|Question Title||Posted By||Question Date|
|My husband refuses to get an annulment||Ioanna||Saturday, January 27, 2018|
Dear Brother Ignatius Mary,
My husband refuses to get an annulment. He divorced his ex-wife because she committed adultery. My husband and I were friends for years before marrying in the Lutheran Church. I really felt a strong impression on my spirit that this man was who God wanted me to marry. Many years of prayer went into marrying the right guy and I was at the point in my life that if marriage happens that will be great but hey I will be fine if it doesn't. In essence, I let go and let God. When I did let go and let God, my husband and I got together about a year later. We joined an Orthodox Church who remarried us after because they did not recognize our marriage in the Lutheran Church.
Doesn't my Orthodox marriage override my Lutheran marriage? I have taken the Eucharist despite being told I should stop. I am currently not taking the Eucharist but want to. I have taken it in the Protestant church but don't feel it's the same as the Catholic or Orthodox church. I don't want to leave my husband. We have a very strong marriage for almost 18 years! We also have two teens who really love God and attend a youth group regularly. They would be devastated if their father and me would get divorced.
I really want to resolve this but I can't force my husband to do an annulment. What would happen to me if either my husband and I died now? Would we be in hell? Should I go back to the Orthodox church because they consider me married? Please advise me.
|Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OMSM(r), LTh, DD
I am sorry to hear about your dilemma. Sorry to take so long to answer. My father died on Christmas morning. It has taken up to now dealing with the estate.
Marriages in one of the Orthodox Churches (and in most Protestant fellowships) are considered valid and Sacramental by the Catholic Church, unless there is some impediment. But, there is a difference understating of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Churches.
The Orthodox Churches do not issue "annulments." Instead, they issue "ecclesiastical divorces", but only for certain serious reasons. While this practice is similar to annulments in that they require an investigation and are granted only for certain reasons, they are not the same as an annulment.
The "ecclesiastical divorce" acknowledges that the previous marriage was truly present and valid but failed for whatever reasons. If those reasons are serious and recognized as a valid reason, the "ecclesiastical divorce" may be granted and the couple may be married. Adultery is considered a serious reason. In that case, the innocent party may receive an "ecclesiastical divorce"
In the Catholic annulment the previous marriage is considered never truly present. This does not effect the validity of a civil marriage, but declares that a Sacramental Marriage never existed. Without that annulment the person is, in the eyes of God, still married and thus may not re-marry without committing the sin of adultery.
If a couple does marry when one or both of them were married before, they must live as brother and sister (no sex) until such time as an annulment is approved by the Church.
Even though your marriage may be valid in the Orthodox Church, your husband may still need to secure an annulment in the Catholic Church for your marriage to be blessed in the Catholic Church. Your situation gets into some technical issues. I am not a canon lawyer so my comment on this is just my impression.
As to you husband not to apply for an annulment, perhaps it is because he does not understand what that means.
Perhaps some excerpts from the website, For Your Marriage, will help:
The bottomline is that a Catholic annulment (decree of nullity) simply means that the criteria for a Sacramental marriage was not present when the couple were married.
We already know that your husband's previous marriage failed and that he procured a divorce. To get an annulment merely takes this one step further to establish that his marriage lacked sacramentality.
You have not mentioned why your husband will not get an annulment, but there really is no reason to resist this once a person knows what an annulment is.
Perhaps I can relieve his mind if I knew the specific reason for his resistance.
Certainly, for love's sake your husband will consider an annulment if nothing else as a gift to you so that you can live a full sacramental life in the Church.
You may post again if you wish to tell me his reasons so I can specifically speak to those reasons.
As to your last question about going to hell if you remain in a conjugal relationship, I cannot speak to your eternal destination. Certainly adultery is a grave sin, but grave sins only rise to a mortal sin under certain circumstances. If we die with unconfessed mortal sins on our soul, are destination is eternal separation from God.
In order for a sin to be mortal three conditions must be true. From the Catechism (bold my emphasis:
It is in the area of "deliberate consent" or "complete consent" that is at issue here.
If a person has "diminishe responsibility" then even though a grave sin is committed, it may not rise to mortal status, and thus the person does not have culpability. Without culpability the person remains in a state of grace, all other matters being equal.
The Catechism defines diminished responsibility:
Now, we cannot judge for ourselves whether or not we are in a state of diminished responsibility. Only God knows for sure. Thus, I always counsel people that if a grave sin (matter) has been committed, even if there is reason to believe that diminished responsibility may be present, go to confession anyway. It is better to be safe than sorry as the old saying goes.
Because of these factors that speak to what is in your heart and the nature of your psychology and circumstances, I cannot answer the question about your eternal destiny.
I would advise that you live with your husband as brother and sister (no sex). In that way you may live a sacramental life in the Church and thus receive the Holy Eucharist. If and when that fails and you do have sex, then go to confession. This requires a promise to try not to do it again. But, being humans we often fail many times. We will be forgiven each time when we make a valid confession.
I know that your husband will not be pleased with this. Explain the reasons for your decision and ask him to respect it for love's sake and for the sake of your soul. Explain to him that this can be resolved if he will agree to apply for an annulment so your marriage can be blessed in the Church. In this way, you and your husband may live the full conjugal life together.
We will be in prayer for your situation.
Footer Notes: This forum is for general questions on the faith. See specific Topic Forums below:
Spiritual Warfare, demons, the occult go to our Spiritul Warfare Q&S Forum.
Liturgy Questions go to our Liturgy and Liturgical Law Q&A Forum
Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) Questions go to our Divine Office Q&A Forum
Defenfing the Faith Questions go to our Defending the Faith Q&A Forum
Church History Questions go to our Church History Q&A Forum