Pauline Privilege

Print out this page and follow these directions while completing the petition form.

The Pauline Privilege is not a declaration of nullity, but rather an action of the Church which declares its power over a non-sacramental bond of marriage. The first marriage is dissolved when the second is contracted. These cases are governed by canons 1143-1147.

Please note that the Petitioner is not to be baptized or married until authorized by the Tribunal. The first marriage is dissolved only when the Petitioner having received baptism, enters into the new valid marriage. Normally, the baptism and the new marriage should be scheduled in close proximity.

It is pastorally important that the Petitioner understand this process. It should be made clear that this is an attempt to dissolve a previous valid marriage, not to declare it null. Hence, the validity of the previous bond is not challenged. Under no circumstances should the Petitioner be made to feel uncomfortable because of non-baptism. Please note, however, that in the case of a Pauline Privilege, baptism and a new marriage are required.

The following are some of the minimal conditions and requirements that must be met:

  1. Both parties were unbaptized (or not validly baptized) at the time of the marriage, and neither party was baptized during the course of the marriage.
  2. The parties separated and are divorced civilly.
  3. The Petitioner (yourself) now wishes to receive baptism (or has received it).
  4. The Respondent (the former spouse) does not intend to be baptized and does not wish to be reconciled with the Petitioner.
  5. The Petitioner now wishes to enter a new marriage.
  6. The Petitioner and the Petitioner's prospective or present spouse was not the cause of the breakup of the marriage.

If these conditions exist, the Pauline Privilege Petition, including the following information and documents, are necessary:

  1. The marriage certificate of the marriage for which the dissolution is being petitioned.
  2. The final decree of divorce of this same marriage.
  3. The name and address of the former spouse (the cooperation of the Respondent is absolutely necessary).
  4. The names and addresses of at least three witnesses for both the Petitioner and the Respondent. These witnesses are to testify about the non-baptism of both parties before and throughout the course of the marriage. These should be the parents and other family members of both parties.


Please always download forms from the website to ensure that you are using the most current.

If you have any questions or difficulties, email the Metropolitan Tribunal or call 713-807-9286.