Eastern vs. Latin Catholic sacramental theology disparity regardig marriage


#1

Someone help me out here. How can the two views of the catholic church, east and west, in communion with rome have such different sacramental views on confecting a marriage? For example in the west it is said that the sacrament is confected the bride and groom and they are the ministers of the sacrament, the priest being only a witness, which is why deacons can preside. In the east however the priest confects the sacrament an is the minister, the bride and groom only recieve the sacrament, thus a deacon (i believe) can not marry eastern catholics.

These seem like radically different sacramental theologies. Yet both claim to be catholic. Does the baptismal diocese of the person really determine their ability to confect the sacament for a layman, or the ordination into a rite, say latin, reduce it so his priesthood does not allow him the ability to confect the marriage. What is going on here? Why the disparity?


#2

I believe in the Eastern Rites (this is what I understand, I’m a Westerner) the nuptial Mass always concludes with a blessing (which is why it has to be a priest). The CCC says:

1623 In the Latin Church, it is ordinarily understood that the spouses, as ministers of Christ’s grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the Eastern liturgies the minister of this sacrament (which is called “Crowning”) is the priest or bishop who, after receiving the mutual consent of the spouses, successively crowns the bridegroom and the bride as a sign of the marriage covenant.

I would say that they are different sacramental Traditions (much like the Divine Liturgy and Mass are both celebrations of the Eucharist. I believe, but would have to get someone to confirm, that the East and West have quite different Traditions for Confession as well).

As to “which applies”, that’s a canonical question. If you’re Eastern Catholic then you have to follow the Eastern way, if you’re Roman Catholic then you follow the Roman way (the “when in Rome” rule, if you will). Catholics are bound to their respective Traditions through Canon Law and obedience to the Church.

The Church also recognizes natural marriages between non-Catholics (such as between 2 Anglicans or 2 atheists) as being valid and binding (and sacramental if they are Christians), so the idea that there is only 1 way to conduct marriages is simply not true.


#3

These are just operating theories.

Just to be clear, if in a mixed marriage an eastern Catholic is married before a Priest in the Latin church that would be sufficient for both churches. Marriage by a priest is always acceptable for both, and eastern and western Catholics have been marrying one another successfully for hundreds of years. So if an eastern Catholic and a western (Latin rite) Catholic are married with a priest presiding, the Latin church may still theoretically consider the marriage confected by the couple, but the eastern Catholic church will theoretically consider that the marriage was confected by the priest.

It seems inconsistent, and it is, but that’s how it is.

I don’t know how long deacons have been allowed to perform marriages, perhaps someone else knows. I suspect that the Latin theory that the couple performs the marriage sacrament themselves does not go back any further than the scholastic era, but I do not have any resources on the subject.


#4

I don’t think the discrepancy in “how” is really that important in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to the Eucharist, we say in the RCC that “This is my body” and “This is my blood” are the only things absolutely necessary for validity, while the Easter Catholics say (again, I believe) that the entire Eucharistic Prayer is required.

We both worship Christ; we don’t worship worship. :shrug:


#5

Q1. How can the two views of the catholic church, east and west, in communion with rome have such different sacramental views on confecting a marriage?

A1. They are the same. The couple are the ministers by giving their consent, with the approval of the Church. The church blesses the marriage through one who can bless. The eastern Catholic deacon cannot give any blessings at all for anything, in contrast to the Latin Church deacon who can. Of course bishops and priests can bless in all the Catholic churches. This difference in who can bless is not a divine law but a church law.

Q2. Does the baptismal diocese of the person really determine their ability to confect the sacrament for a layman, or the ordination into a rite [ritual Church], say Latin, reduce it so his priesthood does not allow him the ability to confect the marriage?

A1. No, these roles are fixed: the couple (are the ministers), and the representative of the Church (gives the blessing), and the witnesses (give proof of occurrence).

Normally, one is baptized in a parish of their own ritual Church (sui iuris), but even if not, one will be *enrolled *to the correct ritual Church based upon the parents or guardians for an infant, or by choice for an adult, according to the applicable canon laws. This determines which law applies, and if two different Catholic churches, both must apply simultaneously. Who can bless varies.


#6

I’ve also struggled with this seeming incompatibility. In the western church, it is possible for a Catholic to get a dispensation to be married in a non-Catholic ceremony (by a minister, judge, or rabbi, for example). This is still considered a sacramental marriage (if it is between two baptized individuals) because the couple are the ministers of the sacrament, and the marriage was entered into with the blessing of the church. In the eastern church, this would not be possible because the blessing of the church must come directly from the priest performing the marriage. Likewise, the marriage of two protestants is considered Sacramental.

Does anyone know if Protestants or Catholics converting to Orthodoxy need to be married by a priest after their conversion? What about Eastern Catholics?


#7

The blessing example only highlights the disparity further. Why do western deacons ha e this ability and eastern do not? Either all deacons by their ordination have this ability or they don’t. Or are western deacons super deacons and eastern sub deacons(bad pun, sorry).

The eucharistic example doesn’t work well because in all cases the priest is the minister of that sacrament.


#8

Everything comes through the office of the bishop. It is only through the office of the bishop that priests can say Mass or give absolution. It is only through the bishop that eastern priests are able to administer the sacrament of Chrismation or that western priest are able to confirm in some cases. . It is also through the Bishop that western deacons can give blessings, but that ability has not been given to deacons in the east by their bishops.


#9

CCEO canon 832-835 shows that it is a matter of Church discipline, not divine law, as to who can bless. For a grave reason, the form requiring the blessing of a priest can be dispensed. (In doing so, the Church is truly approving it, under abnormal circumstances, which is important for validity, in the same way that is done with retroactive convalidation, also given in the CCEO.) Canon 832

  1. If one cannot have present or have access to a priest who is competent according to the norm of law without grave inconvenience, those intending to celebrate a true marriage can validly and licitly celebrate it before witnesses alone:[INDENT] (1) in danger of death;
    (2) outside the danger of death, as long as it is prudently foreseen that such circumstances will continue for a month.
  2. In either case, if another priest, even a non-Catholic one, is able to be present, inasmuch as it is possible he is to be called so that he can bless the marriage, without prejudice for the validity of a marriage in the presence only of the witnesses.
  3. If a marriage was celebrated in the presence only of witnesses, the spouses shall not neglect to receive the blessing of the marriage from a priest as soon as possible.

Canon 833

  1. The local hierarch can give to any Catholic priest the faculty of blessing the marriages of the Christian faithful of an Eastern non-Catholic Church if those faithful cannot approach a priest of their own Church without great difficulty, and if they spontaneously ask for the blessing as long as nothing stands in the way of a valid and licit celebration.
  2. Before he blesses the marriage, the Catholic priest, if he is able, is to inform the competent authority of those Christian faithful of the fact.

Canon 834

  1. The form for the celebration of marriage prescribed by law is to be observed if at least one of the parties celebrating the marriage was baptized in the Catholic Church or was received into it.
  2. If, however, a Catholic party enrolled in some Eastern Church celebrates a marriage with one who belongs to an Eastern non-Catholic Church, the form for the celebration of marriage prescribed by law is to be observed only for liceity; for validity, however, the blessing of a priest is required, while observing the other requirements of law.

Canon 835
Dispensation from the form for the celebration of marriage required by law is reserved to the Apostolic See or the patriarch,who will not grant it except for a most grave reason.

Canon 848

  1. The radical sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal of consent, granted by competent authority and including a dispensation from an impediment, if there was one, and from the form for the celebration of marriage required by law, it if was not observed, and the retroactivity into the past of canonical effects.
  2. The convalidation occurs at the moment the favor is granted; it is understood to be retroactive, however, to the moment the marriage was celebrated unless something else is expressly stated.

[/INDENT]


#10

I’m not familiar enough with the Eastern Rite of Crowning to answer that (and I haven’t been to a Roman Catholic wedding in years to remember what it’s like).


#11

There are a number of differences in the Holy Orders (CIC and CCEO canons) for deacons, which are not a matter of divine law, but Church law. At ordination a deacon of an eastern Catholic church by virtue of the ordination receives the following faculties for use in his own Church sui iuris:

CCEO

  1. He may catechize and preach to the faithful apart from liturgical services (Cans. 608, 610 §3, 611, 612 §2, 624 §2).
  2. He may delivery the homily at the discretion of the celebrant according to the norm of particular law (Can. 614 §4).
  3. He may assist the celebrant at Divine Liturgy and all other liturgical services as indicated in the official liturgical texts (Cans. 674 §1, 699 §2).
  4. He may distribute the Divine Eucharist according to the norm of particular law (Can. 709 §1).
  5. He may bring and distribute the Divine Eucharist to the sick and infirm according to the norm of particular law (Can. 709 §1).
  6. He may baptize in case of necessity. (Can. 677 §2)

For the Latin Church:

CIC 1169 §3. A deacon can impart only those blessings expressly permitted by law.

  • the nuptial blessing in Holy Matrimony
  • holy water in Holy Baptism
  • blessings in the funeral rites

The Congregation for the Divine Worship Book of Blessings (BOB), lists the sacramentals that a deacon may bless:

“medals, small crucifixes statues or pictures that will be displayed elsewhere than in a church or chapel, scapulars, rosaries, or other articles used in religious devotions” BOB §1442

  • may bless rosaries BOB §1465
  • holy water, outside the context of Holy Mass BOB §1390
  • private home of a Christian BOB §661
  • prohibited from blessing large images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, or those of the saints BOB §1261 that shall be displayed in churches or chapels
  • only priests or bishops may bless things like confessionals, BOB §1205 and pipe organs BOB §1326

#12

There is a difference East and West. The Western view of marriage is more legalistic, thus the emphasis on the vow. For the East, the view can be best summarized by something I read which compared Crowning with the Holy Eucharist. Just as the priest turns the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest takes one man and one woman and makes them one body. What the priest does isn’t merely a blessing so what the priest does in the West cannot be compared to what the priest does in the East.


#13

OK, I’ll be the nitpicky one … the word “confect” really is used not for marriage, but only when talking about the Eucharist, and calling down the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood.


#14

Sorry. Used the wrong word in my haste to write it out. The issue still remains. Okay so if all comes from the bishop and various faculties can be “banned” or “allowed” and there is nothing inherently different in the ordination of a priest and a deacon, holy orders are holy orders, except for faculties granted to by the bishop, could a bishop theoritically allow a deacon to consecrate the eucharist?


#15

It is a comparison, not an equivalency.


#16

Well, in theory yes. But then the ordination rite to the diaconate has to change as well. It is not just faculties that the deacon needs, but the “orders” from the consecrating bishop to be able to carry out his (the bishop’s) ministry, in this case consecrating the Eucharist. Remember that Jesus only instituted the ministry of the Apostles. The Apostles later delegated some of their ministries to deacons first. There were presbyters but they were elders (literally) and do not initially function with the priestly ministry. For a time all Sacraments were exclusive to the bishop (the successor of the Apostles). Then it was passed on to the presbyter over time, so the presbyter became more known as the priest.

Now I don’t know when the Sacramental theology on marriage for the Latin Church changed so that the ministers became the man and woman. Maybe at Trent? I’m guessing because of the Reformation, they wanted to make sure that Protestant marriage is still recognized in the Catholic Church so that they can hold Church law and discipline against Protestants, especially those returning to the Church.


#17

Thank you constantine that helps a bit. It still leaves the question of why the minister of the sacrament is different in the two traditions. It does explain why a deacon could marry someone in the west. But not why the minister is the bride and groom themselves. If it was just a matter of canonical law that those in the east must be married by a priest, as they are required to do so in a church, that would make sense. However the wordin in the catechism gives two different “sources” of minister. Thats were the disparity really lies. My guess is your correct and this was changed in the west to recognize protestant marriages who may reenter at some point, otherwise all married protestants would not be valid and all be living in sin…bummer for the protestants in the east without this definition… Just kidding!!:slight_smile:


#18

helplesspilgrim, ConstantineTG,

That the ministers of the Holy Mystery of Matrimony were the couple is the original belief, in the east, and later the shepherd of the Church was added.

The form of marriage approved by the Church is needed for the validity of marriage, so it not only the couples valid consent that makes the marriage valid. **In either west or east the clergy provide the blessing, and the couple are the ministers. ** The law is that the blessing must normally be obtained from the bishop or priest for validity, or permitted by a deacon for the Latin Church. (Normally, because you can see there is an exception where is it not possible, for a month, even although valid, in the eastern churches the blessing is to be obtained as soon a possible). A deacon in the eastern churches cannot give any blessings (but a Latin deacon can), only priests or bishops.

CCC 1623 According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the traditions of the Eastern Churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses,[Cf. CCEO, can. 817] but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary.[Cf. CCEO, can. 828]

CCEO

Canon 817

  1. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and woman, through an irrevocable covenant, mutually give and accept each other in order to establish marriage.
  2. No human power can replace this matrimonial consent.

Canon 832

  1. If one cannot have present or have access to a priest who is competent according to the norm of law without grave inconvenience, those intending to celebrate a true marriage can validly and licitly celebrate it before witnesses alone:
    (1) in danger of death;
    (2) outside the danger of death, as long as it is prudently foreseen that such circumstances will continue for a month.
  2. In either case, if another priest, even a non-Catholic one, is able to be present, inasmuch as it is possible he is to be called so that he can bless the marriage, without prejudice for the validity of a marriage in the presence only of the witnesses.
  3. If a marriage was celebrated in the presence only of witnesses, the spouses shall not neglect to receive the blessing of the marriage from a priest as soon as possible.

CIC

Canon 1057

  1. A marriage is brought into being by the lawfully manifested consent of persons who are legally capable. This consent cannot be supplied by any human power.
  2. Matrimonial consent is an act of will by which a man and a woman by an irrevocable covenant mutually give and accept one another for the purpose of establishing a marriage.

Canon 1116

  1. If one who, in accordance with the law, is competent to assist, cannot be present or be approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter a true marriage can validly and lawfully contract in the presence of witnesses only:
    (1) in danger of death;
    (2) apart from danger of death, provided it is prudently foreseen that this state of affairs will continue for a month.
  2. In either case, if another priest or deacon is at hand who can be present, he must be called upon and, together with the witnesses, be present at the celebration of the marriage, without prejudice to the validity of the marriage in the presence of only the witnesses.

Theological Basis
vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_1977_sacramento-matrimonio_en.html

CEEO
intratext.com/IXT/ENG1199/_PMP.HTM#5

CIC
intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P3Z.HTM


#19

I don’t think the CCEO is a fair representation of authentic Eastern teaching. Then again, that may be what the Eastern Catholic Churches actually believe today. Which means even the Eastern Catholics have changed their Sacramental theology on matrimony/crowning compared to the Orthodox.


#20

You said before: “Now I don’t know when the Sacramental theology on marriage for the Latin Church changed so that the ministers became the man and woman. Maybe at Trent?”

This is an early teaching of the Church about the couple making the marriage. Trent is the time of making it a norm to have witnesses and a priest. The eastern practice to have the priest bless was stronger than in the west. We see this today in the CCEO of the norm of priestly blessing (not a deacon or other designate).

Read that article from the Vatican that I posted to see more about the history.


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