The Catholic Church upholds the sacrament of marriage and the indissolubility of the marriage vows. At the same time, the Church recognizes that many people suffer the pain of broken marriages. Divorce can bring feelings of pain, guilt, and failure, but it can also bring about healing, forgiveness, hope, and peace. It was to the people who were hurt, the people who needed help, that Jesus Christ offered His special love and compassion, regardless of their situation.
Many people come to the Church seeking reconciliation. Many of them have suffered terribly in their former marriage. They need God’s grace to heal them so that they can go on with their lives and find peace. The Marriage Tribunal Ministry is here to offer compassionate care and to enable people to be fully reconciled with the Church. The Marriage Tribunal process encourages people to move away from fault-finding (with themselves and the former spouse) and to direct their attention toward healing the pain of divorce. It permits them to step back from the marriage and to identify those factors, conditions, or circumstances which prevented them from establishing a stable, permanent commitment.
If you are struggling with the pain of divorce and would like to learn more about the Tribunal process, please contact the Tribunal of the Diocese of Fort Worth: 817.945.9433 or Click Here to Email
Most people recognize the commonly used term “annulment”; consequently, this term has been used in the following questions. However, the correct terminology is a “Declaration of Nullity” or a “Declaration of Invalidity”; this terminology has been used in the following answers.
Does an annulment mean that my marriage never existed?
No. While it is true that a civil annulment states that a marriage never existed, a Catholic Church’s Declaration of Invalidity does not dissolve a marriage or state that a marriage never existed. A Declaration of Invalidity states that specific factors prevented a couple from bringing about a valid and permanent marital bond.
Will an annulment make my children illegitimate?
No. A Catholic Church’s Declaration of Invalidity does not make children illegitimate. It has no civil effects on children and cannot be used to question a child’s paternity. It will not change the terms of a civil divorce, child custody, or child support.
If I am divorced but not remarried, can I receive Communion?
Yes. There is nothing to prevent a divorced Catholic who has not remarried from receiving the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“It is all God’s work. For it was God who was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, who gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” II Corinthians 5:19-20