Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why a Catholic should not attend an invalid wedding ceremony

“Father, my sister is getting married by a protestant minister in a beautiful outdoor service on the top of a mountain! Can I attend the wedding?”

If your sister was baptized Catholic or has been received into the Church, and she didn’t get permission from the bishop, then I say, “No, you most certainly must not attend.”

Although Canon Law makes no stipulation regarding whether a Catholic may attend an invalid wedding ceremony, moral law most certainly prohibits Catholics (and, sometimes, also non-Catholics) from attending.

In this article, we hope to shed some light on what can be a rather difficult question. Difficult not only because of personal ties to those involved in the wedding service, but also because many priests spew forth variant opinions which (howsoever subtle and delicate they appear) lack any substantial foundation in moral law or the Catholic tradition.

What makes a marriage invalid?

Before going any further, it is necessary to recognize what makes a marriage to be invalid. Under the current law of the Church, the marriages of non-Catholics are not bound by canonical form. Thus, the marriage of two protestants in a protestant hall, or even before a justice of the peace in a Vegas drive-thru, could be a valid marriage.  Furthermore, if this marriage is valid, it is also sacramental.

The marriage of two non-baptized persons (or of a protestant and a non-baptized person) is likewise not to be presumed invalid simply because it is not witnessed by a Catholic priest – here too, the Church recognizes these marriages as valid (other factors being equal). Hence, if a protestant marries a buddhist in a Vegas chapel, the marriage is valid – yet, because one (or both) are not baptized, it cannot be a sacrament.

However, those who have been baptized Catholic or who have been received into the Church are bound to follow canonical form. Even if a person has since left the practice of the faith and no longer considers himself to be Catholic, according to Church law, he is bound by the law of the Catholic Church from the moment he has once become Catholic (either by baptism or by conversion).

This means that one who has been Catholic must be married in a manner recognized by the Catholic Church. Usually, this entails being married before a Catholic priest or deacon, in a Catholic Church – however, the Bishop can permit for a protestant minister or any other person to witness the marriage. Thus, if a Catholic is not married according to the Law of the Church, the marriage will be invalid – it may be a civil marriage, but it is not a marriage in the eyes of the Church or in God’s eyes.
It is also good to note that the marriage of a Catholic and an Orthodox Christian before an Orthodox priest is recognized as valid, though perhaps illicit without the permission of the Catholic bishop (other points of law being followed). (Cf. Can. 1127)

Additionally, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the natural law regarding marriage holds true: Second marriages (in which the first marriage has not be declared null and the spouses are still living) are presumed to be invalid, marriages between members of the same sex are invalid, marriages between close relatives are invalid, etc. Hence, when a protestant attempts a second marriage (the former spouse still being alive and no annulment having been granted), this second marriage is presumed to be invalid; and the same holds for those who are not baptized.

To make this point very clear: When two baptized protestants are married in a civil ceremony, that is a valid and even a sacramental marriage (assuming that it follows natural law). When a protestant and an atheist get married in a civil ceremony, that is a valid non-sacramental marriage. However, as soon as a Catholic (or, rather, one who has been Catholic) is attempting marriage, the law of the Church must be followed.

What not to worry about

Firstly, let us point out what we ought not to worry about when deciding whether to attend the non-Catholic wedding ceremony of one who was baptized Catholic. Although Father Zuhlsdorf [here] and many others seek to pry into the hearts and minds of the couple attempting marriage – seeking their motives and their knowledge, their upbringing and their experiences – we state that all such is truly irrelevant to the question of whether we should attend the service.

“Why is the Catholic party marrying outside of the Church? Is it ignorance, apathy, antipathy, or some other motivation? Is this person marrying outside the Church as an act of defiance against the Church? […] Did they go to Catholic school?” (Father Z)

How do these questions in any way pertain to the question of whether a Catholic should attend an invalid marriage of another Catholic? Such questions seek to make a judgment upon the persons attempting marriage – either to acquit or condemn them. But who am I to judge the soul of another person?

What is truly at stake is the question of scandal, and of encouraging another in objective sin. We need not make a judgment upon the soul of the Catholic who is attempting the invalid marriage, but we must rather stand back and make an objective consideration of the matter.

Praising and approving sin

“Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: by participating directly and voluntarily in them; by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; by protecting evil-doers.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1896)

Among the ways in which we may be guilty of cooperating in sin, the Church lists praising or approving sin. Now, attending a wedding service, especially if we give a gift for the wedding and/or attend the reception after, clearly constitutes an act of both praise and approval. This is the objective effect of being present at a wedding – we are there to show support to the two individuals, not just in a general way, but specifically as they are wed.

Hence, even if we were to approach the couple ahead of time and tell them that we do not approve of their invalid attempt at marriage, presence at the ceremony itself communicates support and approval of the event. It is part of the very nature of the act of being present at a wedding – it shows support and praise for the attempt at marriage.

Scandal – Leading others to sin

“Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. […] Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2284 – 2285)

To cause scandal does not really mean to shock or surprise another, but rather to cause another to think that something which is sinful is not sinful or, at least, not that sinful. This is precisely what happens when we attend the invalid marriage of a Catholic.

Not only do we praise and show approval for the sinful act of the persons contracting the marriage, but by attending the wedding service we lead others into the false opinion that the invalid marriage is acceptable. This is yet another reason why it is not enough to simply tell the would-be spouses that, “I disagree with your choice to marry outside the Church, but I’ll attend the wedding because I love you” – because anyone else present at the attempted wedding would still be scandalized and led into the mistaken idea that there is nothing sinful about attempting an invalid marriage or praising an invalid wedding.

Hence, as a parish priest, I often counsel people: “In order to attend the wedding, you would have to let all those present know that you disagree with the attempted marriage, that it is not a marriage in God’s eyes, or the Church’s eyes, or your eyes, that it is a grave sin and that the couple are not husband and wife but rather are living in sin.” Anything less than a public statement to this effect would cause others to think that we were supporting the marriage ceremony – and, indeed, our presence at the wedding does show support and praise. 

Clearly, the only option is to not attend the service.

Further points

From all that has been said, it should be clear that a Catholic ought not to give a wedding gift or card in praise of an invalid marriage. Furthermore, a Catholic should not attend the reception afterwards – the couple is entering into manifest grave sin, what is there to celebrate?

Additionally, one can make the obvious connections regarding other invalid ceremonies: If Catholics must not attend the invalid marriages of fellow Catholics, even protestants and atheists should not attend those marriages which are invalid due to violations of the natural law. This is why no one is permitted to attend the attempted marriage of two persons of the same sex. Furthermore, this would also preclude all from attending second marriages.

A sermon on this topic


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! - for giving us the truth, as a pastor. Most of us are denied instruction and exhortation and admonition in the truth. We are encouraged rather to compromise, even cooperate with evil and remain in the good books of those who oppose the Faith and the moral law. God strengthen and protect you in your priesthood. May you reach many souls.

David said...

Dear Fr Erlenbush

We know a Catholic couple, estranged from the church, who have been cohabiting for some time. They have a child from the relationship. My wife is friendly with the woman and has been encouraging her to return to the church and marry. The woman wanted to marry mainly for the reason of adding the legal and social security of a legal marriage for both her sake and that of the child. However, the man was very reluctant and eventually only conceded to the marriage if it was a low key civil marriage.

We attended the marriage because we felt it was better than their previous situation, especially for the child, and that the woman needed some support. Was this wrong?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

David, I think we need to keep the big picture objective focus - rather than searching into the hearts/minds of the people.
So, I do not think going to the wedding was the right choice ... Neither would I want you to feel overly anxious about it though. The point is, we try to do better in the future.

As far as what situation is better -- It is very hard to say, since the man seems to be rather unfit for commitment.

Marko Ivančičević said...

Let's speculate that a major plague kills off all the clergy(even heretics and schismatics) in a circle of 2000 miles,and a Catholic couple wants to marry. Would civil ceremony suffice for valid and sacramental marriage?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

With dispensation from the local bishop, yes.

Marko Ivančičević said...

I'm postulating *all* the clergy, including the local bishops in the circle of 2000 miles.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Necessarily, the catholics of that place would still fall under the jurisdiction of "some" bishop (or the pope himself) - he would grant the dispensation. We presume it would be granted for all in a single act.

Marko Ivančičević said...

I like to speculate so bear with me.
It is true that some bishop would be in charge of Catholics. Let's say cardinals and the Pope die simultaneously. All bishops and priests die save one bishop and 2 priests. That bishop and those two priests are located in a remote place, an island. So the couple would have to contact that bishop (would it be possible via phone, skype or some other media?), or possibly go there, but let's say they can't go, explain the situation, and get the dispensation.

I think i heard somewhere that when the Americas were first discovered, people wouldn't have the priests so much available, so priests would go around the villages and towns "confirming" already married people.

lover of Jesus and Mary said...

God bless you for preaching the truth Father. A great and refreshing thing.

Anonymous said...

"Even if a person has since left the practice of the faith and no longer considers himself to be Catholic, according to Church law, he is bound by the law of the Catholic Church from the moment he has once become Catholic"

Really? So if someone was baptised Catholic as a baby, then his parents separated and he was brought up a Buddhist and continued to devoutly practise Buddhism all his life, and was regarded by himself and by everyone who knew him as a Buddhist, then at age 40 got married to another Buddhist in a Buddhist ceremony, then it would be immoral for a Catholic to attend the wedding if she happened to find out the little-known fact that he had as a baby been baptised a Catholic?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...


paul said...

Here is an example where God instructs audibly and clearly and His Love ought be recognized in it rather than our less thought out original takes on the mattegt. Thank you Father. The couple may not be pleased with me but they ought know I seek first to honor God, follow my Faith and follow His Instruction.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had found this in July! It's unfortunate that Catholics who have been invited to invalid weddings can have such a hard time getting clear instruction on the right thing to do.

Manny said...

I cannot see how one can morally not attend one's sister's wedding, whether it be valid or invalid. This advice above is Pharasaic. Love has to take precedent.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for quoting directly from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition" which all Catholics are required to adhere to.

If one loves his neighbor as commanded by Jesus, he will want him/her to get to Heaven for eternity. - This is true love - true charity.
CCC: " 1759 "An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention. The end does not justify the means."

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

You refuse to enter into real dialogue, you don't reference the Bible or the Catechism, you resort to name-calling ... Who is the pharisee? ... If a sister were marrying a woman, would you have to go? If (as in some cultures it has happened) a sibling was marrying a minor, would you have to go? ... Do you know at all what love is?

Anonymous said...

If my son who's never married is dating a divorced non-catholic can there ever be a valid marriage in the eyes of the church if she were to convert to Catholism 1st. I don't think so but I need clarity. We are losing so many of our young adults to marriages outside the church. It is such a grave sorrow, such a grave loss of faith, such a grave loss of grace, such a loss to carrying on the faith in families.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Anon, 8:45am,
Please use a pseudonym.

Yes, if the woman were to apply for and obtain an annulment, she would then be free to marry your son -- whether or not she converted to catholicism.
If they desire marriage, your son should talk to his parish priest and begin the process - as it may take two years, but there are no guarantees that an annulment would be granted.
She can (and should) begin the process even before converting to Catholicism - even if she never converts, she can still request the annulment and then be free to marry your Catholic son. +

Anonymous said...

My daughter married a divorced Catholic by Justice of the Peace. We did not attend. First marriage for her. Her husband got an annulment but they have not had the marriage blessed yet. They go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. How do I tell her it is a motal sin or sacrilege to receive Jesus when the marriage isn't reconized by the Church.

Anonymous said...

We have a granddaughter who was baptized Catholic in her teens, little or no family or catechises. She is very close to my wife and I would have a serious problem with her if I chose not to go. This is not an attempt to justify our going but we would be cutting off any future communication and the possibility for conversion. I have this same situation with my daughter.

Anonymous said...

From: Rose Petals to Father:
I sent in the above question at 9:24 am as anon. so am sending a name so you may
address the ques. I presented. Many blessings Father!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been with a woman for 8 years.I met her in Medugorje on a bus.We wrote letters back n forth for a few years,we liked one another.She kept telling me that there was something I had to know.I was sitting in my Dad's room one night.Foreknowledge was given to me.I heard a voice ask me "Will you love her?"I knew what her problem was right then.She had cancer and was unable to bear children or have sex at all. I asked her hand in marriage on a 2nd trip to Medugorje.A priest there told me to be friends with her,but I didn't understand.When she returned to Ireland to ask the Bishop to do our wedding ( Even in her condition and being Catholic all her life, she didn't even know), the Bishop said no.I went to Ireland and asked the Bishop's canon Lawyer why we couldn't. Instead told me how I could do it by doing a justice of the peace.At time,I was not aware of FamiliarisConsortio,line 82, that legal marriage is against the church.Later the priest who revealed to her and I that what we did was wrong,would tell us how legal marriage goes against church,that she is Eunuch (she had a full hystorectomy when she was two years old because of cancer of the vulva),that she cannot ever meet valid marriage.The Priest told us we had to get divorce.She left back to Ireland for 8 mths hoping to establish her life find job and then we would divorce.There was no jobs.Instead,she came back.I felt I couldn't send her home.This 8 years has been hard.In beginning,before her,I went to pray for Holy Purity on top of mountain in NY where I'm from.Instead of good response,I was attacked by demoniac.This entity tempted me for years.I felt different after the incident.I couldn't pray,I felt constantly tempted like my will was being overpowered. When I met her,I was already going through this,this thing would tempt me to go look for a prostitute and have sex on a nightly basis.I was so sad because I couldn't make it stop.It didn't stop until I moved us away from NY.I was still going through temptations.But the temptations evolved from prostitutes to the occult.I fought the occult ones off. Then it evolved into leaving the Catholic Faith, we both had to fight that off. Every day she prays and asks God to give her a miracle. I myself have been almost destroyed by the whole process. I was weak and felt I didn't have the strength or the heart to divorce her.The Priest was a great friend,now he will not even talk to me and I lost his friendship and I was deeply saddened by the loss.He is indeed a great priest.I have been chaste for a long time.I did check with the local Diocese, the local Marriage Tribunal, a Canon Lawyer. They all said no to marriage that its not possible.I have no idea what to do anymore. The whole process has driven me to a very sad and depressed state so that I am now on Anti Depression Pills to cope.I even go out and run alot, 12 to 14 miles at times just to keep myself positive while enduring this whole thing.The Priest laid it on her shoulders to leave me, she tried and it failed, I feel we are stuck in a never ending thing with no outcome yet.No one has been able to help us correct this and I'm at my wit's end with it. I've pretty much accepted there is nothing I can do except endure. We both know now that we are in the wrong.But we can't seem to fix it.Both of us don't like how it puts us on the outskirts of our faith.I did ask the local parish priest if we could still take Holy Communion and he permits it.We still sleep in the same bed,there is no sex at all.tried talking to her about this stuff in the first it was very hard and she didn't want to hear it.Slowly she has understood.I have told her to not stop praying, that Saint Francis n Saint Patrick didn't stop.I don't know if that was sound advice. We don't know what todo.I don't even know where to go anymore for email is

Anonymous said...

I had alot to say, but this post only allows 4096 characters. I'm sorry if what I wrote appears unintelligible. I really need help with my problem. I hope people can understand what I wrote.

Anonymous said...

What about what is an all-too-common situation: The bride and groom have been raised Catholic in name only. They don't even KNOW that they're Catholic. They were baptized, but didn't go to church, except maybe on Christmas and Easter, lived in homes broken by dysfunction and divorce, didn't go to Catholic school, don't know ANYTHING about the faith, except that we should be "nice". The parents always acted as if it was very unfashionable and impractical to talk about the faith at all, and it's just a bunch of silly rules made by out-of-touch-with-reality-celibates that only old-fashioned, great-aunt fuddy-duddy cares about.
I understand that it's necessary to obey the marriage laws of the Church, but many people who haven't been raised in the faith really don't know any better. Even when informed, they just think it's silly and useless; it's so foreign to them. I feel that way about the rules of football. How can we convince them that this really IS important? All they can think about right now is romance and glitter.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

This is out of hand, you simply must sign a pseudonym to your comments (as requested). When you take the time to use a pseudonym, I will take the time to reply.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Rose Petals (9:24am),
First, pray for them.
Second, gently encourage them to ask a priest about getting the marriage blessed.
Third, explain that Catholics married outside the Church have chosen to keep a huge aspect of their lives separate from the Church and from Jesus in the Sacrament (by having a secular marriage rather than a marriage in the Church), and therefore they should not receive communion which is a sign of giving everything to Jesus and to the Church. [that is a non-threatening way to put it, the real answer is that they are in objective mortal sin, and one in mortal sin must not receive communion; another reason is that their sin is public (because marriage is public), and therefore they cannot receive communion]

I hope that helps. I know it is hard ... be sure to encourage them to have the marriage blessed, and assure them that (if it is the first marriage for both) it will probably be a very straight-forward and easy process. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

If the woman is absolutely, totally, and perpetually incapable of intercourse, then the bishop and priests are correct - marriage is impossible. However, if there is any hope that intercourse could at some point be possible, then the marriage would be possible.
I think your issue must be addressed with the priests in your area -- I pray that they can guide you. However, I will say that you cannot sleep in the same bed with a woman to whom you are not married.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good article on Scandal. I am sometimes scandalized by Bishops attending and cheering gatherings of those supporting the homosexual lifestyle and parades. I think many are. Perhaps if our Cardinals and Bishops showed polite concern for the souls of those attending - instead of cheering them - lay people would have fewer excuses for ignoring Church law.

Carole said...

I have 2 children who each married in a civil ceremony. Both are confirmed Catholics, although neither is practicing. 1 married another non-practicing confirmed Catholic and the 2nd married an agnostic Unitarian. What is involved in getting their marriages blessed?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the Church on this. I agree with the man who said his daughter was marrying outside the church and he went to her wedding in order to keep the family together and then within their relationship he can encourage her to get her marriage blessed. Makes more sense to me. My one sister married by a JP, I did not go because I lived so many states away from her. She did not "invite" my other sister, but she went anyway "because she is my sister and I wanted to attend" even though she was a practicing Catholic at the time. They are still very close to each other and I am sure God approves of their sister-love. Jesus put a great deal of emphasis on the "family". I just cannot believe in my heart, that attending a non-Catholic wedding of a family member or friend is wrong. The Church has changed many rules in the past. My own daughter married a Catholic in the CC and he was abusive and she divorced him and remarried. She will not get an annulment because "he broke his vows, I did not". So, why should this annulment process fall on her. I went to her wedding, I approve of her new husband who is good to her and to this old lady writing this. Sometimes the Church gets too dictatorial, when it should look to itself at times when they do wrong. I know one young lady whose Pastor would not marry her and her Protestant fiancé, so she went to the Bishop and he told her to go to another parish and ask the priest there to marry them. So much of all this has to do with the person who is priest or bishop at the time and how he personally feels.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Anon, 1:07,
If your daughter dies in her sin, she will be lost forever, but you will be held responsible for her condemnation - since you have encouraged her in this act. And then the family will be together in hell, but you won't have any love for one another.
The only true unity a family can have is in Christ Jesus - bein bound together in sin will only lead to an eternal enmity both with God and with one another.

Anonymous said...

The Pope says... “the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives. Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God 'are very few.' Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation 'so as not to burden the lives of the faithful' […] whereas 'God’s mercy has willed that we should be free'” (EG, 43).

Pope Francis goes on to say that “these convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (EG, 47).

He concludes, “Let us go forth then, […] at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: 'Give them something to eat' (Mk 6:37)” (EG, 49).

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

The precepts which Christ and the Apostles gave include the following: "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery", and the Apostle Paul states that adulterers will not enter the kingdom of heaven. It is not just the Church you reject, but Jesus himself.

Anonymous said...

From DJ

Thanks for this service of teaching you provide Reverend Father. A situation I have encountered: my cousin, born and raised Catholic and baptised as a child, lost his faith, or rather I am not sure to what extent he ever experienced a faith in God. Hence as an adult when he met the woman he wanted to marry he chose to have a civil ceremony as he could not in any honesty profess to believe in God and promise to live a Catholic marriage. Whilst I was very sad this was the case and that he didnt have faith I would have been far sadder if he had stood in front of the Altar, priest and people of God and entered into a sacrament which for him, without faith, he did not believe in. What should one in this sad situation do? Obviously we desire that the person come to faith but if at that point of life they do not have faith is it then impossible for them as a baptised Catholic to have any sort of valid marriage? And should their family not attend or support in any way the type of marriage they try to enter into. Sadly I know many nominally Catholic people who this will apply to. Whilst I try to encourage them to turn to Christ and live in Him, and pray for the grace they need to receive for this to happen, what do I do about those who have not got to this point yet but wish to enter into a natural marriage? Thank you dear Father for your guidance on this matter.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...


It is important to remember that two baptized people are incapable of entering into a purely natural marriage. Thus, if one is Catholic, the marriage must be performed according to the law of the Church - which means that attempting a natural marriage outside the Church is invalid.

Thus, to make the point more strongly -- if you would say that your brother would have been performing a farce to be married before the altar (which, perhaps is true), I would further point out that he performed a farce by attempting to be married outside the Church as well (because his "I do" didn't count, it was invalid).

And this is why we simply must not attend such weddings.

However, to your final point -- It is so important to be loving and caring to the individuals who have gotten themselves into these difficult situations. We shouldn't simply cut them out of our lives - but we should also not act as though it is a real marriage.
Charity and patience, with much fortitude.

Peace! +

Anonymous said...

My dear Reverend Father, many thanks for your answer. My earthly Father, who is a saintly man in my opinion, put the matter quite succinctly: 'if God is not invited to this wedding then neither am I.' And hence he refused to attend. I did go, believing it to be a step forward for my cousin, told him that I am praying he will have his marriage blessed by the Church one day and gave him a book as a wedding present about rediscovering the gift of faith. In light of your advice I think I should have possibly taken the position of my earthly father and I will take the matter to confession.
Many thanks for your time, please pray for me.

Michael said...

I think I goofed up on my question. I'll try it again. My 26 year old baptized Catholic son is getting married next month to a women with no faith, except for what she can taste, see and smell. A wedding in the park by a justice of the peace. He ask my wife and I to attend. Should we? Thank you. Michael Marsh.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

If the marriage is not recognized by the Church, then I would say, "No, do not attend."

Houstonian said...

I explained to my daughter why I cannot attend her goth/Halloween wedding. She is a baptized and confirmed Catholic and her husband is a non-practicing Christian. Then it came up my husband and I had to explain to my husband's niece why we could not attend her wedding (she is a baptized and confirmed Catholic and the wedding was a civil wedding performed on a Sunday. Husband wrote her a letter). We stated we love them and still want to be in contact and that they could even have their marriage easily become recognized by the church later on, even without her husband having to become Catholic. Well, she shut us out and wants nothing to do with us now. We told her in good conscience we could not come and yet she wants nothing to do with us. It is a bit shocking to us, as we did approach this in a loving manner. We never said we never wanted anything to do with them again or that they were sinners, etc. I guess it's the generation we are dealing with now.

Anonymous said...

To the Catholics who believe that they should not attend any wedding unless it is a Catholic one (assuming one getting married is baptized Catholic). Let me ask you a question: How do you feel about people who refuse to go to Catholic weddings when their own non Catholic relative is marrying a catholic in a church they do not support or believe in?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I respect their choice and admire them for their intellectual integrity and for at least believing that faith matters.

Anonymous said...

If the non Catholic is agnostic or atheist, it would mean that they didnt want to be involved in the conformity of organized, denominational religion of any kind. I'm not sure that faith wold come into it... but I can see how intellectual integrity would. Thank you for your answer

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I should be more clear -- if the non-Catholic believes that the Catholic wedding is not a true marriage, then I respect their intellectual integrty for not attending. It would not be the same if they simply refused to attend because they disagree with this or that teaching of the Church.

However, it might be the case that they see a Catholic wedding as sufficient for a true marriage, but still refuse to attend because they believe it is false worship -- and, again, I would respect that choice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Father, I only discovered recently that a marriage between a baptized Catholic and a Protestant by a Protestant minister is invalid. Furthermore, I've learned from your article that if the Protestant is divorced (with the previous spouse living) and the previous marriage was not annulled, then it also causes the marriage to be invalid.

Assuming this marriage has taken place, the apostate Catholic has since rediscovered his Catholic faith and returned to the Church, what can this couple do to make the marriage right in the sight of God and the Church? Would the divorced Protestant spouse have to seek an annulment for the previous marriage?


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Raphael, this is not an uncommon situation and the best help can be given by the parish priest. Essentially, yes, the protestant would seek an annulment and (if this were granted) the couple could then request to have the relationship recognized as a marriage in the Church.

In the meantime, and this can be difficult, the Catholic spouse generally would not be permitted to receive communion until the Church marriage. However, if the couple lives "as brother and sister" without relations, the Catholic could still go to confession regularly. Still, they are both welcome at Mass and all other aspects of Church devotional life.

Hopefully, a good priest can help them to get everything straightened out and encourage them in their desire to follow God and the Church. +

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