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Heartbroken. Conversion to Catholicism and dashed hopes.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

I guess I'm just looking for support.  After a lot of soul searching I made the choice to convert from Lutheranism (how I grew up) to Catholicism.  This took so much energy on my part, I was really diligent and made completely certain that it was what I wanted.

 

After making the decision I met with the Monsignor and the director of religious education.  I entered the period of inquiry. I signed up to get started with the RCIA.  I was really feeling excited and content, like I was making the absolute right choice.  Until today.

 

I found out today that I cannot convert at this time.  My husband was married before, and though he had grounds for annulment, he went the civil route and never annulled his marriage through the church.  They gently told me today that our marriage of 11 year is invalid in the eyes of the church and that for me to convert he has to formally annul the previous marriage.

 

They did say that given the circumstances the tribunal absolutely will grant it.  It just may take a few years.  He has to meet with them.  We have to have three people who were present at that time in his life write up documents to submit to the church.  They have to contact her so she can protect her rights.  Then if the tribunal agrees they will annul the marriage at which point we can have ours blessed.

 

This isn't the end of the world, but we are not at the same point in our paths and I'm really not sure he will be willing to do this.  He would, for me, but I'm not sure that's fair to ask.  It would not be something he'd be interested in doing, if that makes sense.  I feel pretty strongly about it though and didn't receive the news in anger.  I honestly didn't know about this at all, having not been raised in the Catholic church-but it makes sense and feels important.  And I feel stuck, because I'm no longer in charge of my path, if that makes sense.

 

I just feel so heartbroken right now.  I could use any words of wisdom anyone has to offer.

post #2 of 29
No wisdom, just hugs.
post #3 of 29

No wisdom but man that sounds hard.

post #4 of 29
Marriage is taken very seriously by the Catholic Church. As someone with a different faith background it is understandable that you would not be aware of church teaching in this area. If you know that the church contains the fullness of truth and you want to partake in her fullness then this is now part of the path you are on. Jesus wants to heal this area of your life so it is in compliance with His church. Every marriage is assumed to be valid by the church unless proved otherwise so your husband's first marriage is assumed to be valid. What is his faith background? Catholic Answers Forums may be a place you can get support, there are many former Lutherans in the community. God bless you, stay close to the Holy Spirit in prayer - the faith is "a pearl of great price" and love involves sacrifice.
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  He is Catholic, but fell away from the Church in his early 20's.  He was non practicing at the point of his first marriage (which I am told is a good thing, oddly enough.)  I know this is the right path, and he has agreed that he would like to get back to the Church for our family.  I am meeting with someone today, and we will meet with the Deacon next week to start the process. 

 

Thank you for the tip on the forum.  I may well check that out.
 

post #6 of 29

I can't see why in the world the annulment process might take YEARS .... it shouldn't, unless the former wife will be difficult to locate, impaired in some way, uncooperative, or some such thing.

 

I pray that things will go quickly and smoothly for you.

 

 

Quote:

Marriage is taken very seriously by the Catholic Church.

 

This is rather an insult to other faiths, most of which certainly take marriage very seriously. I think a better way to explain is that the Catholic Church considers marriage a Sacrament - a convenant with God, through which we receive His grace - and, since a true Sacrament is never broken, the Church feels it necessary to "investigate" the validity of a broken marriage.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trigger View Post

I can't see why in the world the annulment process might take YEARS .... it shouldn't, unless the former wife will be difficult to locate, impaired in some way, uncooperative, or some such thing.

 

I pray that things will go quickly and smoothly for you.

 

 

 

This is rather an insult to other faiths, most of which certainly take marriage very seriously. I think a better way to explain is that the Catholic Church considers marriage a Sacrament - a convenant with God, through which we receive His grace - and, since a true Sacrament is never broken, the Church feels it necessary to "investigate" the validity of a broken marriage.

 

Thank you.  Yes, you've got it.  Long story short it was never a marriage-she took off on the honeymoon and that was that.  She never even showed up at court for the divorce.  We don't know where she is, and she doesn't have a history of being cooperative.   We have been told that once she IS found they give her a year to state her case, assuming she wants to.  If, after a year she doesn't, they will go ahead without her participation.  All that being the case, I'm prepared for it to take a good long time.  I'm going through my classes now though, so I at least feel that I have some personal forward momentum.

post #8 of 29

.


Edited by Morgan Mareglia - 4/11/13 at 11:29am
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much.

 

I'm amazed at the peace I feel.  A Lutheran service is not that much different, but the feeling for me is worlds apart. 
 

post #10 of 29

The notable differences are the Sacraments and the Eucharist ..... which does create an entirely different feeling, because they are a very big deal, spiritually. It was intense passion for the Eucharist that led me to the Catholic Church as an adult.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariamagdalena View Post

 

Thank you.  Yes, you've got it.  Long story short it was never a marriage-she took off on the honeymoon and that was that.  She never even showed up at court for the divorce.  We don't know where she is, and she doesn't have a history of being cooperative.   We have been told that once she IS found they give her a year to state her case, assuming she wants to.  If, after a year she doesn't, they will go ahead without her participation.  All that being the case, I'm prepared for it to take a good long time.  I'm going through my classes now though, so I at least feel that I have some personal forward momentum.

 

But what if she isn't found? Surely there is a time limit for finding her, and you have at least some recourse? If not, I would seek help to challenge the tribunal. It isn't fair to give her all the advantage when she clearly has no interest in any of it. Are you in a very conservative diocese?

post #11 of 29

I just went through the whole annulment process. Was your husband married outside of the Catholic church? If he was baptized and raised Catholic then married outside of the church, the grounds for annulment would be "lack of form", which is a one page deal and doesn't need his ex's participation. You only need to make a reasonable effort to locate his ex, and she is only given a certain time period to answer. She cannot stop or slow the process by being uncooperative. The time she has to reply or supply her own witnesses is limited. It varies from dioceses, but my ex was only given a few months. He didn't respond so the proceedings went on without him.

 

I hope you can resolve this issue and that you may continue to have peace throughout this journey.

post #12 of 29

Hugs. It sounds like your husband's case was pretty clearly never a sacramental marriage, so the process should move. Previous 'marriages' create difficulty for many, many people who are trying to convert/revert to the Catholic Church. You can look at it as a barrier to you becoming Catholic, or you can look at it as a beautiful thing that the Church does to protect marriage. It may not feel so beautiful right now when it feels like you are prevented from being both Catholic and married to your husband. Really, though, it's that they want to make sure that there are no barriers to your current marriage becoming a valid Sacramental marriage. Your marriage and your family will experience such grace from the Sacrament. Prayers for you that you are able to move swiftly through the process. It usually does not take years.

post #13 of 29

I'm in the same situation.  Ex-Lutheran, waiting for my DH's previous marriage to be declared invalid so we can have ours convalidated so I can be fully received into the Church.  His previous marriage was also a sham marriage.  It is taking us forever, but that is because DH is not motivated and his previous marriage was when he lived in Mexico, so we're having some international difficulties.  It's frustrating (I complain about it in the Catholic thread here) but I find it comforting that the Church cares enough about my soul to want things to be done right beyond any doubt.  In the meantime, I live as though I already were a "real" Catholic (except I don't get to receive the Eucharist :( ).  PM me if you need to vent!

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

Oh WOW.  Very similar stories!  I know it's a good thing, but it is taking forever just to fill out the paperwork.  I feel so badly putting him through this too.  :(  I really really really wanted to be accepted into the church with my kids and I'm not sure that's going to happen.  I know that's okay, but it's going to make me sad.

 

I'm living as a Catholic now too.  My deacon is really comforting about this and had made me feel a lot more chilled out about everything.  I do go to Mass, though don't receive the Eucharist.   I'm getting quite a bit more involved too, which makes me feel good and everyone is being very supportive.  I also have some very good friends that know I'm walking this path and they've been wonderful to talk to.
 

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trigger View Post

The notable differences are the Sacraments and the Eucharist ..... which does create an entirely different feeling, because they are a very big deal, spiritually. It was intense passion for the Eucharist that led me to the Catholic Church as an adult.

 

 

 

But what if she isn't found? Surely there is a time limit for finding her, and you have at least some recourse? If not, I would seek help to challenge the tribunal. It isn't fair to give her all the advantage when she clearly has no interest in any of it. Are you in a very conservative diocese?

If she isn't found, my understanding is that they go through with it anyway-like a no contest, but they may give her more than a year.  It's really out of our hands which is why it could possibly take so long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gremco View Post

I just went through the whole annulment process. Was your husband married outside of the Catholic church? If he was baptized and raised Catholic then married outside of the church, the grounds for annulment would be "lack of form", which is a one page deal and doesn't need his ex's participation. You only need to make a reasonable effort to locate his ex, and she is only given a certain time period to answer. She cannot stop or slow the process by being uncooperative. The time she has to reply or supply her own witnesses is limited. It varies from dioceses, but my ex was only given a few months. He didn't respond so the proceedings went on without him.

 

I hope you can resolve this issue and that you may continue to have peace throughout this journey.

Sadly he was married in a Catholic church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ View Post

Hugs. It sounds like your husband's case was pretty clearly never a sacramental marriage, so the process should move. Previous 'marriages' create difficulty for many, many people who are trying to convert/revert to the Catholic Church. You can look at it as a barrier to you becoming Catholic, or you can look at it as a beautiful thing that the Church does to protect marriage. It may not feel so beautiful right now when it feels like you are prevented from being both Catholic and married to your husband. Really, though, it's that they want to make sure that there are no barriers to your current marriage becoming a valid Sacramental marriage. Your marriage and your family will experience such grace from the Sacrament. Prayers for you that you are able to move swiftly through the process. It usually does not take years.

I definitely look at it as the latter, it just threw me for a loop!  I wasn't expecting to be told I couldn't join until this was taken care of, you know?  Thank you for all your thoughts.  They mean a lot.

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariamagdalena View Post

Thank you.  He is Catholic, but fell away from the Church in his early 20's.  He was non practicing at the point of his first marriage (which I am told is a good thing, oddly enough.)  I know this is the right path, and he has agreed that he would like to get back to the Church for our family.  I am meeting with someone today, and we will meet with the Deacon next week to start the process. 

Thank you for the tip on the forum.  I may well check that out.

 
Was his first marriage in the Catholic Church? If not, it hold not need to be annulled.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by swede View Post


Was his first marriage in the Catholic Church? If not, it hold not need to be annulled.

 

She states that it was, in the post just above yours.

post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ View Post

Hugs. It sounds like your husband's case was pretty clearly never a sacramental marriage, so the process should move. Previous 'marriages' create difficulty for many, many people who are trying to convert/revert to the Catholic Church. You can look at it as a barrier to you becoming Catholic, or you can look at it as a beautiful thing that the Church does to protect marriage. It may not feel so beautiful right now when it feels like you are prevented from being both Catholic and married to your husband. Really, though, it's that they want to make sure that there are no barriers to your current marriage becoming a valid Sacramental marriage. Your marriage and your family will experience such grace from the Sacrament. Prayers for you that you are able to move swiftly through the process. It usually does not take years.

I thought marriage is marriage. What is meant by "sacramental marriage" (if it won't derail the thread too much)?
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trigger View Post

 

She states that it was, in the post just above yours.


I know - saw that too late - sorry!  Good luck, OP!

post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ View Post

Hugs. It sounds like your husband's case was pretty clearly never a sacramental marriage, so the process should move.

 

To clarify my statement, I misunderstood the following statement to mean that his previous marriage was only a civil marriage, not a marriage in the Church:

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mariamagdalena View Post

My husband was married before, and though he had grounds for annulment, he went the civil route and never annulled his marriage through the church.

 

If a baptized Catholic marries outside of the Catholic Church without permission, it's not a valid Sacramental marriage. With the new information given that he was indeed married inside the Church though not practicing his faith at the time, I do believe that the process would still move, but it's not quite as simple as I said before.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post


I thought marriage is marriage. What is meant by "sacramental marriage" (if it won't derail the thread too much)?

 

The term "sacramental marriage" differentiates it from just a "natural marriage." We believe that any time a man and a woman are united in marriage through mutual consent, and that marriage is consummated, that is a natural marriage. I'm not a cannon lawyer, so I am unsure of the exact minimum requirements for a natural marriage, but in essence, if you were married to somebody of the opposite sex, and you're not baptized or it wasn't in a church, we'd assume that you have a valid natural marriage unless proven otherwise. We respect that these natural marriages are real and important to society even if they do not have the graces of the Sacrament. This is presumably what the OP has right now, assuming that her husband's previous marriage is null so that he was free to enter into marriage with her.

 

A "sacramental marriage" on the other hand (though it is also a natural marriage, that is, a union between a man and a woman) is a union between a baptized man and baptized woman that is blessed by the Church and receives the graces given to the couple through the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is what is required of married Catholics in to be in Communion with the Church and presumably what the OP seeks.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swede View Post

Was his first marriage in the Catholic Church? If not, it hold not need to be annulled.

 

Actually, a natural marriage WOULD need to be annulled or dissolved. A Sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved, only annulled if it was not valid. Anything that is not a natural marriage would not need to be annulled, that is, declared null, because there was never any assumption in the Church that it was anything but null.

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