Catholics and marriage licenses


It isn’t a new idea. Marriage licenses simply replaced the calling of the banns. The purpose of calling the banns was to ensure that no legal impediment existed for the marriage to take place; the marriage license served the same purpose, and so for the most past, the banns have been basically abolished now.

This is the problem with not understanding the history and purpose behind the tools you are criticizing.


A quick survey of the provincial service websites shows that in Canada only Ontario still allows a couple the choice of a licence or banns published in the church.

That’s how the first SSM came to be celebrated. The couple belonged to Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto and their pastor published banns for three weeks and then celebrated their marriage. The city clerk refused to record it. The case went to court and eventually Ontario declared that defining marriage as between a man and a woman violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The rest is history.


Wow! This is NOT the Catholic Answers forums I remember. Looks like more than the format has changed. What in the world has happened to you people?

Let’s just answer her question about the church’s position and leave the legalities of her friend’s status to her friend.

I say her friend take a trip to Italy or some other beautiful, romantic place, and get married before a wonderful honeymoon. I know there are islands in the Caribbean that also cater to out of town weddings.
Afterwards, if the original wedding wasn’t catholic, have a convalidation

More power to them!


Yes, it has changed- for good. Wouldn´t you agree that as this is not a juristical discussion within a lawyer-only forum, it is not only exceptable that people discuss all the aspects of the situation, it is a sign of intererst and (catholic) help for many, instead of saying “yes” or “no”?
Beside, there was no clear yes or no question in the OP, It started with critical lament, and to this we need to react.


Not to mention that how should they travel without papers by plain?!


Yep, that’s a problem.


That actually is NOT a problem for them and that option is being weighed as a last resort as many of their family members would not be able to attend if it was out of country. As I said before, her legal status IS recognized by the state.


You cant´t fly without a passport or other documents. Even as a european, I can´t fly to italy without documents.


Let me set the record straight a little bit, even though the topic of this conversation is not about this family’s legal status at all…

All of their children were born in a hospital.

The BC whether they have one or not is not relevant as their legal status is recognized. I think they all have birth RECORDS.

They drive, fly and yes, even work here. I don’t know about the bank account. They go to a regular doctor for all the normal reasons… You clearly do not know them and are making huge assumptions. You will not take me at my word that they are NOT doing anything illegal. Yes, they do things differently but they are not breaking any of the commandments. They are as I said before, Catholics in good standing. All my friend wants is to be married without the states permission. She has no problem with the legalization or state recognition of her marriage AFTER it takes place within the church.


I think in countries that have redefined marriage to be something other than what a Catholic would consider as marriage then there is little reason to go through with a secular marriage.

Because the state now defines marriage in a non Catholic secular way, we need another form of words to express what we mean when we used to say ‘marriage’. I think I will be using the term Sacrament of Matrimony now to what I used to call marriage and secular marriage for what many states now call marriage.

Actually I think this is a great evangelising opportunity to distinguish the difference so as to then explain what is a sacrament and what are the joys of complimentary male and female coming together in a life long union to produce children. As long as this is done with no malice toward the secular redefinition of marriage then it can only be a great chance to evangelise.

God Bless.


Thank you so much @abucs ! I agree 100%. I too will change my terminology and call Catholic marriage by its rightful name, Matrimony. A sacrament that we should NOT have to get permission from the state to receive.


I suspect the issue is more that the intent of marrying without the legal recognition, in this country, is highly suspect.

I have heard few rational reasons to fear marriage that would stand up for a Catholic (especially as one with a significant fear of divorce ought not to be marrying).


Here in the UK we have priests who, along with their Church authority to marry, also have civil licence to do so. Other priests do not have (for one reason or another) the civil licence - and as was the case with my nuptial marriage/Mass, a civil registrar also attended/witnessed the marriage, and co-signed the marriage certificate along with one of the attendant priests.


Then she’s going to need to move to a jurisdiction where a civil license is not a requirement for a valid marriage.


It is a requirement of Canon Law.



It is a requirement of Canon Law.

Hello, could you explain this.

Are you saying that canon law requires the matrimony participants to go through a secular marriage?

If so, if participants later asked to rescind the state marriage are they in violation of canon law even if they keep true to their Catholic sacrament?


It’s only a requirement of Canon Law where it is a requirement of civil law. If they move to Ontario, Canada, and become regularly attending members of a parish there, they can be married by publication of banns rather than with a government issued licence. Their marriage will be both a sacramental (if they are both baptized) and a legal one.

It would be up to them to find out if there is a state that allows that and then move there.

Going outside the country would likely not solve their problem. In most, if not all, countries where priests celebrate only religious marriages they are required to have proof of the civil marriage BEFORE they celebrate the religious marriage.


I’m sure your friend THINKS they are not breaking any laws. ALL the “Sovereign Citizen” folks say that. But they are. They absolutely are. Despite what their crazy interpretations of the law are, they are NOT able in any way shape or form to “withdraw” from the USA. IT’s all poppycock.

Either she has the required legal documentation to get a marriage license or she doesn’t. If she has a birth certificate, then she can. And should. No other country is going to marry her without such documentation anyway. I got married out of the country and I absolutely had to provide my birth certificate in order to do so. And get a marriage license.

There is ZERO legitimate reason for her to want to be married “spiritually but not legally”. Therefore, no clergy (Catholic or any other) will go along with it.


Anarchists for Jesus. Really. ok don’t talk to me on this forum ever again. Thank you.



The church has always utilized civil authority. To declare otherwise is just ignorance of history.

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