Catholic marriage without state recognition


#1

Hi all,

Question of general interest/future consideration:

Will a priest marry 2 people who desire a religious marriage but do not want to be married under the law?

This could provide meaning for two spiritual people without the state entanglements which come with it.


#2

short answer no, a priest will not violate just civil laws that regulate marriage.


#3

[quote="RoncalliM, post:1, topic:210762"]
Will a priest marry 2 people who desire a religious marriage but do not want to be married under the law?

[/quote]

No.


#4

Why is it you do not want to be really married ?


#5

For a Priest to violate Civil Law, could result in his being removed from his ministry. It would be a grave offense. His Bishop would likely suspend him, if he became aware that the Priest had done such a thing.

The only reasons for not having a civil marriage would be that there is some form of legal impediment to marriage, or there is some economic reason why marriage would not be advantageous. This might be the case with two older person, who might lose some Social Security, or other income, if they remarried after a spouse had died.

But, the church can not take such things into account, and choose to violate civil law.


#6

This brings up a valuable question in the back of my mind. Why on earth does the Church allow marriage to be regulated by the state? For example, if civil marriage meant absolutely nothing anymore, say you get a "marriage tax" or anyone can marry anything, or say, the state decided that black people couldn't marry white people, you are saying that a priest cannot spiritually marry two people?


#7

[quote="FirstCalled, post:6, topic:210762"]
This brings up a valuable question in the back of my mind. Why on earth does the Church allow marriage to be regulated by the state? For example, if civil marriage meant absolutely nothing anymore, say you get a "marriage tax" or anyone can marry anything, or say, the state decided that black people couldn't marry white people, you are saying that a priest cannot spiritually marry two people?

[/quote]

The State forbidding interracial marriage would violate natural law, so in that case the Church might permit a secret marriage. There would have to be a grave reason for the Church to go against civil law.


#8

Thanks for the responses, all

Seems strange that a priest would not perform the SACRAMENT of marriage for two people who want the STATE minimized in their life. Odd philosophy, but I don’t make the rules :slight_smile:


#9

Yeah, so why is it again that you don't want to be REALLY married? Don't give me that Libertarian BS... what is it about each of you having legal obligations to each other, enforceable by a court, that scares the pants off you?


#10

Possibly a small semantics point,

but being “REALLY” married is actually made by God and church, NOT by the state. the state has no power to join two people in a marriage.

And while you bring up a good question, about legal obligations possibly being avoided, the REAL obligations are the one God holds people to.

My neighbor is an elderly lutheran widower who has a new lady friend. He wants to marry her without the legal part because she loses her pension if they get married legally.


#11

And according to the apologist I heard speak about that very issue, that is worshiping Mammon instead of God. You wanna have your cake and eat it too. You want to have the sex and the money but not be obligated to anything. These things don’t change because someone is old.

We live in a country where civil authority recognizes religious weddings. That is why here in the US, you cannot have a separated religious ceremony, then a civil ceremony, or vice versa… except in cases of convalidation which isn’t really relevant here. It is only in countries where the civil authorities will not recognize the church wedding where the Church allows the two to be bifurcated. In America, a Catholic wedding is also a civil wedding. So you gotta do the whole thing or none at all.


#12

[quote="Zeemeermin, post:11, topic:210762"]
And according to the apologist I heard speak about that very issue, that is worshiping Mammon instead of God. You wanna have your cake and eat it too. You want to have the sex and the money but not be obligated to anything. These things don't change because someone is old.

We live in a country where civil authority recognizes religious weddings. That is why here in the US, you cannot have a separated religious ceremony, then a civil ceremony, or vice versa... except in cases of convalidation which isn't really relevant here. It is only in countries where the civil authorities will not recognize the church wedding where the Church allows the two to be bifurcated. In America, a Catholic wedding is also a civil wedding. So you gotta do the whole thing or none at all.

[/quote]

Semantics again. In the US and Canada it's not a case of the State recognizing a religious marriage, it's a case of the priest becoming an agent of the State. He is licensed by the State to perform legal weddings. Without that license he would be limited to celebrating convalidations.That is why the CCCB floated the idea of refusing to be the State's agent when the idea of SSM first raised its head in Canada. When it appeared priest might be forced to witness them the only option seen was to cease being an agent of the State -- something that would become very expensive for the State.


#13

[quote="RoncalliM, post:8, topic:210762"]
Seems strange that a priest would not perform the SACRAMENT of marriage for two people who want the STATE minimized in their life. Odd philosophy, but I don't make the rules :)

[/quote]

It's not just about minimizing the role of the state. In many US states, such a marriage would be illegal. You also have to consider that a non-legally married married couple would be husband and wife but, in many public situations, would be presented as otherwise, which can be problematic. If you want to marry, why not marry publicly?

Can the Church perform secret marriages? Yes, but my understanding is that it requires diocesan approval. Will the Church perform a secret marriage? It would depend on the situation and whether or not you have a good reason. In the Occidental world, it's hard to think of a "good reason" since Christianity has had such an influence on government, but I'm sure there are some out there.


#14

We must not forget that, while it can be a sacrament, marriage is a legal contract recognized by the State. I know that sometimes the State sets laws that make a legal marriage very unappealing - witness the province of Québec where a woman can’t assume her husband’s name without a legal name change and where community property laws are such that, without a prenuptial agreement, the property each party brings to the marriage immediately becomes community property, ensuring that a widow or widower who remarries loses 50% of the property he/she would have bequeathed to children from the previous marriage and that even if he/she drops dead the next day. Many will opt for co-habitation rather than remarriage in order to pass on their property to their children.

In the case brought to us by the OP it would be all about defrauding the government and Jesus was clear that we must render onto Caesar…


#15

[quote="Phemie, post:14, topic:210762"]
Many will opt for co-habitation rather than remarriage in order to pass on their property to their children.

[/quote]

I'm not trying to be argumentative here, but an honest question: why not just have a prenuptial agreement if that's the main concern?


#16

Having checked the law, I find that they can’t do that with a prenuptial agreement. Other things such as bank accounts, yes, but property and dwellings (family home, vacation home, etc) are considered ‘family property’ and automatically the spouse is entitled to 50% upon marriage. If the marriage is dissolved by death, the surviving spouse can refuse to exercise his/her right to 50% but cannot sign away that right before the marriage.


#17

Good discussion here:

The question on my end is more philosophical than something I am considering personally. I understand the tradition of a state honoring a religious marriage. It just seems counter-intuitive given the Church's emphasis on the kingdom of God, expressed on Earth through participation in the Sacraments, and OBEDIENCE TO, not COMMUNION WITH the state.

Since you can have legal marriage without the Sacrament, why can't you have the Sacrament without legal marriage?

In other words, it seems here that societal tradition clashes with Catholic philosophy.


#18

I agree. Seems like an unwanted intrusion by the government into sacramental marriage, except that, this is only a problem with the Catholic Church that they will not issue a purely sacramental marriage without a civil highly regulated laws to govern the two, even when the civil laws can conflict with religious law.


#19

[quote="snowbee, post:18, topic:210762"]
I agree. Seems like an unwanted intrusion by the government into sacramental marriage, except that, this is only a problem with the Catholic Church that they will not issue a purely sacramental marriage without a civil highly regulated laws to govern the two, even when the civil laws can conflict with religious law.

[/quote]

When you act as an agent of the State, as priests do in the US and Canada, then you have to follow what the State says. There is no valid reason at present in our countries to not follow the law.

Even in countries like France and Germany, where priests don't act as agents of the State, the law says they cannot marry someone religiously who is not already married civilly. Again, the laws of those countries aren't unjust to the point where they violate natural law so the Church obeys civil law as Jesus ordered us to do.

The legal status of the spouses in a purely religious marriage -- it wouldn't necessarily be sacramental because that depends on who is getting married -- could become a problem when one dies,


#20

[quote="RoncalliM, post:17, topic:210762"]

Since you can have legal marriage without the Sacrament, why can't you have the Sacrament without legal marriage?

[/quote]

It seems to me that you can, and there's even a process in place for it.

The problem is that you need to have a good reason for a secret marriage, you can't just ask for one an expect it to be granted as an entitlement.


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