Confused by discussion on mixed marriages


#1

Hi all,

I have to say I’m a bit confused by the discussion under the “Mixed Marriage/Birth Control Question” thread. If a marriage between two baptised people is recognized by the Church as a sacrament, even if it takes place in a Protestant church, then why would the marriage as is not be acceptable? I understand that a dispensation is required if one of the parties is Catholic. The dispensation is required if the ceremony is not in a Catholic church, but no dispensation is required if the ceremony is between a Catholic and a non-Catholic and it takes place in a Catholic church. Is that because as a Catholic we have to recognize the Church’s place in our reception (or conferring?) of a sacrament?

Also, I think there is a mistake on an earlier post where a marriage is referred to as “valid (i.e. sacramental)”. I was very confused on this point and did ask about it on the apologist board. A valid marriage is not necessarily a sacramental marriage. Two non-baptised people can be in a valid marriage, as I understand it, but the marriage could not be sacramental as the spouses, as unbaptised people, cannot receive sacraments. Likewise, if a Catholic marries a non-Christian, only the Catholic as was stated in that thread receives a sacrament. Now… can a Protestant receive the sacramental grace even if his or her church does not recognize marriage as a sacrament and the person does not even know that such grace is available to him or her?

And finally, if a Protestant married couple becomes Catholic, do they have to have their marriage convalidated, or does that happen automatically when they are accepted into the Catholic Church? What if they were not married by a minister but were married civilly, which I understand is acceptable to most if not all Protestant churches? Is their marriage automatically acceptable to the Church when they convert?

I can just hear my born again friends - “what a legalistic church!” I disagree! I realize that the Church is the guardian of the sacraments and has a responisibility to ensure that they are properly received by Her members. But if anyone can clarify these questions for me, I would appreciate it!

Thanks!!!


#2

Here’s a great website worth exploring

www.inthespiritofcana.org

Plug in your mixed marriages or whatever status and you should get a pretty clear explanation.


#3

I checked and that was very helpful. Thank you!


#4

I think you’re right. I am advised by a very orthodox group, and I was told that my marriage to a protestant, in the Church, was “valid” but not “sacramental.” If my husband became a Catholic, and renewed his vows, it would be.

Wow, wouldn’t that be a thing… :slight_smile:


#5

[quote=momof8]but no dispensation is required if the ceremony is between a Catholic and a non-Catholic and it takes place in a Catholic church.
[/quote]

A dispensation is required for a Catholic to marry a non-Christian regardless of where the ceremony takes place. Permission of the bishop is required for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic (baptized) Christian regardless of where the ceremony takes place.

[quote=momof8]Likewise, if a Catholic marries a non-Christian, only the Catholic as was stated in that thread receives a sacrament.
[/quote]

There is no sacrament in this case. Only when two (baptized) Christians marry is there a sacrament.

[quote=momof8]Now… can a Protestant receive the sacramental grace even if his or her church does not recognize marriage as a sacrament and the person does not even know that such grace is available to him or her?
[/quote]

Yes.

[quote=momof8]And finally, if a Protestant married couple becomes Catholic, do they have to have their marriage convalidated, or does that happen automatically when they are accepted into the Catholic Church?
[/quote]

Invalid marriages can be made valid through the process of convalidation. Such convalidated marriages are only valid from the point of convalidation on.

Valid marriages should not (and I would say cannot) be convalidated, as they are already valid.

If there was no impediment to the original Protestant wedding (e.g., neither party was previously divorced), then the original Protestant wedding was valid, and remains valid when the couple is accepted into the Catholic Church.


#6

[quote=momof8]but no dispensation is required if the ceremony is between a Catholic and a non-Catholic and it takes place in a Catholic church
[/quote]

This is not true. When DH and I were married 2-and-a-half years ago, we had to sign extra paperwork for the “dispensation of canonical form” which allowed us to marry validly and sacramentally in my Catholic parish. I had to sign extra stuff stating that as the Catholic spouse, I would raise our children as Catholics, etc… We also had to obtain DH’s baptismal certificate from First Congregational Church to prove that he had been validly baptized, in order for the Church to recognize the marriage as sacramental.

[quote=MamaSusie]I think you’re right. I am advised by a very orthodox group, and I was told that my marriage to a protestant, in the Church, was “valid” but not “sacramental.” If my husband became a Catholic, and renewed his vows, it would be.
[/quote]

This doesn’t sound right.

From New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: “It is certain, therefore, that marriage contracted between baptized persons is a sacrament, even the so-called mixed marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, provided the non-Catholic has been validly baptized.” newadvent.org/cathen/09707a.htm

From the US Council of Catholic Bishops: “In addition to the sacred character of all valid marriages, still more must be said of marriages between a Catholic and another baptized Christian. According to our Catholic tradition, we believe such marriages to be truly sacramental.” catholicdoors.com/misc/marriage/nccb.htm


#7

From SeekerJen:

“This is not true. When DH and I were married 2-and-a-half years ago, we had to sign extra paperwork for the “dispensation of canonical form” which allowed us to marry validly and sacramentally in my Catholic parish. I had to sign extra stuff stating that as the Catholic spouse, I would raise our children as Catholics, etc… We also had to obtain DH’s baptismal certificate from First Congregational Church to prove that he had been validly baptized, in order for the Church to recognize the marriage as sacramental.”

I think at the web site the first responder recommended, which was for the Archdiocese of Chicago, all of that paperwork is not necessary. I married a non-Catholic and he did not have to sign anything regarding the raising of the children, although it was discussed. He was also beginning RCIA at the time so maybe that was different.


#8

[quote=momof8]I think at the web site the first responder recommended, which was for the Archdiocese of Chicago, all of that paperwork is not necessary. I married a non-Catholic and he did not have to sign anything regarding the raising of the children, although it was discussed. He was also beginning RCIA at the time so maybe that was different.
[/quote]

My husband didn’t have to sign the paperwork. I, as the Catholic spouse, did. The fact that your husband was in the process of converting may have made a difference as well. My husband is Catholic-friendly, but had no interest in converting (and still doesn’t).

It’s also true that different dioceses probably have different paperwork. I only have experience here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, which is also where my parents’ mixed marriage took place 35 years ago. My dad had to sign similar paperwork, as he was the Catholic spouse. My mom didn’t convert until 12 years later, when I was 5.


#9

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