Can a man who has divorced a couple of times get married again in a Catholic Church in accordance with the conventions and teachings of the church?

I desire to ask primarily about the Catholic Church.

PS: This question refers to an ordinary man, not someone like a prime minister!

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    It might be better to ask separate questions about the Catholic and Anglican churches, since they have very different stances on divorce. But maybe there is someone who knows both. Commented May 31, 2021 at 19:14
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    Yes, your PS states that the Q refers to an ordinary man, but one couldn't help but to investigate what the Catholic church thinks of Boris Johnson's "third" (or "first") marriage. This Jesuit America magazine blog article is helpful for the Catholic perspective and leaves us to ponder the conflict of interest between his duties as Prime Minister and as a Catholic. Commented May 31, 2021 at 20:40
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    Topical question, and an important issue. However, it's worth mentioning that the British Prime Minister is "an ordinary man" in the eyes of God!
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 9:02
  • ... conflict of interest between his duties as Prime Minister and as a Catholic @GratefulDisciple, I am not sure what "conflict of interest" you have in mind. Anyway, BoJo abandoned his mother's Catholicism and became an Anglican, joining the Church of England (Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition, by Sonia Purnell, 2011, p. 48). Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 13:06
  • @MigueldeServet If indeed he is secretly a Catholic, then at least one issue is there! There is also the thorny constitutional issue of a Catholic prime minister appointing Anglican bishops in the name of the “Supreme Governor” (Queen) of the Church of England.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:26

3 Answers 3


Both of the previous marriages of either a Prime Minister or an ordinary Catholic, would need to be found invalid by the Catholic Church.

The validity of marriage is determined by the following factors

  • Freedom to marry
  • Consent
  • Faithfulness
  • Open to life

Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a 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 the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

Can. 1057 §1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons quali-fied by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent.

There must not be any impediments. Examples are inability to consent, a dispensation not being given, or the couple being too closely related.

The simplest scenario is a baptized Catholic who married outside of the Church without a dispensation. Catholics are required to follow canonical form when getting married and a marriage without a dispensation is not valid . If someone were to do this twice, and then revert to the faith, or wish to marry a practicing Catholic, they would very likely be able to get declarations of nullity for their previous marriages easily.

Note: They would have had to be received into the Catholic Church prior to the marriage they are seeking a decree of nullity for

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112, §1, 1116, and 1127, §§1-2.

Also, less likely, but if their previous spouses died after the divorces the surviving spouse would be free to marry.

Code of Canon Law - marriage

Code of Canon Law - impediments

Code of Canon Law - anullments

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    It is possible that Mr. Johnson has been already secretly received into the church, in pectore, and that after he leaves office we will discover that he was a practicing Catholic all along. Whatever one thinks of him, it is good that he has stopped by Westminster Cathedral for some guidance. Given that proper attention to form, he had every right to be married in the Catholic Church. There is also the thorny constitutional issue of a Catholic prime minister appointing Anglican bishops in the name of the “Supreme Governor” (Queen) of the Church of England.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 22:06
  • @KenGraham Is it actually possible for someone baptised into the Catholic Church to be subsequently received into it? To put it another way, did Boris getting confirmed in the C of E and identifying, in his own eyes, as a Protestant mean that, in the eyes of the RCC he was no longer a member of the RCC?
    – davidlol
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 18:30
  • @davidlol I will wait to see how this plays out, before answering. He would at least have to retract any and all former errs in past beliefs.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 18:42
  • Canonically he would still be Catholic and would be held to the marriage laws of the Church as far as I know
    – Belinda
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 19:19
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    @KenGraham The glaring "elephant in the room" for me is how come the Catholic Church recognizes baptism from another church (as long as with the correct formula) but not recognizes a consummated marriage from C of E which also considers marriage a sacrament and has very similar wording and rules? I can see why many would see Mr. Johnson utilizing a loophole that I think needs to be closed for the marriage sacrament to retain "currency". Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 22:19

In the case of a twice-divorced man marrying within the Catholic Church, if that man and his previous wives were not Catholics, and neither ceremony was Catholic, then both marriages would not be recognised in the eyes of the Church.

If that man and his wife-to-be were both baptised Catholics, and their child was also baptised into the Catholic Church, and they were both parishoners of the parish in which they were married, then they would "have a right to the sacraments, and if they fulfil the requirements in law and properly enter into them, no one can stop them exercising those rights."

That quote came from a spokesman for Catholic Voices, as reported in the Daily Telegraph Monday 31 May 2021.

  • That's a clear explanation of the Catholic Church's position! Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 9:49
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    Even non-Catholics who are divorced prior to becoming Catholics must see to it that their previous marriage(s) were actually invalid before remarring again. Some converts can not remarry if one of their previous weds are still valid in the eyes of the Church.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 14:59
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    @KenGraham "The church confirmed that as neither his six-year first marriage, nor this second, 27-year marriage, were Catholic ceremonies, they were not recognised in the eyes of the Church." The same article said the participants in this new marriage were both baptised Catholics.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:41
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    I was simply giving a general principle to accompany your thoughts! Do get me wrong, your answer is good.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:43
  • No problem, I appreciate your comments.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:46

Yes: my brother was able to have a divorce recognized by the church, and subsequently re-marry. The trick was that the ex-wife did not want to have children, and that was grounds for the divorce.

It was irrelevant that neither did my brother, and that it was a conscious choice for both of them. The real reason for the divorce was entirely different but her stating officially that this marriage was going to remain barren was enough for the paperwork.

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    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 12:59

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