Marriage Terms Defined/Explained


#1

I have a Catholic friend who is about to get "married" to a non-Catholic (I don't know what, if any, faith she is) in an outdoor wedding. I've been trying to better understand the Church's teaching/rules regarding mixed marriages, but I'm confused by the terms. What is an invalid marriage? Does it mean no marriage exists at all? How about illicit? Is there an article that clearly defines these (and any other pertinent) terms and explains the situations where an invalid or illicit marriage would occur?

It seems that if a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic a dispensation is required to make the marriage valid. If no dispensation is received does that mean there is no marriage? I've also read some about a distinction between a natural marriage and a Sacramental one? But I'm confused by that distinction as well.


#2

I did find this article which is helpful and says,

  1. If either spouse is now or has ever been Catholic, then:

    a. If the marriage took place under Catholic auspices, it is valid;

    b. If the marriage took place anywhere else without a dispensation for the Catholic (or previously Catholic) party, this is a violation of the Church’s law regarding the Catholic party, and the marriage must be convalidated before proceeding.

So my takeaway is that anytime a Catholic "marries" a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic ceremony and doesn't get a dispensation they are not married in God's eyes...


#3

That is a civil marriage, but in God’s eyes nothing happens. They are living in a state of fornication (grave sin) until they get their marriage validated in the Church (dispensation). And if his fake wife has been married before then it’s an adulterous state, which is even more grave. At least fornication can be easily resolved (just get married!) but adultery requires an annulment and a lot of times the annulment request is denied.


#4

I'm in this state right now. It can be blessed, so pray that this happens. I would advise not to be harsh but also you can state the facts to them if you want. I wish this could have been done for me, looking back, regardless of my decision at the time.

My parents were divorced (catholic marriage) and both remarried outside of the church so I struggle with that. I guess, you can only fix your own mess, and stay out of other people's mess. It's sure to backfire!


#5

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
I have a Catholic friend who is about to get "married" to a non-Catholic (I don't know what, if any, faith she is) in an outdoor wedding. I've been trying to better understand the Church's teaching/rules regarding mixed marriages, but I'm confused by the terms. What is an invalid marriage? Does it mean no marriage exists at all? How about illicit? Is there an article that clearly defines these (and any other pertinent) terms and explains the situations where an invalid or illicit marriage would occur?

It seems that if a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic a dispensation is required to make the marriage valid. If no dispensation is received does that mean there is no marriage? I've also read some about a distinction between a natural marriage and a Sacramental one? But I'm confused by that distinction as well.

[/quote]

CHAPTER VI : MIXED MARRIAGES

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church.

Can. 1125 The local Ordinary can grant this permission if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

1° the catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith, and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church;

2° the other party is to be informed in good time of these promises to be made by the catholic party, so that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and of the obligation of the catholic party

3° both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either contractant.

Can. 1126 It is for the Episcopal Conference to prescribe the manner in which these declarations and promises, which are always required, are to be made, and to determine how they are to be established in the external forum, and how the non-catholic party is to be informed of them.

Can. 1127 §1 The provisions of can. 1108 are to be observed in regard to the form to be used in a mixed marriage. If, however, the catholic party contracts marriage with a non-catholic party of oriental rite, the canonical form of celebration is to be observed for lawfulness only; for validity, however, the intervention of a sacred minister is required, while observing the other requirements of law.

§2 If there are grave difficulties in the way of observing the canonical form, the local Ordinary of the catholic party has the right to dispense from it in individual cases, having however consulted the Ordinary of the place of the celebration of the marriage; for validity, however, some public form of celebration is required. It is for the Episcopal Conference to establish norms whereby this dispensation may be granted in a uniform manner.

§3 It is forbidden to have, either before or after the canonical celebration in accordance with §1, another religious celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the catholic assistant and a non-catholic minister, each performing his own rite, ask for the consent of the parties.

Can. 1128 Local Ordinaries and other pastors of souls are to see to it that the catholic spouse and the children born of a mixed marriage are not without the spiritual help needed to fulfil their obligations; they are also to assist the spouses to foster the unity of conjugal and family life.

Can. 1129 The provisions of cann. 1127 and 1128 are to be applied also to marriages which are impeded by the impediment of disparity of worship mentioned in can. 1086 §1.


#6

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
What is an invalid marriage? Does it mean no marriage exists at all?

[/quote]

A marriage would be invalid if an impediment existed at the time the vows were exchanged. Divine law impediments such as close kinship or ecclesial (church law) impediments such as the form of marriage for Catholics, the age of the parties, etc. The defect can also come as it pertains to consent or intent-- for example, a "shotgun" wedding where free consent was not given, but rather someone was coerced or pressured into marriage.

A Catholic who fails to follow church law on marriage would contract a marriage invalidly. This means the couple is not in fact married.

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]

How about illicit?

[/quote]

Illicit means the marriage is valid, but something was done outside the norms. Such as, if a Catholic priest married a couple in an outdoor beach wedding without permission from the Bishop this would be an illicit wedding ceremony but it would still be a valid marriage.

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
Is there an article that clearly defines these (and any other pertinent) terms and explains the situations where an invalid or illicit marriage would occur?

[/quote]

I can suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It is very good.

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
It seems that if a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic a dispensation is required to make the marriage valid.

[/quote]

To marry a baptized non-Catholic requires permission from the bishop. Failure on the part of the priest to obtain this permission makes the marriage illicit but valid.

To marry an unbaptized party requires a dispensation from disparity of cult. Failure to obtain the dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult results in an invalid marriage.

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
If no dispensation is received does that mean there is no marriage?

[/quote]

See above.

In addition to permission for mixed marriage or dispensation from disparity of cult, a Catholic also needs a dispensation from Catholic form if they plan to marry the non-Catholic in some other way than before a Catholic priest and two witnesses, for example a marriage at city hall.

[quote="anfcatholic.com, post:1, topic:288660"]
I've also read some about a distinction between a natural marriage and a Sacramental one? But I'm confused by that distinction as well.

[/quote]

The term natural marriage applies to any valid marriage in which one or both parties are unbaptized.

A sacramental marriage is a valid marriage between two baptized people.


#7

[quote="1ke, post:6, topic:288660"]

To marry a baptized non-Catholic requires permission from the bishop. Failure on the part of the priest to obtain this permission makes the marriage illicit but valid.

To marry an unbaptized party requires a dispensation from disparity of cult. Failure to obtain the dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult results in an invalid marriage.

[/quote]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a marriage to a baptized non-Catholic can still be invalid if they are not married either in the Catholic Rite or with dispensation from said Rite.

What you said above could be confused to mean that a marriage between two baptized people is always valid, which is not true.


#8

[quote="thewanderer, post:7, topic:288660"]
Correct me if I'm wrong, but a marriage to a baptized non-Catholic can still be invalid if they are not married either in the Catholic Rite or with dispensation from said Rite.

[/quote]

Of course. An entirely different matter.

[quote="thewanderer, post:7, topic:288660"]
What you said above could be confused to mean that a marriage between two baptized people is always valid, which is not true.

[/quote]

I don't agree that my statement implies that. But, to be clear I was referring only to the case of a valid marriage between a Catholic and non-Catholic where permission for mixed marriage was forgotten or overlooked by the priest who performed the ceremony. It happens.


#9

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:288660"]
But, to be clear I was referring only to the case of a valid marriage between a Catholic and non-Catholic where permission for mixed marriage was forgotten or overlooked by the priest who performed the ceremony. It happens.

[/quote]

:eek:


#10

I wasn’t trying to be nitpciky, sorry if it came across that way. I just thought that it might be confusing for someone reading the thread. :slight_smile:


#11

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