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  #1  
Old Mar 26, '07, 8:27 am
bluerose bluerose is offline
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Default Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

I don't even know how this came up at work, but someone made the comment that her sister and husband who were thinking of entering the Catholic church were going to have problems because their marriage was NOT valid because they got married by a justice of the peace. I asked if the sister or the husband were Catholics and she said neither one was (I think one was Baptist, the other non-denominational.) So someone else said, it should be considered valid by the Catholic church, so long as neither had been married before. Then someone else said it HAD to be a church wedding, in front of a minister not just a JP, to be considered valid, regardless of what church the parties belonged to. Another person stated that it depended on the church... some considered a JP wedding valid, others did not.

I bowed out at this point (we were supposed to be working after all) but it left me wondering if a civil marriage between two non-Catholics is truly valid in the Catholic Church? Does any other church require a "church wedding" for it to be considered valid?
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  #2  
Old Mar 26, '07, 8:31 am
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Upon entering the Church, the marriage will be blessed, thus becoming sacramental and valid in the eyes of the Church.
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  #3  
Old Mar 26, '07, 9:17 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

marriages of non-Catholics are assumed valid. If there were no impediments to their marriage (divorce and remarriage for instance) they are married. Each marriage situation is unique. When they visit the priest for their first interview to inquire about RCIA they should relate all circumstances of their marriage and family, in fact, the interview is required to ask such questions. they will then be advised accordingly. What somebody said or heard is never a reliable guide to an individual situation unless that somebody is the priest in charge of their spiritual formation.
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  #4  
Old Mar 26, '07, 12:09 pm
onmywayagain onmywayagain is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

A civil marriage cannot be valid in any Church, Catholic or non, for one simple reason. A judge is has no authority by God to marry, they have the authority by the state.
  #5  
Old Mar 26, '07, 12:25 pm
Allweather Allweather is offline
 
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onmywayagain View Post
A civil marriage cannot be valid in any Church, Catholic or non, for one simple reason. A judge is has no authority by God to marry, they have the authority by the state.
For converts, existing marriages are assumed to be valid unless there is a challenge of some sort. Even so, the circumstances of the marriage would be ascertained and the existing marriage "sacramentalized" as part of the conversion process.

I went through this when I converted. I had a divorced marriage from 15 years before. Neither of us were baptized Christians before, during, or after the marriage, which ended about 4 years after it began. All that needed doing was to get a statement from the ex spouse verifying no baptism. This made the marriage invalid. If both of us had been baptized, it would have been more complex, but still do-able, since it had been a JP type of wedding.

Anyways, each case has unique features to it.
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Old Mar 26, '07, 12:54 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onmywayagain View Post
A civil marriage cannot be valid in any Church, Catholic or non, for one simple reason. A judge is has no authority by God to marry, they have the authority by the state.

This is not true at all.


The man and woman are the ministers of the Sacrament, therefore it can be witnessed by *anyone*.

Catholics must have their marriage witnessed by a priest due to a requirement of Canon Law, which all Catholics are bound to follow.

Non-Catholics are not bound by the Catholic form of marriage. Therefore, their consent to each other alone makes the marriage valid, and if both are baptized also a Sacrament.
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  #7  
Old Mar 26, '07, 1:03 pm
chrysostom15 chrysostom15 is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

There is not such a general and simple rule. Both sides are wrong to say a general answer like that. When they go through RCIA, they should meet a priest who can walk through their particular situation.
  #8  
Old Mar 26, '07, 1:08 pm
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onmywayagain View Post
A civil marriage cannot be valid in any Church, Catholic or non, for one simple reason. A judge is has no authority by God to marry, they have the authority by the state.
Sorry, but that's incorrect.

Look here, esp. Canon 1055 para 2. And here, esp. Canon 1117. Non-Catholic baptised Christians need only to contract marriage. It's Catholics of whom it is required to marry in a Catholic ceremony, although that requirement can be dispensed, even generally (potentially leading to such situations that people marry civilly and contract a sacramental marriage without knowing - according to my canon law professor, such a situation happened in Russia once).

Next, the judge has no authority to "marry" anyone, but neither has the Catholic bishop, priest, deacon or other person designated (doesn't have to be a cleric and in fact, a justice of peace could also be designated). It's the nupturients (persons to be married) who minister the sacrament to each other in the Roman Catholic tradition, not the cleric or other person, as that is a qualified witness.

This is quite simple with protestants, but I don't know how the authority of valid non-Catholic bishops and churches is addressed. For example, if the persons are Orthodox and they marry by a judge while their church also prescribes canonical form like our church does. Don't ask me, I don't know.
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Old Mar 26, '07, 1:10 pm
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allweather View Post
I went through this when I converted. I had a divorced marriage from 15 years before. Neither of us were baptized Christians before, during, or after the marriage, which ended about 4 years after it began. All that needed doing was to get a statement from the ex spouse verifying no baptism. This made the marriage invalid. If both of us had been baptized, it would have been more complex, but still do-able, since it had been a JP type of wedding.
If you had both been baptised, it would have been a valid marriage so far as form goes. Other causes of nullity could apply, such as the ever-popular exclusions or Canon 1095, but the form would have been all right.
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Old Mar 26, '07, 1:12 pm
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrysostom15 View Post
There is not such a general and simple rule. Both sides are wrong to say a general answer like that. When they go through RCIA, they should meet a priest who can walk through their particular situation.
There are general and simple rules, but it's the chuch tribunal who's qualified to apply them. All the rules are general, as in they are not crafted specifically for any given couple. There is no reviewing the situation and then deciding on a rule that would bind them. There's a preexistent rule which applies to everyone sharing a similar situation, which makes that rule general. There's nothing relative in it.
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Old Mar 26, '07, 1:13 pm
onmywayagain onmywayagain is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ke View Post

This is not true at all.


The man and woman are the ministers of the Sacrament, therefore it can be witnessed by *anyone*.

Catholics must have their marriage witnessed by a priest due to a requirement of Canon Law, which all Catholics are bound to follow.

Non-Catholics are not bound by the Catholic form of marriage. Therefore, their consent to each other alone makes the marriage valid, and if both are baptized also a Sacrament.
How is this true? Who marries the man and woman? Themselves. Although, it can be witnessed by anyone, doesn't mean it can be performed by anyone.
  #12  
Old Mar 26, '07, 1:14 pm
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
marriages of non-Catholics are assumed valid. If there were no impediments to their marriage (divorce and remarriage for instance) they are married. Each marriage situation is unique. When they visit the priest for their first interview to inquire about RCIA they should relate all circumstances of their marriage and family, in fact, the interview is required to ask such questions. they will then be advised accordingly. What somebody said or heard is never a reliable guide to an individual situation unless that somebody is the priest in charge of their spiritual formation.
That only if the priest knows canon law. If he doesn't know it or if he just knows the general rule but is not trained in the ways of the lawyers, he should contact the tribunal or suggest that the couple do that.
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Old Mar 26, '07, 1:16 pm
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onmywayagain View Post
How is this true? Who marries the man and woman? Themselves. Although, it can be witnessed by anyone, doesn't mean it can be performed by anyone.
Yes, it can. Look up my posts above to links to canon law. Canon 1117 states the requirements of the qualified witness apply if at least one side is Catholic. They do not apply to non-Catholics. The fact that you resent the idea a sacramental marriage could be witnessed by a secular judge has no relevance to the legal reality.
  #14  
Old Mar 26, '07, 1:19 pm
onmywayagain onmywayagain is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chevalier View Post
Sorry, but that's incorrect.

Look here, esp. Canon 1055 para 2. And here, esp. Canon 1117. Non-Catholic baptised Christians need only to contract marriage. It's Catholics of whom it is required to marry in a Catholic ceremony, although that requirement can be dispensed, even generally (potentially leading to such situations that people marry civilly and contract a sacramental marriage without knowing - according to my canon law professor, such a situation happened in Russia once).

Next, the judge has no authority to "marry" anyone, but neither has the Catholic bishop, priest, deacon or other person designated (doesn't have to be a cleric and in fact, a justice of peace could also be designated). It's the nupturients (persons to be married) who minister the sacrament to each other in the Roman Catholic tradition, not the cleric or other person, as that is a qualified witness.

This is quite simple with protestants, but I don't know how the authority of valid non-Catholic bishops and churches is addressed. For example, if the persons are Orthodox and they marry by a judge while their church also prescribes canonical form like our church does. Don't ask me, I don't know.
It is written than so it is true. But then why must a marriage outside of the Catholic Church have to be validated in the Catholic Church?
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Old Mar 26, '07, 1:25 pm
onmywayagain onmywayagain is offline
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Default Re: Civil marriage valid for non-Catholics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chevalier View Post
Yes, it can. Look up my posts above to links to canon law. Canon 1117 states the requirements of the qualified witness apply if at least one side is Catholic. They do not apply to non-Catholics. The fact that you resent the idea a sacramental marriage could be witnessed by a secular judge has no relevance to the legal reality.
I think we are discussing the Validity and not legality of the marriage. Two different issues. I understand Canon Law and yes I have read your post. But Canon Law is like Scripture, it needs to be interpretted by someone who is educated in it or it will have many different meanings. In our RCIA program we have many couples who are civily married and have to have there marriges validated. If it is valid as many of you are saying then why must it be validated and/or blessed in Church if, according to you, it is already a Sacrement and Valid.

BTW, Canon Law says there needs to be a Qualified witness. If a judge is a Buddist, Muslim or whatever. How does he qualify as a witness in a Christian Marriage?

Last edited by onmywayagain; Mar 26, '07 at 1:37 pm.
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