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Anita J. Woods wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a practicing Catholic. I go to Mass every Sunday and say an hour of prayers every night.

I got divorced and then got a Catholic annulment which was granted.

I got remarried by a Justice of the Peace to a man that was also divorced. He is also Catholic but does not go to church regularly.

  • Can I, myself, go to Confession and receive Communion?
  • I know he can't until he goes through the process, but can I?


  { If my first marriage is annulled but I'm now married by a Justice of the Peace, can I receive the sacraments? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anita,

I think there is a misunderstanding here.

You must marry in the Church for your marriage to be valid.

  • Is there any reason you got married by a Justice of the Peace?
  • Did you talk to your local priest before getting married?

I'm trying to understand. Being able to receive Communion is dependent upon having a valid marriage; a marriage seen as valid by the Church.

I would make an appointment with a local priest or pastor who you feel comfortable with.

My colleagues may have more to add.


Paul replied:

Anita —

From what you wrote, it looks like you went through the process of obtaining an annulment only to contract another invalid marriage.

Unless you're living as brother and sister with this man while either working on validating the marriage or permanently separating, you cannot receive Our Lord in Communion.

It would be good for you to talk to your pastor for advice and council.


Bob replied:

Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for the question. 

Two things need to be cleared up before you can go to Communion:

  1. your husbands marital status.

    • Was his former marriage annulled?
      <If not, that needs to be sorted out.>

  2. Second, you must have your civil marriage blessed in the Church, so it can be properly affirmed and recognized as a legitimate sacrament in the Church (As such, it is not).

Until you do these things you should not go to Communion, and you should be living as brother and sister (no conjugal relations) until you do.  Adultery is a serious sin so you need to make sure that your current state is not furthering a grave problem.

Being faithful is hard, sometimes costly, but also an incredible source of grace—God rewards it abundantly!  You should meet with a priest to talk through how to fix this, along with your husband, and know that God will see you through. 

This is more than Church rules and regulations — the permanence of marriage is something Jesus taught explicitly and needs to be recognized as such.  An annulment does not create a Catholic divorce but insures that there was a defect from the start, preventing God from sealing the covenant.  An annulled marriage was never a sealed covenantal marriage in the eyes of God.

You did the right thing with your own situation. Explain to your husband your desire to be right in the eyes of God and that you need his help to do so — if he loves you, he will.


Bob Kirby

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