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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Divorce & Remarriage is Adultery

1 Corinthians 7:10-11: To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

Mark 10:11-12: And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18: “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity [actually incest] and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

The meaning in Matthew is not that the innocent party is guilty if a spouse commits adultery. When circumstances are out of control, the wronged party may be allowed by the Church to live apart from the adulterous spouse. However, if truly married, neither can marry another validly as long as one of them lives.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

5 Responses

  1. Hi Father! I am so happy I stumbled across your website as I was looking for the Catholic Church’s interpretation of things that are going on in the world today. I am a Catholic who unfortunately strayed away from the church for awhile (although not my faith) and am very much so ready to get back into the church and practice my faith in the ways I should. I came across this post and have a couple of questions.

    I am aware that annulment is possible in certain situations within the church. I myself am divorced, as is my fiancé. when we got engaged, I told him that I would only get married in the Catholic Church. We are both baptized Catholics and I believe that my marriage to him would only be blessed by God if it is in the Catholic Church. That being said, my prior marriage was in the Methodist Church. So would that mean that my marriage was not recognized, according to my faith, by God in the first place? So I won’t have to do anything in order to be able to marry my fiancé in our church? His prior marriage was in the Catholic Church but I’m not sure he would have any problem with annulment since he was an alcoholic for 15 years and the entire time he was married. He has been Sober since we began dating and since we’ve been engaged we’ve discussed annulment of his prior marriage but I’ve not understood the Catholic Church’s views on mine. I firmly believe God has brought my fiancé and I together for a reason and will do whatever God tells me I should through my faith. Thank you for any insight you can give! I’m sure I will have other questions for you on more of your posts.
    God bless! Peace.


    Catholics are obliged to marry before a priest or deacon in a Catholic Church. Given that no dispensation and permission was granted, your first marriage in the Methodist church would be declared null because of a lack of canonical form. You must still apply for the declaration and supply copies of your baptismal certificate, marriage license and divorce decree. This is usually a simple matter. See your local Catholic priest.

    His case is much more complicated. When a Catholic marries in the Church that union is presumed both licit and valid until proven otherwise. That means that the Church still regards him as married. Annulments are not guaranteed. He will have to see a priest and start a formal case. This will require a petition, formal essay, baptismal record, marriage license, divorce decree and witnesses. Until recently such cases could cost as much as a thousand dollars although the Archdiocese of Washington has now made them free. Cases take a year or more. Alcoholism might be grounds if it can be shown as prior and throughout the marriage. However, unless he can prove sobriety and resolution of the problem, a monitum or warning would still prevent any second marriage. A doctor might have to verify his long-term sobriety after the marriage failed.


  2. ok.. but there could be different perspectives as far as human emotions are concerned.

  3. Just an interesting link for you, Father Joe. You decide if it is worth leaving up, here.

    It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment

  4. Dear Fr Joe,

    I know that there would be good grounds for annulment, in fact there was a priest in Bath who was one of the Canon Law specialists who said he was willing to bet his shirt on it…not exactly an ecclesiastical expression, but when I looked into it, it really did seem that the wealthy stood a far better chance of getting that bit of paper. The whole process is, to my mind, totally removed from the Church that Jesus established. And I know that there are several arguable grounds for defining that there was never a valid marriage in the first place, even emotional maturity can be used, but I still see that as a ‘cop-out’, a bit like that naughty king of ours!

    Deuteronomy 22 verse 22 was certainly very much aware of the feelings of outrage around the ‘wronged party’, and we do have to be careful basing ALL of our justifications on scripture lest we fall foul of Jesus’ admonition to love one another:

    “If a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”

    This is the Word of God, it is indisputable and written down in the Bible. But even though it is how I felt for a long time, I wish the man no ill and I forgive my wife even though I do not see her. There may well be a time when I can wish the man well who, when I asked him what was going on between him and Emma, looked me in the eyes, put his arms around me and said: “I love you as a brother, man, and would never do anything to harm you”…they set up home together the very next day.

    Perhaps I may know a little of how Jesus felt when Judas greeted Him with that kiss. It would have been better had he never been born, and we will never know in this life if he was forgiven, not that I’m trying to limit God’s forgiveness as it is truly infinite; I think that The Catholic Church can sometimes do that particular job only too well!

    With man this is impossible, but for God nothing is impossible.


  5. Dear Fr Joe,
    This really is a tough one, and as in Jesus day when the apostles questioned Him as to why God allowed Moses to grant the signing of a paper allowing the man to divorce his wife, for many reasons, even simple ones, Jesus explained that ‘the concession’ was because ‘their hearts were hard to teach’.
    I believe that Our God is one of Love and compassion, but that also His Law is unalterable by us.

    Didn’t King David, the line of whom Jesus had claim to, even send off the husband of a married woman he fancied to be killed in battle so that he could ‘marry’ the widow?

    And most of the founders of the foothills of Christianity had, not only wife, but a mistress or three, and God gave them the bounty of sons to become leaders in their turn of the tribes of Israel.

    I am divorced, I am leading a celibate life, not through choice but through circumstance, and the drug addict who I was working with and helping him into recovery betrayed my trust and stole the next most precious thing in my life next to Jesus Himself. Oh how I wanted to kill that man. How, in righteous anger I wanted to seek retribution and how I so identified with the ‘Law abiding’ jews who wanted to stone that woman caught in the act of adultery.

    The rational feelings of compassion and reason fall apart not only in those heady days of falling in love, but also in those terrible moments of a breaking heart. It’s been just over 4 years now and I’m the single parent giving home and support to a daughter who doesn’t see her mother, and I must live out my days as a singleton; it is not my choice, it is not what I wanted and it is very tough at times, very tough indeed.

    Life in loving unity with the opposite sex is what we were created for, God made Eve specifically for the purpose of being a mate for the man. I lost my mate, and loss through death is bad enough, but loss through deliberate rejection and deception is incredibly difficult to deal with. I forgive my mate for what she has done, but I am not yet able to forgive ‘him’ . I invited him into my home, gave him food and comfort, helped him for over a year and a half, and he betrayed my trust in the most dispicable way possible……..how can I forgive him?

    I can understand how my mother struggled when my father committed suicide. She saw that as a deliberate rejection of her, and never understood that it may have been the manifestation of mental illness. My loss has enabled me to understand more fully how it is for others and get a genuine empathy for those in terrible pain.

    Often the Church has shown no compassion to those of us who, through no ‘fault’ of our own, ‘find’ ourselves in this awful predicament. The Church maintained a difficult distance on account of my fathers suicide, and my status is never considered.

    I hate being single, I loved being a husband, but things are the way they are and somehow I must endure this life. No doubt I could spend a large sum of money and a group of learned clergy men would meet and deliberate around a table and probably decide that the marriage could be annulled on the grounds of my wife’s mental illness, but somehow, for me, that would be a bit like playing poker with the devil. I HAVE to accept the status quo for my own conscience. I KNEW when I married that it was for life and to that one woman.

    But it’s tough and it seems the Church doesn’t show understanding.

    Possibly I do, Paul.


    Annulments require grounds. If your wife were mentally ill prior to the bond then it might be that she could not truly get married, now or then. Similarly, drug addicts and active alcoholics are unable to genuinely offer themselves in marriage in that they are not capable of fulfilling their responsibilities. These matters must be weighed but thankfully by authorities other than me. You are right, if truly married then you have no other recourse than to live as a single person and raise your child.

    Yours is not the first case I have heard of a man being betrayed by a friend he was trying to help and his spouse. I am so very sorry. Forgiveness does not mean that we can place our emotions in check. It means that we desire them no ill will but healing and happiness. It is hard (probably impossible) not to be angry about such things. We pray that they might know repentance, conversion and holiness. We should do all we can to keep our love from turning into hatred.

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