Writer, history podcast presenter, former charity CEO, Catholic, UK
I was told I would be refused communion if I married a man whose wife was never coming back
I was 24 when I wanted to marry Martin. He had been divorced for 5 years and had a son aged 7 who lived with his mother and the man she had left Martin for.
The bishop’s clerical canon lawyer told me that if I married Martin I would not be able to receive communion. When I asked why giving a man a chance of a happy second marriage and possibly children was something to be punished, his answer was ‘you should have thought about that before you got involved.’
When by chance, a priest friend learned that Martin had not been baptised, we were told we could apply for a papal dispensation using the Pauline doctrine. This took 2 years and was a farce. Martin’s former wife was asked to sign that their marriage in an Anglican church hadn’t counted. A laborious search of Martin’s name in parish registers in a 20 mile radius from his birth place was made.
Martin’s opposition to the Catholic Church hardened understandably and our children grew up outside the church. Martin never got baptised so I can’t think my marriage counted either. How did the former British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, do it?