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Roger Riceman wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Catholic and my first marriage was to a Presbyterian lady. We divorced after 23 years of marriage and were married in a Catholic Church. We have two beautiful children and, for their sake, I stayed in the marriage for the final (15 years or so) as well as because of my love for God!

Now, I have remarried civilly and thank God for my blessings! My break up caused me so much sickness and guilt that I fell mentally ill for years!

Being civilly remarried, I am unable to receive the Eucharist and I am really devastated!

My question is:

  • If my first wife was not baptized was my marriage recognized in the Catholic Church?

After reading [PDF] Amoris Latetia by Our Holy Father Pope Francis, I understand that I can't receive the Eucharist, although this appears ambiguous in nature!!

I can't seek an annulment, as I could not live an untruth that my first marriage and my children were all a lie.

Sorry for rambling but I pray every day to Our Lord and want to receive his forgiveness so much through His Pure Blessed Body and Blood!!

Thank you so much in advance!


  { If my first wife was not baptized was my marriage recognized in the Catholic Church? }

Mike replied:

Dear Roger,

For a marriage to be valid in the Catholic Church both bride and groom have to be baptized.

I don't understand how you could have been properly married in the Church in view of this, but seeing none of us are priests or canon law priests, it would be imprudent for me to comment further on your e-mail.

I highly recommend you contact your local Catholic parish and make an appointment with a priest or a pastor who is known for being faithful to the Church. He will be able to give you the best counsel in your situation seeing there are probably accidental issues and nuances that were left out of your initial e-mail.

My colleagues may have more to add.


John replied:

Dear Roger,

Thanks for your question

As Mike pointed out, you really need to discuss your situation with a priest as it is complex. All annulment situations are different and the devil is the details.

I'm assuming that you got a proper dispensation to marry a non-Catholic Christian, or you could not have been married in a Catholic Church. If that's the case, the priest should have asked for a Baptismal certificate. Otherwise, you were technically marrying a non-Christian, which requires a slightly different dispensation.

Yes, she might have held to Christian doctrines and, for all intents and purposes, might be considered as being baptized by desire . . . but that status really isn't pertinent when it comes to receiving any other sacrament, like Holy Matrimony.

Now if, at the time, she lied about being a baptized Christian, that's a whole different issue that could, by itself, invalidate the marriage but it seems very odd that a proof of Baptism wasn't required for you to get married.

The fact is, that annulments, while never guaranteed, are easily granted these days. They can take a while and there are complexities that need to be dealt with by the proper authorities. For that reason, we aren't really able to answer, for sure, if you can be granted annulment or, if so, on what grounds.

We aren't priests or canon lawyers. We are apologists, our area of expertise is explaining Catholic doctrine and theology so on doctrinal level, all we can tell you is that an annulment requires some kind of pre-existing impediment to the marriage being valid. These impediments can vary from:

  • emotional immaturity
  • to a refusal to have children
  • to failure to disclose an inability to have children, and so on.

It can't just be that the marriage didn't work out.

So as Mike said, the best thing you can do is go to your local priest. He'll help you get the ball rolling.


John DiMascio

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