EDITED: Wedding a Scandal?

I am a practicing Catholic. I have a cousin who is a non-practicing Catholic and he is marrying a non-Catholic. My parents are not attending the wedding because of scandal but they are attending the reception for support. I have always found this a little arrogant. Now that I am married with my own children, I do want to send the right message. However, I am not so sure that not attending the wedding and then attending the reception is the right one!!! Help!!!

personally attending the reception but not the wedding seems hypocritical to me, if you intend to send a message by staying away.

every such family situation is different, I suggest looking at past threads on AAA for more guidance.

if the relative has effectively left the church and no longer making any pretense of being Catholic, I see no problem with attending the wedding. It is the situations where the relative self-identifies as Catholic, yet defies Catholic laws on marriage (including that about cohabiting beforehand) that I find problematic.

I agree with Annie. Intentionally attending one but not the other seems to send mixed messages. Either go to it or don’t.

The problem, assuming they’re not getting married in the Catholic Church and they don’t have the bishop’s permission to get married somewhere other than a Catholic church, is that your cousin is a Catholic (regardless of whether practicing or not) and is therefore committing a sin. And to attend would give tacit approval to the sin being committed, increasing the scandal. Best to send a clear message that what they’re going is wrong. Remember, the spiritual works of mercy include admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant. By not attending, they can do both of those!

Reply to both JStelly & Puzzleannie: There are many people today who see no problem with attending the wedding & reception of Catholics who have rejected their faith. That doesn’t mean that a Catholic can be married outside of the Church. There can be several factors involved in their decision. Some are simply a product of the lack of education in their faith; they do not realize what they are really doing. We must be charitable and not judge them without sufficient understanding of the couple’s reasons. However a baptized Catholic is still a Catholic by virtue of the permanent and indeliable mark put upon their soul at the time of baptism. They can refuse to practice their faith but it doesn’t change their responsibility to live a Catholic life. Before a Catholic can attend the non-Catholic wedding of a Catholic, they should talk with their priest and discuss the options. Hopefully the priest will give them appropriate guidance. I was in the position of trying to decide whether we could attend the wedding of a very close relative who was not being married in the Church. He & his fiancee were both Catholics. Our priest advised us to attend the wedding in order to show that we loved them and would support them. But we were obligated to let them know that the course they were pursuing was wrong and would not be a valid wedding, in the eyes of the Church. The priest cautioned us NOT to attend the reception because the wedding reception is an occasion of celebrating the Marriage. We COULD NOT celebrate the marriage without putting ourselves in spiritual jeopardy. So my suggestion is to talk with your priest, carefully consider his advise; speak with the couple intending to be married; pray to the Holy Ghost and St Joseph for the grace to make the best decision. God bless you.

I can’t speak for certainty concerning the Church teaching, but my question would be if it was any type of religious ceremony or not. My cousin, who was raised Catholic and received all 3 sacraments of initiation, no longer practices her faith. When she was married, they did not do any sort of religious ceremony, and instead had a justice of the peace perform the ceremony.

In my opinion, though I did feel somewhat torn, I decided not going would cause scandal in the family. And though I’m not sure if ‘justification’ is the correct term here, but I recognized the wedding as purely a civil matter, and leveled that as justification for attending.

Thanks to all who have given me wonderful insight into this very complicated question. I will pray and ask my priest his opinion. However, my feelings have been confirmed that attending the reception and not the wedding is not the right choice. Thanks again and God Bless :slight_smile:

we don’t know the faith status of the bride or groom, OP does not have enough info. That is why there is actually a canon law tribunal process to determine whether or not a Catholic has formally left the Church. So we cannot judge this particular case.

HOwever I would warn everyone who wants to take the high ground, make sure you are consistent when judging whether to attend weddings in your family. Are you also going to boycott those where the couple have been cohabitting for several years before their huge cathedral wedding? those who are remarrying after divorce w/o annulment? and so forth.

if you will do as I suggest and review the AAA answers they usually advise judging each case on its own merits, not making a blanket condemnation of attending family weddings in less than ideal circumstances.

I am shocked at the number of people who feel that just because you were baptised catholic you should also be married catholic. Isn’t it hypocritical of the couple who do not attend mass, have no intention of attending mass and do not practice the faith they were baptised into to then walk into a church and expect God to bless their union? What does that say for the validity and blessing of your wedding/marriage as an active practicing catholic?

Personally, I would be 1000x more offended by the couple who marries in the church just to make Mom/Dad happy when they have no real gift of faith.

Attending the reception and not the ceremony is rude and tackless.

Jesus Christ was dining with sinners.

If a practicing catholic had no close relationship with someone who starts an invalid marriage, and does not intends to have any connection in the future, than it is appropriate not to attend neither the wedding nor the reception.

If the practicing catholic intends to keep connection in the future, than to attend the reception is requirement of the civility. Not to attend the religious service sends sufficient message.

The parents are right.

I have been told that a pastor can only present the faith to a couple preparing to marry in the Church, but Catholics marrying in the Church are not “required” to be in a state of grace (unless they receive Communion), or to be practicing Catholics.

I have known many Catholics who married in the Church who fully intended to contracept, and who did not receive any training or guidance about natural family planning during their period marriage preparation.

The focus is more on hoping couples will be faithful to each other, not necessarily faithful to God.

This saddens me, because the children of these couples are not properly raised in the faith. How can they be expected to be?

Back to the OP’s question about the potential scandal of a Catholic marrying outside of the Church. I think the OP should clearly tell her children that the Church does not approve of this marriage, but because they are family, we must recognize their freedom to deny the faith and they must be prayed for. It is a good opportunity for the OP to catechist her children, by explaining what the Church teaches about holy matrimony. The couple will legally married, they are relatives, and imo the OP’s family shouldn’t risk severing family ties by not attending the wedding and reception.

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