Today’s first reading, in speaking of the Israelites being unfaithful to their covenant with God, compares them to a harlot. The Old Testament does the same in the case of Gomer, the straying wife of Hosea. To be fair, the Bible should compare a straying people to men who are unfaithful to their wives. They are as numerous as straying women.
Jesus, in speaking of divorce as being against God’s will, made room for an exception by saying it was wrong “unless the marriage is unlawful.”
Back in 1948 a group of wise men and women approached Pope Paul VI with evidence proving that many marriage contracts were not true marriages because they met our Lord’s grounds of being unlawful. Pope Paul then authorized competent church people to consider the circumstances of weddings that might meet the description of being unlawful.
I am not one of those competent church people who is entrusted with recommending that certain unions were unlawful from the start, but I have a way of suspecting that a marriage was wrong from the start. I look at these words we priests always put to couples: we ask, “Have you come here freely, without reservation, to give yourselves to each other in marriage?” I see that as naming four essentials for a true marriage.
First, the two must be both physically and mentally free. Secondly, they have no reservations that are incomputable with what marriage must be. Thirdly that neither party is suffering from a Narcissism that prevents them from giving themselves. Fourthly, that they are committing to a real marriage.
Mine is not an expert view of these situations, however, I do think it fair that a person suffering in an illegal union should be freed to find happiness.