Marriage / Annullment Confusion

If a Catholic was married in a protestant or civil ceremony it is still a valid marriage as far as needing an annullment if there is a divorce.

I heard this week on Cathollic Answers live, that a marriage between Catholics is still a valid marriage even if they weren’t married in the Catholic Church – they don’t need to get remarried.

Yet I read somewhere else that only a marriage in the Catholic church is a “valid” marriage… all other marriages are living in sin? If it wasn’t a valid marriage then an annullment wouldn’t have been needed?

This doesn’t make sense… and obviously there are conflicting advice on this.

As far as getting permission to re-marry is concerned, the Catholic Church holds all marriages to be valid until proven otherwise. A person married invalidly has to formally demonstrate that all prior marriages fall into that category before being permitted to attempt marriage again. (IOW, I don't mean that the Church can't say which marriages are invalid based on objective facts, only that the objective facts have to be provided for each case.)

There are marriages that are invalid with a flaw that is not correctable--say, if you murdered the former spouse in order to be able to marry them, or you are siblings, or one of you is still in a valid marriage to someone else--and then there are marriages that are invalid but have flaws that are correctable--for instance, if a Catholic married outside the Church without permission. Some defects don't require the full investigation by a tribunal that others do, which may be why there is the confusion about whether "an anulment is needed." If there is a defect of form--for instance in the case of marriages outside the Church and without permission--then former spouses do not need to be contacted to establish the defect, because the objective facts are in the public record.

If the flaw is correctable, then the couple can seek a convalidation. Convalidation is the exchange of vows between a couple whose marriage has not been recognized by the Church. For example, if Catholics marry "outside the Church," and the couple later wants to have their marriage "blessed by the Church," they come to the Church to exchange their vows and "convalidate the marriage."

This is different than when validly married Catholics reaffirm their vows to celebrate an anniversary, for instance, becuase the Church would not convalidate marriages that it already recognizes. If two Baptists were married in a Baptist church, the Church recognizes that as a valid marriage. If one or both of the couple joins the Catholic Church, their marriage would not be convalidated, as the marriage is already valid and sacramental.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:1, topic:182448"]
If a Catholic was married in a protestant or civil ceremony it is still a valid marriage as far as needing an annullment if there is a divorce.
It's invalid due to lack of form. However, if the divorced person wished to remarry in the church, he would still have to have the former marriage looked into but the process would not take as long.

I heard this week on Cathollic Answers live, that a marriage between Catholics is still a valid marriage even if they weren't married in the Catholic Church -- they don't need to get remarried.
Hmm... we would need to hear exactly what was said. The usual remedy would be to renew their vows privately before a priest. Sometimes a 'radical sanation' is sought instead. This is sometimes permitted if one of the parties is strongly resistant to repeating the vows but is committed to the marriage.

Yet I read somewhere else that only a marriage in the Catholic church is a "valid" marriage... all other marriages are living in sin? If it wasn't a valid marriage then an annullment wouldn't have been needed?
Even in the case of lack of form, the tribunal or proper diocesan authority still has to look at the former marriage and determine that the divorced person is now free to contract a new marriage in the church. I don't think 'annulment' is the correct term for this decision.

An 'annulment' or decree of nullity declares that a marriage that appeared to be valid actually had some impediment at the time the marriage was contracted and that therefore a sacramental bond didn't exist from the beginning.

This doesn't make sense... and obviously there are conflicting advice on this.

[/quote]

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:1, topic:182448"]
If a Catholic was married in a protestant or civil ceremony it is still a valid marriage as far as needing an annullment if there is a divorce.

I heard this week on Cathollic Answers live, that a marriage between Catholics is still a valid marriage even if they weren't married in the Catholic Church -- they don't need to get remarried.

Yet I read somewhere else that only a marriage in the Catholic church is a "valid" marriage... all other marriages are living in sin? If it wasn't a valid marriage then an annullment wouldn't have been needed?

This doesn't make sense... and obviously there are conflicting advice on this.

[/quote]

If a Catholic married outside the Catholic Church without a dispensation from the bishop then the marriage is not presumed valid per canon 1108

Simply providing the following will show that defect of form is present and that the marriage is not valid:

[LIST]
*]a recent baptismal certificate that shows no marriage (because if a dispensation from canonical form had been granted the marriage would appear in the baptismal record)
*]a marriage document that shows that they were married somewhere other than a Catholic Church (that could be a notarized copy of the registration of marriage and not a marriage certificate as a couple I know recently discovered)
*]proof of divorce
[/LIST]
As to what you heard on Catholic Answers Live, are you sure they weren't referring to people who had converted to Catholicism since their marriage? Two non-Catholics who marry wherever/however and then become Catholic do not have to restate their consent in the Church; their marriage is presumed valid because they were under no obligation to follow the laws of the Catholic Church at the time of their marriage.

So is a Catholic living in sin then if they have been married outside of the church, or is it a matter of not being in communion with the church?

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:5, topic:182448"]
So is a Catholic living in sin then if they have been married outside of the church, or is it a matter of not being in communion with the church?

[/quote]

It is both.

A Catholic married "outside" the Church (presuming you mean married without proper canonical dispensations from form) is in an invalid marriage.

It is grave offense to disobey church law.
It is a grave offense to have sexual relations with someone you are not validly married to.
It is a grave offense to receive the Sacraments while in this state.

A person in this situation is committing multiple seriously grave offenses (mortal sins if done freely and knowingly).

A person in this situation is also not able to receive the sacraments (i.e. Eucharist) until/unless they cease conjugal relations, go to Confession, and take steps to convalidate their marriage.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:1, topic:182448"]
I heard this week on Cathollic Answers live, that a marriage between Catholics is still a valid marriage even if they weren't married in the Catholic Church -- they don't need to get remarried.

[/quote]

The short term for this, by the way, is "valid but illicit." It is like when a validly-ordained priest says Mass when he has been stripped of his faculties. He is eternally a priest, that can't be taken from him, but it is gravely unlawful for him to exercise his faculties. The Eucharist would still be confected, but Catholics are not allowed to participate in such a Mass.

Actually, there is something we didn't take into consideration. If the Catholics were in a situation where there was no possibility of marrying in the Catholic Church and that situation was going to persist over a month, according to canon law they can marry validly either civilly or in a non-Catholic Church.

Can. 1116 §1. If a person competent to assist according to the norm of law cannot be present or approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter into a true marriage can contract it validly and licitly before witnesses only:
1/ in danger of death;
2/ outside the danger of death provided that it is prudently foreseen that the situation will continue for a month.
§2. In either case, if some other priest or deacon who can be present is available, he must be called and be present at the celebration of the marriage together with the witnesses, without prejudice to the validity of the marriage before witnesses only.

[quote="Phemie, post:8, topic:182448"]
Actually, there is something we didn't take into consideration. If the Catholics were in a situation where there was no possibility of marrying in the Catholic Church and that situation was going to persist over a month, according to canon law they can marry validly either civilly or in a non-Catholic Church.

[/quote]

True, but an unusual situation in the US. It does not cover parishes that require a certain period for preparation and banns, nor the amount of time required to formally investigate whether or not the parties are free to marry....at least not unless the couple has a compelling reason to marry sooner than is usually allowed, but is unjustly refused. At least, that is my understanding.

[quote="EasterJoy, post:7, topic:182448"]
The short term for this, by the way, is "valid but illicit." It is like when a validly-ordained priest says Mass when he has been stripped of his faculties. He is eternally a priest, that can't be taken from him, but it is gravely unlawful for him to exercise his faculties. The Eucharist would still be confected, but Catholics are not allowed to participate in such a Mass.

[/quote]

I'd asked you to back up this "valid but illicit" claim in another thread, and will ask you to back it up here. Post the appropriate canons.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:1, topic:182448"]
If a Catholic was married in a protestant or civil ceremony it is still a valid marriage as far as needing an annullment if there is a divorce.

I heard this week on Cathollic Answers live, that a marriage between Catholics is still a valid marriage even if they weren't married in the Catholic Church -- they don't need to get remarried.

Yet I read somewhere else that only a marriage in the Catholic church is a "valid" marriage... all other marriages are living in sin? If it wasn't a valid marriage then an annullment wouldn't have been needed?

This doesn't make sense... and obviously there are conflicting advice on this.

[/quote]

This situation falls into a murky grey zone. For the purposes of the Catholic party receiving the Sacraments, it's not a valid marriage, and he needs to take the necessary steps to have it recognized in the Church before he can return to the Sacraments, but at the same time, if there is a divorce, he still has to take it to the Tribunal and have them rule on it - it's considered "valid" for the purposes of divorce and remarriage until they actually rule against it. (They nearly always do, though.)

[quote="EasterJoy, post:7, topic:182448"]
The short term for this, by the way, is "valid but illicit."

[/quote]

Um, no, the term for this is invalid, as in NOT valid.

Can. 1059 Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons

Can. 1117 The form established above must be observed if at least one of the parties contracting marriage was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act, without prejudice to the prescripts of ⇒ can. 1127, §2.

[quote="jmcrae, post:11, topic:182448"]
This situation falls into a murky grey zone. For the purposes of the Catholic party receiving the Sacraments, it's not a valid marriage, and he needs to take the necessary steps to have it recognized in the Church before he can return to the Sacraments, but at the same time, if there is a divorce, he still has to take it to the Tribunal and have them rule on it - it's considered "valid" for the purposes of divorce and remarriage until they actually rule against it. (They nearly always do, though.)

[/quote]

Technically, because it doesn't have the presumption of validity, it doesn't need to go to the Tribunal. Most bishops want to have it dealt with by the Tribunal but I know some bishops who only require that the pastor record everything.

[quote="that_name, post:10, topic:182448"]
I'd asked you to back up this "valid but illicit" claim in another thread, and will ask you to back it up here. Post the appropriate canons.

[/quote]

Can. 290 Once validly received, sacred ordination never becomes invalid.

[quote="1ke, post:6, topic:182448"]
It is both.

A Catholic married "outside" the Church (presuming you mean married without proper canonical dispensations from form) is in an invalid marriage.

It is grave offense to disobey church law.
It is a grave offense to have sexual relations with someone you are not validly married to.
It is a grave offense to receive the Sacraments while in this state.

A person in this situation is committing multiple seriously grave offenses (mortal sins if done freely and knowingly).

A person in this situation is also not able to receive the sacraments (i.e. Eucharist) until/unless they cease conjugal relations, go to Confession, and take steps to convalidate their marriage.

[/quote]

Well for one it was done in ignorance.

And surely your not saying that Protestants are living in sin?

Protestants are not bound by Catholic marriage laws, provided they were not baptized Catholic or received into the Catholic Church.

Ignorance can reduce culpability, but it does not negate the objective fact of the situation, and once the Catholic becomes aware of it, they are obliged to act.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:15, topic:182448"]
Well for one it was done in ignorance.

[/quote]

That is not relevant. The marriage is still invalid.

The Catholic should approach their priest about convalidating the marriage.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:15, topic:182448"]
And surely your not saying that Protestants are living in sin?

[/quote]

This thread is not about Protestants. This thread is about Catholics and what is required of them to be married validly.

[quote="Dave_in_Dallas, post:15, topic:182448"]
Well for one it was done in ignorance.

[/quote]

All the more reason to get the situation corrected as soon as possible.

And surely your not saying that Protestants are living in sin?

Protestants cannot be bound by Catholic laws - nor could two Protestants ever be married in a Catholic Church, so God recognizes that they are doing the best they can, and supplies whatever is lacking to them.

Catholics are held to a higher standard.

[quote="that_name, post:10, topic:182448"]
I'd asked you to back up this "valid but illicit" claim in another thread, and will ask you to back it up here. Post the appropriate canons.

[/quote]

Excuse me. A Mass may be valid but illicit, but since the Moto Propio (I forgot about that) lapsed Catholics cannot be validly married until they return to the Church, illicitly or not, period. Is that correct?


Here is my question. Let us say that two lapsed Catholics meet and marry in a Protestant church. One of them seeks to return to the Church. Is it true that their marriage cannot be convalidated, no matter what, period, unless both parties return to full communion?

In other words, is it now impossible for a Catholic to receive permission to marry another Catholic who has formally left the Church, even if the lapsed Catholic consents to have the children raised Catholic and to exchange vows according to canon law? I'm not trying to be argumentative. It is just kind of an interesting question, from a pastoral point of view.

[quote="EasterJoy, post:19, topic:182448"]
In other words, is it now impossible for a Catholic to receive permission to marry another Catholic who has formally left the Church, even if the lapsed Catholic consents to have the children raised Catholic and to exchange vows according to canon law? I'm not trying to be argumentative. It is just kind of an interesting question, from a pastoral point of view.

[/quote]

No, I think it is still possible, under the criteria which you have named: vows are exchanged according to canon law, consent to have children raised Catholic. The faithful Catholic might have to receive some dispensation to marry the one who has formally left the Church.

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