Catholics and marriage licenses


The first amendment and the case law on non interference in Church matters makes this scenario not applicable in the US. Perhaps not in other places.


Canon law states the marriage must conform to civil law. In the US, where this couple wants to marry, that means a license.

Elsewhere it may mean something else.


This simply isn’t true!

Look at the process: determination of freedom to marry the priest conducts happens MONTHS before any marriage license (which can happen as little as one day before the wedding— or the day of in some locations).

The marriage license has nothing to do with the investigation of freedom to marry in the Church, the least reason of which is because criteria to marry in the state and church are not the same.

The license is required in the US because the clergy are both the civil and religious officiant.


Yes, I think we’ve reached the “Someone is wrong on the internet” stage of this debate.


I was referring to the fact that once I had moved to Canada (yes, perfectly legally, and with only one document), no one, not the bank, not the mortgage company, not the university, not the medical services, has ever asked for my marriage certificate.

I do have dual actually thrice, citizenship, and have the passports to prove it. But I was not a citizen in the UK at the time of my marriage, and was not required to take out a marriage license. My point being that I can move around quite nicely in Canada, and the US, and anywhere I like, without ever having to have had a marriage license. It being different than citizenship, or legal resident papers. You are conflating the two types of documents.

Further, many of the posters on this posting are being very judgmental and insulting to the family the post is speaking about. This is certainly a huge change in the attitude of Catholic Answers and I detest it. I’ve seen this negative attitude on other posts as well. The difference between then, and now are quite startling, and go much deeper than format or web colors.

Seems to me, the family’s status is between the government and them, and we have nothing to say about it, especially since we know nothing about the circumstances or legality of the situation. I can off the top of my head, think of at least two valid and legal reasons why a family might have severed official ties with the US or state government. Both of which would require the permission and cooperation of said government.

Let’s invest energy in helping, not in slinging mud around.

Have they looked into what the various Caribbean islands require? Many of their economies turn on the tourist trade and weddings on the beach are a big part of that.
My English friend was married in a Caribbean resort that caters to romantics without being a resident, or citizen.


Are you talking Civil marriage or actual Sacramental marriage?

Because I’m sure the Caribbean does a booming business in civil marriages. For a priest in the Caribbean to perform a marriage he’s still going to have to follow Canon Law–and therefore would be in communication with the dioceses of origin…and it’d be a highly irregular situation.

Edit- I see no evidence that you don’t need a marriage liscence in the UK. It appears that the process is differet and the church obtains state documentation, but it dosn’t mean that it dosnt exist.


There is no investigation done to get a marriage license. As you said, one walks in with ID and whatever documents that state requires such as a birth certificate. The bride and groom sign the request stating there are no legal impediments to the marriage.

My sister is married to a guy who has married another woman since being married to my sister. While he & my sister have been separated for several years, they never divorced. He “married” another women since. Both marriages happened in the same state.

In the 80’s I walked into a county courthouse in Nevada and received a marriage license to marry my second husband. We got married the next day in Lake Tahoe. This was before the internet and getting the license took about 10 minutes.

People really need to be careful about posting information that is not true in fact.


If we look at the west the Dark Ages smashed Roman law as the German pagans conquered much of western Europe. These people did not have a developed written language and no law beyond clan allegiances.

The church converted these pagans after many years and worked to develop and consolidate law. I understand that much of what was to become civil law in future nation states was based on church canon law.

From this time the two went together. Over the years churchmen worked to make canon law consistent and secular law followed suit and of course it developed separately due to civil influences.

They clearly have moved apart as would be expected and are likely to move further apart.



There have been judges arguing to put discrimination laws above religious freedom.

If the Supreme Court can decide that the constitution mandates gay marriage as a right then I do not share your confidence. A few more liberals on the bench can change things drastically.

If I remember correctly Clinton is on record of saying that “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

and she was nearly President with the ability to affect law and appoint judges that are sympathetic to her stated visions.



Oh wait…
On the way into work this morning, I’ve just thought of another possible 3 circumstances where a family could have severed ties with the government for reasons not related to tax fraud. That makes 5… so far.

Sacramental or civil… civil of course. They marry then get a convalidation.
I had mine done in a cathedral near Christmas time. It was beautiful. And not a bit less wonderful than if it had done all in one fell swoop.


this is half right - depending on the area in the migration era. In Britannia, the chruch set rules for marriage first as there was not much left from the roman law, even the latin language disappeared earlier than in other former-roman areas. in the central european region we have roman marriage forms left before christian chruch rules for marriage for the upper citizen class. So, civil marriage was the base for the legal side of the chruch marriage (codex justinianus for example has many aspect taken from from the roman law in marriage cases) but the special christian components were added, of course. There was a hand-in hand development in many areas of civil and church rules and processes for marriage, and this leads me to the OP - working with the state, not against it, was one of the earliest features of the early church.


Yes the original phrase that we are commenting on was “The state no longer underpins Christian concepts of marriage” as once it did giving the whole 300 - 1200 history of Europe.


But exactly this war of institutions, state against church, church against state, has never happened after christianity was a state religion.


Well we have the French and Russian revolutions and lots of other cases besides such as Portugal and Mexico. (if I am understanding you correctly).


Edit_ state hasn´t existed before the early modern time, not in the way we think it today. There was administrative power, more or less, and the chruch was always glad to use this structures.


You misunderstood state and gouvernment. An actual gouvernment against the church happens and happened often in history. But the state as institution was never an enemy of the church


I am not sure I am understanding you. The institution of the state has been against the Church. In China and North Korea today it is against the law to be Catholic outside the states authorisation. Catholic clergy have been imprisoned there for not being sanctioned by the state. The Russian state institution killed 200,000 priests in cold blood and destroyed 43,000 churches. The German National Socialists used the institution of the state to close down Catholic schools etc etc.

I am obviously not understanding you. Please help :slight_smile:


The state is a construct of institutions given power over infrastructure, military, jurisdication, sometimes charity and education of a territory, depends on the era , system and region. A state is a conclusion of people and depends on the people.
A gouvernment is one way to make a state happen, and it can make it good or bad. Most modern places of the world developed state systems, but nor all established good gouvernments.

You may read Aristotle´s politeia for the basics.


I think I understand now.

A bit like guns in themselves have never been against the Catholic church but guns have been used against the Catholic church.


Well, the difference is a maion point here, I think. If someone sees the value of the state, taking responsibility as a citizen is a consequence. If you misunderstand state and gouvernment and your gouvernment is bad, one consequence could be this upcoming groups of people thinking they can declare independence, which has no benefit for the society anymore.

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