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Anonymous Stefanie wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm a confirmed Catholic who completely fell away from the faith in High School and became an atheist. I lived a sinful, secular life (I am now 47). Around 2016, out of nowhere, I started randomly thinking about things that I had done, which included abortions that I had put out of my mind. These thoughts would come and go and suddenly I would think about God. Then I started thinking about what religion I should research . . . Mormon? Baptist? Jehovah?

I had no idea what the differences were between them and I never even considered the Catholic faith.

Then suddenly I remembered Confession and, (long story, short), I found a Catholic Church and showed up with a long list of sins. In March 2017 I confessed my sins, started attending Mass and dove deep into learning the faith. God came to me and had mercy on me.

Four (4) years later, I want to follow Christ because He loves me, a sinner, and I want to love Him back. This whole time, I've been in a 16-year relationship; we live together. My fiance is a baptized Christian who is lost. He doesn't have much faith but but I believe is searching. He has been hurt by my faith because he doesn't understand.

The biggest issue: he is anti-Catholic. He thinks it's a cult, etc., etc. but there are background issues. as a young boy, he went with a Catholic pal of his to a Catholic Church for a day camp. He was molested by a priest in the bathroom. This has caused great harm to him spiritually and has caused great distress for me trying to be faithful to the Church.

We have been living as brother and sister for over a year in separate rooms of the home that we own together. I love him dearly and pray for him everyday. He refuses anything Catholic for a marriage.

The biggest issue: He was married years ago, an outside wedding and has two adult children. He won't get an annulment because of his distrust of the Church. Because of what this priest did to him, I am suffering greatly.

  • Is there any way around this so I can practice my faith fully (meaning being able to receive the Eucharist), or
  • Do I have to end it to be in good graces with God?

Please help me.

I pray everyday and am a witness to the faith, and still, everyone is against me and I understand why . . . because of the evil shepherd but I am suffering for his actions.

Thank you for your time.

God Bless,


  { Is there any way around this so I can practice my faith fully or do I have to end this relationship? }

Bob replied:

Dear Stefanie,

Thanks for the questions.

This is a really tough situation.

I think the fundamental issue of his annulment is the question that needs resolving. Marrying outside the church for any Catholic is a sin, so you are really stuck. It is almost like Christ is putting it to you, who are you going to choose, him or Me?

  • Does it feel that way?

That could be exactly what is happening so maybe you need to pass that ultimatum along to your fiancé and throw down the gauntlet:

If I am to marry you, it must be in the Catholic Church, and if you are not willing to do that, then I can't marry you.

Tell him it is a matter of conscience as a Catholic, and being obedient to God comes first. It is clear that a lot of evil men infiltrated the priesthood and hurt a lot of people (and he was such a victim), but that doesn't speak to all the faithful, both laity and ordained, who belong to the community to which you have been called. This is the Church Christ created, and Judas' have been here since the beginning. Your fiancé doesn't have to have a life in the Church alongside you, but you need to have the marriage sanctioned by the Church so you know Christ blesses this union. The alternative is adultery, and a betrayal of Christ. I don't see a middle road.

Think about it from this point of view: there is no cheap grace. Sainthood is costly. Christ never promised an easy cross, and you must carry one as every Christian does. Fundamentally, you need to know whether God desires you to be in this marriage or not. If God desires it, He could help your fiancé come around, but if not, he won't move.

The issue of his healing may seem like it belongs to you, but ultimately that is not your job, it is Christ's. You can pray for him (even if you end up moving on), but you cannot heal him so I would leave that part of the equation aside as an unfortunate obstacle but not a decisive factor in this impasse.

Putting aside the emotion of this, there are some factors that can make dissolving this easier if necessary:

  • you have no children together
  • your relationship started when you did not know God and therefore it was not built on God
  • you have already proven that you can go without sexual intimacy because you value being true to God more than your own desire.

Love is complicated — that is why the Cross is our symbol of True Love: ironic, painful, but glorious too, for a Heavenly crown awaits.

I know this is frightening and devastating to go through, and feeling alone only makes that worse.

I would hope that you could find a good priest for counsel and maybe get your fiancé to some counseling as well. There maybe other advice that a good priest would give, but at the very least, I will be praying my Rosary for you and your fiancé.


Bob Kirby

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