Is it normal for the Episcopal Church to just hand out marriages?


#1

Is it normal for the Episcopal Church to just hand out marriages? I recognize the need for Pre-Caana classes, especially the way things are today with divorce.

Here’s some background. My buddy Brian was engaged to be married to Lauren, last August, they got into an argument and broke off the engagement. Laur gave back the ring. Even though I’ve known Brian since second grade, and he is one of my best friends, I’ll admit, he’s a hard headed knuckle head and the problems were mostly his fault. A few weeks after the engagement, Brian was on leave (he’s in the Army) and he knocked up another girl. Laur was crushed, but she still had a spot in her heart for Brian. They are both Catholic, Laur teaches at a Cath all girls school, and Brian comes from a very Italian family.

Anyway, 3 weeks ago, Brian called me and asks me to go to his wedding…that took place 2 nights ago. My head was spinning, I couldn’t understand it, nor could any of his family or friends. He barely knew this girl, and we all new he didn’t love her and he was just doing this because he thought it would be the “right thing to do”. I asked him to reconsider many times and to think about what he’s doing, once again, he’s very hard-headed. I explained how he could support her and his child, build a relationship…and then maybe down the road, marry her when they know eachother better. He didn’t listen to any of our pleas. But since we are his friends, we smiled and supported him, but we were honest with him. His big thing was to be married before the baby was born…at the wedding, his bride was almost bursting…a very classy picture…shotgun wedding anyone?

Since this was on such short notice, a Catholic Church would not do the ceremony…for obvious reasons. They had to go Episcopal (I think she was Episcopalian). I arrived with my friends and sat on the groom’s side, everyone was very well dressed, men in expensive, dark suits, the women in gowns or dresses…many wore the expression of disagreement or even confusion at this hastily thrown together wedding. Her side was a bit different, most had on wrinkly jeans, sweat-shirts, and some even had t-shirts, maybe 2 men had on a tie, no jackets or suits to be seen.

The ceremony started with the Episcopal priest giving a “briefing” of what would occur. For the benefit of Brian’s heavily Catholic family he said that if one closed his eyes, and listened, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a ceremony at this church from one at a Catholic Church :rolleyes: . He also said how he used to be a Catholic priest, but “Roamed from Rome”, started a family, and this is where he wound up. So only my friends could hear, I coughed the word, quitter. :smiley:

Anyway, the service went on, the couple looked outta place. The loving glances usually exchanged between bride and groom were a bit lacking. Brian looked unhappy, his family looked confused, the bride looked like she was about to go into labor. The priest asked if anyone objected to the marriage…I saw a few elbows nudging…

After the wedding, the “reception” had hoagies and a few 30 packs of bud. It seemed like a good amount of Brian’s family left. As I was eating potato chips out of the paper plate, Brian’s dad, Vito came over to us and asked…“What the hell happened?” Why is he doing this?"…We couldn’t answer, as the whole thing was just so surreal. It was like attending a friend’s funeral, not a wedding. The bride and groom were with eachother no longer than 5 minutes at a time at the “reception”, usually when one sat down, the other got up. It’s a sad thing to say, but people were taking bets on the duration of this marriage.

Anyway, sorry to rant. Here’s my main question, is it common for Epicopal churches to do this? Only a dimwit couldn’t see the reason these two, almost strangers were getting married. How could this priest agree to do the ceremony? Sorry, my head is still spinning…


#2

I don’t know of another case exactly like this; it’s certainly an odd one. However, nothing the Episcopalians do would surprise me at this point. One reason why I’m Catholic now.


#3

Depends on the local diocese and the pastor of the local church. Time was, years ago, when the Episcopalians had a tribunal like procedure similar to that of the Catholic Church. That day is long past. Now, nothing would surprise me. In this area, the Bishop has a two strikes you’re out policy – no remarriage after the 2nd divorce. Although if someone gets married before a JP, and comes to church, there’s no problem (even among clergy) – but this is one of the stricter dioceses. Just about anything goes in most dioceses. Serial monogamy? Same gender? no problem! Don’t think the women’s lib group would allow polygamy, but polyandry – that’s a whole new subject. Like Katy, this is one of the many reasons I am Catholic today.


#4

Not typical in my experience. I believe in all of the Episcopal churches around here, they all require some form of classes (the lengths may vary depending on the individual parish). I do know of people who an Episcopal priest almost refused to marry because the two people weren’t practicing. He wouldn’t marry them unless they attended some form of classes and promised to live a Christian life. I also know of others who’ve denied marriages because neither party is Episcopalian. So I would say that at least in my area, people just being allowed to get married is the exception, and not the rule. That being said, I don’t know the reality of different dioceses; from what I hear some are VERY unorthodox.


#5

That would not have happened here, that I am aware of. The only thing I can think of is that an exception was made to the normal process due to the pregnancy.


#6

There are a few things you have to understand about the military. There are moral codes of conduct my friend. If a soldier gets a woman pregnant, it is totally up to her and he can and will be forced to marry her if she so desires. I may not agree with it, but I have seen it many times first hand, including a friend that had to divorce his wife and marry a girl he got pregnant while on a remote tour. I don’t think it is an “Episcopal” thing as much as it is a “military” thing. Too bad your friend made a “mistake” but as a member of the military, he was briefed extensively about this policy. Your friend sounds like he is trying to do the honorable thing, maybe it isn’t as bad as you are envisioning, perhaps his Catholic teaching will help him to be the devoted husband and father that he will need to be for his new family.


#7

As “fine-upstanding-voting-in-all-parish-elections” previous members of the Episcopal Church in the USA I have to say that this does not sound odd to me at all.
The lovely Episcopal cathedral where I worked for about 10 years was the scene of all kinds of weddings. And as for premarital counseling, a session or so was about it.
I saw many secular weddings take place there because it was a “nice place to get married”. One or two of my daughters friends had weddings there where the bride was already obviously expecting. No counseling at all in those cases. Just haste. There were a couple of Orthodox services there too.
However, let me say that it may well have just been that those weddings stand out in my mind. And it may also be that the laxity in preparation for marriage may be attributed to the Dean of the cathedral and his administration.
My husband was a cradle Epsicopalian. I came on board when I married him. I had been Church of Christ. My husband says that all the years he was in the Episcopal church he thought they taught Catholic values…until around 1976. We spent the next 18 years trying to hold the line. But in 1994 after many years of prayer and study, we both concluded that the Holy Spirit wanted us to convert to the true Catholic Church. And we know we are where God wants us and are so happy we finally came home to Rome. :slight_smile:


#8

This would be very much in character for Anglicans in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

As readers will know, the Anglican Communion remarries divorced people. Locally, there was a commission (or some such body) in the Anglican diocese that considered these re-marriages, and had to okay any such Anglican marriage. Leaving aside the theology of marriage from this discussion, the process was perceived as slowing things down by those who run things Anglican in these parts, and the body was disbanded. It’s now up to the parish clergy to decide for themselves if they will perform these ceremonies.

By and large, in these parts, the Anglicans, who have never accepted marriage as a Sacrament, have opted out of protecting the sanctity of marriage. The recently retired Anglican archbishop had publically stated that marriage was not an affair of the church, but an affair of the state. So, calling this “just handing out” marriages does not really seem to far fetched in these parts.

Blessings,

Gerry


#9

[quote=THutch04]Not typical in my experience. I believe in all of the Episcopal churches around here, they all require some form of classes (the lengths may vary depending on the individual parish). I do know of people who an Episcopal priest almost refused to marry because the two people weren’t practicing. He wouldn’t marry them unless they attended some form of classes and promised to live a Christian life. I also know of others who’ve denied marriages because neither party is Episcopalian. So I would say that at least in my area, people just being allowed to get married is the exception, and not the rule. That being said, I don’t know the reality of different dioceses; from what I hear some are VERY unorthodox.
[/quote]

Your info says you’re from Pittsburgh . . . one of the very few conservative dioceses … a diocese in rebellion against ECUSA (as is the one in my area). Not surprised that the area around Pittsburgh has standards – not true in most of ECUSA…


#10

I was married in the Episcopal Church 30 years ago. We took the compatibility test and met with the Minister 3 or 4 times in the year before our marriage. There were no classes to speak of back then, you just had meetings with the Minister. By the way, that Congregation has just broken off with the Diocese here because of the Ordination of the openly Gay Bishop in New Hampshire. They fought to keep the Church Building , grounds & property, which includes the original Church built in 1878 across the street. Both Church buildings are beautiful Gothic structures. :crying: Sadly, I heard they lost the fight and will have to move. Their premise was that the People owned the properties, not the Diocese because the People built the Churches with money raised by the congregation.


#11

[quote=kaygee]Your info says you’re from Pittsburgh . . . one of the very few conservative dioceses … a diocese in rebellion against ECUSA (as is the one in my area). Not surprised that the area around Pittsburgh has standards – not true in most of ECUSA…
[/quote]

Actually, I’m from Philly (I’m in Pittsburgh now because I go to Duquesne). I would agree though that the parishes in Pittsburgh are more on the conservative side. I would say that Philly is a more liberal diocese (Bishop Benison) but there’s still standards there as well (there’s a decent size conservative movement) and even among the more liberal ones, they still wouldn’t just hand out marriages like that. Not normally, anyway.


#12

In my parish in Chicago, there is a preparation process and meetings with the priest required. I don’t know if that is a Diocesan requirement or a parish one.

That being said, the write-up about the wedding frankly reaked of classism (mention of the paper plate, and potato chips and hoagies, and the wrinkled clothes of her family.) There’s no description of the bride or her history. Maybe the Episcopal priest is a friend of her family and so feels she is properly disposed toward a good marriage.

The couple might well be uneasy with each other because it is difficult starting out as they are. Hopefully God will bless their union.


#13

I’m sorry if you think the write up reaked of “classism”. That was not the intention. My intention was to not only show the differences between the 2 getting married, but to also show how the whole thing was hastily thrown together…less than 2 weeks

I think the priest should have had some reservations about performing the ceremony, and not just perform it because they met in a bar, got drunk, and had a one night-stand that resulted in her pregnancy.

It was their plan to get married before the baby is born…IMO, that’s not a good reason. I think they should’ve built a solid relationship base together and took things much slower and when they finally actually know eachother and understand the seriousness of marriage, then and only then should they get married. But that’s just my opinion. I still wish them the best, but for the sake of them, their families, and the baby, they should have waited.


#14

[quote=kaygee]Depends on the local diocese and the pastor of the local church. Time was, years ago, when the Episcopalians had a tribunal like procedure similar to that of the Catholic Church. That day is long past. Now, nothing would surprise me. In this area, the Bishop has a two strikes you’re out policy – no remarriage after the 2nd divorce. Although if someone gets married before a JP, and comes to church, there’s no problem (even among clergy) – but this is one of the stricter dioceses. Just about anything goes in most dioceses. Serial monogamy? Same gender? no problem! Don’t think the women’s lib group would allow polygamy, but polyandry – that’s a whole new subject. Like Katy, this is one of the many reasons I am Catholic today.
[/quote]

Well heres a Catholic turned Episcopalian. For a couple to get married in a Episcopal Church they have to go and talk with a priest several times before the marriage,just like Catholics. They still do it. The Episcopal church takes marriage seriously like Catholics it is also a scarament so it is not easy to disovle a marriage. Its also true that the bishop has to give his ok for 2nd marriage. You don’t know what the priest told them they must have talked to him at least once before the marriage. If they wouldn’t listen to family and friends what would make them listen to the priest. He might got the ok to rush the marriage because of the baby. I know Catholics that got married the same way. I’m not saying that I think either religion should marry peolpe for the baby most of these marriages end up in divorce. the Churches just think it is better for a baby to be born with two parents even through there are some couples that should never be married baby or not.


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.