Let’s say that a person has been baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant. If I am understanding canon law correctly, that person remains a Catholic, even if they “leave the Church” and associate themselves with another church. Canon Law has recently been revised (Benedict XVI) to remove the provision that allowed Catholics to marry outside the Church if they had “left it by a formal act”. Therefore:
If that person has been baptized in the Catholic Church, but for some reason never practices the faith and never receives any instruction in it, do they validly marry if they marry outside the Church?
If that person has been baptized in the Catholic Church, and is raised for at least part of their life in it (such that they remember being taken to Mass as a child and possibly received some catechetical instruction), do they validly marry if they marry outside the Church?
And if the person in scenario #1 person divorces the non-Catholic spouse and marries a Catholic, can they then get an annulment based on having been bound by the marriage laws of the Church (defect or lack of form)? And what about scenario #2?
And one more question, potentially more difficult:
- Are not all baptisms Catholic, and do not all infants (at the very least) baptized outside the Church remain Catholic until they reach the age of reason and choose to embrace another faith (or reject any faith at all)? If so, what is the difference between their situation and the situation described in scenario #1 above, canonically speaking? Put another way, at what point does any baptized person cease to be bound by the marriage laws of the Church? Does the fact that their baptism is not “on the books” of a Catholic parish make the difference here, and if so, why?