Q. 1. What is the Pauline Privilege and how does it relate to the Sacrament of Marriage?
A. 1. First of all, it should be noted that the Pauline Privilege differs from an annulment because it dissolves a valid actual marriage, in favor of the faith of the Christian partner, where annulments declare that a marriage was invalid from the beginning.
For the Pauline Privilege to apply, both parties to the marriage have to be non-baptized at the time of the marriage.
Then one of the parties had to convert to the Catholic faith and the non-baptised spouse left the marriage because of the conversion.
While natural marriages should be preserved if at all possible [1 Cor. 7:12-14, 16], they can be dissolved in some cases. St. Paul tells us in verse 15 that if the unbelieving spouse refuses to live with the Catholic spouse, the unbeliever can be allowed to withdraw from the marriage, leaving the Catholic partner unbound, free to remarry. The Pauline Privilege thus may apply when the Church dissolves a natural marriage after one partner has become a Christian and there is a just cause, such as the non-Catholic's refusal to live at peace with the Catholic partner.
For more details regarding the Pauline Privilege, please contact a Catholic priest.