Can I attend my dad's wedding?

My dad is a non Catholic getting married to a lady in a few weeks and this will be his third marriage. He has been married and divorced twice before, one of those women being my mother. He is getting married at a registry office (I am in Australia) and my dad needs two witnesses to sign after witnessing the marriage and he wants me and my to-be step brother to sign. Of course this kind of marriage isn’t acceptable to practising Catholics, but he isn’t… But can I sign? What would be the teachings here. I’m not sure since I’m a new convert.
Thank you.- Gemma

You should seek the counsel of your pastor, who can give you concrete advice for your situation.

It’s the civil marriages of Catholics that aren’t valid.

I believe the marriage of non-Catholics by civil means presents no difficulties to the church, nor impediments to your attendance. You witnessing is a civil process.

The only open issue may relate to his prior marriages, and whether the church has any issues with their dissolution. The earlier advice to consult your parish priest makes sense.

But also non-Catholics who have been previously married attempt marriage invalidly when they try to remarry. The Church presumes that the husband’s first marriage is valid, and that he is not free to marry this third woman.

From a practical standpoint, OP, your pastor should be able to give you good counsel when you discuss the particulars of your situation. If it were me, I don’t think I would feel comfortable signing my name as a witness to something that I consider a false attempt at marriage.

Yes, I agree. My problem is my parish priest is away and I’m unsure if I trust the advice of my current priest due to previous advice he’s given me.
It’s not just attending, I am being asked to sign that I witnessed the marriage and I disagree with it so I’m uncomfortable about doing it. I don’t want to offended my dad but I don’t want to offend God even more.
I looked on the Internet for similar questions and have received mixed thoughts such as it is ok to go but then another source says it is sinful for a Catholic to attended an invalid wedding because by attending I am supporting sin.

If he is not and was not raised Catholic and it was his first marriage you could certainly attend though I am not sure about witnessing, but as he is divorced that would make this “marriage” invalid and adulterous, and thus you should not go because Catholics should not show approval or support for sinful behavior or lend credibility to such a union by attending.

We are mainly amateurs, so I think you may need a priest to advise.

My personal view is that the Witnessing as a step beyond “attending” is a “non-event”. If it’s OK to attend, it’s OK to sign the state papers. This is however, just a personal opinion.

An Aside: There does seem to be something curious here though…a Catholic may be able to secure an annulment (not common-place), enabling a further marriage. According to one of the posts above, the church continues to view the civil marriage as valid despite a divorce, and the non-Catholic apparently has no access to an annulment process?

I recommend speaking to a priest for advice.

If it were me, I would attend simply because it was my father. Not attending can do more damage than good down the road. As a non-Catholic, he cannot be expected to have knowledge of nor understand the Catholic position on the matter. However, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to tell him how you feel about the situation. I would also recommend not signing as a witness.

If this situation involved anything other than immediate family, my advice would be different.

My understanding (from posts i’ve read in the ask an apologist section) that the Church generally does not come out and forbid attendance of any individual Catholic at any wedding, regardless of the circumstances. They know this is a case by case thing, it can be messy with family members involved, so they leave it up to the individual. I do think that the signing/official witnessing thing is considered to be a bit more problematic and might in some cases be forbidden. That being said, i think you answered your own question when you said you are uncomfortable with signing as a witness. Even apart from religion, i think if you are uncomfortable doing it, you shouldn’t. Just talk to your dad and explain you are not comfortable, and you’ll go to the wedding but you wish he would find someone else to be an official witness. I don’t think that is unreasonable and most parents would respect their child’s feelings.

While I agree that this is “curious,” as a practical matter, most non-Catholics aren’t particularly interested in how the Church views their marriage situation. I suspect that very few would bother to take advantage of the marriage tribunal even if it was available to a non-Catholic.

As an FYI, the Catholic tribunal process is available to non-Catholics. It’s a service the Church provides to anyone who requests it, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Yet a non-Catholic most likely not only wouldn’t be interested in it, but not even know about it. Why on earth would a non-Catholic be remotely interested in getting their previous marriage annulled by the Catholic Church out of the blue? There would have to be Catholic influences to direct that (such as marrying a Catholic, or being interested in converting). A non-Catholic active in their own church wouldn’t seek out the Catholic Church for approval of their doings. They would go to their own Church for counsel.

I quite agree. I was responding to two previous posters who said (erroneously) that non-Catholics do not have access to the Catholic tribunal.

I know that if someone was converting to Catholicism or was hoping to marry a Catholic they could present their former marriage(s) to the tribunal for examination. But are you suggesting that any non-Catholic could do the same? That’s the first I’ve heard of that.

Yes, the process is open to anyone, Catholic or not. It’s just that most non-Catholics don’t know or don’t care.

Gemma
If you are unsure God would expect you to seek your priest’s advice.
In a case like this, which is ambiguous at best, it doesn’t matter at all whether or not you trust the advice of your current priest or whether his advice is as good as that of a canon lawyer. You will have done your duty to be informed as best you can.
(There may be no definitive answer on this question, but following the advice of your PP if you are confused is prob all that God expects of you).

There is no problem attending - that is surely a filial duty that God expects of you - he is your dad! The only question is whether you should have an official role.
If you are uncomfortable doing so then you should have the courage to gently chat with your dad about this - if he loves you he will accede. (To simply use Church rules as an excuse for not facing up to your own personal discomfort and chatting with dad would not exactly be virtuous would it?)

Merely attending a family event is not supporting sin, its supporting dad regardless of how “sinful” you may think he is. I find it curious how easily we so-called “virtuous” ones forget that Jesus associated with public sinners all the time (and in fact sought them out) - and they weren’t even related to him either.

There is no problem attending - that is surely a filial duty that God expects of you - he is your dad!

I think this is a flawed argument, you are bound to obey your parents in all that is not sin, her father is already married to his first legitimate wife, making this marriage no marriage at all but an adulterous relationship.
Sadly my older brother is a fallen away Catholic who is going to “marry” his protestant girlfriend outside of the Church, our priest has instructed us that we absolutely may not attend, as we would thereby be approving him in his sin, for his own good we have to refrain from going.

And I would like to share this quote from St. Matthew Chap 10:

"[35] For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

Challoner notes: [35] I came to set a man at variance: Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him.

[36] And a man’ s enemies shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it. [40] He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. "

Spinster I think this is a flawed argument. Gemma has not been asked by her dad to commit adultery (we have no idea of the full facts of the matter in any case). Attending an important event in her dad’s life is not going to pass on the adultery virus anymore than being a daughter to an adulterer will.

Do you buy cheaper goods that are in fact made in China by sweated labour?
Are you not therefore “participating in sin.” Where does it stop?

What you are describing sounds like the the sort of Pharisaism Jesus himself dismissed.

I think the argument against attending that to attend a wedding is to celebrate it, and in this case, what is being celebrated is an invalid marriage attempt which amounts to a formal adulterous relationship.

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