My Status and Implication on Marriage?

Hello - first off, i'm new here...so thanks for having me! I searched a bit for an answer to my question...but didn't have much luck.

So, long story (somewhat) short - I was baptized (roman catholic) as a child and received all sacraments through confirmation. My beliefs has since changed, so I formally notified my priest that i now consider myself an atheist, after which he told me that he marked my baptismal record and told me to talk to him again if i wish to come back to the church. I believe that means I formally 'defected' from the church.

So to the point of this post...I've been dating a lovely catholic girl for a while now and we're talking about the idea of marriage in our future...but we both are a bit stumped. I know catholics can marry un-baptized people if they receive a dispensation, and they can marry also marry a baptized non-catholic w/ permission...but what the heck do i qualify as?

Does the church still consider me a baptized catholic? If so...what does that mean in terms of a catholic (sacramental) marriage? Do i need to regain 'good standing' before that could happen?

Or, since i formally defected, am I considered a baptized non-catholic?

Any insight on this situation would be greatly appreciated, as it obviously has some big implications. Thanks!

please speak to the nearest pastor of a Catholic Church, if in fact you do with to marry within Catholic laws on marriage, because recently a clarification on this specific issue has been published and he can help you determine how this applies to your particular case.

Welcome home, no matter how long it takes you to get to the front door.

[quote="puzzleannie, post:2, topic:182948"]
recently a clarification on this specific issue has been published and he can help you determine how this applies to your particular case.

[/quote]

Thanks for the reply - obviously i'll have to talk to a pastor to get the full story...but can you point me in the direction of some information of this new clarification? Is it a change/addendum to the Canon Law?

Another point I can clarify...I'm specifically looking to learn what options we have based on my 'status'...so I figured learning what my status is would be a good starting point, but i'm curious about the implications too.

Thanks!

You are considered a baptized Catholic, so there is no dispensation required for marrying an unbaptized person or a non-Catholic. The relevant canon for your situation is:

Can. 1071 §1. Except in a case of necessity, a person is not to assist without the permission of the local ordinary at:

1/ a marriage of transients;

2/ a marriage which cannot be recognized or celebrated according to the norm of civil law;

3/ a marriage of a person who is bound by natural obligations toward another party or children arising from a previous union;

4/ a marriage of a person who has notoriously rejected the Catholic faith;

5/ a marriage of a person who is under a censure;

6/ a marriage of a minor child when the parents are unaware or reasonably opposed;

7/ a marriage to be entered into through a proxy as mentioned in ⇒ can. 1105.

§2. The local ordinary is not to grant permission to assist at the marriage of a person who has notoriously rejected the Catholic faith unless the norms mentioned in ⇒ can. 1125 have been observed with necessary adaptation.

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:4, topic:182948"]
You are considered a baptized Catholic, so there is no dispensation required for marrying an unbaptized person or a non-Catholic.

[/quote]

So, if i'm still considered a baptized catholic and can receive the appropriate permissions for a valid marriage..will the marriage be sacramental for one or both of us, or neither? I guess I always assumed sacramental marriage could only be achieved if both baptized parties are receiving the sacrament, which I also assumed would require them both to be in good standing (is that what the permission from the Ordinary circumvents?).

Also, am I correct to assume that, despite being a baptized catholic, I'm not considered 'the catholic party' as mentioned in Can. 1125, requiring the catholic party to promise to raise the kids Catholic? Can. 1071.2 mentions 'appropriate adjustments' of Can. 1125...so i'd be interested to understand what those are too.

Thanks again for all the info!

[quote="FlyersFan123, post:5, topic:182948"]
So, if i'm still considered a baptized catholic and can receive the appropriate permissions for a valid marriage..will the marriage be sacramental for one or both of us, or neither? I guess I always assumed sacramental marriage could only be achieved if both baptized parties are receiving the sacrament, which I also assumed would require them both to be in good standing (is that what the permission from the Ordinary circumvents?).

Also, am I correct to assume that, despite being a baptized catholic, I'm not considered 'the catholic party' as mentioned in Can. 1125, requiring the catholic party to promise to raise the kids Catholic? Can. 1071.2 mentions 'appropriate adjustments' of Can. 1125...so i'd be interested to understand what those are too.

Thanks again for all the info!

[/quote]

Flyers,

Let me see if I got this straight -

You were baptized Catholic, fell away and became an atheist. Now you are dating a Catholic girl and would like to marry. OK - I assume this girl wants to marry in the Church and wants a sacramental marriage. You want to know if this is possible and how to do it. Is this correct so far?

Now, from how I see it, the answer varies based on your current status. Are you still an atheist? Do you wish to return to the Church, or remain an atheist? Have you already returned to the Church? You need to speak to your Catholic pastor, if you have returned to the Church, and explain everything in detail to get a complete answer. If you have not returned to the Church, you should probably speak to her pastor.

From your posts, I think you have not returned to the Church, but I am not certain if you are considering returning. I think if you do not return and opt to remain an atheist, this may cause a problem.

[quote="NeelyAnn, post:6, topic:182948"]
OK - I assume this girl wants to marry in the Church and wants a sacramental marriage. You want to know if this is possible and how to do it. Is this correct so far?

[/quote]

Correct, she wants a Catholic marriage...and from the sounds of it, since i'm baptized and a catholic (technically), it has to be sacramental, we'll just need special permission...so i'm trying to understand if that is true, and if so, specific details as asked in previous posts (will i technically be receiving the sacrament? Will she?, etc)

[quote="NeelyAnn, post:6, topic:182948"]
Are you still an atheist? Do you wish to return to the Church, or remain an atheist? Have you already returned to the Church?

[/quote]

Still an atheist, and for the purposes of this discussion, lets assume i'll always be an atheist.

[quote="NeelyAnn, post:6, topic:182948"]
I think if you do not return and opt to remain an atheist, this may cause a problem.

[/quote]

Can you elaborate on the problems you are referring to? If you mean the challenges we'll face due to our differing views...i agree, and we keep open dialog to discuss as many of these challenges as we can.

Thanks!

I believe the rules are that you have to be open to having kids and promise to have them baptized into the Catholic Church. Yes, you would be considered non-Catholic and your fiance would need permission to get married in the Church.

My question is what brought you to publicly disavow your faith like that in the first place. Many if not most probably just stop going regularly to Church.

There's no such thing as Marriage only being a sacrament for one party but not the other. A marriage is either sacramental or it is not.

Any valid marriage between two baptized persons is sacramental. Even non-Catholic Christians who are validly married have sacramental marriages. Since Baptism is the "gateway to the other sacraments", you cannot have a sacramental marriage if one or both parties are not baptized. You can, however, have a valid natural marriage in those cases.

So what does this mean for you? Basically, you need to worry about being validly married in the Catholic Church. If you are, then the sacramental aspect will be there. Whether or not you are a fallen away Catholic, a baptized non-Catholic, or a non-baptized person, you will still need to talk to the priest, explain your situation, and see what needs to be done.

Here's an article on the recent changes to Canon Law mentioned earlier: ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=99444. Basically, it says that people such as yourself (people who have formally defected from the Church) are not dispensed from the requirement to follow the canonical form of marriage. In other words, you are still required to be married in a Catholic Church (or receive the appropriate dispensation of form from the bishop) in order for your marriage to be viewed as valid by the Catholic Church. Since you would be marrying a Catholic girl (and presumably trying to honor her wishes and be married within the Church), this sort of takes care of itself.

I'm honestly not sure how a pastor would handle this type of situation regarding those who have rejected the Catholic faith. A pastor would not give an okay for someone to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if they had rejected the faith and had no intention of practicing. But then, the Sacrament of Marriage involves two people and, in this case, one of them desires to maintain her faith. It appears you would need the permission of the local bishop, which would probably depend upon your situation.

This is pure speculation, but I would imagine that a priest might counsel you two about the difficulties of married life when you don't share the same faith, but in the end, he would probably go ahead with it (and get the bishop's permission) if both of you were determined to marry each other, provided of course that you agree to the children being raised in the Catholic faith.

[quote="Joe_5859, post:9, topic:182948"]
There's no such thing as Marriage only being a sacrament for one party but not the other. A marriage is either sacramental or it is not.

[/quote]

Thanks! Very helpful post. Obviously we'll be chatting with someone local to get the local authority's oppinion...but it sounds like Can. 1071 basically the process of the local priest asking a Bishop for permission to include me in the sacrament, since otherwise I shouldn't be receiving sacraments due to my standing. Pretty serious stuff if they are going to allow a self-professed non-believer to participate in a sacrament.

[quote="ProVobis, post:8, topic:182948"]
My question is what brought you to publicly disavow your faith like that in the first place. Many if not most probably just stop going regularly to Church.

[/quote]

Fair question, but probably not necessary to answer in the context of my original question.

Long story short...when I realized I didn't agree with much of the Church's teachings, and more importantly didn't believe in a higher power (thus going beyond just apathetic), I wanted out...but the Church doesn't quite allow for people to 'quit'. Without going to the extreme of finding a way to be excommunicated, this was my only other choice.

It was an important action to to do for myself to better distance myself from my past beliefs...if that makes sense.

[quote="FlyersFan123, post:3, topic:182948"]
Thanks for the reply - obviously i'll have to talk to a pastor to get the full story...but can you point me in the direction of some information of this new clarification? Is it a change/addendum to the Canon Law?

Another point I can clarify...I'm specifically looking to learn what options we have based on my 'status'...so I figured learning what my status is would be a good starting point, but i'm curious about the implications too.

Thanks!

[/quote]

no I am not a canon law expert and it is a very specific canon law question, and clarification was asked precisely for people like you. it hangs on what constitutes "formal defection from the faith" specifically as it relates to marriage laws. It is a narrow focus and easy to mis-state, and the news reports have not always been accurate so you will do best to ask your priest to advise you on that new ruling.

[quote="Joe_5859, post:9, topic:182948"]
There's no such thing as Marriage only being a sacrament for one party but not the other. A marriage is either sacramental or it is not.

Any valid marriage between two baptized persons is sacramental.

[/quote]

Do both need to be baptized? I forget the rules.

[quote="ProVobis, post:13, topic:182948"]
Do both need to be baptized? I forget the rules.

[/quote]

Yes, both need to be baptized for the marriage to be sacramental. They don't have to be Catholic, though.

Here is a link to some commentary on this part of canon 1071.

Hi Flyers Fan -

Welcome to CAF. Interesting (and complicated) topic. I'm surprised that someone who has rejected the Catholic faith is so interested in the ins and outs of Canon Law. But I guess love makes us do strange things, huh?

I get a bit confused by the various Canons (especially in light of the recent document from the Pope, which seems to change things a bit). But it seems from what people have posted above that because you have formally rejected the Catholic faith, this would be treated similar to a mixed-marriage under Canon Law (permission from the Bishop needed, promise from the practicing Catholic to raise children in the faith, etc.)

If/when you get engaged, the priest preparing you for marriage will figure out the cacno law implications, get the permissions needed, etc. But I imagine his concerns/questions will have more to do with practical and pastoral concerns rather than the particulars of church law. Issues I'm thinking of include:

  • Does the loss of your faith detract from your girlfriends practice of her faith? Does she still attend Mass regularly? Do you ever attend with her? Do you discourage her from attending?

*Do you respect her beliefs and her practice of her faith, or do you try to dissuade her? When you disagree about religious matters do you do so respectfully or dismissively?

*How will you handle the upbrining of any children? How willing are you to support her in having the children baptized and raised in the faith?

How the two of you answer these questions will probably make a big difference.

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:4, topic:182948"]
You are considered a baptized Catholic, so there is no dispensation required for marrying an unbaptized person or a non-Catholic. The relevant canon for your situation is:

Can. 1071 §1. Except in a case of necessity, a person is not to assist without the permission of the local ordinary at:

1/ a marriage of transients;

2/ a marriage which cannot be recognized or celebrated according to the norm of civil law;

3/ a marriage of a person who is bound by natural obligations toward another party or children arising from a previous union;

4/ a marriage of a person who has notoriously rejected the Catholic faith;

5/ a marriage of a person who is under a censure;

6/ a marriage of a minor child when the parents are unaware or reasonably opposed;

7/ a marriage to be entered into through a proxy as mentioned in ⇒ can. 1105.

§2. The local ordinary is not to grant permission to assist at the marriage of a person who has notoriously rejected the Catholic faith unless the norms mentioned in ⇒ can. 1125 have been observed with necessary adaptation.

[/quote]

I'm not a canon law expert by any means, but has the OP "notoriously" rejected the Catholic faith just because he told his pastor that he no longer believes (and the pastor reportedly noted this on his baptismal certificate)? I would think that "notorious" rejection might require something much more public, such as if the OP were a noted author who had written about his rejection of the Catholic faith, had been interviewed about it on televison, etc.

[quote="FlyersFan123, post:10, topic:182948"]
Pretty serious stuff if they are going to allow a self-professed non-believer to participate in a sacrament.

[/quote]

Not only would you be "participating" but Catholic teaching is that the spouses actually administer the sacrament to each other. Very serious stuff indeed.

[quote="Thomas63116, post:16, topic:182948"]
Welcome to CAF. Interesting (and complicated) topic. I'm surprised that someone who has rejected the Catholic faith is so interested in the ins and outs of Canon Law. But I guess love makes us do strange things, huh?

[/quote]

You hit the nail on the head. We obviously have some major differences...so it would be foolish to ignore them or just hope they go away. I'd rather spend time learning about the nuisances so there are less surprises along the way.

[quote="Thomas63116, post:17, topic:182948"]
I'm not a canon law expert by any means, but has the OP "notoriously" rejected the Catholic faith just because he told his pastor that he no longer believes (and the pastor reportedly noted this on his baptismal certificate)? I would think that "notorious" rejection might require something much more public, such as if the OP were a noted author who had written about his rejection of the Catholic faith, had been interviewed about it on televison, etc.

[/quote]

From some of the items i've read regarding 'notoriously' rejecting the faith - notoriously is generally interchanged with 'publicly', from what I could tell. Regardless, it seems that as most of this situation, it will largely be up to the local priest/Ordinary/etc.

[quote="Thomas63116, post:18, topic:182948"]
Not only would you be "participating" but Catholic teaching is that the spouses actually administer the sacrament to each other. Very serious stuff indeed.

[/quote]

Interesting...I didn't know that. I guess that's why the law said the priest can 'assist' as opposed to 'perform'?

Not sure if anyone knows these specifics, as this whole thing is sort of a complicated (:confused:) one-off Canon Law situation...but if the local priest seeks and is granted permission to assist in my marriage as part of a Catholic ceremony, do you know if that permission basically grants an exception to allow me to receive a sacrament despite my rejection of the religion? My partner and I were trying to understand how it's possible that a 'rejector' is allowed to receive a sacrament...and the only reasoning we came up with was basically for the sake of the practicing Catholic.

Again, thanks for all of the responses, this has been a great help.

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