Q. I am a Catholic and single father of two. I was not married Catholic originally and was divorced 20 years ago. I am looking to marry a woman who was married in a Catholic ceremony and divorced 20 years ago because of abuse. The paperwork required for her to obtain an annulment in her home country of Venezuela is almost impossible.
If I marry her without an annulment, would that ruin my chances to be an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and to receive holy Communion? (Tampa, Florida)
A. In order for you to marry in a Catholic ceremony, two things would have to happen. You yourself would have to meet with a priest and complete some very simple paperwork regarding your first marriage. That paperwork would then be submitted to the diocesan marriage tribunal, which would then declare that this marriage "did not count" in the church since you were not married in a Catholic ceremony or with Catholic permission.
As for the woman you seek to marry, her situation is more complicated. Since she was married in a Catholic ceremony, she would have to go through the church's annulment process to have that first marriage declared invalid. (That she suffered spousal abuse would be an important factor because it might show that her first husband, from the start, was ill-equipped to marry.)
She need not seek this church annulment in the country of Venezuela; canonically, a petitioner may file for a church annulment either in the place where the marriage took place (Venezuela, in this case) or where the petitioner now lives (which I am presuming to be Florida.)
Were you to marry her without these permissions, that marriage would not be recognized by the Catholic Church. Thus you would not be eligible to serve as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion or even to receive holy Communion, as noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1650).
- - -
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.