Marriage and the Catholic Church - Confused


#1

I have a point of confusion in understanding the Catholic Churches rules on valid and invalid marriages.

A) The sacrament of marriage is executed by the man and the woman entering the covenant.

B) In the Catholic Church, it is required that the sacrament be recognized and blessed by the church.

C) If you are two Catholics married within the church everything is fine.

D) If you are two baptized Christian’s married outside of the catholic church and later join the church; nothing special is required for your marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church.

E) If one person is Catholic and another is not; when they are married outside of the Catholic Church a dispensation is required.

F) If one person is Catholic and another is not; when you marry outside of the Catholic Church without a dispensation a convalidation or radical sanation is required to return to full communion for the Catholic.

My questions are:

Why does the Catholic in item F require a special tribunal review whereas the couple in item D just have to go through RCIA?

Would it not make sense that a radical sanation (healing at the root) be necessary during the RCIA process for the couple in item D to have their marriage recognized and blessed by the Catholic Church?

This comes off as a double standard to me. Is this just a punishment for the Catholic party involved because he should have known better?

Thank you,

Lalting


#2

Because the Catholic party is bound by the laws of the Catholic Church, and has definitely transgressed those laws if he or she marries outside the Church without the dispensation.


#3

Why does the Catholic in item F require a special tribunal review whereas the couple in item D just have to go through RCIA?

The Catholic Church can only make rules binding on Catholics, so when there is a split marriage, outside the Church, there is a validation process to make sure that the necessary steps for the marriage to be valid for the existing Catholic. If not, then in the eyes of the Church, it is null and void. This is to avoid future request for annulments.

Would it not make sense that a radical sanation (healing at the root) be necessary during the RCIA process for the couple in item D to have their marriage recognized and blessed by the Catholic Church?

When 2 non-Catholics/Christians are married outside of the Church it is assumed that they were married, entered into covenant, according to their previous beliefs and rules. Thus a valid marriage.

This comes off as a double standard to me. Is this just a punishment for the Catholic party involved because he should have known better?

Shouldn’t be seen as a punishment, but yes the Catholic should have known better. A Catholic marrying outside of the Church didn’t follow the rules, so it is under more scrutiny. Also, not a double standard, but maybe a higher standard? And it shouldn’t be asked why, but why not be held to a higher standard? The U.S. leads in annulment requests and grantings in the world.


#4

Thank you for your responses, however maybe this question would be clearer and more to the point:

During RCIA, does a married couple have to do anything special to determine if their marriage is valid prior to joining the Catholic Church?

Such as having their marriage reviewed by the tribunal to determine if they are free to be married and that there was not an impediment to that marriage.

Thanks,

Lalting


#5

Hi Lalting,

Canon Law presumes that an existing marriage is valid. No special procedure is warranted.

I would like to add something to the comments made above. There is a vast difference between D and F. Marriage D is recognized by the Church, whereas marriage F is not.

Verbum


#6

Thank you for your comment Verbum,

 Just to be clear, marriage F is recognized by the church when the convalidation or a radical sanation is completed.  I agree that prior to that, the marriage is not recognized by the church.

Lalting


#7

I’ve taught RCIA before, but I’ve never “directed” it, so I don’t know for sure. My best guess is that there is a question always asked at some point in the process about whether or not the candidate has any previous marriages. I’d be very surprised if the question was not asked. Presumably, whenever the answer is positive, the couple or individual is sent to the tribunal from there…

SK


#8

If I’m not grossly mistaken, what actually happens before any sort of “radical sanation” is what’s essentially an annulment process because** all **marriages are presumed valid until proven otherwise. This includes those in which one or both parties are Catholic and the wedding took place outside the Church because there are rare exceptions to the “must be married in the Church” requirement and there is always a chance that such a marriage may fit the bill.

Thus, when you stated in an earlier post that a radical sanation must take place in order for a Catholic to “return to communion with the Church” (not necessarily your exact words), I believe you misspoke. The annulment proces has to happen first. If it does and the married couple is found to not actually be married after all, it is only if they then persist in living a “married lifestyle” (until a radical sanation) that they would find themselves objectively outside the confines of the Church.

SK


#9

Thank you for the response SilentKnight.

 I did some research after I made my post about RCIA last night and found some information, although I am still looking for some clarification.  This is what I have found and what I understand:

When a couple is going through RCIA, the program does ask if there where any previous marriages. If there were, the previously married parties would have to go through the annulment process, like a Catholic, to determine if they are free to be married. This process must be completed prior to be allowed to received into full communion with the Catholic church.

In a sense, this is very similar to the radical sanation process. From this process the church determines that the marriage parties were free to marry and that it may be deemed valid. The primary difference is, since the party was not Catholic at the time of marriage, they do not have to justify/explain why they broke ecclesiastical form during their marriage.

Lalting


#10

SilentKnight,

 You are close.  All marriages of non-Catholic, baptized parties are considered valid until proven otherwise.  The laws of the church are quite clear that if you are Catholic and break ecclesiastical form during marriage, the marriage is not valid.  During the process of Convalidation and Radical Sanation you are to refrain from conjugal relations and live with your spouse and live as brother and sister.  Having relations with your spouse during this time is similar to premarital relations and will place you in a state of sin.  This state results in you being unable to receive Communion until you perform the sacrament of Confession.  This is irregardless if the parties had a previous marriage or not.

Thanks,

Lalting


#11

MY DH was “case F”. He returned to the Church years later, and then I came in also: No tribunal review involved. We had to get married from scratch. No convalidation. No radical sanation. From scratch.

And yes. The Catholic party is expected to approach this sacrament AS a Catholic and to know what that means. It is not a ‘punishment’ but it is a double standard. Catholics are reasonably expected to hold themselves to the highest possible standards.


#12

That’s what I thought, yeah. I had a hard time imagining things would be done otherwise.

:thumbsup:

SK


#13

Lalting,

Do you have a concrete reference for this? This is what I thought at one time also, but then, as I recall, it was definitively pointed out to me otherwise. There are exceptions in Canon Law to the necessity for Catholics to be married in the Church. (Which I had not known about.) These exceptions are rare, but they do exist and it is for this reason that a marriage contracted by a Catholic outside the Church is actually presumed to be valid at first and then declared invalid only subsequent to an investigation. Because the exceptional circumstances are rare, typically such a marriage is, in the end, declared invalid and then the radical sanation process (with all its obligations to celibacy, etc.) can begin. Until then…

Essentially, one cannot heal something that is already whole.

I hate “asserting” myself on the sole basis of my poor memory, but I’m about 99.5% sure of myself on this one…

SK


#14

Had his first “spouse” died by that time by any chance?

And yes. The Catholic party is expected to approach this sacrament AS a Catholic and to know what that means. It is not a ‘punishment’ but it is a double standard. Catholics are reasonably expected to hold themselves to the highest possible standards.

“Double” standard, or higher standard? :wink:

SK


#15

Hi, mercygate. I am in your husband’s boat, so to speak.

When I returned to the Church and checked into convalidation, I was a little surprised at first that this means a new ceremony. I take it this is what you mean by “from scratch”, and that it was a surprise to you as well.

But after some thought this makes perfect sense - if I failed to take the necessary steps to ensure my marriage was valid, why not “from scratch”?

Of course, it would be SOOOO much easier if it could have been just “a blessing” by the priest - as everyone said: “You just need to have your marriage blessed!”

I think my non-Catholic wife would have probably assented to that on the spot. Now a new ceremony, even a small private one? That’s an entirely different prospect from her point of view…

Still in that boat… hoping radical sanation is an option for us, as I have one very smart, but very stubborn wife…:smiley:


#16

I WAS the “first” spouse. Was, am, always will be!

“Double” standard, or higher standard? :wink:

SK

I thought that was pretty clear.


#17

In our case it was the same/opposite. I totally understood the need for a “new” marriage. In fact, I nearly shattered the priestm who tried to break the news gently, when I responded: “Oh. I see. We have been living in open fornication.” He practically gagged.

It was DH (the reverted Catholic) who had the fits. It took him weeks to acquiesce to the idea of “getting married.” He ranted: I said what I meant; I meant what I said! Nobody can tell me that this isn’t a valid marriage . . ."

You get the idea. It was kind of sweet.


#18

SilentKnight,

 I thought that I had some concrete evidence, but I cannot find it at this time.  I know that I heard the abstaining part on Catholic Answers Live and I confirmed it with my priest when I investigated Radical Sanation.  If I run across something more concrete I will post it, but I don't think I will find it in my materials.

However, the law you are referring to is:

“Can. 1060 Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.”

However; in the case of a Catholic marrying outside the Church without the proper dispensation, doesn't that violate the law and therefore show that it was invalid?

Lalting


#19

I think you have confused radical sanation with an application for a decree of nullity for a previous marriage and divorce by one of the spouses.


#20

A Catholic who attempts marriage without a priest or deacon as witness without a dispensation is automatically invalid on the face of it. If the Catholic had a previous marriage that was not declared null, this second marriage cannot be “blessed”,convalidated, or sanated without the first marriage being examined by the tribunal and declared null. If the first marriage was a Catholic who married outside the Church and then divorced the process is quite simple and quick.

When we sign up folks in RCIA the details of their marital status are ordinarily checked out by the director. Those in a second marriage or where the marriage took place “outside” the Church are asked to speak to the pastor. If no previous marriage the wheels for a convalidation are set in motion. If there is a previous marriage and divorce the RCIA candidate or catechumen needs to submit that first marriage to the tribunal. In the cases I am familiar with the party entering RCIA cannot be admitted to the Church until that first marriage is declared null. In some instances if the couple agree to live as brother and sister until such time they may be admitted, but that usually means there are extenuating circumstances.

I suppose in the rare case where the couple would just separate, each going their own way, there would be no problem with admittance.


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