Michelle wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm hoping to receive clarification on this issue.

I am a Catholic who at one time, was not practicing the faith. I was married by a Justice of the Peace to another non-practicing Catholic in a civil ceremony. We were both pretty messed up at the time and separated shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, we never divorced.

I have since returned to the Church and still have not sought a divorce because my husband now has terminal cancer and, at this time, I cannot afford to proceed with the divorce anyway. We are still in contact. My question is this:

  • Can I receive Communion now that I have gone to Confession?

Thank you,


  { Given my situation and marital history, can I receive Communion since I have gone to Confession? }

Paul replied:

Dear Michelle,

If you have gone to Confession, confessed your sins, and no longer plan on having sexual relations with him (or anyone else outside of marriage), you should be fine and be able to receive Communion.

Further, the marriage would not be considered valid by the Church.



Bob replied:


It is not clear whether you remarried; I'm assuming you didn't. Since you went to Confession, you can go to Communion, provided you do not intend on having marital relations with the ex—, which should not be a problem.

Generally those who are in illicit marriages are required to live as brother and sister, which you are in essence doing. In more typical circumstances for the relationship to become licit, you would seek to have the marriage blessed in the Church but that is not the case.

Should you seek to remarry, if your former husband is still living, you will need an annulment, and obviously a divorce.


Bob Kirby


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