Can I, as a Catholic, attend the wedding.


#1

A lady that works in my office about a year ago, was separated from her husband and in May 2003 their divorce was finalized. She and her husband were married by the justice of the peace. She has never been raised in any faith nor has she or her children been baptized. Also, last year someone, gave her an email address to a fellow who lives in another state. He happens to be Catholic and seems from what she says to practice his faith.

As they became friends, he decided it was time for him, since he also had been divorced to file for his annulment. This co-worker kept asking me Catholic questions and trying to understand our faith. I told her that she could be a friend to this guy but not to get involved since in the churches eyes he was still a married man.

Now as of Christmas, they are engaged. I keep asking if his annulment is final and she says it is in the works. They have decided to get married in July, I think in her mom’s backyard, since she will be moving to another state with him. She says that once his annulment is through they will get married in the Catholic Church.

I personally don’t agree with this but I have been asked by those in our office if I will be attending the wedding and I really don’t know what to say.

Any insight would be a great help.

God Bless,
Gail


#2

There are two problems with this scenario. The first is, of course, the fact that the Church has yet to determine that his previous marriage is null.That means, it is presumed valid until proven otherwise. So, obviously, she cannot marry someone who is presumed to be already married.
The second probelm is her own situation. She, too, was married before and the Church would assume that it is also a valid marriage until proven otherwise.
Here is something that even Catholics are unclear about: Only Catholics who have not formally defected from the Church are formally bound by the disciplines of canon law; Thus, only such Catholics have to marry in a Catholic Church for validity. So if a non-Catholic is married in another church or even by the justice of the peace or a captian aboard a cruise-liner, the Church will assume the marriage is valid. Whenever vows are exchanged, the assumption favors marriage. So the Church must review the particulars surrounding the marriage if the validity is brought into question by one of the parties to the marriage. The Church does this through the marriage tribunal at the diocesan level.
I cannot recommend going to a wedding that will not be considered valid in the eyes of the Church. The upcoming marriage that you described is such a case.

Catholics United for the Faith has a good article called Should I Attend? I strongly recommend it to anyone faced with this decision.
Also, for anyone with annulment questions, this is a great resource.


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