month and he recently said something that gave me some concerns. My fiance told me that he would be excommunicated by the Catholic church since we are being married in my Episcopal church and not the Catholic church. Is this true?

A year ago, we had initially looked into getting married in the Catholic church but because I am divorced, we were told that I would have to go through the annulment process which could take a year or more and we would not even be able to set a wedding date until it was finalized. I also had numerous concerns about being in contact with my ex-husband as it was an abusive relationship and I prefer that my ex-husband not know where I am currently living and wish that part of my life to remain in the past where it belongs. My fiance respected my feelings and agreed that it was best not to go through the process.

However, it really troubles me that he is being denied his spirituality by the Catholic church because we are not being married there. It was always my belief that our faiths make us who we are as a person and for my fiance to be denied that sits very uneasily with me.

Can you please explain this more clearly for me?

Sincerely,

Cristina

Fr. Harold replies:

Dear Cristina,

If you had actually begun the process through your local Diocesan Tribunal of investigating whether your first marriage had been a valid marriage, it might have been finished by now. The Tribunal, not you, has the duty of notifying the other person about an on-going investigation. The Tribunal does not give out personal addresses or phone numbers.

One of the things that ordinarily occurs during a Tribunal investigation is a great deal of healing for the petitioner. Normally, just closing the door on the past does not involve the necessary healing required to thrive in a new relationship.

Baptized Catholics, of course, are subject to the rules of the Catholic Church regarding the Sacraments. Marriage is an important one. Both persons must be "free to marry," not just in one's own conscience but in an observable manner. In the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus proclaims that his disciples are to be "light" in the world; people need to observe the disciples and, seeing such goodness and virtue in their lives, give praise to God.

Since this [freedom to marry] is not demonstrated, your fiancé would not be entering a Sacramental Marriage. Thus he would technically not be able to receive other Sacraments of the Church while still in that situation. The word excommunication involves a direct declaration on the part of Church authorities (bishop, pope). This does not happen for those "married" outside of the Church. They are encouraged to participate in the community of Church as best they can. The hope and desire of the Church [that is, the community of the called-together disciples of Christ] is that, over time, that situation could be solved and the marriage then blessed in the Church.

The actual celebration of a Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony, could happen with the Bishop's permission in a different context than a Catholic parish church. So it is not the place of the marriage that is the important thing, but respecting the principle of the permanence of the true marriage bond summarized in the declaration of Jesus: "What God has joined, men may not separate."

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 10, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I have a few questions for you. My fiance and I just recently got engaged and i'm curious about many things. First i'm a practicing Catholic where my fiance is not and we are wanting to have a Catholic wedding. To add onto everything i'm from Canada where he is from Alameda and we are wanting to be married there in his hometown . I've been reading that in order to be married in a specific church you have to be part of the parish. Is that true? We do go regularly to visit his family but i'm really unsure on how to start with the preparations . Should i contact the specific church? Also is it possible to get married any day other then Saturday? I was talking to my mother about this and we weren't sure.

Thank you so much for having a listening ear,

Ange

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Ange,

Yes, there are a few questions in your letter. As you are a practicing Catholic, your desire in getting married should be to celebrate it in the Sacrament of Matrimony in order to answer the call of Jesus to walk with Him in your life. So the first question back to you is: is your fiancé not a Catholic at all? Or just a baptized one who does not practice? There is a big difference, which is not clear from the phrasing in your letter.

Catholic Church practice is that marriages ordinarily take place in the parish of the bride or the groom. With the authorization of one of the home parishes, a marriage may take place in another Catholic church. So you need to check at the parish in Alameda to see what they need for you to celebrate the beginning of your Sacramental life there.

Sacramental weddings may be celebrated any day of the week. Usually Sundays are excluded because of the various Sunday Masses and perhaps Baptism celebrations also. Saturdays are the most desired because of the many guests coming, so that not too many need to take many days off work. Any other day of the week is all right depending upon the schedules of the parishes. Afternoons [evening evenings] are better not to conflict with such things as funerals in the morning, which cannot be planned months ahead of time.

The Church, both in Canada and the U.S.A., has some common expectations in regard to marriage preparation. A diocese may have some special things for that time and place. You will have to check on that.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 3, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My husband and I were married 5 years ago by the Justice of the Peace. My husband is not Catholic and has not been baptized. He joined the army shortly after we were married. Last year he left for Iraq and has been attending the RCIA classes there. He was told that he could not come into the church until our marriage was blessed. I went to the pastor at the church I attend and talked to him about this. He said that was true and that we could have our marriage blessed. Our wedding is 5 months away and as I am talking to other people, they are saying that what we have planned is to formal, that we are already married and not to make it that big of a deal. The priest at the church we attend now said that we should have wedding. I am going to have a wedding dress, but not in white. I am going to have a maid of honor and my husband is going to have a best man. My husband will also enter the church the same day and be baptized. I think these are two great events to celebrate. I want to have a full wedding since the one I had before wasn't to much of a wedding. Do you think I am going overboard with this or should we do as the priest has suggested and have a full wedding?

Pax Vobiscum,

Lindsay

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Lindsay,

The Catholic Church makes rules regarding marriage for its own members. When they don’t follow these rules, they have technically just "attempted" marriage. That is because, since disciples of Jesus are to be light in the world, that is observable, the Church wants to do what it can to be sure that the Sacrament of Matrimony truly happens. So you are looking forward to your Sacrament. What a blessing!

And at the same time, your spouse’s entry into the community of disciples of Jesus, the Church! You are totally correct. These are "great events to celebrate." Do it with as much pomp and circumstance you wish. Wear a wonderful white wedding dress, if you like. Invite as many people to participate as you can. These are blessings for everyone to rejoice in.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 22, we received this question:

Dear Fathers:

I have an issue regarding annulment through the Catholic Church. I am a cradle Catholic, interested in getting re-married in the church. I was previously married for 28 years, the last 12-13 years of which sex was basically non existent. My former wife had no physical reasons to prevent or interfere with having sex; just lack of desire, and lack of caring about my needs. I had heart to heart talks with her regarding this several times. Each time, she would apologize, and pledge to try and do better, but "better" never occurred. While still married, I became romantically involved with another woman. After the affair had gone on for 6 months or so, I told my wife of the situation, and moved out. We have since divorced. I am still seeing the same lady that I had the affair with. She too is divorced, and working on her annulment, which a priest has told her should not be a problem, as her previous husband was abusive. I sponsored her through R.C.I.A., and she became Catholic at this past Easter Vigil. We BOTH want to get married in the church, but I have to pursue my annulment first. I have been told by others that a good approach to take on the annulment is to pursue it based on the emotional distress that the lack of sex and affection caused me. I realize that the affair that I had was wrong, and that I should have done things differently. But, there's no way I can go back and re-live that chapter of my life, so I need to move forward. Can you offer any suggestions on what grounds I can best pursue an annulment for the best opportunity to have it approved?

Anthony

Fr. Malloy answers:

Anthony,

You have a difficult problem and there is no easy solution.

My advice would be for you speak to your pastor, or a friendly priest, who can help you. The marriage tribunal of the local diocese has jurisdiction in your case and the local clergy can assist you through the process required.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 16, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My daughter and her fiance, both practicing Catholics, would like to be married in a nondenominational historic church near our home. They both belong to a parish some distance away, our daughter has been out of our parish for several years. Is this allowed? And, is so, how would they go about finding an officiant for the service? Would it have to be a priest from our diocese?

Thank you,

Sue

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sue,

It is possible to be married at a site other than a Catholic Church, but one would have to consult the Bishop's office for such permission, which is rarely given.

You should seek your pastor's advice, but the Bishop's office could also advise you as to a priest or deacon who can help with marriage preparation, and might officiate at the ceremony.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 8, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I have a question that may sound some how silly. I am a Christian girl and I am In love with a Muslim guy since 1 year and now we are planning to get marry. He is a vvery nice guy and he love me and respect me a lot and I know that im gonna be happy with him. The question is if we want to get married in a church is it a must for him to convert into Christianity or we can get marry in church with him staying Muslim.

Thanks a lot.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jessy,

In our country (U.S.A.), it is not uncommon that people of different religious beliefs and practices love one another and wish to get married. We respect and honor the personal conscience and values of each other. We have no demands that a future spouse join the other's religion.

However, especially if one of the persons is a baptized and practicing Catholic, there are certain expectations of the Catholic person. The first is to keep practicing the Christian Catholic Faith, and then to raise any children also in this Faith. The non-Catholic person must understand that this is the promise the spouse makes.

How all of this plays out in other countries, I do not know. You need to consult with your local parish priest and follow his guidance.

Blessings and peace at the conclusion of the Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father,

I was married in Sept 2006 in a Catholic church. After 2 weeks of marriage, my wife told me she doesn't love me, doesn't know if she ever did and wanted to separate. I pleaded with her and told her that it was just first year jitters. She reluctantly agreed to give me a year to see if she could fall in love with me.

During that year, I continued, as I always had, to give her my love, compassion and total devotion. However the more love I gave her, the more mean spirited she became. She became more selfish, resentful, and spiteful. During that year of marriage, she continually threatened to leave me, where I would plead with her to stay.

Then in August 2007, she told me that she had been having an affair with another man since December 2006. At that point we separated. We communicated every now and then, but not too much. Since then, it has given me a lot of time to reflect on my life. The person I was before I was married, the person I was during and the person I am now. To say that I grew spiritually since my separation would be an understatement. I had always been a practicing Catholic, but my faith has deepened to the point where all I can think about is becoming a priest, where I can serve God at all times. Sometimes when I think about it, my heart pounds and practically jumps out of my chest.

Yesterday, she told me she had an epiphany. She realized how much she had missed me, how much she wanted to be with me and how she wanted to make things work. We’re in the process of getting a divorce and an annulment is all but certain. My feelings for her have waned and no longer seek joy in her. Do I have a commitment to her still? Should I follow my heart into the priesthood? Your guidance and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michael,

Not knowing where you reside, I cannot give you specific sources, but my advice would be to spend some time in a discernment process. That may sound too challenging, but there are many monasteries and religious communities around the country that would allow for a week of retreat and provide consultation with a spiritual director. Through your parish or diocese you might search out a suitable venue. Make sure it is spiritually and religiously orthodox, and staffed by a community loyal to the Church and to the Holy Father. The Holy Spirit will certainly guide you, if you seek God's help with sincerity of heart.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 29, we received this question:

Dear Father,

We are getting married in the Dominican Republic in a civil ceremony. We would like to get our marriage blessed upon our return, I am Catholic and my fiance is Serbian Orthodox. What are our options?

Jelena.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jelana,

Is the Dominican Republic one of those nations where everyone must get married civilly, then whoever wants may go to the Church? This seems to be implied in your letter to our website. A further implication: is this the way you are able to have more of your family participate in your marriage ceremony and reception?

If you are yourself a practicing Catholic, you will understand that a civil ceremony by itself does not get you truly married yet. Full marriage privileges and responsibilities do not kick in until you have entered into the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Church. So with this background information, you should contact your own local parish to begin preparation for the Sacrament - even now before you travel.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 28, we received this question:

Fathers:

I was raised catholic. My husband was not. We were married in a civil ceremony and plan to have children. Can my children be baptized catholic even though my husband isn’t catholic? I attend church and plan to bring my children up In the catholic church.

Also what would it take to have my marriage recognized by the catholic church (and does it need to be recognized prior to my children being baptized)? My husband has never been baptized……

Thank you. Lisa

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Lisa,

It is easy to begin the process to get married in the Catholic Church in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Just introduce yourself to the parish priest in your parish. He [and perhaps a parish team] will walk with you the whole way.

Your letter implies that a child is not on the way yet. Usually a marriage prep and ceremony goes more quickly than pregnancy.

Maybe, in this journey of the Sacraments for yourself and your children, your husband might become interested himself. Remember it a totally free choice on his part, which may not occur for a long time. What a blessing it is to have his support already!

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 25, we received this question:

hello, i have a question. i am currently with a separated catholic woman for 7 years already. we have a 4 year old daughter.(she has 3 with her husband) we are still waiting for the civil marriage to be annuled and hopefully file that also with the church for a nullification of the marriage. but due to the red tape in the goverment, its taking pretty long. we have not yet lived together but we fall sometimes to the sin of pre-marital sex.

we already have the recommendation of a bishop that her marriage should have been considerd null & void due to the fact that her marriage was faked civilly and that she was pregant when they got married, without going thru the usuall process of counceling of marriage seminars.

let me know what i can do now as i am sad that my daughter is always asking me why i do not sleep in the same house as that of her mother and that why i always leave her and go home to another house. thanks

i want to be a good father to my daughter

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Franklin,

You did not mention in your letter whether the mother of your daughter had been originally married in Church. If so, that marriage would first have to have a full civil divorce, then a declaration from the Church Tribunal.

I do not know of any State where it takes seven years to go through a divorce. There must be some complications! Does she have an attorney?

Custody and support of the first three children would have to be clearly determined before you could enter into a Church marriage. Be in definite and complete communication with your own local parish priest throughout all this.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 19, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I was born and raised a strick catholic all my life. Now as an adult I have met and fell in love with a muslim man. He has asked for my hand in marriage. Can you please refresh my memory in the teachings and laws of our catholic faith about marring a mulsim man. If I do, will I be excamuncated from my church and not be allowed to be buried on holy ground many years from now at my death? Thank you for your immedicate response and may God

Bless you.

Praise Be To God,

L. Ricardo

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lorenza,

No punishment will fall on you if you marry a Muslim man provided you have the permission of the Catholic Church. See your pastor for necessary details.

Many of these mixed marriages have not been successful because of the divergence in what the vows demand according to the Muslim law and custom.

If your husband is an active Muslim and subscribes to the practices of marriage in Muslim countries, make sure you understand the role you will play in your wedded life--quite different from that in the Western world.

Wishing you every blessing in the Lord,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 15, we received this question:

Fathers:

My son Darren (30) has just moved into the Presidio, which i believe is part of your parish. He has just got engaged to his girlfriend who is non-denominational - never baptised.

They plan to marry in May 2008 in Carmel, CA in a 'simple' Catholic ceremony. I would like to find out for them what the marraige preparation course consists of, so that I can pass that info on and get them started.

Does it differ if his fiance is Non-Catholic? We are 'off the boat' Irish-Catholics from Cork.

Thanks for your help.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Michael,

I think the Presidio area belongs to Star of the Sea parish, 4420 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. Tel: 415-751-0450.

Every parish office will notify a couple wanting to get married that there is a 6-month preparation period which is stated in every parish bulletin. A Catholic wedding in May of this year, that is next month, is not possible. Perhaps this is a typographical error. In that case, beginning the process in the local parish becomes a simple thing.

Speaking of "simple" - at Carmel Mission there is a small chapel besides the mission parish church. Maybe Fr. Griffin, the pastor there, can receive a couple prepared in San Francisco, and celebrate a wedding in the chapel rather than the church.

All of this is to be decided with the parish priest who is following the couple in the marriage preparation.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 10, we received this question:

Dear Father,

When my cradle Catholic husband and I got married--a first marriage for both of us--we were married in a Pentecostal church by a woman minister. I was very anti-Catholic at the time, and would not have married him in a Catholic church. I've come to understand the truth and how wrong I was in my presumptions. I've made a profession of faith, and became Catholic on Easter. Now we'd like to have our marriage regularized. Here's my problem: the Protestant church I was baptized did not record baptisms. No record exists. I was baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but I can't prove it with a certificate. There were no Godparents involved or sponsors in this particular church, and it was many years ago. And because of my fractured family life, only my sister attended. She is actually the only person I could get who was willing to witness the event took place before a notary. The Pentecostal people aren't helping. I don't know if it's because I'm suggesting their marriage ceremony for me was "invalid" or if they just don't want to support my being Catholic. In any case, I'm growing really weary of this battle, which has been going on for several months.

My husband wants to continue being intimate with me, but I'm not sure if I can do that and partake of the Eucharist. I want to be a good Catholic and in a state of grace. Can you help?

Thank you,

Claudia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Claudia,

Your husband married you in a ceremony that the Church holds as invalid, because he married without his Church's blessing.

When you made your profession of faith, your baptism should have been accepted as valid.

But in any event, if worst came to worst, you could be re-baptized conditionally.

You should approach your local pastor and begin the marriage preparation: papers to fill out and probably some class to attend,

It's really not a difficult situation to resolve.

I wish you God's blessing on your married life.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 8, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I'm currently engaged to my fiance, he is Greek Orthodox I am Catholic. He has been married in a civil service an divorced (she was Catholic). We plan on being married in a civil service in a few months, but we are also planning a marriage in the Catholic Church next year. Do we have to be approved by the Catholic Church to be married since he has been divorced? and do we need anything from his church since he was married in a civil service? Will the Catholic Church recongize our civil service marriage? Will we be able to have a full marriage service because of our differnt religions or will it just be a blessing?

Thank you,

Christina

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Cristina,

Your fiancée's first marriage to a Catholic was invalid because it was entered into without proper form.

He would be free to marry you in the Catholic Church.

You must complete the proper forms for this marriage. The divorce paper would also have to be submitted.

The simplest procedure is to speak to your local parish priest, or the priest of the church in which you expect to celebrate your wedding.

You should not plan to have a civil marriage first. If you do so you will need a dispensation for the Church wedding.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 2, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I have been engaged for two years now and I have always wanted a church wedding. I am Catholic and so is my fiance. In his previous marriage they were married by the justice of the peace first and then a few months later by the Catholic Church. I have also been previously married but not by the Church. Is there any way he can get an annulment and be possible for us to be married in a Catholic Church? She had several affairs during the course of their marriage and as he had one as well. Neither one has been innocent of it. We are very happy together and enjoy life. We want to be able to get married through the Catholic Church, as it has taken us awhile to find that special someone. We have seen our children from our previous marriages bond with each other and become close. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

Mamie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mamie,

It is possible to be married in the Church if your spouse can secure an annulment from his first marriage.

The best way to proceed would be to contact your local pastor, or another priest in whom you might have confidence, and explain the situation.

The process would have to go through the Diocesan Tribunal which would investigate the conditions of the first marriage.Testimonies by individuals concerned would have to be to be filed.

It would take some months, but can be rather painlessly handled.

A fee is expected, but this can be negotiated according to need,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 29, we received this question:

Hello Father,

My fiance had a previous Catholic marriage (15+ or more years ago) in the Philippines. They settled in the US but the marriage ended up in a divorce due to the wife's infidelity and abuse of drugs that led her to be violent to her partner. Though they got divorced in the US, the Catholic union in the Asian country was not petitioned to be annulled.

As Catholics, we intend to get married in the Catholic church, but would like to know the procedures in having the first marriage annulled. The previous wife as what last heard of, is now in a mental facility as the drug abuse damaged her mental capacity. How do we go about having the first marriage annulled -- does it need to be filed to the country where the ceremony took place? Otherwise, what would be the requirements and how long does it usually take?

Thanks and warm regards,

Cecilia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Cecilia,

Annulment requests can take place in the diocese where the individual seeking the annulment now lives. Your local pastor should be consulted (or some other Catholic priest you know), who can direct you through the proper procedures and the diocesan tribunal.

It would take several months to do due research as to the first marriage. Forms will have to be filed out and individuals, who have knowledge of the first marriage, would have to be interviewed.

Prayers and patience is needed.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 20, we received this question:

This morning during mass a women approach to me asking for some counseling. Tomorrow she will go through a divorce in which she doesn’t want to go through. She love her husband deeply. It’s been three years they have been marriage by the church. Ever since she got married she suddenly became ill, in such an extent that she almost died, thanks to the doctor a miracle occurred but unfortunately she can’t procreate. Due to this her husband whom always wanted a baby from her got disappointed and left the house a month ago. He told her that he doesn’t want to hurt her but he needs a divorce. He his a very depressive person as stated his wife. She needs counseling, should she sign the divorce or should she try to fight for her matrimony. What could I say to her.

Thanks for your help—anticipated.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Mary Ruth,

It is very sad for all concerned when love is not unconditional but conditioned on certain things. It seems that the gentleman involved entered marriage conditioned on the fertility of his wife. In a couple of months we are to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a couple. When the husband was making the arrangements for this, I [unsuspecting] asked if there were children involved in the celebration. The answer, so filled with love, was that his wife had been so sickly during their life that they had no children. That is unconditional love.

In this case depending on the particular medical situation, unless there were surgical interventions involved, who is to say that a woman cannot get pregnant, or is too sick to carry a child, or …? Since I am totally unaware of the circumstances, I cannot evaluate it. Her next step is talking sincerely with her parish priest, since clearly it is the man making decisions here. I should say that has made decisions already.

Blessings at Easter!

Fr. Harold Danielson, S.D.B.


On March 2, 2008 we received this question:

Dear Father,

I would like some advice and insight regarding my situation. I am currently engaged to my fiancé for 3 months now and are planning to get married on Aug. ’09. I am Catholic and have been raised Catholic all my life. My fiancé is non-denominational. I still continue to practice Catholicism but it has always been my dream to have a garden wedding. Can this be possible to have a garden wedding officiated by a Roman Catholic priest? I’ve been told that it is the rule in any Roman Catholic Church that wedding ceremonies can only be held inside a catholic church. Is this true? My mother feels VERY strongly about having a Catholic Wedding Ceremony officiated by a priest. She doesn’t mind if a catholic priest will officiate an outdoor wedding.. She would feel hurt and betrayed if my wedding will be officiated by a minister since she has raised me Catholic and sent me to catholic schools all my life. I’ve tried to express my wishes with her but she’s still set on her traditional views. My fiancé and I have talked about this and both agree that it is our choice to decide what we want but I don’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings. I’m realizing that there’s always going to be someone that will disagree with our desires but I don’t want to have any regrets after our wedding day. How can we resolve this issue? I would greatly appreciate your advice in this matter.

Confused?

LC

Fr. John Malloy answers:

LC,

The only way you can have a proper Catholic garden wedding is with permission of the bishop.

Most dioceses would not allow this, because of the sacredness of this union made before God.

I know of one case where the couple had a simple church ceremony, their true wedding, and then had an elaborate garden ceremony where they received a blessing from the priest presider. Such a procedure would not need permission of the bishop.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 1, 2008 we received this question:

I am 65 years old, my ex husband is deceased. We were married in the Catholic Church. I have a special person in my life. He is almost 75 and in poor health. He is divorced for over 30 years. He was married to a Jewish woman in the Jewish Temple. We share a home together but due to his health our relationship is non sexual except for hugs and kisses. We are discussing marriage as we love each other dearly and would like our last years to be spent as husband and wife. Does he have to get an annulment to marry me?

Sue

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sue,

Unless he was a Catholic when he married (in which case the marriage was invalid), the Church recognizes the union of non-Catholics, and non-Christians, as valid. In those cases an annulment must be secured before the Catholic party can marry in the Church. So yes, he would probably need an annulment.

But do speak to your pastor or some priest you feel comfortable with and discuss the situation.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 20, we received this question:

Hello Father,

I have been dealing with a very terrible situation lately. I am married. About a year ago I had an affair, believing that my marriage was over. I got pregnant with the other mans child. My husband wants to raise my son as his own, however he doesn't believe that the biological father should see his son if I stay. This is ripping my heart out to make such a serious decision.

On the other hand this man wants me to divorce my husband and marry him. He doesn't like the way my husband treats me, he's also worried about our son. He has been wiating for me through the pregnancy and now that my son is 5 months old. I was going to leave to be with him, I just didn't feel that God would forgive me if I divorced and remarried, espacially after commiting adultery. I understand that if I did remarry it would be considered adultery. However , my sons real father wanted to look into this to see how the church feels about my marriage. Both my husband and I are not baptised. Also before I got married my father was very upset with my husband because he refused to ask for my hand in marriage. At the time I went along with my fiance' , and respected the fact that he didn't want to ask for my hand in marriage. Now I feel like it was disrespectful. I was very rebellous towards my father at that time, now that he is dead and gone, I regret it. My father still gave me away only because I told him if he didn't I would find somebody else to give me away. However I knew that he felt like I got married too soon. Is there anyway that God would ever forgive me if I take my son to be with his real father & marry his father. I don't know if I can take my son away from his father, also I feel that it's important for two people to raise there child together. My husband and I do not get along to well, however I am trying to work this out for God. I don't know how God would feel about me taking my son away from his real father. Please give me some advice, I really need it before I reach my breaking point. I have asked God to forgive me over and over again. I know what I did was wrong.

KJM

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear KJM,

O we human beings! What things we get into! It is only Jesus the Good Shepherd who can untangle things so we can be close to Him.

Your situation is certainly leading you to the Lord more deeply in your life. Discerning the Lord's call to you is the important and, at the same time, very difficult thing.

Before you think about who you decide will be the "father" to your child, you should decide if you are going to stay in an abusive relationship over the long run and what that will do to your child. Then there are several choices, not just one. If you decide that you must divorce your current husband that is a decision by itself without reference to that other unfortunate situation by which you now have a child [a wonderful charge from the Lord]. Every baby is loved into being by our loving and merciful God. Every one is precious and this one is entrusted to you his mother! That is now the primary concern, not what status you may be in now or in the future. Just one thing at a time.

Should you actually be formally detached from the husband of the present, then after sufficient time, you may think about marrying someone else. You are not obligated to marry the father of the child, either declared or not declared.

While you are in this interim time and you eventually might wish the child to be baptized, then you have some other things to do. Again this is a separate issue from choosing another husband. Your letter asks how the "church" would evaluate this whole thing.

I presume that might mean the Catholic Church. Is the father of the child perhaps a Catholic? If so, and after the suitable time mentioned above, more concrete possibilities emerge. To explore these possibilities you should consult your local Catholic parish priest so that you have someone who can accompany you in this distressful time in your life as you explore solutions.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 12, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I have been engaged for about a year and a half and been with my fiance for about 5 years. We originally planned a wedding for June 6, 2008 and booked a reception hall for that date.

Well last fall we decided to push back the wedding date to October because of unforeseen circumstances that could not allow us to afford the wedding we wanted.

Just recently, I found out we were expecting a baby, and we decided that we want to be married before the baby arrives and want to move it back to a late June wedding and downsize on the size of the wedding. We both want to marry in a Catholic church, but the problem is that I've read that the church needs to be notified 6 months in advance. If they have openings, will they allow me to reserve now?

Thank you!

Melissa

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Melissa,

Parish bulletins all over the country advise that the process for a wedding should begin at least 6 months before. So if you had started the process that long ago, you would have started far enough ahead of time to still be in time now. If not, then you should be in contact with your parish priest immediately.

If I were your parish priest at this point (notwithstanding that you have been seeing each other for several years already), I would probably advise you to prepare for marriage in the Church by the Sacrament of Marriage, after your child is at least a year old. Then you can really decide without any external pressures or anxieties that you want to remain parents together in the practice of Faith for a lifetime.

The very presence of a couple in a church for the celebration of their marriage is a direct statement to everyone that God and Church are important in your life and that you are doing your best to live up to that proclamation. This, of course, includes many things: a life of real virtue in loving and caring for one another and for children as a family; it means participating with the community of disciples of Jesus at Sunday Eucharist; it means working with integrity; and so many things. There is an impression from your letter that some of these things are not yet in place. This, if a Church wedding happened now, might put the integrity of a Sacramental Marriage into doubt, that is "What did they really intend or mean by that action?"

So the best practical thing to do is get to your parish priest right away and begin this conversation in person.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 6, we received these questions:

Dear Father;

I am a baptized Catholic. I want to marry in a Catholic Church. My fiancé who is not a Catholic and has never been baptized in any other religion was previously married through a civil ceremony before the Clerk of Court to a female who was also never baptized in any other religion. They are now divorced. Can I get married in a Catholic church to my fiancé?

Maria

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Maria,

It is possible for you to be married in the Catholic Church.

However, the marriage of your fiancé would have to be taken to the Church Court to study the possibility of an annulment of the civil marriage.

Although the previous marriage was between two non baptized persons, the Church recognizes the marriage.

I suggest you speak to a local pastor, or any priest you might know, to learn the steps which must be taken.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello, My fiancé and I currently doing our marriage preparations. We have been together for 5 years and I graduated college last year. My fiancé is in the Marine Corps and for medical and insurance reasons due to his line of work we went to a justice of the peace and are legally married and have been since April. As a practicing catholic I do not see us as married until we are untied in the Catholic Church. It is really important to us to have the catholic ceremony. We are planning our wedding for July. We have not told anyone in our family that we had a civil ceremony, because we both don't see ourselves as married until we receive the sacrament of marriage. We have not told the priest we are legally married and we have met with him several times. Is it possible for him to find out that we are legally married? And if he does will it be an issue? I worry that we are lying even though the legal marriage is meaningless to us until the ceremony. We filled out the paper work that will be sent to the diocese, does any of that get checked through the legal system? I'm worried about how the priest will feel if he does find out, will he refuse to let us marry in the Catholic Church?

Please advise.

God Bless

Julie

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Julie,

I admire your desire to deny your marriage until the Church approves it, but the fact of the matter is you are civilly married.

Before you can have the marriage blessed in the Church; the union must be convalidated. That means you will have to speak to the priest and receive proper permission, which is not difficult to obtain. You will need to produce the civil license.

Your family does not have to know anything of this. Don't worry, the priest will not refuse you.

You should go to confession before the marriage either to this priest or any other.

Let me know if you do have a problem and I'll help you solve it.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 2, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My best friend is in the RCIA process here in south Florida. She is divorced from her husband of 20 years and has one son in college. She was baptized Catholic shortly after birth, but her development in the Church after that was non-existent. Her ex-husband is a baptized, non-practicing Protestant. She married him before a Justice of the Peace at the age of 19 (he was 21), only two months after meeting him. Their son was born at around the time of their first anniversary. After the birth of their son, according to her story, she and her husband started drifting apart; but they stayed with the relationship until their son went to college. Three years ago, she expressed to me the desire to begin investigating the Faith. So we started touring around all the churches in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties in south Florida and found one we both like. She has been attending Mass and other celebrations of Faith with me ever since. To bring it back to current time, she is preparing to be received into full communion of the Church at Easter this year.

My question is this: she told me last week that other Catholics have been telling her that because she was married outside the Church that the Church would not recognize the union, making the Annulment Process unnecessary. I told her they were wrong. I have unsuccessfully searched the Internet to get some insight into this question. Please tell me as best you can what the rule is for her case and who is right?

Yours In Christ,

Mary Elizabeth

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary Elizabeth.

Your friend as a baptized Catholic, who never renounced the faith, would be bound to Catholic law regarding marriage. Her marriage is not valid, even though civilly lawful, because it was witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. So there is no question of an annulment needed.

However, for her to re-marry in the Church an investigation would be required.. That is easily enough handled.

The parish priest can take care of the necessary paper work.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 30, we received this question:

Hello Fathers,

I am a cradle catholic and my fiance is not. He was previously married and was divorced for over 10 years. We are planning to be married in September 2008 and now I am stumbling over the fact that we need to wait for the paper works from the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese to approve. I know you mention that you're not the member of the Tribunal but with your experiences in these matters, do you think there will be any delays and complications in this process? If so, should we postpone our wedding date. Thank you for having this forum set up. It's really helpful. Bless you Fathers for your times and guidances.

God Bless,

Antoinette

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Antoinette,

From your letter it looks like you set your wedding date before you had consulted with your parish priest and figured out what has to be done when you want to enter marriage with one who had been married and divorced.

Several possibilities arise from the very little information you provided. You local Diocesan Tribunal will ask for more, of course.

First of all, the Church recognizes all marriages to be true and valid when done according to law and custom. It only makes rules for its own members. So in the first instance marriages between spouses neither of whom is connected to the Catholic Church are thought to be true marriages, unless it is proven otherwise.

Some situations are very simple; others more complex. For example, your fiancé, not a Catholic himself, was his first wife Catholic, by any chance? If so, the Tribunal could give a declaration of Freedom to Marry to him, because his wife, a Catholic, did not follow the norms of the Church to get married.

If she also was not a Catholic, then a thorough investigation will be made to discover if, before that wedding, any essential element had been missing which would make that marriage null and void. Sometimes this is very straightforward and simple. Sometimes a combination of things has to be put together which vitiated the authentic wedding promises. This may take some time as the Tribunal must act with "due diligence," following the procedures step by step.

So a Sacramental marriage celebrated in the Catholic Church would have to wait until a judgment from the Tribunal, and its automatic appeal, have been completed.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 27, we received this question:

Dear father,

I was born in california where I remain, and went to latin america where I met my first cousin's daughter, we fell in love & 1 year later we got married in her foreign country it was completely legal but I filed for her spousal visa about 1 year later. the petition was approved & now she will be scheduled for the interview with the u.s consul. I hope the u.s consul won't reject her visa, father should I worry?

yours truly- rudy

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Rudy,

Most States accept valid marriages done in other countries. Besides that some States allow first cousins to get married, even the Church with the Bishop's permission. Your marriage is already one more degree removed from your first cousin, there should be no difficulty at all!

Be ready to receive your wife in the U.S.A. and begin her road to citizenship.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 26, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband and I eloped last year. We are thinking of getting married in a Catholic Church by November 2008. We are both Catholic but none of us go to church. I guess we can say that we don't practice the religion now. I used to go to Church and I went to a catholic school in my own country but not here. I guess my question is, if we want to do the wedding in a Catholic Church what is the process of the preparation and how long it takes? Since we're planning out wedding in November, when is the latest we could start the preparation?

Many thanks

Luisa

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Luisa,

Among other things, when a couple is asking their marriage to be blessed in the Church, which means entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony, a couple should figure out what their relationship to the Church community is going to be.

Hopefully, a preparation for the Sacrament would mean preparation for and practicing the other Sacraments. If that is not in view, then of what use is asking the Church for the blessing? It becomes just a show, not to use stronger words.

In our parish for a wedding in November 2008, a couple would already be too late. As of today there is only one 11:00 AM wedding time in November 2008. Everything else is already taken. Most other parishes certainly have less weddings than Sts. Peter & Paul and time slots are open.

So, depending on how you together plan to live as Catholics, you should contact your parish very soon, since the ordinary directive all over the country is "at least six months in advance."

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I just recently got engaged (I am Catholic, he is not religious) and we plan to marry in the Catholic Church in the Spring of 2009. I normally attend mass at Santa Clara University where I attended college, but I don't believe I am an official member of the parish, as I never registered as such. I may still be a member of the parish in Arizona where I grew up. I am moving to San Francisco in the next couple months and intend to become a member of the St. Peter and Paul Parish. Is it okay to wait until the move to San Francisco to begin the process, or should I start at Santa Clara, or Arizona?

Thanks!

Darcie

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Darcie,

Spring of 2009 is just over a year from now. Dates are beginning to fill up.

So, with a view to registering at SS. Peter & Paul when you move to San Francisco, try to make an appointment ASAP. Then there will be sufficient time for the preparation without rushing.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 23, we received thess questions:

Dear Father,

My fiance and I were engaged in November 2007. He is from Sweden and currently in the US on a J1-visa. Because of the visa restrictions, our current engagement disallows him from exiting and re-entering the US. We are told by immigration lawyers that this is because the US views engagement as an intent to permanently remain in the US therefore the person should apply for a greencard, rather than be in the US on a visa.

With that information, we are considering civilly marrying in March 2008 in San Francisco and having a catholic marriage in May 2009 in Sweden. Civilly marrying sooner would allow him the freedom to travel back and forth to his home country sooner.

I was raised catholic and this issue has been especially difficult for my catholic family to understand. My fiance and I only want to do what is best. We value being married in the church (my fiance is christian not catholic) and we want to make the right decision that allows us to reach our end goal: to be married.

Can we still have a Catholic wedding ceremony (outside of mass) if we are civilly married first? Can we still participate in pre-cana if we are civilly married first?

Thank you for your assistance.

Kind regards,

Aimee

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Aimee,

Yes, you can have a Catholic wedding ceremony (outside of mass), even if you have been civilly married first.

And yes, you can still participate in pre-cana if you are civilly married first.

Your request is not an unusual one.

However, there are certain conditions: that there was no previous marriage bond for either of you; that you complete the local requirements; and that you obtain permission for the ceremony to take place in Sweden.

Your contact priest should be able to help you fulfill the conditions and find a church in Sweden for the blessing--with the support of the Bishop's office.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB.


Can a retired catholic priest perform a catholic wedding ceremony in a reception site and it be recognized by the church?

Nancy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Nancy,

A Retired Catholic priest can officiate at a Catholic wedding, if he has permission of the local bishop.

The site of the wedding, normally the Catholic Church, may also be outside the church, but always with the permission of the Bishop.

Without proper permissions the wedding is invalid, although it may be civilly legal.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 16, we received these questions:

My son is 30yrs old..a baptized and confirmed catholic. He was in college, pursuing a medical degree and did not date much. He was introduced to a 33 yr old girl by a friend and they began dating.

Unfortunately before he had time to really know her very well,,, they were expecting a baby. When the pregnancy was confirmed my son rented a house and they moved in together and he began taking care of her and himself on his student loans. They baby was born and is now a year old....and their relationship has weathered the pressures of the situation. In my opinion they are very well suited

They would like to marry, she is fine with raising the child catholic...but ....she was baptized Presbyterian, was married in a civil service to a baptized non practicing catholic when she was 19...the marriage was very abusive, and she eventually divorced the man.

They consulted my son's priest, who led her through the application for annulment. It was denied by the diocese tribunal because she does not know where her ex is and does not want to try to find him. She has spent many years trying to get as far away from him as she could. She feels if he knew where she was he might try to hurt her. The tribunal denied her request because she could not give the whereabouts of her ex.

Because of this they have decided to marry anyway...outside the church. I know this is not what they wanted. My heart is breaking because it seems to me that this is just a simple defect of form case. Any advice?

Kay

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Kay,

I am not a Tribunal officer but just a parochial vicar and former pastor who has been in parishes in two different Provinces in Canada and two different U.S.A. States. So my comments to your letter are only a parish priest's thoughts.

I think that the main thing that a Tribunal is looking for is not so much the whereabouts of the former spouse but the Baptism certificate. This can be obtained without anyone knowing about it. Your "daughter-in-law" can find her former husband's city of birth on the original marriage license. You could contact the parishes in that town to see where he was baptized and get a certificate. Perhaps she knows where a relative of his lives from whom you might be able to find out which church he was baptized in.

Our Tribunal uses the term "due diligence" to describe its work. Thus all persons involved, even as friends, also must exercise "due diligence." With the original marriage certificate and divorce papers in hand along with this elusive Baptism certificate, it seems to me a Tribunal could go ahead for a "Freedom to Marry" rescript.

A couple of other notes: The original marriage license will have the date of birth of each person. When asking parish secretaries to look up a possible Baptism they would only have to look from the birth date up to a year later. With the index in the front of the Baptism register, this means looking up the name between the page of the date of birth to one year later. It is best, of course, to include the name of the parents, which also is found on the original marriage license. Maybe the main hospital where he was born is in another town from where the family lived. So the circle of parishes is enlarged somewhat.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

I am divorced and recently engaged to my fiancé. I would like to get married in the Catholic church (we are both Catholic) but because I am divorced it is understood that I must obtain a religious annulment. I am not sure how to get the process started. I have heard that it takes five years for this process to be completed and we do not want to wait this long. It is important to both us and our families that we marry in a Catholic church. Is there no hope for us?

Sincerely,

Ms. Hopeful

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Ms. Hopeful,

When you go to see your parish priest, the first thing he will ask you is something you omitted in your letter to this website. Was your first marriage celebrated in the Catholic Church? If not, the process is very simple. Begin your marriage preparation without delay.

If yes, there is a process through which your Diocesan Tribunal will guide you. This process investigates the circumstances surrounding your first marriage to see if anything essential was lacking for it to have been a true marriage in the first place. There is an extensive procedure for this. It does take some time for all those concerned to be notified and give their testimony. But the final determination is certainly less than 5 years. Someone greatly exaggerated it to you.

You mention that being married in the Church is important for you. Your parish priest will realize how important when he recognizes you when you go in to meet him. That is: he sees you each Sunday after Mass. He will remember you without knowing your name because he has greeted you so often.

Of course, if one does not participate at Sunday Mass and without a sincere intention to do so, then celebrating marriage in the Church would be a meaningless exercise. It would only be a good photo opportunity with little to do with faith and its practice.

God love has been demonstrated to us in our Baptism. God's faithfulness endures, no matter what we actually do. Of course, it flourishes all the more with our wholehearted response to the call of Jesus in our daily life.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 5, 2008, we received this question:

Hi Fathers:

3 years ago, I (a catholic) met a guy (Not a Catholic) and had a liking for him, who was married. Naively, to get it off my chest and hoping that he would reject me so tt I can forget him, I told this guy of my feelings and to my surprise, I found out that this guy’s marriage has already broken down years ago and that this guy already wanted to divorce his wife but have yet to put a date to it, but soon.

I and the guy decided that the only way was to get a legal divorce b4 we could begin a relationship as I was clear I didn’t want to be his mistress. Time has past, they have gotten the legal divorce and we will be applying for an annulment based on 2 factors; non-consummation and a verbal condition between them before marriage of not having children. However, I have this nagging question on my mind and conscience that though “technically” I didn’t break up their marriage…I feel that I “expedited” the guy’s decision to divorce his wife. With or without me, the guy would ultimately divorce his wife in a year or so coz they didn't hv a good foundation and it was beyond reconciliation at the time when I met him and made the decision to be tog. Thus, I hv been trying to seek an answer from God, if I continue the relationship with this guy and ultimately marries him (if the annulment is successful), would I be committing adultery (since I did express my love to a married man though I wasn’t the cause of the breakdown of the marriage)? Would I be living in a state of sin…would I be committing a mortal sin?

Lastly, should I inform the Tribunal about how we got tog though on the forms, they didn't ask. I'm fearful tt if I reveal how we got tog, it'll affect the annulment process....

Thanks for helping to answer my many queries.

Fr. John Itzaina answers:

Dear Ms. Hopeful,

All relationships are messy and some are messier than others. Though, you don't have the mother-of-all messy relationships, to you it can be disconcerting and painful. You probably should take some responsibility for the denouement of your fiance's marriage. Not wanting to be a mistress may have been the catalyst to begin the divorce proceedings.

I applaud you for pushing your fiance to pursue an annulment. There are a lot of factors involved in obtaining an annulment and not always are they granted. What would you do if the annulment is not granted? To ask that question may give you some clarity of your spiritual life. Nobody can judge whether you are in mortal (grievous, serious) sin except God. Why don't you seek reconciliation in confession; discuss the matter with your confessor; and be painfully honest with your fiance about your feelings and your misgivings?

I wouldn't worry about implicating you in the tribunal process. From the reasons given for a possible annulment, there doesn't seem to be any connection. Try to be a good Catholic and hope that God will show you the way. From your questioning, you seem to be doing just that.

Fr. John Itzaina


On December 23, we received this question:

dear fathe,

my first cousin and my sister want to marry eachother. he said that catholic church laws allow to first cousins get marry if they have the dispensation from diocese. is that right? my opinion is it is against the laws of catholic and it is incest. i think the only sittuation that first cousin can be married is when thay alreaday got marry without knowing they are first cousin, in this sittuation they could be dispensed. but in my familly case, they knew they are first cousin for a long time but they still want to go futher. can you give me some advices to this case?

i look forward to your respond

Khanh

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Khanh,

Yes, your understanding is mostly correct. However, there are certain exceptions depending on place and circumstance.

In Canon [Church] Law marriages are forbidden between relatives in direct line always and in collateral line to the third degree [uncle-niece, aunt-nephew], and forth degree [first cousins]. However in places (States or nations) where these marriages are allowed, then Church law can also allow them with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Some of the States of the U.S.A. allow first cousin marriages. You should look up whether you live in one of these.

Also a Bishop would need some substantial reasons to grant a dispensation for this to happen. So your relatives should do some external research to see if it is indeed legal, and also some serious internal research to see if this is how God is calling them as disciples in the Church [the called together disciples of Jesus Christ].

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 17, we received this question:

Dear Father,

Although I am from the Midwest, I had occasion to visit your beautiful church last summer while vacationing in San Francisco. What an inspirational experience! Just this evening I happened across your Q&A webpage, so I would like to take this opportunity to ask a few questions.

A little background: My wife immigrated to the U.S. two years ago utilizing a K-1 Fiancée visa. One of the requirements of this visa is that we had to get married within 90 days of her arrival in the U.S. In order to fulfill this requirement, we had a civil ceremony. She comes from a very Catholic country and has been a devout Catholic her whole life. Although she has not made an issue of it, I'm sure that she would like to have our marriage blessed by the Church. I have been attending Mass with her every week since her arrival and find myself inspired not only by my wife's faith, but by the beauty of the Mass itself. Consequently, I join her in her desire to have our marriage recognized by the Church, and have given serious consideration to converting. In fact, the priest of the parish where we have been going to Mass has invited us to attend the R.C.I.A. class that is currently in progress. (I was raised in the Lutheran Church). As I read over the questions on your very informative website, however, I see a rather large "bump in the road" ahead. The problem is that I was married many years ago - 32 years to be exact. We were both of legal age and knew what we were doing. We entered into this marriage with the idea that we would be together " 'till death do us part," and we were married in a non-denominational church, which she had be a member of her whole life, so neither of us were Catholic. Sadly, after eight years, we divorced. (Her idea, if that makes any difference.) From my reading of your website, it would appear that we would have to appeal to a Church Tribunal to have my previous marriage declared "invalid." So, after this lengthy introduction, my questions are as follows:

1. Would my former wife have to be involved in this process? I haven't spoken to her in over 20 years and while I'm sure I could locate her, I have absolutely no desire to dredge up that part of my life. Further, I suspect that a request for assistance in declaring our eight-year-long marriage "invalid" would not be met with a spirit of cheerful cooperation.

2. While I certainly cannot expect you to speculate on the outcome of a Church Tribunal, what would be the consequences of a finding that my previous marriage was, in fact, a valid one? Would my current wife and I just be "out of luck?"

I look forward to your response.

David

Fr. John Malloy responds:

David,

Your marital situation does present a difficult situation, but one that is not insurmountable.

Your first marriage would have to be examined by the Church Tribunal. The local Catholic pastor can help you with this. Certain forms would have to be submitted and your first wife would have to be contacted.

If she is unwilling to cooperate, the case can still continue with the help of testimony from some who have known of this marriage and its circumstances.

I would encourage your enrolment in the RCIA program.That itself can be of help in the tribunal process.

I do believe from what you say that there are grounds for an annulment.

May God Bess you with Christmas joy and peace!

I will remember you in my Christmas Masses.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 13, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

Thank you for having such a helpful and open website. The FAQs you provide are so helpful and informative.

I'm writing with an inquiry about marriages at your church. My fiance and I are both baptized and confirmed Catholics from separate parts of the globe - he from Puerto Rico and I from Pennsylvania. We are not currently the member of any Catholic parish, but as we prepare for our wedding and our lives together as husband and wife, we know that it is important to us to return to the Church and to join a parish. As part of that, we would like to celebrate our wedding in a Church with a religious ceremony.

This is where things get complicated. We are planning to get married in San Francisco in either September or October of 2008. However, we live in Mill Valley and are joining a parish here (Our Lady of Mount Carmel). We would very much like to find a church in San Francsisco in which to celebrate our wedding, but it is so difficult to find one that will allow us to marry there if we haven't been parishoners of that church (or of another) for at least 6 months.

Does your Church allow people in situations like our own to wed there? If so, what are the steps that we could take to make this happen?

Thank you so much for any insight you can share. We would truly appreciate your help!

-Emily

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Emily,

For persons coming from another place asking for a wedding at a specific church [in this case SS. Peter & Paul], the first thing is to go to the local parish church and obtain a letter of authorization [transfer of "jurisdiction"] from their parish to do the celebration of Sacramental marriage in our parish.

Then for our parish a couple would need to call far ahead of time, beyond the "six months" stated in all parish bulletins, to find a wedding slot. For September and October of 2008, most of the wedding times are already spoken for, except some of the 11:00 AM times. Our wedding times are on Saturdays at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. Weddings are not prohibited on the other days of the week. People choose Saturdays because of work considerations for many people; it's on the weekend; etc. There is no time for weddings on Sundays here at SSPP.

Next in order is collecting documents, filling out forms, doing a pre-marital inventory, taking a formal marriage preparation seminar, preparing the liturgy, etc. Most of this part could take place in the couple's own parish [more convenient to them] or we could lead it from here, depending on circumstances.

The first paragraph of your letter shows that the Holy Spirit is already active in your life and you are responding. Praise and thanks to God! Keep acting on the daily nudges of the Spirit, being attentive to the present moment. St. Paul affirms that, to those who love God, everything works out for good in the end.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 13, we received this question:

My daughter is only Baptised Catholic & her Fiancé has never been Christened They are both British & live in England however intend to have a civil ceremony in Italy and would like to have a blessing in a small catholic church afterwards.

Is this possible and whose decision is final & what paperwork is required?

Regards,

Celia

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Celia,

Your daughter would have to speak to the priest in whose parish she lives. It would be up to him to arrange for a ceremony in the Catholic Church in Italy.

The ceremony is possible, but there are forms to be completed including:

a recent copy of your daughter's baptism certificate,

a declaration from each of the couple as to their freedom to marry,

a witness for the bride and one for the groom attesting to this same freedom.

Your daughter would have to promise to raise the children as Catholic.

A dispensation for mixed marriage (Catholic and non-Catholic) would have to be obtained through the local pastor but from the bishop in England.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 8, we received this question:

Father; is it acceptable for a couple married in a civil ceremony to request a Catholic marriage without pre-cana, banns of marriage or without having received a sacrament such as Confirmation? I am not sure if they are practicing Catholics. I have been instructed as the High School religious educator to prepare this couple for Confirmation, we will not make our high school Confirmation until May and this couple is being married in 4 days! Is it not the Pastors responsibility to prepare all married couples for marriage? I would appreciate any direction you can give.

Jean

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Jean,

Yes, it is the pastor's duty to prepare couples for marriage in their jurisdiction.

However, the duty can be delegated to a team or a person prepared to undertake this task.

It is not an absolute requirement that couples be confirmed before they receive the marriage sacrament, though it is advisable and every effort should be made to have the couple fulfill this obligation.

Banns of marriage are no longer the requirement they once were and in many places they are now omitted.

Pre--marital instruction is a golden opportunity to instruct the couple as to their duties to each other and their future children. Attending Mass and going to confession are prime duties.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On November 3, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My sister in-law eloped and married an atheist. Since then her family has tried to convince him to have their marriage blessed by the Church, but he refuses to do so. So she chooses to follow heart instead of her faith. She is planning to have a wedding reception this Saturday. I'm having a very hard time deciding whether to attend or not. I heard that it is ok to attend the reception for family unity as long as we make it know to the couple and others that you do not condone this marriage and you're attending only for family unity. Please correct if I'm wrong.

Jasmine

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Jasmine,

I am deeply touched by your consciousness that disciples of Jesus are to be light in the world such that others observing them can give praise and glory to God. In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus notes that people should see his friends' good works, then give glory to God.

Also consider whom Jesus went to dinner with: prostitutes and tax collectors, hypocrites and sinners. His presence was goodness, virtue, blessing and invitation to all present. That is the Good News of God's love for each one of us in Jesus Christ His Son.

All of the above are the practicing Catholic's attitude in attending functions where the main persons may or may not be in full harmony of Church law or even God's law.

I think a perpetual Mass enrollment will mean something to the Catholic person that you yourself will always remember them with blessing and praise to God for who they continue to be as true creatures of the loving Father and His children always. [Note: You do not have to say that to them. It is understood.] The enrollment would be appropriate besides a good money gift to help them.

I only picked up this letter a few minutes ago. I hope you have enough time to prepare for the reception. Go, filled with God's love enflamed by the Holy Spirit. Let that be the particular gift you are sharing with the couple and everyone else. Show that disciples of Jesus know how to have a good time in the family of God.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 29, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I would like to inquire if it is allright to marry somebody who is a muslim and has before been married to another muslim? Does the Church recognizes their marriage? If they divorce and the Muslim guy becomes a Catholic Christian, is he allowed to marry a Catholic in the Church?

Thank you for answering my queries.

Best regards,

Diahann

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Diahann,

Marriage between Muslims is recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.

There is no Church law that forbids the marriage of Catholic and Muslim.

For a Catholic marriage certain conditions are required:

(1) the Muslim must not have been married previously (unless the first marriage has been declared invalid by the Catholic Church);

(2) The Muslim partner must allow the children to be raised Catholic:

(3) The Muslim must promise not to obstruct the Catholic worship of the partner.

For the Muslims to remarry in the Church, after legal divorce, it must be proven that there was a diriment impediment in the first marriage; that is, the first marriage was invalid.

If the Muslim converts to the Catholic faith, he/she may request the Pauline Privilege, where by the marriage of two non baptized people (in this case both Muslims) ends because one of them is baptized.

The case would have to be presented to the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese.

You should consult the local pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 26, we received these questions:

Hello,

My daughter has lived in the bay area for her upbringing, attending a Catholic High School.

Her fiancee is living in England. He is also Catholic. Both have their baptism, first communion and confirmation, but neither are attending regular church at this time.

They will be married outdoors in south Santa Clara County next August.

Is it going to be possible to find a priest that would perform the ceremony outside, in a quiet, peaceful setting ? How would I go about finding one ?

I understand there are classes to attend, if so, can this be done at any parish, since they are both out of the area at this time and are not together. They would be able to do classes in the summer, when they are both in santa clara area, June & July. How many classes are there and do they need to attend them together ? Can he take them in England at his local parish and she take them in the town where she is now attending school ?

If we cannot find a priest to do an outdoor wedding, we also were discussing a blessing in the Catholic Church in England, after the civil wedding in California. Would this be considered a registered Catholic wedding ?

Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter.

Laura

Fr. Harold Danielson:

Dear Laura,

It is wonderful that you are concerned about your daughter's marriage in the Church. However, it is for her and her fiancé to figure it out. I know that the official policy in the Diocese of San Jose is that Sacramental Marriages are celebrated in a parish church. Finding a Catholic priest who would officiate against the policy of the diocese should be not possible; even if one were found in these circumstances, the marriage officiated by him would be invalid.

So if their wedding is planned already to be out of doors, there is nothing you can do. If they choose to enter into a Sacramental Marriage later on, they would do the appropriate preparation, hoping that part of the preparation would be better practice of the Faith, so that the marriage would be convalidated ["blessed"] in the Church.

If they are actually wishing to enter a Sacramental Marriage, either he or she should be in contact with the parish priest immediately to inquire about it.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

My grandson is half Jewish (was having Jewish circumcision ceremony conducted by Mohel and a Rabbi on 8th day of his birthday – Brisk)

Is it appropriate for him to be baptized at the church? How do you feel about this? Would that have enough of spiritual values?

Thank you in advance,

P.S. Your advice for his grandparent of both sides (should they participate or not necessarily)

Looking forward to hear from you soon

Fr. Harold Danielson:

Dear M