Book - Annulments

BOOK - Rebuilding

On Non Catholics Needing Annulments

Why do Non-Catholics need annulments to marry in the Church?

Natural Marriage
The short answer is that any time one man and one woman of legal age exchange consent (I do), the marriage is assumed to be valid until proved otherwise (even if neither is baptized) since we believe that "natural marriage" is written deep in the hearts of all men and women. That means two athiests (e.g.) who marry in Las Vegas in front of an Elvis impersonator are still presumed to be in a valid marriage, until proved otherwise.

So every prior marriage needs to be examined, and proved as "invalid consent" before anyone can attempt marriage again in the Catholic Church.

Sacramental Marriage
Validity is one dimension; sacramentality is another.  Sacraments unite us with Christ in a special way that access tons of special graces not otherwise available to us.  Even if a marriage is presumed valid, it is not also sacramental unless both parties are validly baptized.

As to Protestants (non-Catholic Christians)  by reason of their valid Christian baptism they are part of the one Church. That’s good news . . . all Christians are united even if not in full communion. All baptized are able to receive the sacrament of marriage.  Two baptized non-Catholics thus are assumed to contract a valid and sacramental marriage until proven otherwise. Since sacraments cannot be broken, non-Catholic Christians need to have their prior unions investigated and their marriage bonds declared null to be free to validly marry again within the Catholic Church.

A valid Christian baptism is where ( 1) water is poured on the head, (2) the person baptizing fully intends what the Church intends in baptism, and (3) the Holy Trinity is invoked, “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” with no variation thereof such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Sources: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Catechism, and Canon Law:

Ephesians 4:4-6

There is “ . . . one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.

1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Canon Law
Canon 1055
 §1. The matrimonial consent by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and procreation and education of the offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

 §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.