Questions over annulment for Mexican president’s wife

The Catholic Church in Mexico has been accused of bending its own rules on marriage in the case of a politician’s future wife.

At issue is the annulment of the previous marriage of actor Angélica Rivera, who became Enrique Peña Nieto’s wife 19 months before he was elected president.

The Guardian reported documents obtained by investigative reporters appear to show the annulment was fast tracked.

Mr Peña Nieto’s first wife, Mónica Pretelini, died in 2007 after suffering an epileptic seizure.

Ms Rivera, a popular soap opera star, was married to TV producer José Alberto Castro from 2004 to 2008.

They have three daughters together, including two who were born out of wedlock.

The archdiocese of Mexico City annulled their marriage in 2009.

The archdiocese noted that the ceremony had taken place on a beach in Acapulco and exhibited “defects of canonical form”.

But the newly revealed church documents cast doubt on the archdiocese’s story.

A copy of Castro and Rivera’s Catholic marriage certificate appears to show a proper church ceremony took place in a Mexico City parish in December, 2004.

This was before the Acapulco beach service and in contradiction of archdiocesan claims that it did not take place in an authorised house of worship.

Archdiocese documents cited Ms Rivera and three witnesses – all her sisters – who claimed they did not “understand” they were signing a church marriage certificate at the ceremony in Mexico City.

The archdiocesan tribunal held that the priest who performed the Acapulco ceremony had tricked Ms Rivera into marrying at a church without her knowledge, with another priest officiating, and then pretended the ceremony at the beach was the real thing, when it wasn’t.

A spokesman for Mexico City archdiocese, Fr Hugo Valdemar, denied there had been any irregularities in the annulment and told the Guardian the annulment “followed the proper process”.

He added that the original marriage in the Mexico City parish was celebrated with the intention that it would be repeated in Acapulco by a priest lacking the proper permission to perform it.

Fr Valdemar also denied any political motives for granting the annulment.

In 2012, the Roman Rota absolved the priest who presided at the Acapulco wedding of any ecclesiastical wrongdoing in Ms Rivera’s marriage.


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