Can 2 orthodox christians get married in a catholic church?


I am Armenian orthodox and my spouse is ukrainian. We are getting married in April but as we live in Sorrento in Italy there is no orthodox church! Catholicism is similar to eastern orthodoxy and a catholic priest has already given us permission to marry in his cathedral. We just do not want to do something offensive to catholics as they are brothers and sisters of the orthodox church. Would you find it wrong if 2 orthodox christians got married in a catholic church?


I think the problem is not on the Catholic side but on the Orthodox side. In Orthodoxy the priest is the minister of the sacrament, so you need an Orthodox priest to have a valid marriage. In Catholicism the couple are the ministers of the sacrament so there are more options for a valid marriage. Have you spoken with an Orthodox priest about your plans?


Absolutely would not mind. I don’t think any catholic would. To the contrary I think everyone would be happy for you.


thank you :blush:


oThank you for your reply :slight_smile: unfortunately we do not have an orthodox priest in our city, we only moved to italy from moscow 1 year ago. My spouse’s uncle is a priest in ukraine and he has consulted his priest friends who all think it is ok. We just do not want to be offensive and disrespectful to catholics in our new home of


It would not be at all offensive to Catholics. The only question is whether your Orthodox Church would recognize the validity of the ceremony.


Thank you i appreciate your kind reply :blush:The question of orthodoxy is not so much a problem, we can go back to our home country to make it validated. It’s mainly because many of our extended families live in Italy so would be difficult to fly many people over to another country


Indeed, I fail to see how without an Orthodox priest involved here a marriage could take place. Sorrento is near Naples and there are plenty of Orthodox Churches easily reachable there. Something feels off here. I’ve travelled around a fair bit of Italy and Orthodox Churches can be found in many places with reasonable ease. Sorrento is not such a big town, but Naples which as I point out does have Orthodox Churches is about 25 or 30 miles away.


It sounds like the OP has some options then. That’s good to hear. I worry when people say they know they’re doing it wrong and it won’t be a valid marriage but they’ll take care of it later. How much better to start off right! OP, have you checked the possibilities in Naples?


Right away there is an item. To clarify then, you are Oriental Orthodox not in communion with Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox, Moscow Patriachate? Is you wife in communion with the Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Church, or one of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches? Which one would that be. Would it be the Kiev Patriarchate or the Moscow Patriarchate?
IMHO, it would be better to find an Orthodox Church close by and to get married there.


And where will you be attending church afterwards?

I can’t speak for italian RC, but here in the US, it is quite common to have Orthodox parishioners at Eastern Catholic churches, with varying degrees of approval and disapproval from their own churches . . .



I am somewhat surprised to know that there is an Eastern Orthodox Church which would approve of their parishioners attending an Eastern Catholic church on a regular basis.


I’m not sure if this is fully correct, because I have the Eastern Catholic marriage rite in mind rather than the Orthodox, but I’m pretty sure it’s applicable to both. The priest is not the minister of the sacrament in any marriage ceremony, because the consent of the spouses is what makes a marriage, and this consent cannot be supplied by any other power. The ceremony is a way of manifesting the consent to the general public, since marriage by its very nature is public.

In an Eastern Catholic marriage ceremony, a nuptial blessing from a priest would be necessary for validity, but this is not the same as “administering a sacrament”; in fact, it’s more like a very essential element of canonical form, so to speak (not a perfect analogy, but you get the point). It does not make a marriage in place of consent. I’m not sure if the Orthodox take the same view as the Eastern Catholics, but I would find it highly unlikely that they would believe that a marriage is made through anything other than the consent of the spouses.

If consent is not always what makes the marriage, then this would suggest that a person can be married against his will, and that marriage is not a freely chosen state; this of course contradicts basic theology on the Sacrament of Matrimony. Declarations of nullity would be nearly impossible. Many other troubling ramifications could be listed. Again, as a Catholic, I’m not very familiar with Orthodox beliefs and practices in general, but if they view the marriage ceremony the same way as the Eastern Catholics do, it would be misleading to say that the priest is the minister of the sacrament.


I think the East would say that the couple’s consent is required, but it is still the priest who confers the sacrament. Perhaps much like a penitent’s contrition is required to receive the sacrament of penance, yet it is still the priest who confers the sacrament.


From perusing the Wikipedia article on the subject, it seems that the couple gives their consent during a betrothal ceremony outside the church before the actual wedding ceremony begins. Since it is God who joins the couple together, maybe they see the priest as being in persona Christi during the wedding and joining the couple together? The article didn’t really touch on this point.


Having the marriage ceremony done in a Catholic church building needs the permission of the priest of the church building. How about asking an Orthodox priest to come to Sorrento and borrow the church the priest offered you? If both of you are Orthodox then the ceremony should be the Orthodox ritual unless the closest priest/bishop gives you permission to marry in a Catholic marriage rite if I am correct. Call the closest Orthodox priest and as what you should be doing. Priests travel long distances to celebrate the sacraments. 400 kilometres is not unusual if the parish is large.


I’m not sure the analogy really works; when it comes to contrition, it is a matter (pun intended) of valid matter, rather than intention. However, with intention in marriage, it is the couple’s intention which counts, and not the intention of the officiating priest. In fact, the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches also states that the one officiating at a wedding merely receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church. I wouldn’t expect the Orthodox view to be substantively different.


No need travel anywhere near that far, Naples is as I noted above not far from Sorrento and has several Orthodox Churches.


Not all EC and EO are “all in” pm the schism. There are EC/EO pairs in which casual transition and intercommunion are the norm, although not publicly stated.

You’re up against both canon law and ancient theology claiming this; it is just plain wrong.

So much so, in fact, that an eastern catholic who marries before a deacon as an auto-annulment in a tribunal. The system actually got swamped with this a few years ago.

There is no way around the fact that the priest, not the couple, is the minister of the sacrament of matrimony for both EC and EO, and no amount of attempting to explain from a western perspective will change this.



To use the example of an “auto-annulment” because an Eastern Catholic was married before a deacon (actually, it would have to be two Eastern Catholics) to conclude that “the priest is the minister of the sacrament” is a complete non sequitur. This is not because the priest is the minister of the sacrament, but because a deacon simply cannot give the nuptial blessing according to the Eastern-Rite ceremony. And the nuptial blessing, as a canonist with degrees in both Latin and Eastern canon law explained to me, is comparable to being an element of canonical form, although a very important one at that, being necessary for validity! The blessing is not “conferring the sacrament”, because the perennial tradition of the Church has always taught that it is the consent of the spouses that makes a marriage.

To have a contradiction in the very theology of marriage in the Latin and Eastern Churches would suggest a lack of communion between the two. Clearly, that is absurd, so another explanation must be sought. As I pointed out in an earlier post, to claim that the priest confers the Sacrament of Matrimony, in any Rite, would suggest that a person can be married against his will. And what if a Latin Catholic marries an Eastern Catholic? Complications would arise which concern not only the canon law governing the celebration of Matrimony, but the very theology of marriage itself. It would be wrong to claim that anything other than the free consent of the spouses makes the marriage; indeed, declarations of nullity would be pretty much impossible if the priest were indeed the minister of the sacrament.

Because a marriage between a Latin and an Eastern Catholic before a deacon with the necessary faculties would be completely valid (if the Latin Rite is used), assuming that there are no other invalidating factors, an “auto-annulment” would only be granted for two Eastern Catholics who married before a deacon, and not simply one Eastern Catholic. In fact, I would think it is highly unlikely for a declaration of nullity to be granted in such a case, because such declarations are not granted in obvious “lack of form” cases. Although marriage enjoys the favor of the law, in lack of form cases, there is no semblance of validity, and so this presumption does not apply. It’s the same reason why a same-sex couple who converted to Catholicism would not need a declaration of nullity for their “marriage”, and nor would a woman who attempted to be ordained.

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