Are the civil marriages of Catholic couples recognized by the Catholic Church?

I was just married a month ago on a civil ceremony. My husband and I are planning our church marriage after a year since we are living abroad and we are still fixing our schedule to go to our home country and have the marriage sanctified in the church with our families by our side?

I am an active servant in the church, singing at the choir for about half of my lifetime. Just yesterday, I was reprimanded to lead in singing the pslam since I had a civil marriage?

Have I committed a grave sin in being civily married? Also, I was told that I should not be receiving the Holy Communion? Have I committed a mortal sin that’s why i am deprived of this sacrament?

Dear friend,

I’m wondering how much else you don’t know about your Catholic faith. This is a very basic teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church obliges Catholics to be married through the Church. Any attempt to marry outside of the Church is automatically invalid for Catholics and is a mortal sin. Since your marriage is not considered to be valid, every time you have marital relations you sin mortally.

Since you did not know of your obligation to marry only through the Church, your attempt at marriage was not a sin for you. But–you are not considered to be validly married and are obliged to live in a celibate way if you want to be in the state of grace. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth a mortal sin.

I suggest that you get the book, “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West. It presents a good explanation of the Church’s teachings regarding marriage. You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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