Theme: Will divorce keep me from the Kingdom of Heaven?
Friday, May 13, 2011 by Ruth McDonnell

Dear Alphie,
I am a Catholic who has been divorced many years ago and since then have remarried. It was both our faults for causing our marriage to fall apart and end up in divorce and I am very remorseful for committing this sin as I understand as a Catholic, divorce is very wrong. Can someone such as myself enter into the kingdom of heaven after committing this sin of divorce that is wrong in the eyes of the Catholic church?
Valid seeking Validation

Dear Valid seeking Validation,

First, let’s correct an error. While we want to uphold the value and dignity of marriage we also want to acknowledge that in some instances divorce makes sense.

Example, no person deserves to be married to someone who beats him or her. One can divorce and still remain in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church. That includes continuing to attend mass and receive Holy Communion.

The issue for the Roman Catholic Church is when one divorces and remarries. Not all marriages of Catholics are valid to begin with so the first step would be to ask the Roman Catholic Church to determine if your marriage was a valid sacramental marriage.

Next presuming the marriage appears to be valid (you were married by the priest and had two witnesses or you had permission to be married in another Church), the Roman Catholic Church says that every individual has the right to ask the Roman Catholic Church if his/her marriage is indeed valid.

A marriage may appear to be valid but upon examination be determined to be invalid because of the immaturity of one or both parties at the time of the marriage. A marriage may also be invalid because one or both partners lacked the capacity to validly contract a marriage.

Example, A woman married her sweetheart after a 3 year courtship. Within the first year of marriage he begins to abuse her physically, mentally, emotionally. The Church may determine that this marriage is invalid because of the behaviour of the spouse.

The interesting thing to note here is that the Church will not examine the validity of your marriage through what is known as an annulment process until you have received a civil divorce.

The best advice I can give you is contact your Church and ask to speak to someone in the marriage tribunal to help you know your rights and to find out how you should proceed.

Hope this is helpful.

aka Fr Doug, C.Ss.R.