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Never married Catholic wants to marry Divorced Lutheran

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#1 User is offline   dsoronen

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Not sure what to do here. I am newly engaged and my fiance is Lutheran and I am Catholic (never been married before). He has been married before and is divorced. Can we still get married in a Catholic Church and what classes would be needed to be completed? The hard part is our distance. I am located in California and he located in Wisconsin, so partner classes may not be feasible for us. What should I do? I really want to fulfill my dream and get married in a Catholic Church. Help.

Dawn

#2 User is offline   Fr. Anderson

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Dear Dsoronen,

The answer depends on the specifics of your situation. In your case he is a divorced non-Catholic planning to marry in a Catholic church. He will need to have his first marriage declared null. Depending on where he was married and whether he or his ex-spouse were baptized, the matter might be resolved rather simply, or it might take more examination and work. But it can be and has been done many times before. It just takes a little leg work and patience.

The best place to start is for you both to contact your pastor or a Church pastoral minister and start the process. Most annulments are based on canon 1095, psychological reasons. These include a wide range of factors. Some of them may be misrepresentation or fraud (concealing the truth about capacity or desire to have children for example, or about a preexisting marriage, drug addiction, felony convictions, sexual preference or having reached the age of consent, adultery, etc.)

The reason most often used is:
Illegal "Form of Marriage" (ceremony was not performed according to Catholic canon law)

His previous marriage would certainly qualify, as the RCIA does not recognize any form of marriage other than their own.

You can only apply if his divorce is final. Go to a parish near you and ask for the application form. A priest, deacon or pastoral staff person will assist you with the process. You do not need to be a member of the parish in order to apply for an annulment. However, your fiance should apply within the diocese where he lives. As he will need to take classes there. Yes, you will most likely be required to attend some of the meetings together but arrangements can be made for marriage classes for those living in different parts of the country.

Best Wishes
Father Anderson, Episcopal Priest
http://www.fatheranderson.com

#3 User is offline   startingover

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Excellent advice from Fr. Anderson. We would just add one caveat. Since an annulment can take several months (or in some cases, over a year) to process through the tribunals, please don't set a wedding date yet. Wait until your fiance's annulment comes through. If for some reason the tribunal considers his first marriage to be sacramental and binding, he will not be free to marry you in the Catholic Church.

Although the annulment process may seem unnecessary and even intimidating for a non-Catholic, your Lutheran fiance may find it of great help in understanding what went wrong in his first marriage. This enlightening information can be valuable to both of you in your future together because you will be more aware of emotional baggage brought into your relationship and be able to deal with it before it becomes a problem. Getting an annulment can be tough, but it's also good therapy for avoiding bitterness and for not making the same mistakes twice.

God bless you as you work things out together.
Kay and Dennis Flowers
Authors of Catholic Annulment, Spiritual Healing

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