Can I attend a wedding of two Protestants if one is divorced?


#1

My wife and I are trying to decide if we should support and/or attend the wedding of my brother-in-law (her brother). He is divorced and will be remarrying in a Protestant ceremony. Both he and his fiance are Protestant and were never Catholic. He and his former wife were baptized, therefore that marriage is technically indissoluble unless it was invalid. However, I have reason to believe the former marriage was invalid.

We want to be able to support his new marriage because we believe the former one was invalid. Is our belief in the invalidity sufficient reason to support it, or should we take the position that the former marriage is valid until he gets a Catholic annulment? I have no reason to believe he would be willing to seek out a Catholic annulment of that marriage at this time. (He has no reason for him to believe that the Catholic Church has jurisdiction over his previous marriage).

We do not want to cause scandal, nor do we want to counsel him to remarry if it is indeed a sin for him to do so.


#2

You have to assume his previous Marriage is valid until proven otherwise, regardless of whether he is Catholic, adn regardless of what anyone's thoughts about it are. The Church does not specify which weddings we can or cannot attend, but we are to give careful consideration about the message we send by attending and whether it is a cooperation in sin.


#3

catholic.com/blog/jim-blackburn/should-i-attend-the-wedding-or-not


#4

To go with the first response:

Since the two parties were never Catholic, they are not bound to Catholic principles in this matter. In that, there is nothing that prohibits you from attending, as they only need to adhere to what their faith tradition allows as well as civil law.

Whether one or both parties are Catholic, the Church has never taught us to avoid attending weddings (especially where not attending those of close relations would cause serious social issues). The Church does discourage attending "weddings" of those of same-sex affiliations but also understands how close friends/family involved might require you to seek a different tack while not creating scandal but still showing your love for the individuals involved.


#5

Can. 1060 Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.

Can. 1107 Even if a marriage was entered into invalidly by reason of an impediment or a defect of form, the consent given is presumed to persist until its revocation is established.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM
Book 1, Title IV, Part 7...


#6

I understand the canon law, but it's not clear to me how canon law applies in this situation. For a Protestant, what is sufficient "proof" that the previous marriage was invalid?


#7

They are not Catholic so this is not a situation that would promote scandal. Don’t ruin a relationship over this situation.:rolleyes:


#8

Of course the won’t be seeking a Catholic annulment, why would they? The Catholic Church doesn’t have jurisdiction over his previous marriage or his upcoming one. Your wife’s brother and his fiancé are not Catholic, and are following the rules of their own religion. Yes, I’d go and support her family. There is no such scandal to speak of. They’re not expected to follow the rules of the Catholic Church if they aren’t even Catholic. Keep in mind, that boycotting your wife’s brother’s wedding might cause some family drama, and will bring the couple no closer to the Catholic Church.


#9

[quote="PrayForUsStJohn, post:6, topic:338171"]
I understand the canon law, but it's not clear to me how canon law applies in this situation. For a Protestant, what is sufficient "proof" that the previous marriage was invalid?

[/quote]

Hello,

That canon means that the marriage is presumed valid unless it is proven to be invalid through a trial. For this scenario, there won't be such a trial so that's not applicable.

While we wouldn't expect this couple to approach the Catholic Church for some sort of approval or expect them to follow Church law, the law regarding the nature of marriage is of divine law (see Luke 16:18, for example). It binds everyone. If non-Catholics marry according to civil law, we generally presume the marriage is valid and binding until death.

According to the Lord, if one divorces and marries another, that leads to adultery. If somehow you are certain that the person involved was not actually married before, well...I don't know how you could be certain but that's just me. Talk it over with a trusted, learned priest.

Dan


#10

If he is Protestant, then Catholic rules don't apply. He's not under any obligation to get a Catholic annulment because he's not Catholic.

The bottom line is that, for most Protestants, it's a valid Christian wedding if it's officiated by a Christian minister. There doesn't have to be a mass or a church ceremony for it to be valid. There simply aren't the rules that govern Catholic weddings in most branches of Protestantism.

Divorce and remarriage is something they try to discourage, but they don't have "rules" which dissolve a marriage (in the eyes of the church). Outside of the Orthodox Jewish community and Islam and Catholicism, I can't think of any Protestant community which has anything like Canon Law that covers remarriage/divorce/marriage. A lot of them take their cues from civil society about who they can and can't marry. The great restrictions for most churches might be (for example) having to take premartial classes and having to wait for the divorce to be finalized or find a date for the church to be open so they can have a wedding. In a lot of Protestant churches, you don't even have to be a member of the church to rent it (and the pastor) out for your wedding. In a lot of ways, this is comparing apples and oranges.

In the end, either you support your BIL or you don't. However, don't hold him to standards that he doesn't hold for himself. Love him where he's at. Wish him luck and hope that this marriage works out better than the last one. That's about all you can do, since you are a Catholic and he is a Protestant.


#11

That Canon Law is for you, not the couple to be wed. It has to do with how the Catholic views Marriage. You, as a Catholic have to view his previous Marriage as valid, even if this couple does not.

Now, that still doesn’t mean you can’t attend the wedding. That’s something you have to discern. I’d recommend talking to your Priest/Confessor about it and get his guidance.


#12

According to the Lord, if one divorces and marries another, that leads to adultery. If somehow you are certain that the person involved was not actually married before, well...I don't know how you could be certain but that's just me. Talk it over with a trusted, learned priest.

Agreed. If indeed we thought his previous marriage was valid, or if we thought he and his previous wife could be reconciled, we would feel compelled to counsel him against this remarriage. In addition to the desire to counsel him against sin, we sincerely hope he will become Catholic someday - and we don't want him to incur a huge impediment.

My opinion is that the previous marriage was invalid and he would be able to obtain an annulment, but it is just my opinion based on my knowledge of his situation. For a marriage to be valid, the couple have to be free to make the decision to marry each other and both have to be open to life. Both these essential elements were not present in his case.

But I will take your advice and seek to talk this over with our priest (or maybe the deacon who handles marriage issues).


#13

You, as a Catholic have to view his previous Marriage as valid, even if this couple does not.

Hi AHS,

It seems you are saying that until there is determination of nullity from a Catholic marriage tribunal, then we should view this remarriage as a grave sin (objectively).

Would you agree that we have an obligation to counsel him as such?


#14

[quote="PrayForUsStJohn, post:13, topic:338171"]

You, as a Catholic have to view his previous Marriage as valid, even if this couple does not.

Hi AHS,

It seems you are saying that until there is determination of nullity from a Catholic marriage tribunal, then we should view this remarriage as a grave sin (objectively).

Would you agree that we have an obligation to counsel him as such?

[/quote]

You should ask your priest that. No, you don't have an obligation to hold a non-Catholic to Catholic laws and rules, unless they ask. Especially since you already think there was an impediment to the first marriage and question it's validity in the first place. If you already think the first marriage was invalid, it's kind of a moot point to regurgitate what's in the Catechism and Canon. Put yourself in his shoes, and treat him like YOU want to be treated. Would you take it seriously if a Jewish person or a Muslim or a Baptist came after you with their rules and laws, disregarding the fact that you are not of that faith but another?


#15

Would you take it seriously if a Jewish person or a Muslim or a Baptist came after you with their rules and laws, disregarding the fact that you are not of that faith but another?

Sin is sin regardless of faith, and Christians have an obligation to warn each other against sin.

What I need to know is whether it is a grave sin (objectively speaking) for my brother-in-law to attempt to remarry without first asking the Catholic Church to determine the validity of his previous marriage.


#16

It is not, since he is not Catholic.


#17

[quote="PrayForUsStJohn, post:15, topic:338171"]

Would you take it seriously if a Jewish person or a Muslim or a Baptist came after you with their rules and laws, disregarding the fact that you are not of that faith but another?

Sin is sin regardless of faith, and Christians have an obligation to warn each other against sin.

What I need to know is whether it is a grave sin (objectively speaking) for my brother-in-law to attempt to remarry without first asking the Catholic Church to determine the validity of his previous marriage.

[/quote]

The diocesan marriage tribunal only gets involved in determining validity or non-validity of non-Catholic marriages if someone wants to become Catholic.

I am assuming that your brother is not Catholic and neither he nor his wife are interested at this time in becominig Catholic. If this is true, the Catholic Church has no jurisdiction. Do not even mention to your brother that he should approach the Catholic Church concerning his first marriage.

In the future, if he and/or his wife want to consider joining the Catholic Church, then he would need to petition for nullity (for which there is no guarantee it will be granted).


#18

Not attending will definitely make you appear to be a self righteous zealot, and make the Catholic church appear intolerant.

I know you’re trying to live by your principles, I used to agonize over these legalistic quandaries. So glad to be free of them.


#19

[quote="PrayForUsStJohn, post:15, topic:338171"]
...

What I need to know is whether it is a grave sin (objectively speaking) for my brother-in-law to attempt to remarry without first asking the Catholic Church to determine the validity of his previous marriage.

[/quote]

I'd concur with "Gorgias" and say it is not since the Catholic Church does not enter into his equation. The question is whether or not it is a grave sin, objectively speaking, for a person (a Christian, no less) to attempt to remarry.

In my opinion, you appear to be very conscientious and are certainly seeking the truth. In the end, it is going to come down to your prudent judgment as to how best to live up to the Gospel and do so in such a way that your brother-in-law is brought closer to the Kingdom.

Dan


#20

[quote="PrayForUsStJohn, post:15, topic:338171"]

Would you take it seriously if a Jewish person or a Muslim or a Baptist came after you with their rules and laws, disregarding the fact that you are not of that faith but another?

Sin is sin regardless of faith, and Christians have an obligation to warn each other against sin.

What I need to know is whether it is a grave sin (objectively speaking) for my brother-in-law to attempt to remarry without first asking the Catholic Church to determine the validity of his previous marriage.

[/quote]

The grave sin in my humble opinion, would be to deliberately hurt and offend your brother-in-law by black-balling his wedding. We aren't asked to judge others. We are expected to love them. Your brother-in-law isn't Catholic. Should he decide to become Catholic, then he and his wife will need to reconcile the issues of previous marriages with the Catholic church in order to be in full communion. Deciding whether any previous marriages were or were not valid is not in our job description as Catholic lay people. The greater issue is what you know will happen within your family relations if you fail to attend this wedding, simply because they failed to conform to the views and rules of the Catholic church---to which he currently claims no allegiance. In my opinion to not attend this wedding, unless it were simply not possible for you to be there, would be a sin against charity. Jesus had a "thing" about us showing charity. I believe He said something like "They will know that you are Christians (are mine) because of your love for one another". I would show love to your family member and stay away from micro-managing his decision to remarry based on our Catholic teaching! Good luck!:thumbsup:


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