Catholic Church recognising Protestant second marriage


I understand that the Catholic Church recognises the sacredness of a Protestant Christian marriage.

  1. For the case of a Protestant being divorced one or more times and then being married again in accordance with Protestant (and civil) philosophy does the Catholic church recognise the latest marriage despite the original ‘marriage’?

  2. Does the Catholic church in the above cases accept the Protestant (and civil) divorce findings to be the equivalent of the Catholic finding of the annulment of marriage?

  3. and if the answers to the above questions are yes and no, under what logic (or theology) does the Catholic Church recognise the latest non Catholic marriage?

Disclaimer : this is not to criticise non Catholic marriages, nor a pre-emptive criticism of the Catholic church’s position. It is simply to understand the theological position and logic of the Catholic Church in respect to this issue.

  1. no

  2. no

There is no differing Protestant v. Catholic philosophy of Christian marriage. There is only Christ’s teaching.


The Church will only recognize the first marriage as valid, assuming there were no impediments you can prove “on paper” (e.g. too young, the other party was previously married, too closely related, one or both parties were Catholic and married outside the Church without dispensation, etc.). If the person remarries he or she would require a declaration of nullity before being baptized or received into the Church. If there was more than one previous marriage each marriage would have to be investigated separately.


The Catholic Church would only recognize the latest marriage if there were to be an annulment for any previous marriage.
The Catholic Church has its own standards in what constitutes the annulment of a marriage.
The Catholic Church teaches that a marriage is indissoluble, that is once the couple are married the only way for it to end would be at the death of one of the spouses.


While the OP here merged the Protestant and civil criteria here, let’s factor them out.
Does it matter, in the eyes of the Church, if one or both persons getting married in a non Catholic wedding is a Protestant? (That term itself is hard to define now anyway).

Does it matter if a wedding is only “civil” or civil and “Protestant”? What makes a wedding “Protestant”? Obviously if it takes place in Christ Lutheran Church that is one they. But nowadays many, likely most weddings take place at a picnic Grove. The officiant may or may not have some minister license. The “service” may or may not make reference to God or Jesus. (Couples choose their own wording).

We are not talking about Justice of the Peace, where it is obviously civil only.

Is a “Protestant” wedding somehow sacramental, but not a civil one?


The Catholic Church is not in the business of recognizing or not recognizing non-Catholic marriages.

If a non-Catholic approaches the Church to become a Catholic or marry a Catholic, then the Church would do an investigation of their marital status. The Church would investigate each successive attempt at marriage, beginning with the first.

A person who is validly married, Catholic or not, has an impediment of prior bond and cannot contract another marriage while their spouse lives (with a few exceptions, such as the Pope dissolving an unconsummated marriage or those involving the unbaptized which could invoke the Pauline or Petrine Privilege to dissolve the first marriage).

There are WAY too many variables to speak any further than to say the divine and natural law on marriage bind everyone, Catholic or not. Ecclesial laws do not bind non-Catholics unless they approach the church to marry a Catholic. Divine law impediments apply to everyone, including prior bond.


See the first question-- the Church does not. Each marriage would be examined for validity in order. The reason is because divine and natural law apply to everyone.


The presumption is that any first marriage is valid, unless shown otherwise. Catholics who have no dispensation from cult to marry outside the Church are quite another thing.

Your archdiocese’s canonist or marriage tribunal can help here, if the matter comes up.


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