CHNetwork Q&A Discussion Home Forums Irregular Marriages Married outside Catholic Church

13 replies, 5 voices Last updated by  cfernandomaciel 9 months ago
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    My wife and I were born, baptized and had our first communion in the Catholic Church. Coincidently we both left the Catholic Church right after our first communions (at the age of 12) to enter Mormonism.

    We remained Mormons until 2006, then left religion for good.

    I have returned to Catholicism last year. I consider myself a convert, because I have come to the Catholic Church not because of any previous beliefs, as I had none, but because of my conversion into Catholicism which took place last year, after being an atheist since I left Mormonism.

    My wife remains un-religious, although she told me she is beginning to accept the idea that some kind of God might be ‘out there’, as she puts it herself.

    Back when we got married, 15 years ago, we were earnest to our hearts, believing that we were doing it before God and witnesses.

    The issue about irregular marriages has crossed my way for the first time only a couple of weeks ago. Back when I returned to Catholicism, I had looked for the priest, talked with him, we had a great conversation that lasted 3 hours, where I had told him all about my journey back to Catholicism and all about my current status, including my marriage.

    I’ve been faithfully married to my sweet wife for 15 years already. We remained chaste until the day of our wedding, and during my entire married life, I have remained faithful to my wife. Although I was baptized in the Catholic Church, as well as my wife, we didn’t have any testimony about the Church, for all practical purposes we were Mormons, and Catholicism was but a ghost on both our past.

    Now, I’m not inferring that the Church should override any of its rites or laws, but I do fail to acknowledge the fact that our marriage is considered invalid, because we had been Catholics during our childhood, whence our marriage in the Mormon Church is as valid as a potato.

    I was the one who found out about the invalidity of my married, then immediately reached for the Priest of my Parish, as soon as I found out about it. Back when we talked, although I did mention to him that we had been Mormons, and that we married in the Mormon Church, and that we both had been born Catholics, it didn’t ring the Priest’s bell about the invalidity of our Marriage.

    I had until I found out about it on my own, been taking the communion. As soon as I found out about it, I stopped taking the communion, and immediately contacted the Priest. He apologized for having misunderstood the status of our marriage, and confirmed the irregularity of it.

    I wholeheartedly believe in the Catholic Church, I won’t take any communion until this situation gets fixed. But in my heart, I’m deeply failing in believing that my marriage of 15 years, which brought fourth 3 beautiful children is invalid, since we did everything that we were supposed to do, according to our belief in God, to marry in the right way, remaining chaste (we were both virgins) and gone through all the rites and paperwork that were necessary in the Mormon Church.

    I have spoken with my wife about it, as I mentioned before, she does not consider herself to be religious at all, yet. Nor does she consider herself a Catholic to the least degree. But she did understand our situation, because she loves me, and cherishes our relationship.

    I presented her two different options that we could go through: a Radical Sanation, which we would have to send through our Priest a request to the bishop, asking to validate our wedding, and a ceremony with the Priest. Back when I presented her these options, I was almost certain she would want to go for the Radical Sanation, since she does not consider herself to the least of it, to be a Catholic. But she did surprise me when she said that she would like to go for the second option!

    Well, to put things short, as I mentioned, I had talked with the Priest and in turn, he had asked me for some time, so he could look for the options himself – he is a young priest, been in the Priesthood for only a few years.

    The thing is, as I mentioned, I’m not doing any communion since I had found out about the invalidity of my marriage, and I had immediately contacted the priest once I did find out about it. The only thing that holds me is the priest now. I can’t wait to be back to normal life in The Church!

    So, how long does that kind of thing take? Should I pressure the priest for a feedback? I’m anxious about it.


    David W. Emery
    @David W. Emery

    I understand that your wife has opted for convalidation. This is the quick and easy way. (Radical Sanation involves filling out forms and sending them to the tribunal, and it could take a year or more.) Convalidation can be arranged and performed in a matter of weeks. Once the priest knows your choice, he will lead you through the steps. When you are both ready, he will set a date and time. Convalidation is basically confirming the vows you took when you wed, so that the Church can recognize that you are, in fact, validly married in the Church. You can be convalidated in private, with only you two, the priest, and a couple of witnesses, or you can do it in public, as you choose.




    Thank you, David!

    I’ll then give a call to my priest and mention to him that my wife has decided for the Convalidation option. I’m glad she went for the quickest one :).




    My husband and I were also raised Catholic and left to non-denominational churches. When we came back we got our marriage convalidated and renewed our vows on our 35th anniversary.  Fairly simple. Yeah I got the same same feeling about  the validation.



    Nice! Thank you, Celia!



    Just as an update, and an outburst…

    First, the good part: My wife has told me that she will not be a stumbling block of any measure in my process of returning to the Catholic Church. She said that she will go to RCIA classes, and get confirmed, if necessary, so our marriage can be con-validated.

    So, a couple of weeks ago, before she mentioned that to me, we had gone to the Parish House to talk with the Priest. Back then, although she mentioned to the Priest that she had preferred the convalidation over the radical sanation, she said that she wouldn’t go to RCIA classes or confirmation. She mentioned that – for all practical purposes – she doesn’t consider herself a Catholic, and therefore, she shouldn’t be held responsible for not having married inside the Catholic Church.

    Now, just to remember things, my wife and I have left the Catholic Church when we were still young ( I was 12, and she was 11). We both had become Mormons, grew up as Mormons, and got married in the Mormon Church.

    Trying to think about my Catholic days, during my childhood, everything I remember when being taught at RCIA Classes about marriage, was that it was considered a sacrament, but it didn’t mean to me that it had to be inside the Catholic Faith at all. If I was taught about it, I don’t recall it at all.

    Both my wife and I didn’t have a good upbringing as Catholics. Her parents just took her to Church because it’s a traditional thing to do here in Brazil. My mother did the same to me and my siblings, but during our childhood, my mother had always been very negative about Catholicism. She had taught us that Catholicism is the single most wrong religion upon the face of the earth.

    So, when the Mormon missionaries knocked on our door, my mother welcomed them, and around 2 weeks later, all our family was baptized in the Mormon Church, where all my siblings and father remain faithful to this day.

    When I met my wife – soon after I had returned from my Mormon missionary service, in The USA – , she was also a faithful Mormon woman. We married inside the Mormon religion. We had followed all the precepts and rules the Mormon church required us. We remained chaste until the day of our marriage, we got married twice (once at the local Chapel, and once more inside their temple).  So, to make this history short, we were, for all pratical purposes, Mormons, and not Catholics.

    During our entire Mormon life, not for a single day did the Catholicism cross our minds.

    Now, we are being told that our marriage, which we have been into for 15/16 years already. Faithful to one another, does not have any value whatsoever.

    We have left Mormonism for quite a few years already, but as far as we could understand, we had done it according to God’s commandments, in every aspect of it. I do fail to understand why in this case I have to be kept from being fully part of the Catholic Church, because of what seems to me, a mere bureaucracy. By bureaucracy, I mean it, because should we have been protestants during all our lives, since we were born, then our marriage would have been considered valid.

    So, in order to be accepted in The Church’s communion, I have to stand before Christ, as if I had committed a rebel act, by willingly NOT getting married in The Catholic Church. But in my case, it was just as impossible for me to judge this matter any better, just like any protestant.

    It has passed quite a few months already since my first conversation with the Priest, which I had told him about my entire life, till the point of returning to Catholicism, which I do not consider myself a revert, by a convert, for the very reasons above stated. During my first conversation with the Priest, he mentioned that he would get in touch with one of the Catechists so he/she could arrange with me my RCIA classes, so I could get confirmed.

    I had, during our conversation, mentioned that we had been married in the Mormon church. Somehow it didn’t ring the Priest’s bell that I was irregular, so he accepted my confession, blessed me and fully welcomed me back to the Church.

    It was I who had found out about the irregularity of my marriage. Then upon bringing the subject up to him, over the phone, he apologized about the misunderstanding, and acknowledged that I was irregular. I was the one who willfully decided to stop taking The Communion, and I have been without any Communion since then.

    After a lot of  research on the internet, I have found out that the opinions diverge a lot about my current state of sin. Some people say that I shouldn’t pray, some people say I shouldn’t stop praying.

    So, suddenly, after 15/16 years of faithful marriage, which brought fourth 3 beautiful kids, I had to accept that suddenly, out of nothing, I am living in sin with my wife (try to explain that to her, whom didn’t return to the Church).

    I go to Church, and watch everybody in the Chapel taking the Communion, I’m the only one who doesn’t, and I cry. I cry every Sunday, because I am being charged for something I couldn’t have done any better than this.

    I try to be patient, buy I’m still waiting for the Priest to get back to me about the RCIA classes, which, after many times questioning him about it, he gives me no answer, just some “we’ll see” kind of answer.

    So, I’m being held guilty, trying everything within my reach to make things right, which in this case is just some acknowledgement of the validity of my marriage, and I haven’t got the ghost of the idea of when this is going to take place, if ever!

    I read the scriptures in a daily basis, I read the entire Catechism, I’m studying all the encyclicals available at the internet, and I’m studying in a daily basis the Suma Theologica from Saint Thomas Aquinas. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or to expect, when it comes down to being a Catholic.

    I don’t mind going to RCIA, but it doesn’t even happen!

    I feel like an alien at the Church, as Catholics do not seem to be very good in ushering newcomers, or even making people welcome at all.

    Last Sunday during Mass – it was the first time I had seen it – the Priest asked every member to reach for their tithing envelopes, where it contained one prayer for the tithing payers. After having said the prayer, he asked them to deposit this envelope next to the altar. Everybody but me had an envelope like that. I just sat there, waiting for that embarrassment to be over.

    The Priest was never unfriendly to me at all. I rather enjoy talking with him, whenever I can reach out to him (he is very very busy). But I’m failing to see the effort there. I am suffering at every single mass, Longing to do something I cannot, because I had been told I was in sin, for living with my wife for 15 years, after having gotten married with her before God, for all that I could know.

    When I pray to God, I feel myself in despair, I ask him for forgiveness, but then I’m told I cannot even go to confession! I want to get things done, my wife has already told me she won’t be a stumbling block at all, being willing even to take RCIA classes, and getting confirmed. It’s already a burden in and of itself, knowing that I’ll have to wait for all the RCIA classes to be over, then being confirmed, and only then being able to get the convalidation. Now, I have to wait for God knows what, until the Priest decides to send me work back on when is the RCIA class beginning.

    I can’t help but feel like I’m not welcome at all.


    Sorry for my outburst! I really needed to do it somewhere.








    Hi Fernando,

    I completely empathize with you.  I’m in a little different situation.  I have been married before, and so has my husband (no children from those marriages; they were short).  I am the only one who wants to be Catholic.  My husband has no desire.  When I went to sign up for RCIA, and was told I had to get an annulment.  I had never heard of such a thing.  My ex and I have been divorced for over 12 years now.  My current husband and I have been happily married for 7 and still going strong.  I was so upset at having to do this, then even more upset when I found out my husband has to get an annulment from his ex, even though he’s not wanting to be Catholic.

    Fast forward a year later, and my tribunal court date was this past Monday, the 18th of June.  I have no idea what they decided, and they have 30 days to send me a letter.  More waiting.  Then I have to wait for my husband’s annulment, and who knows when that will happen since he submitted his paperwork a few months after I did.

    During this time I have: completed 9 months RCIA.  Gone to two silent retreats.  Attended Mass, only missing 2 during RCIA.  I have been reading about the Faith for 5 years now.

    I too go to Mass and cry when everyone else is taking communion.  The hardest was the Easter Vigil when all my classmates entered the Church.  I was happy for them, but so upset for myself.  I have faithfully gone to class and to Mass, unlike a lot of the other students.  But I have to tell myself that everything happens for a reason, and some reasons I just cannot understand.

    Now I am waiting (I am good at waiting) for my annulment results, then my husband’s results, then we have to attend a marriage class (maybe more than 1), then get baptized and confirmed, then get convalidated.  If I look at all of it at once, it feels never ending and impossible.  I have to take it one step at a time, and continue trying to be strong in the Catholic faith.

    You can do this.  I wish you luck my friend!



    Hi Airforcewife,

    Thank you for sharing your burdens with me, and thank you for the words of encouragement! I do not intend to leave the Catholic faith at all, never! But I can’t help but feel like a sub-kind of a citizen in the CC. I live in a very distant community, and it takes a couple of hours to drive down to where the Church Parish office is. So I always try calling the Priest, as I had already been able to talk with him over the phone once.

    I tried today many times, but he was never available. He is at the office on Wednesdays, and Fridays. So I’ll try again next friday. I want to tell him that my wife has decided to go for RCIA classes and confirmation, despite of not wanting to return to the Church. As I said before, the ball is with him now, and I’m aware that they only hold confirmation masses once a year, at the end of the year. So, if things take too long to happen, I might miss this year’s confirmation opportunity. Then, I’ll only be eligible for next year.  It’s frustrating, because they don’t seem to have an empathy for other people’s agonies.

    My son is also on the hold for his baptism. Shouldn’t the Catholic Church be a missionary Church? For this matter, they only seem to be way down entangled in a bunch of bureaucratic entrails, for all that I understand.

    Thanks again for the kind words!



    Just a word of gentle warning and encouragement. Yes, your marriage is irregular because of a lack of teaching etc, but the Church does NOT consider you horrifically and willfully guilty; this is not a mortal sin because you did not know about any of this, nor does it consider you some sort of sub-species. Also, you are moving towards God which is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and Satan is just hounding you with bitterness, and impatience, and feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t allow him to do that! You really have to nip that one right in the bud because if you allow it to take root, it will be much harder to get rid of it. When he hits you with this sort of stinking-thinking, just hit right back with a, “Lord, right now I am thankful for….” Thanksgiving eliminates stinking-thinking almost immediately. “Lord, I am so thankful for your allowing me to meet my wonderful wife in the Mormon church”….”Lord, I am so thankful that she wishes to convalidate this marriage”…..”Lord, I am so thankful for having found your Church”…. Just keep on thanking God, and then realize that he has waited for you to return to Him for so very long, and then give this “suffering of waiting” you are experiencing to Him. Unite your suffering with Christ’s and realize how much He has suffered for you! Be at peace! All of this is in God’s good hands, brother!



    @jennie1964, I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I’m for your invaluable insights!

    Your message came to me yesterday at night as a shake down. I have decided “sleep on it” before replying, for I felt that I needed first to kneel down and beg to God for forgiveness, for my unfair behavior.

    I also ask everyone here forgiveness for – even if indirectly – attempting to put the blame on the Church, the Priest, or somebody at all. Believe me, that was not the intention. As I had mentioned in one of my posts, I do not intend to leave the Church, never ever.


    Yes, your marriage is irregular because of a lack of teaching etc, but the Church does NOT consider you horrifically and willfully guilty; this is not a mortal sin because you did not know about any of this, nor does it consider you some sort of sub-species.

    Also, thank you a bunch for helping me understand my current state regarding to the Church. That is very very important to me.



    I forgot to mention…

    during my morning scriptures reading, I came across this passage, at II Corinthians 6 2-10:

    2: (For he saith: I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

    10: [we live] As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

    It struck me directly as a straight message to my complaints. Thank you, Jennie!

    Best regards,

    Fernando Maciel





    Fernando, I will echo what Jennie says. Every bit of it!

    It sounds like you are in a small parish if the priest is in his office for only 2 days a week. Is it possible to make an appointment with him? I think I also read that he is young and only been a priest for a few years. His inexperience and cautiousness may be a reason for his delay in getting back to you. Is it possible for you to email or write him with the frustration you have and the desire to move forward in RCIA. Is there an RCIA director you can talk with, or a deacon who might be able to help you work this out?



    Dear @Celia,

    Thank you for your considerations. Yes, I live in a small town, in the outskirts of Florianópolis, which is the capital of Santa Catarina State, in Brazil. The Priest has to divide himself to be able to reach all the communities spreaded throughout this town. I tried emailing him once, got no reply. I had back then found his email at our Diocese’s website (is that correct, the word Diocese?), and sent him an email, but never got any reply from it.

    He will be available for conversation this Friday again, then I’ll try to reach him out.  I’m not aware about any RCIA director, I do know who the RCIA teacher is, but I do not know her contact info. I’ll also try to grab that when I call the Parish office this Friday.

    Thanks for the suggestions.



    We have all done the same things Fernando. We all complain. We are all short-sighted because we can only see now and we cannot see the future. We have all wanted everything now thinking that is what is best for us. In God’s eyes, we are children, and this is what children do. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just move forward and keep saying, “Jesus, I trust in you!” That is part of St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy message to us. When we doubt, when we think we know better (I have thought that I know better than God SO often, it is embarrassing), when we just can’t stand the wait any longer, this is when we say over and over again, “Jesus, I trust in YOU…NOT me!” In the end you will see that His timing will always be so much better than your timing. I am still learning this and I will be learning it my whole life. 🙂



    We have all done the same things Fernando. We all complain. We are all short-sighted because we can only see now and we cannot see the future. We have all wanted everything now thinking that is what is best for us. In God’s eyes, we are children, and this is what children do. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just move forward and keep saying, “Jesus, I trust in you!” That is part of St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy message to us. When we doubt, when we think we know better (I have thought that I know better than God SO often, it is embarrassing), when we just can’t stand the wait any longer, this is when we say over and over again, “Jesus, I trust in YOU…NOT me!” In the end you will see that His timing will always be so much better than your timing. I am still learning this and I will be learning it my whole life. 🙂


    Beautiful words, @jennie1964. Thank you a lot again!


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