Question for Roman Catholics about annulment - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not Catholic, but I have a question about a situation with a RC woman in my community. There is something about it which I find slightly fishy - I don't know who the fish is though.

The woman in question was married and got a divorce. She hasn't got an annulment, but has remarried in a civil ceremony. She is not allowed to recieve communion. So far, no suprises.

She has been told that she could probably get an annulment, but apparently this would cost a lot of money, more than she can afford. Is this usual? I can see that there is administration, and a divorce costs money too. But on the other hand, if the marriage was never really valid, then wouldn't the church owe it to her to find that out? I have heard that North Americans have a lot of annulments and wonder if this is part of the issue. (In fact I know a man who sat on the local board (I don't know the proper name) that dealt with annulments and it was actually one of the things that led him to leave the Church.)

What I find really fishy though is this: Her 2nd husband, also Roman Catholic, IS allowed to receive. The rationale, apparently, is that he was never married before. But if she is still officially married to her first husband, is he not committing adultery or at least living in sin, so to speak? It seems to me the priest at the local church must be misinterpreting things. Or am I totally misunderstanding the nature of annulment?

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#2 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 01:02 PM
 
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I'm not Catholic, but I have a question about a situation with a RC woman in my community. There is something about it which I find slightly fishy - I don't know who the fish is though.

The woman in question was married and got a divorce. She hasn't got an annulment, but has remarried in a civil ceremony. She is not allowed to recieve communion. So far, no suprises.

She has been told that she could probably get an annulment, but apparently this would cost a lot of money, more than she can afford. Is this usual? I can see that there is administration, and a divorce costs money too. But on the other hand, if the marriage was never really valid, then wouldn't the church owe it to her to find that out? I have heard that North Americans have a lot of annulments and wonder if this is part of the issue. (In fact I know a man who sat on the local board (I don't know the proper name) that dealt with annulments and it was actually one of the things that led him to leave the Church.)

What I find really fishy though is this: Her 2nd husband, also Roman Catholic, IS allowed to receive. The rationale, apparently, is that he was never married before. But if she is still officially married to her first husband, is he not committing adultery or at least living in sin, so to speak? It seems to me the priest at the local church must be misinterpreting things. Or am I totally misunderstanding the nature of annulment?
Hello!
I am unsure of the cost of an annulment, so I can't respond.
The Communion thing though- Her current DH is not currently married and is engaging in marital relations with a married women whom he is living with- sounds like sin to me! I think the local priest is misinterpreting.
It is best if the two of them cease sexual relations and live as brother and sister until her annulment is completed and their marriage can be convalidated.

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#3 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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Former RC (Current Lutheran) here...

Annulments are costly (fees starting in the thousands), and sometimes denied. It doesn't make any sense that one can take communion and the other can't though...
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#4 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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My dh had his first marriage declared invalid (it did not have to be annulled because it did not take place in the Catholic church and the couple had no plans to practice). The case still went to the Tribunale, and there was still discovery. It was 20 years ago, and I don't remember how much it cost, but it can't have been painful or we couldn't have afforded it. I know it was nowhere near $1000.

Did the new husband actually hear from a priest that he is allowed to receive communion, or is he interpreting for himself? It seems pretty clear to me that he is not in a Sacramental marriage, and should not be receiving.

In our situation, everyone and their dog had an opinion or a story about how things worked, and it wasn't until we made an appointment and actually sat down with a priest that things became clear. If this information is what she is getting from her parish priest, maybe she should make an appointment with another priest and see if the information is different. At least she will know what her options truly are.
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#5 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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My xh and I went through the annulment process befor we were married becuase he had been married before. He wasn't Catholic, but I was and we wanted to get married in the church.

We spent a couple of hundred to get the process started, then a few months later were told that he didn't need the annulment becuase while he wasn't Catholic, his ex wife was and they weren't married in the church, rendering their marriage invalid.
So, we were married in the Catholic church a year later. Then, about 7 years ago, we divorced. I had drifted away from the Catholic faith for other reasons so didn't worry about an annulment at the time.

Since I remarried a while back, and now have two little ones with DH, I went through a phase where I thought I might be being called back to the Catholic faith. I looked into annulment again, but one of the things that held me back was the cost along with the strong possibility that it wouldn't be granted anyway. The whole notion of the annulment process (marriages being valid or not on a technicality, basically living in sin even if the earlier marriage was invalid until you pay your fee and do the paperwork, the status of the children of an invalid marriage, how to tell your current spouse and your kids that since the annulment was denied, you must break up your happy home and either be single or re-unite with your ex just so that your soul isn't in jeapordy, etc...) is one of the things that pushed me away from the Catholic faith.

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#6 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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According to the sources I've read and the people I know who have obtained decrees of nullity, the tribunal typically asks for a few hundred dollars. In some areas they may ask more than $1000, but to my knowledge this is not widespread. Many parishes have some money set aside to help pay for the annulments of those who cannot afford to do so themselves. A good priest is eager to help his parishioners get back into a state of grace and will aid them in finding the means to do this.

Many priests have taken it upon themselves to distort Church teaching on this issue because they feel the real teachings are too difficult for people to handle. Such priests will tell people in invalid marriages to go ahead and receive communion while continuing to live as husband and wife. This may account for this one couple's confusion. Or perhaps they did their own research and misunderstood what they read. Either way, they are definitely mistaken about the husband being "allowed" to receive.

(FTR, I'm an atheist, but learning about Catholic teachings has been one of my special interests since childhood.)

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#7 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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I don't know the exactly answer to the original question but I do have to admit that if I was him, I would not receive communion. It could be many reasons he is doing that. Maybe the priest doesn't know, or probably he is thinking that the woman IS officially divorce only that is waiting for an annulment, or the priest is very lay back. Not that I see the last one a correct act but you never know.

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#8 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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The husband in question should not be receiving Communion according to Church teaching.

As for the cost of annulments, that can vary greatly, but I have known a few people that have gotten annulments and the cost was not at all prohibitive.

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#9 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 10:39 PM
 
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Can I ask a piggyback question? DH and I were discussing annulment not today (er, not for us, that is!), and he was surprised to hear a marriage could be annulled after having a child. But I know a woman who had her first marriage annulled after having four. So does her annullment mean the children are technically illegitimate/conceived in sin? Annulment means the marriage was never really a marriage, right? Or not?

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#10 of 54 Old 02-06-2009, 10:48 PM
 
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You know, people ask that question often. I don't know exactly how to answer except to say that there is no difference in the Catholic faith between a child born within marriage or outside of marriage, the child is a child The Church just is not into the whole "illegitimate" thing. (I am sure someone's very devout Catholic Grandma Sue calls children illegitimate all of the time, and that someone has a brother who has a priest who did, etc., but, I don't know that it is in the catechism... ykwim?)

I would think that if you have sought an annulment, asking the Church to declare that your marriage was never a valid Sacramental union, and if you had sex within that "marriage" you would be aware that you would then have to confess that "outside of marriage sex", but- in the faith, there is no sin, beyond the sex, in having a child. Am I making any sense?

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#11 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 12:56 AM
 
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Yeah, that makes sense - don't worry, I didn't think it was Catholic doctrine to drown children for being illegitimate. My Catholic FIL didn't know when I asked him, so I thought I'd ask here.

Does it ever happen that two people got married, thought they had a valid Sacramental union but found out later (due to a technicality or whatever) that they didn't? In that case, would they be considered to have been living in sin, or would it not count as living in sin if it was unwitting? As in, would they have to confess? Not sure if that situation's even possible under Catholic law though.

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#12 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 01:37 AM
 
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Does it ever happen that two people got married, thought they had a valid Sacramental union but found out later (due to a technicality or whatever) that they didn't? In that case, would they be considered to have been living in sin, or would it not count as living in sin if it was unwitting? As in, would they have to confess? Not sure if that situation's even possible under Catholic law though.
It's possible. I know of a situation in which a parish priest told an engaged couple that a civil marriage would be acceptable. They were married in the courthouse, believing that the marriage was valid in the Church because the priest said so. He was wrong, of course, and the couple was later advised to seek a convalidation (get married in the Church).

I think most priests would conclude that unwitting fornication does not need to be confessed but if the couple were to resume having relations after finding out that their marriage was invalid in the eyes of the Church and before having the marriage convalidated, that would be considered sinful and should be confessed.

Also, if the couple had a hunch that their priest had misguided them but they deliberately decided not to try to find out the Church's true stance on the matter (lest it be inconvenient to them), that would be something to consider, in terms of moral culpability.

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#13 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 09:35 AM
 
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Yes, my BIL was "married" to a woman who was already married. He was not guilty of sin, in that he had no idea she was married. He had an automatic annulment.

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#14 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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As long as we're playing the "what if" game...
This is something I've always wondered about.
If someone is married in a protestant or other type of non-Catholic or Orthodox Christian church and decided to covert (or re-convert) to Catholicism is their marriage considered valid/sacramental according to the Catholic church?

What about another non-Christian religious wedding ceremony, like if a couple was married in a Jewish/Hindu/Muslim/Buddhist etc. wedding ceremony and later decided to become Catholic, would they be considered not really married? Would they have to get married again
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#15 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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I have a question too, what if someone goes through the process, pays the fees, and at the end, the annulment isn't granted? From what I understand, there's no guarantee, in fact, it is hard to get one. What happens to the persons current family?

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#16 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a question too, what if someone goes through the process, pays the fees, and at the end, the annulment isn't granted? From what I understand, there's no guarantee, in fact, it is hard to get one. What happens to the persons current family?
I believe that they aren't supposed to have a current family until the annulment is granted.

I don't know that they are hard to get tough, I say something in the news recently about the Pope wanting to tighten up annulments in North America. The message seemed to be that people were beginning to think it was almost impossible to have a real marriage.

Re. the question about accepting marriages by other denominations, I don't know about the others but I am sure an Orthodox one would be accepted.

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#17 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 01:46 PM
 
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I believe that they aren't supposed to have a current family until the annulment is granted.

I don't know that they are hard to get tough, I say something in the news recently about the Pope wanting to tighten up annulments in North America. The message seemed to be that people were beginning to think it was almost impossible to have a real marriage.

Re. the question about accepting marriages by other denominations, I don't know about the others but I am sure an Orthodox one would be accepted.
I think you're right, and it would probably not be a problem if someone was constantly in the Catholic faith, but if, as in my case, someone left the faith, remarried, had kids, and then started wondering about having the first marriage annulled, what would happen if the annulment was denied? I know it's not that unusual of a situation.

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#18 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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in response to the questions regarding if people lived in sin if later they had married it was annulled. the way I've seen it explained is that if you *unknowningly* took part (such as you didnt know the other had previously been married) that you had not *sinned* they had (because they knew of the situation) but if you in your heart believed that the marriage was true according to the church that it technically isnt a *sin* per say if you where repentenent and tried to make it right say. if you believed in your heart that your marriage was true and valid in the eyes of the church and you lived the bounds of your marriage vows that you shouldnt be faulted for the sins of another. Sorry its hard to explain.
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#19 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 03:41 PM
 
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ok another what if . . . .what if one person converted later, would they be denied the Eucharist for not being in a sacrimental marriage or do converts get exceptions?

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#20 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 04:02 PM
 
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When I went through the annulment process, the fee was greatly reduced due to financial hardship and they also let me make payments.

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#21 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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We spent a couple of hundred to get the process started, then a few months later were told that he didn't need the annulment becuase while he wasn't Catholic, his ex wife was and they weren't married in the church, rendering their marriage invalid.
So, we were married in the Catholic church a year later. Then, about 7 years ago, we divorced. I had drifted away from the Catholic faith for other reasons so didn't worry about an annulment at the time. .

Yet I was told that because dh and his ex were both baptised Christian (not Catholic) that their marriage did count, and mine to dh didn't. We couldn't get married in a Catholic church due to that. I still receive communion though. I think that's between me and God, not me and some man made rule (as opposed to God made rule).

I was also not the reason for the failure of his first marriage (we met years later), and neither was he (she had an affair and left him).
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#22 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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Can I ask a piggyback question? DH and I were discussing annulment not today (er, not for us, that is!), and he was surprised to hear a marriage could be annulled after having a child. But I know a woman who had her first marriage annulled after having four. So does her annullment mean the children are technically illegitimate/conceived in sin? Annulment means the marriage was never really a marriage, right? Or not?
The legitimacy of a child is based on law, not religion. Annulment does not illegitimize any child.
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#23 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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As long as we're playing the "what if" game...
This is something I've always wondered about.
If someone is married in a protestant or other type of non-Catholic or Orthodox Christian church and decided to covert (or re-convert) to Catholicism is their marriage considered valid/sacramental according to the Catholic church?
If the party converted, once the marriage is convalidated (ie: blessed), then it is a sacramental marriage.
If the party reverted, same thing.
In both cases, both parties would have to live with their spouse as brother and sister until such time as the marriage became sacramental.
This is my understanding, anyway.

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What about another non-Christian religious wedding ceremony, like if a couple was married in a Jewish/Hindu/Muslim/Buddhist etc. wedding ceremony and later decided to become Catholic, would they be considered not really married? Would they have to get married again
Same as above. Once the marriage was convalidated, the marriage would be sacramental.
I am not sure on the living as brother and sister thing, though, in the case of both parties converting from another religion. Because I know those non-Catholics who marry other non-Catholics outside the Church are considered to be in a valid marriage. If this is the case, then I would assume (again, this is my understanding of the whole thing) that since both parties are already in a valid marriage, and there is nothing imped them from having the marriage convalidated (no other marriages), then it would seem like the couple could continue with relations and what-not. But I am not sure.

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#24 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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ok another what if . . . .what if one person converted later, would they be denied the Eucharist for not being in a sacrimental marriage or do converts get exceptions?
See my previous post.
However- Catholic Answers might have the responses to the questions all y'all are askin.

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#25 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 06:22 PM
 
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ok another what if . . . .what if one person converted later, would they be denied the Eucharist for not being in a sacrimental marriage or do converts get exceptions?
I wanted to get my prior marriage annulled, and convert to Catholicism. However, my current DH is a baptized Catholic (but, VERY non-praticing...as in, agnostic), and he has a prior non-annulled marriage, and absolutely no interest in an annulment.. I was told that even if I got *my* marriage annulled, because my husband had no interest in having his prior marriage annulled and ours convalidated, I would have to live the rest of my life "apart" from my husband in order to receive the Eucharist. Or I could divorce him, get it annulled, and marry a "good" catholic. :
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#26 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 06:55 PM
 
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ok another what if . . . .what if one person converted later, would they be denied the Eucharist for not being in a sacrimental marriage or do converts get exceptions?
There seems to be some confusion between a valid marriage and a sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church.

A valid marriage is one that is recognized by the Church. A sacramental marriage is a valid marriage between a baptised man and a baptised woman. There are four requirements for the marriage of a Catholic person to be valid:

1) Both spouses must freely give consent;
2) Both spouses must be free to marry (meaning, not married to someone else);
3) Both spouses must have the intent to be married for life, to be faithful, and to be open to children;
4) The marriage must take place with at least two witnesses before a properly authorized Church minister. This is often referred to as being "married within the Church". It is important to note that being "married within the Church" does not always require the wedding to take place in the church building.

To get an annullment, one of these four requirements must be shown to be lacking. Often, people claim that one or both of the spouses did not have proper intent at the time of the wedding.

The Catholic Church acknowledges marriages between non-Catholics as valid, whether they are done in civil or religious ceremonies. If the marriage is between two baptised spouses it is a sacramental marriage (even if their own religion does not view marriage as a sacrament). If one or both parties is not baptised, it is a valid natural marriage.

Catholics can validly have a non-sacramental marriage. With permission of the bishop, a Catholic may marry a non-baptised person. Or in a natural marriage between non-Catholics, one spouse may convert to the Catholic Church while the other does not. In both situations there is a valid natural marriage and the Catholic spouse is free to receive the Eucharist (as long as there is no other motral sin).

I hope that helps.

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#27 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 07:32 PM
 
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thanks Lollybrat - that did help a lot.

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#28 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 07:42 PM
 
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As long as we're playing the "what if" game...
This is something I've always wondered about.
If someone is married in a protestant or other type of non-Catholic or Orthodox Christian church and decided to covert (or re-convert) to Catholicism is their marriage considered valid/sacramental according to the Catholic church?
If both spouses are baptised it is already a valid sacramental marriage. If the non-converting spouse is not baptised, it is a valid natural marriage. Should the non-baptised spouse convert and be baptised the marriage will automatically become sacramental. In either case their is no need for a additional ceremony.

Catholics believe that baptism is the gateway to all other sacraments. And the Catholic Church recognizes the baptism of (most) protestant churches as valid.

Convalidation is required when a Catholic attempts marriage "outside of the Church", meaning without the permission and authority of the Catholic Church, and later wants to have the Catholic Church recognize the marriage.


Quote:
What about another non-Christian religious wedding ceremony, like if a couple was married in a Jewish/Hindu/Muslim/Buddhist etc. wedding ceremony and later decided to become Catholic, would they be considered not really married? Would they have to get married again
Again, this would be a valid natural marriage. If both parties are later baptised it automaticaly becomes a sacramental marriage. If only one party converts and if baptised, it is still a valid natural marriage.

Catholics believe that in a sacramental marriage God bestows special graces onto the couple. But there is no sin in having a natural marriage as opposed to a sacramental marriage and no impediment to receiving communion.

Lolly
Mom to an amazing little guy, age 9 (Autism, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, Albinism, Chromosome Microdeletion)

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#29 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 09:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anjelika View Post
Annulments are costly (fees starting in the thousands), and sometimes denied.
I have never heard of an annulment costing thousands of dollars, though costs do vary depending on who is preparing your annulment. In our parish only a small fee (less than $100) is requested.

I have also never known anyone whose annulment was denied, though I suppose it rarely happens.


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Originally Posted by athansor View Post
The whole notion of the annulment process (marriages being valid or not on a technicality, basically living in sin even if the earlier marriage was invalid until you pay your fee and do the paperwork, the status of the children of an invalid marriage, how to tell your current spouse and your kids that since the annulment was denied, you must break up your happy home and either be single or re-unite with your ex just so that your soul isn't in jeapordy, etc...) is one of the things that pushed me away from the Catholic faith.
I can't say that I blame you. According to my Church History teacher, this is one of the issues that many bishops would like to revisit - for the very reason you cite above. Issues with annulments are driving people away from the Church.


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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
So does her annullment mean the children are technically illegitimate/conceived in sin? Annulment means the marriage was never really a marriage, right? Or not?
Annulment means that the marriage was not Sacramental.

And IM answered the other question perfectly.

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Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post
The legitimacy of a child is based on law, not religion. Annulment does not illegitimize any child.
We have a child conceived/born out of wedlock. He has never been considered illegitimate and was baptised in the Church long before we were married.


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Originally Posted by Peppermint View Post
The Church just is not into the whole "illegitimate" thing.
:


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Originally Posted by athansor View Post
I have a question too, what if someone goes through the process, pays the fees, and at the end, the annulment isn't granted? From what I understand, there's no guarantee, in fact, it is hard to get one. What happens to the persons current family?
Again, I don't think there is a lot of truth to "it is hard to get one".


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Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post
I still receive communion though. I think that's between me and God, not me and some man made rule (as opposed to God made rule).


I have a friend who hasn't rec'd Eucharist in almost 25 years, because her DH (non-practicing Catholic) flat out refuses to get his first marriage annulled.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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#30 of 54 Old 02-07-2009, 09:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lollybrat View Post
If both spouses are baptised it is already a valid sacramental marriage. If the non-converting spouse is not baptised, it is a valid natural marriage. Should the non-baptised spouse convert and be baptised the marriage will automatically become sacramental. In either case their is no need for a additional ceremony.

Catholics believe that baptism is the gateway to all other sacraments. And the Catholic Church recognizes the baptism of (most) protestant churches as valid.

Convalidation is required when a Catholic attempts marriage "outside of the Church", meaning without the permission and authority of the Catholic Church, and later wants to have the Catholic Church recognize the marriage.




Again, this would be a valid natural marriage. If both parties are later baptised it automaticaly becomes a sacramental marriage. If only one party converts and if baptised, it is still a valid natural marriage.

Catholics believe that in a sacramental marriage God bestows special graces onto the couple. But there is no sin in having a natural marriage as opposed to a sacramental marriage and no impediment to receiving communion.
Thank you for answering my questions
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