Justice of the peace marriage


If married through the justice of the peace or court, as an Catholic can one receive communion?


Hi nomolos,

A Catholic married only in a civil ceremony is not considered married by the Church. He/she is therefore considered in sin and is not admitted to the sacraments.



Unless a dispensation was grant in advance. The Catholic can get the marriage convalidated by 2 party consent realitively a simple procedure in which the vows are repeated before the priest or deacon, or radical sanation vows are not repeated, a more complex process. No commmunion until one of the methods is complete


All of this is true considering the Catholic who had full knowledge that this was the procedure. There are Catholic churches that don’t teach this, therefore how can one be sinning if they don;t know that their sinning.




The Catholic Church teaches this and it is clearly printed in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. No Catholic can be totally ignorant of the Church teaching. A Bishop may grant a dispensation for a Catholic to be Married in another non-Catholic Christian Church, but not for a strictly civil cermony outside of a Sacred place. No more then they will grant permission for a Marriage to take place on a beach.


I know that Br. Rich and you know that. There are Catholics who still think that Catechism was a place you went to on Tuesday nights as a kid! I am not saying you are right in your attitude because I know Catholics who just don’t know because they thought that because a priest said so, it was so. Why should they be at fault for something a priest said? The priest would be at fault.

I am not disagreeing with the general conclusion, it’s that everyone’s situation is different. Not all Catholics are as knowledgeable as we are.


I can tell you I went through 8 years of catechisis and didn’t know. My hubby went through the RCIA while we were still not convalidated and no on told us. Nor was the Catechism of the Catholic ever mentioned as to either of us. It might sound incrediable but you’d be suprised how many don’t know basic teachings of the church.
We finally had our marriage convalidated in 2004. My hubby joined the church in 1997.


I love the Tolkein quote…

More seriously, I didn’t know that the Church won’t let you get married on the beach (I always thought it okay if a priest was still there…) Or that the Church will let you marry in another church.

I guess that’s a good reason why we’re all on the forums!:slight_smile:


No, they cannot. The Catholic who did this has committed mortal sin for violating one of the precepts of the Church.

The Catholic who did such thing must first repent from having done it (contracting marriage outside the auspices of the Catholic Church) and then go to confession. He must also live with his civilly married wife as “brother and sister” (no sexual relations) until the “marriage” is either convalidated or a “radical sanation” takes place.

If the Catholic promises to live “as brother and sister” with his “civilly married wife” then and only then may he receive Holy Communion.



it is not a matter of does this person know he is sinning, it is a matter of this person is not validly married, and therefore may not approach communion until he rectifies the situation. The Catholic has the obligation to properly form his conscience, and to take active steps to learn what the Catholic Church teaches. I don’t think there is a Catholic on the planet who does not know he should approach his parish priest for advice when he plans to marry. The same people know enough to bring their children in for baptism.

We have 4 sessions, at different times during the year, to discuss marriage issues and make sure people know the teaching, and we have an in depth interview within a month of the time the candidate begins RCIA (required in every diocese, by the way) to uncover marriage issues. If an annulment is needed, we have them sign that they were informed and give them a copy. Yet we still have people when the time comes for confirmation, and I am still asking for proof of marriage, claim we never told them about this.

If any Catholic is in a situation where they are caught in this or any other objectively sinful circumstance, because either they were taught wrong information, or not taught by the person in charge of their catechesis, bear in mind the guilt rests on the person who failed to teach and the pastor who failed to be a proper pastor. There can be no sin without full knowledge. On the other hand, all Catholics are obligated to seek out education on their faith, not just be passive about it.


I think, pp, that you are confusing the ideas of ‘sinning’ and ‘mortal and venial sin’.

The Catholic who married outside the church in ignorance is still sinning. It is a mortal sin to marry outside the church. But if the sin were committed in ignorance, it would be, not exactly venial, but a case of lessened culpability, because it is a grave matter but the person didn’t fully know–even though he should have known. But. . .once the Catholic educates himself, he cannot say, “Well, since I didn’t know it’s only a venial sin and I don’t have to do anything about it”. Once he knows the truth, he must correct it. Otherwise, since he now has ‘full knowledge’ of the grave matter, unless he corrects his error he ‘freely consents’ to continue, in full knowledge, to be in grave sin.

And this knowledge is a good thing. You see, the person is in a state of sin. If he never had the knowledge, he would still be held responsible for the sin. If he gets the knowledge, he gets the opportunity for penance and restitution and to be free from that grave sin.


Ok, thuis may be splitting hairs, but is it fair to say that the sin lies not so much in the JOP, but the assumption that the JOP gives a couple the right to live “as married” – complete with marital relations. My DH and I got a JOP so we could get our assignment together (the military doesn’t care how far you are into PLANNING your wedding…:rolleyes: ) – we ran down to the courthouse, in ripped jeans and old t-shirt (for me, it was to solidify the fact that this was NOTHING important) and got the paper that allowed the assignments officers to send us to our next station together. Nothing changed except that code in the military personnel system. No name change, no nuthin – we planned the wedding as if it had never happened, completed the precana, got married in the church 8mos later, and THAT was when we acted as “man and wife” – I’m not worried about our circumstances; we had the JOP convalidated (is that the word?) in the church; as I understood it, we would have been sinning gravely IF we had treated the JOP the same as our church wedding; IF we had stopped the “brother and sister” relationship…so the sin lies not with the JOP or court marriage, but how the couple treats that piece of paper – I split this hair only because being military, I know MANY people who have had to do this to stay together. We used to joke that as soon as an engagement ring was brought out, the “korea machine” started churning…one or both was going far, far away from the other one…LOL…:blush:


I know this is a stretch as far as analogy, but if I traveled to a foreign country and did not know the laws there…and I committed a violation…and was caught, I would still be charged with the crime or violation even though I was ignorant of it.

The same thing…I don’t think in this day and age, most people who are Catholic, do not know that they must be married in the church to be in compliance with our faith. That’s just me.

I am sure though, if I was practicing my faith regularly, I would have plenty of resources near at hand to ask about this query.


Ok, is the law biblical (meaning scripture) or man made.


As the law in some places does not recognize marriages performed by the clergy, the only way to be married is to marry in a civil ceremony. The usual practice is to repair to a nearby church and repeat the vows (which are already sacramentally binding as you intended the sacrament when reciting the civil vows) before a clergyman (priest or deacon).

If a priest (or deacon) is not available for some reason, a civil ceremony is considered sufficient by the Church. The marriage must, however, be blessed as soon as suitable arrangements can be made.


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