Expert Answer Forum
Privilege of Faith QUESTION from Rick April 19, 2000 I am currently in the process of annulment from a marriage that ended over 12 years ago. Sister Austin, who is handling my case, informed me that on the pre-marital questionnaire that my former wife submitted, she indicated that she had not been baptized as of our wedding date. I didn't recall this fact, and was actually a little surprised when it came to light. My question, however, revolves around the term Privilege of Faith that Sister Austin used. She said that due to my ex-wife not being baptized, that she would not seek an annulment, but rather she felt this would be a Privilege of Faith case.
What can you tell regarding this?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on April 19, 2000 Dear Mr. Rick:
Privilege of Faith is a dissolution of a marraige between a baptized person and an unbatpized person. The idea is that favor is granted toward the Catholic person when an unbaptized person chooses to leave the marriage. This is also called the Petrine Privilege because it is the decision of the Pope to grant.
In terms of getting married to begin with, a marriage between a baptized person and an unbaptized person is not valid. The Catholic person must receive a dispensation from the bishop to marry an unbaptized person. And dispensation cannot be automatic, but given only for good reason.
If you were Catholic at the time, and your ex-wife was unbaptized at the time, then your marriage was invalid from the beginning unless you received a dispensation from the bishop.
The Privilege of Faith, if that is what you qualify for, is NOT granted to you automatically, nor is it granted by the local marriage Tribunal.
Privilege of Faith cases must be submitted to the Vatican itself. The Holy See will decide whether or not to grant the privilege based upon the available evidence.
You need to contact your local diocese Marriage Tribunal to verify if you have indeed qualified for the Petrine Privilege, and if so, to get the ball rolling to petition the Holy See to resolve your case.
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