NonCatholic Marriage


I’m sure there are probably many thread on this topic but I’m curious on the validity of marriages that are not performed by the CAtholic church. Do CAtholics believe a couple is still married in God’s eyes if it wasn’t in the church?


Let me see if I can get this right…:slight_smile:

Two unbaptised people enter into a Valid natural marriage
One unbaptised person and a baptised (Non catholic) enter into a valid natural marriage
Two baptised people who are not catholic enter into a valid sacramental marriage

If any of the two is Catholic by baptism, marriage outside the Catholic Church is invalid.


I think you got it right. :slight_smile:

It entirely depends on whether or not one (or both) of those getting married is Catholic or not. The Catholic Church does not teach (and has never taught) that only Catholics can validly marry. Marriage was a natural institution long before the Church ever existed. Non-Catholics still validly marry each other.

If one or both of those getting married is Catholic, though, then they are bound to follow the Church’s law on the subject, which states that Catholics are bound by the form of getting married in a Catholic Church. Catholics can (in certain circumstances) receive a dispensation from form and get married elsewhere. They would need to talk to their pastor about it, though. These are generally given when one party is Catholic and the other is not. They are not given just because the couple wants to have a destination wedding. :wink:




OK so if a Catholic gets married outside the church, the marriage is still a valid marriage but not a valid Catholic marriage. So…

If themarriage is still valid in God’s eyes, they could still receive communion b/c they aren’t sinning?

BUT the issue comes when this is a second marriage and the first marriage hasn’t been annulled?


The marriage of a catholic outside a catholic church without a dispensation is INVALID…they would be considered as living in sin. They wouldn’t be able to receive catholic communion

If you have a specific situation in mind, it might help to say who is baptised what and where the marriage was etc?


I guess I find it weird that two non Catholics can have a valid marriage outside the church but a couple with one catholic and one non catholic cannot.

I don’t have a specific situation, the thought just popped into my head.


No, that is not correct. A valid marriage is a valid marriage. If a marriage is valid and both people are baptized, then that valid marriage is also a sacramental marriage.

If a Catholic gets married outside of the Church without a dispensation, their marriage is not valid.


When we become Catholic, we accept the whole package. We have access to the graces of the sacraments (a treasure of inestimable worth!), but we also have responsibilities we must live up to. Part of those responsibilities includes following the duly enacted Canon Law.

We cannot expect non-Catholics to follow Canon Law. They did not sign up for it. Nor is it generally appropriate for them to do so (since they are not part of the Catholic community of believers).

The bottom line is that, if a Catholic and non-Catholic wish to get married, they should sit down with the pastor of the parish the Catholic belongs to and talk about what can be done and what should be done.


The reason why Catholics are required to get married “in the Catholic Church” is because some Catholic laws are only binding on Catholics. The “Catholic form” of marriage is only binding on Catholics (and those who are marrying Catholics.)

Think of it this way. There are certain rules and obligations that a nation expects its citizens and any non-citizen residents or visitors to obey. But there are other obligations that only bind citizens. The Catholic Church has some similar requirements of her members that she doesn’t expect from those who are not under her administrative authority.


It’s because Catholics are bound by Church law to either marry in the Church or receive a dispensation from the Church to marry elsewhere. This is so that the Church, through marriage preparation, can make sure the bride and groom are properly disposed (understand fully) before receiving the sacrament of Matrimony.

People who are not Catholic can validly marry outside the Church because they are not bound by Church law as Catholics are bound.

Let’s say I am a Lutheran and I want to marry a Catholic. We decide we want to marry at my church because the pastor there has ministered to me my whole life and my intended husband has no such ties to any one parish. We’d go to a priest and explain the situation. We’d apply for a dispensation. If the dispensation were granted, the Catholic-Lutheran marriage would be valid. If the dispensation were not granted, to have a valid marriage we’d have to get married in the Church. If we went ahead and married anyway without a dispensation, the marriage would be invalid.

Now, say we were refused a dispensation and married outside the Church, but later decided to correct the mistake. Then we could have the marriage convalidated and it would be valid in the Church. There is also Radical Sanation, for Catholics trying to validate an invalid marriage with a partner that refuses to consent to convalidation. So, an invalid marriage doesn’t necessarily have to stay invalid.


A Catholic has to obey Catholic marriage laws. A non-Catholic does not.

The Orthodox Churches are the same. If you are Orthodox you must marry according to their laws in order to have a valid marriage.


When someone was baptized Catholic as an infant and NEVER was a practicing Catholic, it makes it tough. Someone close to me is in this situation, and it’s tricky for all parties involved.


Right. Previously in Canon Law, it said that “A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.” But then the underlined portion was removed back in 2009. This change makes it much easier for Tribunal offices to process lack of form cases. But then it raises questions in those types of tricky situations.


I understand all of this but it still doesn’t seem “right” to me.

And I doubt that God looks at it like this either. The “act” should be looked at, not the people participating in the act. IMO, it seems like either noncatholic weddings should be valid in God’s eyes or they shouldn’t…whether it is involving Catholics or nonCatholics.


Yes I understand this, but I doubt God looks at marriage as this complex. Either it is valid or not valid


I just want to make sure that people know I’m not saying the church teaching is wrong. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning more. It doesn’t sit well with me right now


What would a “formal act” even be? Publicly stating that you reject one or more dogmas of the Church? Writing a letter to your local bishop stating that you have defected from the faith? Being anathematized?


I believe you had to write a letter to the bishop. But it’s no longer an option in any case.


I think it is quite simple really.

Someone who is worried about what the Catholic Church teaches would want to follow its teachings. They believe that it is the Church Christ instituted and therefore all it’s teachings are from Christ. If you are Catholic and want to marry and you are in is group of believing in Catholicism then you either get a dispensation or marry in the church.

If a Catholic marrys outside the Church this is invalid in the eyes of the Catholic Church however the fact that this person has married outside the church would suggest they don’t agree with Catholicism anyway.

So in essence it’s really a non issue…if you are Catholic, why wouldn’t you want to get married in Christs church? It should never be a complex situation.

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