I recently obtained a blurb from a mailing of a diocese to priests which had a great summary of how to handle the cases of catechumens who are in apparently invalid marriage situations. I obtained permission to repost it.
This is useful mostly for parish priests, but it could be good for laypeople who are catechumens who are in the process of coming into the Church.
Lent is coming. Many catechumens will be received into the Church at Easter. Make sure you come into the fold properly!
Here is the blurb:
This is a reminder that no catechumen or candidate living in an apparently invalid marriage may be initiated/received into the Catholic Church. [Notice the “apparently”. Remember that Nemo est iudex in causa sua… no one is a judge in his own cause. The status of marriages has to be determined by a tribunal. So, if there is something that appears to be out of order, take it to the proper authority!] This includes anyone who has attempted remarriage while their first spouse is still living or anyone who has attempted marriage to a person bound by a prior marriage. It does not matter if the parties were baptized or unbaptized, what religion they practiced, or if they were married in a civil ceremony. In some cases it may be possible to recognize the current marriage if the first marriage is proven invalid following a judicial process or if the first marriage is dissolved, but in other cases it will be necessary for the parties to separate or at least live chastely together; please refer any questions to the Tribunal. It also includes anyone who attempted marriage to a Catholic outside of canonical form, who would need to validate their marriage in the Church prior to initiation/reception. RCIA catechumens and candidates whose first marriages ended in a divorce but who have not remarried can be initiated/received, but they should be informed beforehand that the Church does not consider them free to remarry given their current status, but they may in the future seek a declaration of nullity through a judicial process, per their discretion.
Clear and helpful.
Marriage is not simply a personal act that affects nobody but the couple. Marriage is public. Marriage affects everyone in the community. Marriage is important for the good ordering of the community.
In a era when lousy education and a culture dedicated to the base appetites has clouded intellect and weakened will, more than ever we need the solid teaching and practice of the Catholic Church regarding marriage.