Can I be an EMHC if I had a civil marriage?

I, a Catholic man, was recently married to a Catholic woman in a civil ceremony. Am I not allowed to receive Communion because my marriage was not through the Church? Also, would I not be able to perform the duties of an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for the same reason?

Perhaps you might want to ask yourself why you delayed asking these questions until now, instead of asking them before you chose to marry another Catholic in a civil ceremony. The reason I mention this is because any deliberate refusal to consider whether or not something is a sin before committing the sin increases moral culpability; it does not mitigate it. If you deliberately chose not to think about this action before doing it, that is something you may want to consider in an examination of conscience.

As to your question: Catholics are required to follow Catholic marital law. It is unlikely that a bishop would have given permission for two Catholics to marry in a civil ceremony. If that permission was not granted, then the marriage is presumptively invalid. Catholics who are in presumptively-invalid marriages should not receive Communion or participate in liturgical ministries, such as being an EMHC, until such time as they have their marriage and their status in the Church regularized.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit