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My annulment was denied, but may I still receive the Eucharist if my conscience tells me the marriage was invalid?

Full Question

I was married in the Church, later divorced, and then I remarried. I just received word that my annulment request was denied. However, my deacon told me that even though my annulment petition was denied by the diocesan tribunal, if I believe in good conscience that my first marriage was not valid, I can go to my priest and he can give me permission to return to the Eucharist. Is this true? Please provide documentation.

Answer

A Catholic cannot use his or her conscience (the internal forum) to overturn a ruling of the diocesan tribunal (external forum). Canon 1671 clearly states that “marriage cases of the baptized belong to the ecclesiastical judge by proper right.” This is because “marriage is not simply a private decision,” but a public one, involving the Church, and the spouses, “both individually and as a couple.” According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1994 Letter to the Bishops Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried, not to recognize the Church’s mediation in the judgment of the nullity of a previous marriage, “would mean in fact to deny that marriage is a reality of the Church, that is to say, a sacrament” (no. 8). The document goes on to say:

The mistaken conviction of a divorced and remarried person that he may receive Holy Communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. (7) In …the case of those who are subjectively certain in conscience that their previous marriage, irreparably broken, had never been valid. It must be discerned with certainty by means of the external forum established by the Church whether there is objectively such a nullity of marriage. (9) 
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_14091994_rec-holy-comm-by-divorced_en.html










15 comments

  1. carlos Reply

    I’m the process myself. If you practice celibacy even though married my priest and my deacon father in law said you can . The lawyer in my annulment said that the church is not saying an absolute no but that it is your conscience if you do. Pray that the pope makes the change soon. There are many catholics in the same situation and or not married , however making families out of wedlock and taking the eucharist. If the church keeps doing these things the modern catholic will leave the denomination. When an Anglican priest covers to catholic and is married does his original marriage need to be annulled? Yet he participates and in giving and taking communion. Why are the rules bend for them and not everyone. Shortage of priest does not mean that they should not follow the same guidelines. God Bless all

    1. Diane Reply

      If the church “keeps doing these things” – if the Church keeps being the Church? If the Church keeps following God’s Word? There is no such person as a ‘modern’ Catholic. We are either Catholic in the fullest sense, or we’re not; there is no picking or choosing what we believe and follow as if the Church is nothing more than a menu with items to choose or discard forour consumption. Also, Catholicism is not a denomination. Denominations are those religions which, although they believe in God and in Jesus, do not believe in Christ in the Eucharist and the Apostolic succession of the Pope as the shepherd of the Catholic Church. Certain people believed they could do better than Christ, so they kept what they liked from the Catholic Church, and discarded the rest and began their own church in protest against the Catholic Church (Protestantism and others off-shooting from it). These are denominations. The Catholic faith is the One, Holy, catholic (meaning ‘universal’), and Apostolic Church, founded by Christ and charged to St. Peter: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18. “Upon this rock" – upon this divine revelation and profession of faith in Christ, which Peter, through God revealing to him, professed when he said that he knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. By this we know that any pope will not, because he cannot, change what Christ Himself founded.

      1. Veronica Reply

        Well said – Carlos and others who believe that we can bend Jesus and our church to their distorted consciences may ultimately be shocked at the particular judgement.

    2. mireya Reply

      If your annulment was denied although you’re married by law, you may not taje communion because you’re still living in mortal sin until that time that your marriage is blessed in the catholic faith again. Now if you remain celibate that’s different since a sin is not being committed. As far as the Holy Pope making changes I hope not tat would be changing God’s law once again. They did when they allowed annulments. “What God has joined together let no man separate”.
      In any case I myself am in the same boat. Good luck and God bless

  2. MD Reply

    I’m sorry, but I whole-heartedly disagree with you, Carlos. Everyone seems to forget “obedience…” We must be obedient to the Church’s teachings, NOT our own consciences, as they may not be “well-formed;” indeed, they usually are not–why else were non-sacramental marriages entered into in the first place? The pope will not/CANNOT change Church teachings.

  3. charbel Reply

    Why and how can an anulment be denied?

  4. Dottie Hashman Reply

    The Pope can change certain Church Laws, But he cannot and Never Will Change Jesus Christ’s Chief Trurhs handed down from the Apostles …….

  5. Teresa Reply

    You can try to appeal the denial of annulment. There might be something that you neglected to say, or did not get communicated properly, etc. Sit with the priest that heads your local tribunal office.

  6. June Reply

    In the case of some Anglican priests converting to Catholicism, etc. Even the Church recognizes that some marriages outside the Church are still valid, depending on the couple’s convictions and commitment when they married. In that case, it would not be necessary to nullify such a marriage.

  7. Carry Reply

    Why do you have to pay for an annulment? Would like to know!

    1. ichthusthree Reply

      sometimes the fee can be waived if hardship is the case — the tribunal consists of canon lawyers and is an “administrative office” of a diocese so asking a fee for sevices is not unreasonable — if one truly does not have the means to pay though the diocese will waive the fee or someone else will contibute it as a charitable work of mercy — that’s been my experience anyway — hope this helps & God bless

  8. vanessa k Reply

    What if my ex husband and I ask for a annulment but we didn’t hear anything but we got divorce but he now pass away?

  9. Paul Reply

    The annulment process is broken. The fees make it sound like ‘ give enough money and it will be approved and right away’ . Watched those who wait for years for a ruling and those who got approved in weeks. If you would kill your X the church would give you forgiveness right away with no fees! DO NOT recommend that, just pointing out the church needs to fix the unfairness of the process. Personally, been married once, still with her after 37 years but do not think someone should have to stay in a marriage where the spouse is a cheater, beater, etc.

  10. Mary Isa garayua no Reply

    I can’t believe that a deacon told her to receive communion. Some deacons are not as well prepared as they should. They can’t overturn church rules, Try again. You may have miss somethin
    .

  11. mary ann Reply

    i’m separated for more than 10 years..my husband already have another partner they already have 1 kid..we have 2 kids.
    i dont know if he has plan to annul our marriage.any advise..on what right thing to do?if ever there will come a time somebody can be my partner..

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