Marriage of two Catholics before a Protestant Minister


What is the Catholic belief re the marriage of two Catholics before a Protestant Minister. Is it recognized by the Church as a valid marriage? Are they committing a sin by living together?


Is this a hypothetical, or did it actually happen?

If so, why did they do this?


It can be, if the couple is dispensed to received marriage in this irregular form.


If they weren’t married in a Catholic Church without dispensation the marriage is invalid.

Yes, they would be committing a sin by living together as if husband and wife. Arrogance/insolence for following their own impulses on “what feels right”, and/or negligence for not knowing better.


It is my understanding that the Church recognizes secular marriages as marriages and will sometimes bless the marriages of former non-Catholics who come into the Church (and no, those couples aren’t seen as having lived in sin for being with the spouses prior to becoming Catholic).

Were the conditions for a valid marriage met?

IN a HYPOTHETICAL situation I’d say it is likely the marriage COULD be validated by the Church but that they would have to speak TO the Church to have that done as the marriage could be ‘valid’ but I would question such open disobedience.

Were they Catholic in name only and not in practice? Is that why they married outside the Church? Were they practicing Catholics who married outside the Church in open disobedience TO the Church for some reason?

Secular marriage or not I would think living together would not be ‘sinful’ but I would question if their choice to act in disobedience placed them in sin.

Can’t wait to see how others weigh in.


Catholics that attempt marriage without the approval of the Catholic church do not actually marry, so cannot live together as husband and wife without it being a sin.


I’d welcome a correction here, but I don’t think you can sin by negligence. The standard is actually knowledge, not what you ought to know.




It’s only a recognized by the church marriage if done in the catholic church or blessed afterward. Assuming a blessing afterward could be done, for instance if one was already considered married by the catholic church they could not have a marriage blessed by the church while the original spouse is alive, after an annulment was done sure.

I don’t think two Catholics running to Vegas to marry would be considered a sin. It just wouldn’t be recognized by the church. They are missing out on the sacrament of marriage.

Why two Catholics would marry by a non catholic lay person seems odd, unless that person isn’t acting as a clergy person in their church but simply has a job doing civil marriages like justice of the peace. Or if they are not eligible to marry in the church because one or both aren’t free to enter into a sacramental marriage. Or because they want to marry on the beach and the church doesn’t do that. A few cousins did that and then got the marriages blessed after. I suppose the catholic service could be done with just a few witnesses, all the precana and interviews done and then the destination wedding in the beach could happen?


Canon 1116 makes it seems as if such a marriage would be ok if the couple didn’t expect to see a priest around for a fairly lengthy period.

That wouldn’t be the case for very many places in the US in 2018, but it they lived in a remote area or someplace with very few Catholics, perhaps.


There’s plenty of misinformation in this thread mixed in with the correct information.

For your hypothetical, OP, the Church law on marriage is pretty straightforward:
Two Catholics must abide by the Church’s form of marriage or have a dispensation from it. In your example, it’s not likely that two Catholics would be permitted to have a wedding with a non-Catholic minister. What would be the reason? Anyone who isn’t married according to Church law but living as if husband and wife is essentially living in sin.

It is correct that those who are not Catholic, get married in a Protestant church (or elsewhere), and become Catholic have legitimate marriages in the eyes of the Church - no need for anything to be done. Any marriage attempt by a Catholic that isn’t within the Church’s form (or dispensed) is invalid, but can be rectified - if there are no barriers, such as a prior marriage bond that is in question.

It is NOT ok for Catholics to do whatever they choose in terms of marriage and presume to have the Church “bless” it afterward. It can be done, but the presumption is sinful in itself. It’s an act of defiance, and until the Church validates that marriage, it’s invalid (those people aren’t truly married). So, eloping to Vegas or destination beach weddings ARE, in fact, sinful if even one of the two people are Catholic - practicing or not - without the proper dispensations for failure to follow Church law.

You also can’t make arrangements to have two wedding ceremonies to circumvent procedures you don’t like - satisfy Church requirements with a couple of friends, then repeat the vows at a fancy resort with all the trappings and a few hundred guests. That’s actually explicitly forbidden - to mimic or attempt to recreate a sacrament, as the exchange of vows can only happen once. (Even on anniversaries, you renew vows rather than exchange them again… or pray for a continued blessing on the already existing marriage).

Finally, there are exceptions to what people think are the norms - and what people think are the norms often aren’t. In any case, as soon as wedding bells ring in your mind, consult your deacon or priest. They really do know what they’re doing.


A sacrament can not be done at a fancy resort so all it is is a vow and ring exchange. It’s not recreating a sacrament.

The Pope some years ago baptized a baby born from a civil union between two Catholics.


Sure it could.

A vow and ring exchange is mimicking the sacrament.

The sky is blue. Both statements might be factual, but neither have anything to do with the topic.


I know of a situation where this happened with one couple. The Catholic Church refused to do this in part because it was a mixed race couple and I believe the priest didn’s want the Ku Klux Klan to burn his church down on top of him.


I doubt this.

The KKK has burned crosses on the lawns of Catholic Churches for years. The KKK already hates catholics.

I’m sure in states where it was illegal in the time it was illegal a parish may not have performed such a service because of local law. This was illegal in some places in the country over 50 years ago. A couple this might have effected would be 70’d by now or older.

If there was a refusal of marriage more recently it would have been a problem with the one or both in the couple not being able to get the sacrament, not race.


A priest will not officiate at a fancy resort. You need the ordained priest to make a sacrament.


Any details on this situation? Name of the couple, or the priest or the local church? Love to verify this,if it happened. If there is no way to verify the tale, I think it is a tale.


Right. And priests can and do get dispensations for sacraments to occur anywhere and everywhere when there’s reasonable purposes.


The couple would be in their 50s


If one or both parties are Catholic their marriage must be done according to Catholic form or they need a dispensation. With a dispensation, their marriage could be witnessed by someone not affiliated with the Catholic Church. And no dispensation would be needed to have their marriage witnessed by a deacon. So a priest is not always required.

If the couple are both baptized non-Catholics, their marriage could take place at a resort, city hall, or some other location. It would be valid and sacramental.

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