Going to non-catholic wedding question

Can catholic go to non-catholic wedding (civil, protestanat) ? I mean situations when invited by neighbor or co-worker.

Certainly, presuming that it is not an invalid attempt at marriage (i.e., a “second” marriage for one or both).

The Catholic should refrain from participating in the non-Catholic worship service in inappropriate ways-- for example, non-Catholic communion services.

I believe that it makes a difference when a baptized Catholic(s) are having a non-Catholic(civil, protestant, new age etc.) “ceremony”. I once asked a holy Bishop if my husband could be the "best man " at his brother’s wedding (his brother was a non-practicing Catholic and he was marrying a *Jewish woman and the non-denominational woman minister was performing a “generic” outdoor wedding)
The Bishop said,"No."
To be sure, if it is an
“invalid” wedding ***or an “illicit” union, ask a theologian here on CAF.

Attending a wedding and participating in one as a best man are two different things–especially in the situation you describe where a Catholic was marrying outside the Church.

I have attended non-Catholic weddings. Usuallythere isn’t a communion service–just some readings and the vows. I wouldn’t go to a “second” wedding or one that you know to be invalid in any other way. Simply thank them for the invitation but send in your regrets. No need to go into a long explanation about why you are not attending. If you know the couple well, hopefully you would have brought up your concerns long before wedding invitations were mailed. If you don’t know them that well, your concerns probably aren’t going to be taken seriously. Just pray for the couple in question.

These sort of things always get a little hairy for me:

  1. Do you judge the appropriateness of the wedding based on your beliefs, or the beliefs of the party? If the couple is free to marry in their religion, is that different than if they are not free to marry in their religion?

  2. How do you determine the appropriateness of the situation? If a Catholic couple is being married outside of a Catholic church, do you request to see a copy of the Dispensation from Canonical Form or do you just assume that they don’t have it? Do you ask if they’ve received annulments, or do you just guess that they haven’t if it has never been mentioned?

  3. If a person was baptized Catholic and has decided to leave the Church, is that to be treated differently than a non-Catholic? Does a person have a right to leave the Church or must they always be subject to Canonical Form in the eyes of Catholics?

I did not attend my sister’s “first” wedding because she married a divorced Catholic and they got married at an episcopal church. My whole family was shocked. Some stopped speaking with me for a time…my* sister*-not at all for two years-and now, only with contempt. There will be persecution, so be prepared! God’s grace will be necessary.

You judge it based on objective truth.

What their religion teaches about marriage is not relevant.

We always act with the utmost charity when we lack facts.

Yes, it is.

Only if they formally defect-- which is a canonical procedure. Otherwise, they are bound by Catholic form.

Seek spiritual direction from a trustworthy (faithful to the Magisterium) priest , if you have any doubts.Ask a theologian here at CAF! God Bless.

Then should I not attend non-Christian weddings, since they are invalid? Specifically, if invited to a Hindi wedding, am I supposed to not attend?

Non-Christian marriages that have no divine law impediments (such as a prior marriage) are perfectly valid. Therefore, you would certainly be able to attend.

I’m not sure where you got the idea that a non-Christian marriage would be invalid. It is not a sacrament, it is a natural marriage, but that is not the same thing as validity.

The Church recognizes marriage between the unbaptized as well as between baptized non-Catholics.

If there are no impediments-- such as prior marriages-- then certainly.

I’m not sure why so many Catholics believe that the Catholic Church only recognizes Catholic marriages as valid and/or sacramental. This is simply not Church teaching.

Originally Posted by FastLearner View Post

  1. Do you judge the appropriateness of the wedding based on your beliefs, or the beliefs of the party? If the couple is free to marry in their religion, is that different than if they are not free to marry in their religion?
    You judge it based on objective truth.

What their religion teaches about marriage is not relevant.


Keep in mind that you probably don’t know all the facts about this couple, OK?

What their religion teaches about marriage is not relevant.

Maybe I’m going off-point here, but here’s a case where I get confused:

Let’s assume that there are two non-Catholics that marry, then divorce for reasons that would ordinarily justify a Canonical Annulment, had they been Catholic. Since they’re not Catholic, though, they cannot apply for a decree of nullity from a tribunal. In such a case, is it possible for the first marriage attempt to have been invalid, but not possible for the couple to obtain the necessary “paperwork” to prove that because they’re not Catholic? In such a case, wouldn’t they then be free to attempt marriage again (a tribunal just makes a “finding”, correct? Isn’t it possible for the conditions to exist even without a formal investigation?)? Since it’s not possible for me to assume whether or not the first marriage attempt was valid, via charity aren’t I to assume that the couple made the correct decision in evaluating their freedom to marry? And finally, isn’t this assumption impacted by the religion of the couple and therefore their understanding of what establishes freedom to marry?

Basically, when assuming the most charitable case, can’t the argument always be made to attend the wedding, except in extremely obvious cases where the couple explicitly decrees their ineligibility to marry (which can’t be that common except in the case of homosexuals)?

Maybe that’s too many questions, but here’s an example:

Dick and Jane (two baptists) marry
Dick and Jane divorce
I receive an invitation for the wedding of Dick and Susan (two baptists)

Some might argue that I shouldn’t attend this wedding, but what if Dick and Jane divorced because, before marriage both decided on children, but after the wedding, Jane informed Dick that she would not have relations with him and would not bear children. Under Canon Law, this makes Dick and Jane’s marriage attempt invalid, and thus Dick is free to marry and the marriage of Dick and Susan is valid, thus I can attend.

Now, I personally have no idea why Dick and Jane divorced. It could have been because of children or it could have been because Dick didn’t like Jane’s cooking. However, if I’m being as charitable as possible, I would assume the case above, and therefore that both parties are free to marry, right?

See how I’m getting confused? Luckily, I haven’t run into anything like this.

If Dick and Jane are close enough to be your friends and invite you to their wedding, (or Dick and Susan’s, anyway) you would probably have more information about their relationship, otherwise, your decision isn’t going to impact them too much either way, if you don’t attend. If they are close friends and do really care about you, they may be open to hearing your perspective on why your Church has made marriage a sacrament and an indissoluble one,at that. In that case, one would hope that they would be understanding if you state the reason why you can’t attend.
When it’s a family member- loving them for their own sake by not attending, and not having them understand,is a much greater “risk” for persecution, as it appears to be the “uncharitable response”.
I can personally speak to this kind of suffering, but I now embrace it as a sacrifice for my sister’s conversion. I’ve been accused of being judgmental, but I lovingly submit to-and trust in- the
Just Judge
on the matter.

I also haven’t run into anything like this thankfully. But I guess you can only judge on the facts you do have taking as charitable a view as possible.

Say Dick is your co-worker. He’s likely to invite you to his wedding and you may know some things about his prior marriage from general office conversation, but you aren’t likely to know about Jane’s decision not to want children. However, if he and Jane were married 10 years and do have a child or 2, it is more likely that their marriage was valid. Even if they divorced before Dick met Susan, it would be more likely that the new marriage would be invalid than not.

Now the question becomes, even if you can gracefully decline attending the wedding, how do you avoid office parties etc., when Dick is your boss and Susan wants to host everything at their new house on the lake! :eek:

Allow me to address just that part. In that scenario, either one could still petition for a decision of nullity, even though both are non-Catholic. This happens a lot when a non-Catholic (previously married) either seeks marriage to a Catholic, or seeks to join the Church.

Only a “competent authority” can determine if a marriage was attempted invalidly/illicitly or not. It’s never up to an individual person to make that decision, even if the person feels that he has very strong reasons. So, without a declaration of nullity, or the death of the other spouse, a person is never free to marry a second time–regardless of the circumstances.

Christians who are members of ecclesial communities outside the Church are still bound by divine law, so even if that ecclesial community allows a person a second marriage, and that 2nd marriage indeed happens within their own rules, that does not make the 2nd marriage legitimate.

There’s an answer is the Ask An Apologist forum:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=167154

Unless I’m wrong, the Tribunal does not “nullify” the marriage or actually perform any act, they just verify that a marriage attempt was invalid, correct? In fact, every marriage attempt found to be invalid was invalid before the tribunal ever met or the couple ever separated, right? Thus it’s possible for there to be an invalid marriage without going through a tribunal, we just wouldn’t “know” it was invalid.

In such a case, where we don’t know if any given marriage is valid or invalid, the most charitable assumption is that it’s invalid, and thus a separated spouse is free to marry?

I guess my struggle has to do with how far you take the concept of “charity”. Do you just take it up to reasonable doubt, or do you take it all the way to assuming something even if it’s a one-in-a-billion chance?

I think your understanding of an invalid marriage is correct–it was invalid from the get-go, long before the tribunal ruled as such.

As to how far to extend charity, I haven’t had to take it past a reasonable doubt. Usually the icky “juicy” details get out and we all know that Susan was sleeping with Dick even before she divorced Roger and that Jane had to go to counseling because she was frigid, etc. At which point, it is safe to decline the invitation and begin to cut off the friendship all while praying for the people involved.

Yes, all of the above is correct.

In such a case, where we don’t know if any given marriage is valid or invalid, the most charitable assumption is that it’s invalid, and thus a separated spouse is free to marry?

That’s the difference. Every marriage “enjoys the favor of the law” until something is proven contrary (that’s a key point)*. That’s why we must always assume that a marriage is valid, and we can’t take it upon ourselves to operate under the assumption that it’s not valid–no matter what our reasoning might be. Only a marriage tribunal can make that determination. There are times when a marriage is invalid on the surface–such as if either party was in a previous marriage but that’s different from what we’re discussing here (your part about “we just wouldn’t know…” indicates that we’re talking about a different kind of scenario in that case).

I guess my struggle has to do with how far you take the concept of “charity”. Do you just take it up to reasonable doubt, or do you take it all the way to assuming something even if it’s a one-in-a-billion chance?

We don’t take the concept of “charity” into account when we decide whether-or-not-we-know that a marriage is valid. There is no “benefit of the doubt” when we try to say that a marriage might not have been a valid one (I’m talking about the 1st marriage here).
That gets us right back to the beginning. Only a marriage tribunal can determine if it was invalid. Until a declaration of nullity is issued, the first marriage must be considered valid. That’s why the second marriage is invalid on its very surface. The first marriage must be considered valid, therefore the second marriage must likewise be considered invalid; because a person can only be married to one person at a time.

  • you might ask “if only a tribunal can declare a marriage invalid, doesn’t this conflict with the statement that the 2nd marriage is invalid w/o a declaration?” The difference is that if a person is in a 2nd marriage while still bound by the 1st marriage, that is itself objective proof that the 2nd marriage cannot be valid. If a person attempts a 3rd marriage, the 2nd marriage would still have to be formally declared null before that 3rd marriage could be considered.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.