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Communion in the catholic church after marrying a divorcé

(27 Posts)
Bearess Thu 07-Apr-05 23:08:10

Bit of an odd question this - I am Catholic. Dh has been married before. I had nothing to do with the breakdown of his first marriage - didn't even meet him until a year after his divorce. We had a non-religious wedding. My parish priest has told me that I can attend Mass but not receive communion - has anyone come across this before? I am a bit miffed I must admit. Thanks in advance!

Caligula Thu 07-Apr-05 23:24:34

Yes. Depends which parish priest you have, but if you haven't had a catholic wedding, really hardline priests can treat it as you living in sin.

It can work the other way too, to your advantage: a friend of mine has been married twice, both times to non-catholics in registry offices (and divorced twice). Because she has never had a catholic wedding, her parish priest has told her that technically, she's welcome to walk down the aisle in his church as she's never had a catholic ceremony, so in the eyes of God, she's never really been married!

Neat huh?

Roobie Thu 07-Apr-05 23:28:31

Hi Bearess......if your dh has been married before then in the eyes of the RC church he is still married regardless of whether he has undergone a civil divorce. Hence your marriage is not actually recognised in the eyes of the church so you are actually living in sin! The RC church teaches that you have to be in a state of grace to receive communion ie have committed no serious/mortal sins (can wipe the slate clean via confession of course). So, your situation automatically renders you in a non state of grace hence your ineligibility to receive communion.
Thems the facts.......don't shoot the messenger though!!
Of course, if your dh's first marriage was not in a church then he was never actually married in the eyes of the RC church so you would both be free to have a recognised RC wedding if that was what you wanted.

Bearess Thu 07-Apr-05 23:42:40

ohhhhhhhhh, I see. Thanks for the info both. Caligula - are some priests more lenient about this than others? Ours is v. hardline - some might say scary - my parents are really upset and say they have never heard of anything like this before - they are strict catholics.

Caligula Thu 07-Apr-05 23:50:16

Yes, some priests are much less hardline than this. For example, my friend who has 2 ungodly marriages behind her, always takes communion, totally unquestioned by her priest.

I think if it really bothers you, you need to speak to your priest about it. This is so personal, mad as it sounds to anyone non-catholic. What's his position on your confession? Have you confessed to him?

Bearess Thu 07-Apr-05 23:56:31

No, I've only recently come back to the church in the last couple of years - so wouldn't know where to start with confession! I must admit that I have given our church a wide berth since I made this discovery last year, but I felt very edgy over Easter because I didn't go - I am thinking about starting to go to another Catholic church locally as said priest is also quite child-unfriendly - not at all like the nice priests I have been used to in the past.

Caligula Fri 08-Apr-05 00:11:08

Oh yes, find yourself a nice liberal in the closet gay priest - do you have one of these Irish fierce hell-fire ones?

If you haven't felt able to do confession with him after 2 years, you either need to do it soon or decide his parish isn't for you.

Have you considered trying high CofE? I think an awful lot may change quite dramatically now that JPII is no longer around.

Chandra Fri 08-Apr-05 01:49:15

Well, as far as I know you can continue to have comunion if you are divorced but not living with someone else. If the priest is a bit strict you are not going to be allowed but many priests would be happy to give communion to a person in a second marriage that cares a lot about having it. Though it may be an "under the table" arrangement.

morningpaper Fri 08-Apr-05 08:33:58

Bearess: It's awful, but the Catholic Church is very strict about this. Your priest is not hardline - he would be not doing his job if he let you take Communion, as you are in a state of mortal sin.

This was exactly the reason that I had to leave the Catholic Church and was received into the Anglican church. Once you are in a relationship after a divorce in the Catholic church, you are stuck as far as communion is concerned. You just can't participate. Although some priests may 'turn a blind eye' I felt it wasn't fair of me to ask them to do so, and it just felt wrong anyway that I was being 'officially' banned from communion because of my past.

It was very painful to leave the Catholic church and upset my family a great deal - I am xth generation Catholic - I had letters and visits from priests all over the country trying to persuade me to change my mind and seek annulments. But that route can be painful and didn't feel honest either.

I found the Anglican church far more welcoming, forgiving - and of course it's far more progressive on just about every front than the Catholic church.

You do have the option of getting your partner to apply for an annulment of his first marriage - you could speak to your parish priest about that if you felt it was a route you wanted to go down. But it isn't easy (and would require a lot of committment from him).

Good luck, I hope you find a welcoming spiritual home somehow!

Tortington Fri 08-Apr-05 17:13:32

my mum goes to church and never recieves communion exactly becuase of this.i go to church and dont recieve communion if i havent been to confession. it doesn't bother me as much as catholics think it should becuase i am making the effort to go to church and bring my kids up in the catholic faith. i dont know whether you can get passed it and still go to church to express your faith - or whether without communion you dont see the point of bothering? i personally wouldnt think that god would punish you for the acts of two other people. however hes not spoken to me directly about it recently so its really not for me to say.

i often get "bothered" by catholacism. but as a catholic feel it hard to change my religeon- rather i look upon it as a way to express my faith.

hope this helps.

ionesmum Fri 08-Apr-05 21:40:23

Lots of sympathy, Bearess. My nan was an RC who could no longer take Communion - her choice in her early twenties after seeing the pictures of the Pope at the time blessing Mussolini's troops - she could no longer believe in the infallibility of the Pope but also could not bear to anything but RC. So she never went to Mass again to my knowledge, until she died in her seventies.

So I know how hard it is to consider going elsewhere, but like MP I'm an anglo-Catholic of the liberal kind and you may find a home in this wing of the church.

Lavinia Byrne's book is excellent, it's about how she was forced to leave her order after writing about women priests and the RC church. She too cannot bear to join another denomination . Not directly related, I know, but not a million miles away.

I have to say I find the church really on this. Sorry if that offends anyone.

pixiefish Fri 08-Apr-05 21:46:15

my friends dh was married to his 1st wife in an anglican church. beecause of this the rc priest didn't consider him married and he was free to marry my friend in a rc church.
was your dh married first time in rc? if not then he wasn't married in the eyes of rc church. the problem could b that your priest believes you should get married rc church. check it out

Bearess Sat 09-Apr-05 00:17:50

Thank you so much everyone, you have been really helpful - and given me a lot to think about. I really can't imagine being anything else other than Catholic so ultimately I suppose I will just have to deal with the fact I can't take Communion. We really can't face the thought of trying to get dh's first marriage annulled - a tribunal was mentioned - he has no contact with his ex and they split on bad terms so it's a whole can of worms we are reluctant to open. I do think however maybe I need to find another parish, I do find our priest hard work, so I guess that is my next project. Thanks so much for helping me get it all straight in my head. Sx

lucy5 Sat 09-Apr-05 00:28:36

I remember as a child a friends mother nt being able to take communion because she was married to a divorcee(sp). I am a catholic as in once a catholic always a catholic. When I went to see the priest about getting dd christened, I happened to mention that I was also getting married. He couldnt believe that I wasnt getting married in the church, I told him my partner wasnt catholic and he laughed and asked me if we were living in the dark ages. He was really open minded and we got married in church on the saturday and had dd christened on the sunday. The funny thing was we were with a couple who had just done the same thing. My priest said in days like these they are only too happy to welcome people into the fold. Anyway that was my lengthy way of saying try another church, there are some wonderful priests out there who are more modern in their thinking. I am sorry if I have offended anyone who is devout.

morningpaper Sat 09-Apr-05 08:25:04

Just for the record, the Catholic church DOES recognise marriages between non-Catholics, because marriage is a sacrament given by each partner to the other. It's an urban myth that the Catholic church doesn't recognise non-Catholic marriages.

Here's a brief explanation:

"If two baptized non-Catholics marry each other then they can have a valid sacramental marriage. This is because a priest is not necessary to perform the sacrament of matrimony. It is formed by the two partners, who create the sacrament between them by giving valid matrimonial consent to the other and then consummating the union. In Catholic churches the priest serves as the Church's witness and overseer of the event, but he is not necessary for the sacrament itself to be performed.

In the same way, two unbaptized people (or one baptized and one unbaptized) can have a valid natural (non-sacramental) marriage between them even though the Church is not involved."

fairyfly Sat 09-Apr-05 08:57:27

I think it depends entirely on the priest. I am an unmarried mother of two, who had children with a non catholic. I was treated wonderfully and excepted with open arms, no problems at all, i was very unconfident about taking communion but he actually persuaded me to do so.

My sister on the otherhand who is another diocese, married a non catholic. When it came to their childs baptism they were treated with contempt. The priest said to the fathers child, would you leave your baby on the doorstep all night in the cold as that is what you are doing when you dont show it gods love.

expatinscotland Sat 09-Apr-05 09:35:14

It depends on the priest! My first marriage was annulled (my ex-husband, a Lutheran, grew to learn that he never wanted children (we married young) and was quite happy to sign papers to that effect). DH and I eloped and married at the Registry, we later had a Church of Scotland ceremony and our daughter was baptised in the Church of Scotland. My Catholic Church recogonises both the marriage and DD's baptism. My church is very liberal and welcoming and has two middle-aged priests who are very down-to-Earth.

Personally, I don't agree w/universal celibacy for all clerics and believe in using birth control, but that's a different story.

Find another Church, Bearess! Ask some mums in your baby group or that where they go.

expatinscotland Sat 09-Apr-05 09:43:54

Or, Bearess, when you do find a new church w/a more open-minded priest, do mention getting DH's first marriage annulled. It's not so hard if you have a reason like the person never wanted kids, was a substance abuser, etc. Also b/c he can no longer contact her that might help his case.

Personally, I don't see what a person's sex life has to do w/his/her belief in the Holy Trinity or transubstantiation.

Tommy Sat 09-Apr-05 09:53:11

Whereabouts are you Bearess? As lots of others have said, they are the rules but some priests are a bit more understanding than others. At the end of the day, it is a matter between you and God. If you went up for communion, you should not be refused (although the priest may speak to you about it later!) but you are the one who has to make the decision - your conscience, not his!

lucy5 Sat 09-Apr-05 20:45:04

morningpaper, im really confused now, My dh hasnt been baptised, his family were born again evangelicals who got thoroughly dunked as adults. We were married by a Catholic priest.

ionesmum Sat 09-Apr-05 21:16:35

Bearess, I think it is so sad you feel you have to face the future without being able to take Communion. Only you can decide how important this is for you. But FWIW I believe that no person or institution has the right to withold Communion from anyone. Jesus died for all of us, for each and every one of us, regardless of what we have done and how we live our lives. To deny someone the sacrament seems to me to fly in the face of what Jesus did for us. I hope that you can find a priest who is more forgiving and aware of humanity. If not, you can recieve Communion at a CofE church whislt remaining a Catholic - my dear friend who is RC takes Communion at our CofE church once a month and goes to Catholic mass the other Sundays. You'd have to decide for yourself if you are comfortable with this - I think that Rome still doesn't recognise CofE Communuion as valid.

morningpaper Sat 09-Apr-05 21:31:30

Lucy5: You were probably granted a 'dispensation' which would allow you to marry a non-Catholic.

lucy5 Sat 09-Apr-05 21:33:39

oh yes you are right, i'd forgotten about that. I was panicking thinking that my marriage wasn't recognised in the eyes of the church because the priest had made a mistake, durrr

morningpaper Sat 09-Apr-05 21:34:43

Well that's a relief!

Bugsy2 Wed 20-Apr-05 16:08:22

Sorry to butt in on this, but does that mean as a divorcee myself (married in the Catholic church), I shouldn't go up for communion?

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