Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today’s post is prompted by a series of questions that have been popping up as of late so here is some information you might want to be able to share with other people. It concerns who may be married in a Catholic Church.

Obviously, two Catholics may be married in a Catholic Church.

A priest’s marriage license reads (at least in the Great State of Ohio) that he may conduct marriages according to the laws of the Roman Catholic Church (which I wonder if that would legally preclude same sex marriage services since it is ecclesially against the law.) That being said, neither legally nor ecclesially may he perform a marriage between two non-Catholics.

A Catholic may marry a non-Catholic in a Catholic ceremony. The non-Catholic party does not have to become Catholic. The Catholic party will have to say that the reason they want a Catholic wedding is that they intend on living the Catholic life and that they will do “what is in their power” to bring their kids up Catholic.

A Catholic may marry a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic ceremony AS LONG AS THEY HAVE RECEIVED A DISPENSATION FROM THE CHURCH. In this way, the marriage will be recognized in the Catholic Church. If this is not done it causes ALL KINDS of problems down the line. Just make sure you get it early. You will not be able to be a Godparent, or confirmation sponsor, or receive any sacraments until your marriage is recognized in the Church.

It does not matter what kind of previous marriages there were before, ANY PARTY THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY MARRIED TO ANOTHER PERSON IN ANY FASHION MUST OBTAIN AN ANNULMENT (or present a death certificate if that is the case.) Yes, this includes a Catholic whose marriage was not recognized in the Church, or a non-Catholic who was married to a non-Catholic in any kind of ceremony, or even a marriage that only lasted an incredibly short while and was annulled by the state.


Anonymous said...

Dear Father, In 1943, my mother-in-law (Catholic) married her husband (Protestant) in her parish church "at Mary's altar" (standing behind the altar railing). Although they had permission to marry in the Church, they could not do so at the main altar, if I recall correctly.

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Warren said...

I am in the marriage tribunal process right now. It has taken about two years to get to this point, and is close to the end finally.

I have always wanted to know why the marriage tribunal process is so long, so slow. There are stages, epochs, really, to the process. Each stage is preceded by some time in the queue, and followed up by some time for paperwork and housekeeping. I wonder, why in particular are nullity declarations arrived at in such a laborious manner.

It is the single most labor intensive process within the Church that a lay-person will likely ever encounter, if they do encounter it, which one hopes they will not.

Has there ever been a book written on the history of the declaration of Nullity, in the Church? Going back to the time of the reformation, and examining what would have happened when Henry petitioned the Pope for an annulment so he could marry a third, or fourth time, and covering the rise of modern marriage tribunal practices, and the developments in their processing?