“May you have true friends to stand by you, both in joy and in sorrow.”
Rite of Marriage
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans exhorts the Christian community to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15) Are you divorced and remarried? Are you suffering from a failed marriage? We urge you to make a time to talk to our parish priest. St. John Paul told us that the parish community must supports its members who have struggled in the vocation of marriage. We hope to provide, “much respect, solidarity, understanding and practical help, so that (you) can preserve (your) fidelity even in (this) difficult situation. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation On the Family (Familiaris Consortio) (Washington, DC: USCCB, 1982), no. 83. Grief arising from a failed attempt at marriage is deeply troubling. Prayer and the companionship of your pastor and fellow parishioners can, we hope, help you move through this time in life, searching for God’s will for you. You are not alone. You are welcome here.
Here are some possibilities to consider.
The Church will consider with you whether your attempt at marriage is null. Consent is required to validly celebrate the sacrament of marriage. The Tribunal will consider carefully any reason you raise that suggest that your consent to marriage my have been undermined by any factors, including immaturity. Sometimes people are just not ready to take on the obligations of the sacrament and are not prepared to realize the reality of their situation until circumstances bring the underlying failures in the relationship to light.
The Church cannot end a valid marriage; No power on earth can. The church will consider, however, whether a valid marriage ever existed. Marriage is not a legalism. It takes more than just repeating the words of the vow. There is a reality to our capacity to consent to a vocation that words express only if the underlying capacity to make the commitment exists. Consent can be undermined by a variety of factors. Without the underlying capacity, consent to marriage cannot be validly exchanged. This is a long maintained principle of law arising out of the reality of our human condition. Perhaps, you might consider whether your failed marriage was in fact a sacrament in the eyes of God. The Bishop and the Tribunal are ready to consider whether you can once again publicly celebrate the sacrament of marriage in Church. This is a serious matter to be considered thoughtfully by you and the Church.
If you think your first attempt at marriage might not be a sacramental marriage, come talk to a parish priest for help to think through what you might want to do now. If you follow this link, you can download a form for seeking an annulment. (insert link) It will give you some idea of the kinds of questions you might want to think about before talking to a priest.
What is an invalid marriage?
Catholics are obligated to marry in front of a priest, deacon or witness appointed by the Bishop. If you are a Catholic that was married before a civil authority or another minister, you might want to consider whether the Church recognizes your marriage. If you are a baptized catholic who was not married before a Catholic priest, follow this link. Insert Download this document so that you can read the kinds of questions that the you should consider. Then, talk to the parish priest.
Are you living as brother and sister by reason of age or illness?
For some faithful Catholics, marriage has become very much about companionship. An active sexual life is behind them for reasons of age, illness or other factors. The Bishop invites you to discuss your particular pastoral situation with your parish priest.