Marriage - civil and religious

This question arose because I’ve been reading about the forthcoming marriage of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock.

They will have a civil marriage ceremony on 1st July and the Catholic Marriage Rite on 2nd July.

What stance does the Catholic Church take on having effectively two marriage ceremonies - a civil one and a religious one?

This eventuality does not arise here in UK. The civil requirements can be fulfilled during the Nuptial Mass or Rite of Marriage. Either the priest or a member of the Catholic parish community can have the legal status of registrar of marriages.

I don’t know what the situation is in the USA (where most of this forums members reside).

In many continental European countries that are nominally Catholic I believe that it is common for the state to require a separate civil ceremony apart from the Church’s rite. I know the Church accepts civil marriage laws that do not conflict with its own laws. How does it view this requirement for two ceremonies?

In Canada and the US the priests act as agents of the State when it comes to marriage, so the religious marriage is recognized by the State.

The Church complies with the law of the land in countries like France and Germany, where the civil marriage MUST occur first. It does so because the law doesn’t violate natural law. I can only assume that part of the couple’s preparation in those countries is the teaching that they are not considered validly married until the Church ceremony so must refrain from consummating the marriage before that is accomplished.

It has been this way for a long time. The Church’s teaching (not “view”) is the same as that of Our Lord: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt 22:21, Mark 12:17)

In most countries with a separation between Church and State, like Belgium, law states that every religious marriage ceremony must be preceded by a civil marriage.

There has been a bit of a debate about this. CD&V, the Flemish Christian Democrats in Belgium, are in favor of abolishing this law article in our Constitution. They find it in conflict with the principle of freedom of religion.

I used the word ‘view’ as part of an idiomatic phrase; not in any technical sense. I fail to understand why you seem to have taken issue with it.:slight_smile:

If it’s the law of the land, the Church says go with it.

FWIW, this situation does sometimes arise in the UK. I nearly had to have two marriages, as I was granted a dispensation to marry in a Catholic ceremony outside my own diocese but I hadn’t fulfilled the residency requirements for the civil wedding so we would have had to marry civilly in our local registry office separate to the Catholic wedding. This was avoided in the end, but the Church had agreed to it. Obviously such a couple would not be considered married by the Church until after the Church wedding, but other than that it is fairly simple.

If that is the law in Monaco then the Church is fine with it as long as the Church marriage ensues before the couple live as man and wife. There are many countries where the state recognizes only civil marriages so Catholic couples are obliged to also marry in the Church.

That applies here in the Philippines.

I inferred it must be acceptable. I was just double checking. I think the Church in general prefers only one marriage ceremony. I think She does accept the civil aspects of marriage if they’re not contrary to Catholic doctrine and belief.

I know for certain the Church doesn’t permit two religious ceremonies. E.g. if man was Catholic and woman was Protestant and permission for a mixed marriage were granted they’re couldn’t be a Catholic marriage and then a Protestant one (or in reverse order). (They’re could, of course, be just a Protestant one if dispensation from canonical form was given to the Catholic party.)

When I think about this again now, I recall that the UK’s Prince and Princess Michael of Kent married in a similar way. They married in Vienna, Austria. They had a civil ceremony first and then a Catholic marriage service. They had both on the same day.:slight_smile:

the Church recognizes as valid only one marriage ceremony between Catholics, but allows a separate civil function if the law requires it. She recognizes as valid, however, civil marriages between two non-CAtholics who are otherwise free to marry.

Um, not really. You get a marriage license from the government but the religious minister can marry you. You don’t have to get married in a civil ceremony.

Yes, I see that distinction more clearly now.

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