Non-Catholic Marriage


Quick Question:

Are non-Catholics obliged to follow the rules of marriage as set by the state; or would a private exchange of marriage vows (without a marriage license) be sufficient?

This is purely hypothetical.


Well, I don’t know what you mean by “obliged”. Obliged by whom?

If a state has common law marriage, then such a private exchange of consent followed by publicly holding themselves out as married is sufficient if that establishes them as legally married. If the state does not recognize common law marriage, then some sort of public exchange of consent that is legally binding would be required. You can’t simply “say” you are married, you have to actually be married-- in the external forum.

If you mean, “does the Catholic Church accept such persons as married?” the answer would be, in general, “no”. There must be a public manner by which the couple is established as married-- secret/private exchange of consent can be repudiated too easily, hence the Church’s requirement for witnesses for her own members.

The Church accepts legal marriages including common law marriages and other marriages in which the couple can produce evidence such as a marriage license.


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