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So how was Nicole Kidman able to wed Keith Urban in a Catholic church?

Kidman, baptized and raised Catholic, is one of the most famous divorcees in filmdom these days, her 1990 marriage to fellow actor and former Catholic Tom Cruise having collapsed in 2001. In the Catholic Church, marriage is for life, no matter what a civil divorce court might rule, unless the couple can obtain an annulment from a Catholic marriage tribunal, a process that typically takes several years. Kidman and country singer Urban announced their engagement only two months before their wedding ceremony, which was performed by a Catholic priest last weekend at the Cardinal Cerretti Chapel in Kidman’s native Sydney, Australia.

Here is the lucky break that enabled the couple to proceed speedily to the altar despite Kidman’s divorce: Her marriage to Cruise took place in a Church of Scientology ceremony (both were practicing Scientologists back then, and Cruise still is).

The Catholic Church requires its members to be married by a Catholic priest in a Catholic sacramental ceremony, so the Cruise-Kidman marriage was what the church calls “invalid as to form.” Proving a defect of form is relatively easy. The rules of diocesan marriage tribunals vary, but typically, the Catholic party or parties simply have to file copies of their baptismal certificates along with their marriage certificate (which would show who performed the ceremony) and a copy of their divorce decree. The process takes at most a couple of months–after which the marriage is declared null and void.

Thus, in the eyes of the church, Kidman, who returned to her childhood Catholic faith after her divorce from Cruise, has been married only once: to Keith Urban.

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