how would you respond to this?

If someone implies in a conversation that in the Catholic Church, if someone has a baby while they’re unmarried, they aren’t encouraged to marry because they’re already “a big sinner” and it doesn’t matter… how would you respond? am I correct that in fact the Church would encourage the person to marry, and also of course, repent and confess?

Quite the opposite. The Church is concerned that marital consent be in no way coerced, because coerced consent is not valid consent. A priest would need to make sure that neither the bride nor the groom felt they “had” to marry, because the sacrament requires unforced consent. That would be the reason that a priest would not want the couple to rush into a marriage they had not contemplated before their child was conceived. He is trying to protect them from entering into an invalid marriage. This is not different than any other source of coercion, however; it has nothing to do with being a “big sinner.” It has to do with wanting to make certain that each attempt at marriage is valid.

I see! thank you!

First of all, I’d be VERY careful about ranking sin. Sexual sins may not be as serious in the eyes of God as say receiving Communion on Sunday without properly fasting, missing Mass the week before or supporting so-called gay “marriage”.

Having a child with someone is a pretty good reason to get married and that is something the couple should discern, but to my knowledge it is not an obligation.

Having a child outside of marriage is not a sin. Repent of the sin of sex outside of marriage, yes. Reap praise upon the head of any unmarried woman who carries her child to term instead of aborting the child and offer them assistance to support that decision. Others may want to repent of the sin of judging the intent of others’ hearts or the state of their souls.

Of course the Church does not encourage couples to marry just because they have a child together. Getting hitched for the sake of the child has disaster written all over it. What a responsibility to put on the poor child. What happens to the marriage if the child dies? Does the marriage die with it? If so, was it ever even a real marriage?

Marriage should be between two persons who love one another and love God, who want to enter into a sacramental covenant with one another for the purpose of getting one another to heaven, raising children to get to heaven, and witnessing to the community at large the Love of God.

I’m sorry I’m a little confused… I mean, I wasn’t ranking sins at all, I was trying to respond to someone who was speaking as if the couple would be condemned for what they did and no one would want to give them the Sacrament of marriage because “they are sinners”. My point was that the Church accepts anyone back, no matter what the sin.

I understand the idea that marriage is something that should be discerned - it is also sad if a child has to grow up without a father for example, but of course I’m glad if the child is kept and not aborted, which adds sin to sin and is a real tragedy. I think the person was referring to the sin of premarital sex - and the couple feeling condemned for it by others and no one wanting to marry them. My understanding is that any priest would be happy if someone repented of premarital sex and came back to the Church ,and wanted to marry. :slight_smile:

I would say the same. Be VERY careful about ranking sin, because sexual sins are grave matter usually, so I would not imply they are lesser in any way either.

The long and short of it is that Catholics who have grave sins in their past are allowed to marry, once their sins are confessed–that is, because none of the sacraments save baptism and confession ought to be approached with a sin of mortal gravity on one’s soul, they do have to be absolved of any mortal sins prior to marriage. If two unmarried Catholics are properly disposed, in fact, they have the right to marry if they want to, even if they have committed all sorts of sins–and by “properly disposed”, it is implied that they have received absolution for all that are mortal, have not shown themselves incapable of the duties of marriage, et cetera. (Getting pregnant before marriage is not evidence of incapacity to uphold the duties of marriage.)

Catholics are not forced to consent to marry someone with whom they have conceived a child. Valid consent for marriage can never be forced, no matter what the good end for doing it might have existed. For this reason, a pastor might require a couple to hold off on exchanging vows–that is, because in good conscience he believes that the consent is not freely given, but coerced by others or by circumstance.

On that account, a couple who have committed any mortal sin prior to marriage need to repent, confess, receive absolution, and do their penance, but otherwise it is the priest’s duty to *ensure that there is free consent by both parties *that is the issue here, and not what great sinners one or both of the couple may have been in the past.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit